You have decided on opening a bank account in Germany via the Internet?
Great, I will help you to do this.
I have developed this instruction page for you. Follow the steps and soon you can take advantage of a German bank account and the corresponding credit cards. The steps are for DKB and Comdirect account openings. Wherever differences apply, I will describe them in detail.
1. Choosing the Bank
In Germany, there are two very good banks at which a bank account opening is possible from a variety of countries without having to visit Germany. These banks are DKB and Comdirect.
I use both banks myself and can assure you that both are excellent. The differences are determined by the details. Therefore, I have worked out a comparison for you: Should you choose Comdirect or DKB? (german article)
2. Filling out the online application
The application for a bank account opening at the DKB is filled out and sent online (www.dkb.de). Once it is processed, the bank informs you about the possibilities for identification in your country. This is done by e-mail and/or telephone.
Nowadays, Comdirect only accepts customers of which it can query their credit ratings through the German SCHUFA organization. This limits a lot of people, because for this you have already had to „appear” in Germany as a consumer. So for example, if one made a mobile phone contract or a hire purchase.
This could change in the future as there are efforts to make credit ratings able to query in the whole EU-area. Moreover, the implementation of SEPA abrogated largely the national borders of banking in the Euro area.
People from all countries (except Iran and North Korea – they have EU-sanctions) can currently become customers at the DKB.
3. Proving the Identity
By law, German banks are required to know the identity of the bank account holder and beneficial owner – so the person to whom the money in the bank account belongs. DKB and Comdirect open bank accounts if the bank account holder also is the one who owns the money. A bogus account is not allowed!
There are three possibilities to prove the identity to the bank:
PostIdent is the easiest way for the bank, because it is common in Germany to identify persons this way. You go with the identification sheet of the bank and your identification document in any subsidiary of the Deutsche Post and the postal clerk will carry out the identity procedure. This procedure is free of charge. The costs are borne by the bank.
Most German Airports have post offices. However, there are alternatives without having to visit Germany.
Verification by a lawyer or notary
You receive an identity form from the customer service of the bank (DKB or Comdirect). This must be filled out and verified by a notary or lawyer. If the costs are within the usual, they will be reimbursed by the Bank on request.
DKB also accepts, if your main bank or another bank near your home confirms the information on the identity form.
Depending on the country, the way via a legal person or the verification by your own bank is easier.
To simplify this procedure at your bank, we have developed a sample letter that explains your needs in different languages.
Here you can find the English version to download: Service letter.
Important questions and answers!
How do I deposit money on the German bank account?
If you are European and can transfer money via the SEPA system, then do so. This kind of bank transfer only takes up to one day and cost as much as a domestic bank transfer. Therefore, it is free of charge at many banks!
If you come from another country with relatively low fees for international bank transfers, then make an international bank transfer using the IBAN and BIC.
If you come from another country with high fees for international transfers (e.g. USA), then send a check by mail to the German bank and it should withdraw the money. Here you can find how this exactly works, „Saving up to 66% of the transfer fees“.
If you are in Germany (e.g. on a business trip), you can make a cash deposit at almost any bank subsidiary to transfer to your online account. The fee for this service depends on the bank and will be between 5 to 15 Euros.
Difference: As a Comdirect customer, you can deposit money free of charge in any subsidiary of the Commerzbank.
Do I have to pay taxes in Germany?
No. If you do not reside mainly in Germany, no taxes in relation with the bank account in Germany will apply. For this, it is only necessary to fill out a form, in which you declare that you are subject to tax in another country.
Here you can find out how this works at the DKB: DKB bank account + securities tax free (german article).
How do I get my money back?
You have several possibilities:
You can withdraw money from your bank account using your Visa card at any ATM worldwide. It’s free of charge! No fees for withdrawals and neither for the currency exchange will be charged (at withdrawals in a country with another currency).
You can make an international bank transfer. Both the DKB as well as the Comdirect transfer money via bank wire relatively inexpensive and at a good exchange rate to almost any country.
Write a check on yourself and redeem it at your main bank.
How safe is my money in a German bank account?
In Germany, a legal deposit insurance for 100,000 Euros per customer and per account applies. Additionally, DKB as well as Comdirect are in a second deposit insurance system, which secures account balances of up to well more than 10,000,000 Euros.
Moreover, both are medium-sized banks that have their core business in Germany and do not engage in speculative investments somewhere else in the world. Comdirect is to 80% a subsidiary of the Commerzbank. DKB is a 100% subsidiary of the Bayerische Landesbank (State Bank).
Germany is one of the safest places for assets
The private right to property is in Germany protected by the Basic Law Article 14, paragraph 1 (Constitution). As long as one is not wanted worldwide as a terrorist, one has not to worry that the assets will be frozen. This would only be possible by law or court order (e.g. criminal offences). Germany has an independent judiciary.
Requests for information in tax matters are provided by German banks. Germany is a location for „white money“. However, if in the country of origin no wealth tax applies (as in Germany) and one does not earn interests on the bank account (Comdirect), then you do not earn gains, which you have to state and pay taxes for. Using the right configuration, you can thus create a legal and discreet bank account in Germany.
What are the benefits of having a bank account in Germany?
That depends entirely on you. Here you can find an overview of common types of use:
- Foreign Currency Account Euro
- Travel Account (Frequently, banks charge high fees for the credit card usage or cash payments in foreign currencies. Therefore, you should use a Euro bank account in the Euro area. Both German banks also do not charge fees if you withdraw money with their credit cards in foreign currencies.)
- Spare Account (By the way, the possibility to save money in another safe country is often used by people from southern European countries.)
- Asset Generation (At the DKB and Comdirect (german articles) , the usage of a securities account is possible. Herein, one can generate assets on favorable terms over a long period of time – unfortunately, this is not possible for U.S. citizens)
- Bank account for bank transactions within the Euro area or to transfer money from Germany to other countries
Further questions? Use the comments box below the article!
Detailed information on German bank accounts:
Bank account opening is possible from more then 40 countries without having to visit Germany, see DKB Legitimacy (german article). Helpful article: Open DKB bank account with instructions.
Unfortunately, there is no official list of countries of the bank available.
Good news! (Supplement May 2016)
The Onlinekonto of PayCenter also opens current accounts for people residing in Germany or abroad. Currently, one is working on a website in English-language. Also the online banking will be translated into English. After the account opening, you can contact the customer service already in English or German and you will get the answer in your preferred language.
Since it is an account on a credit basis, the otherwise time-consuming creditworthiness and income check is unnecessary. You receive your new German bank account number (IBAN) immediately after completing and submitting the online account application. For more information on the fees and the account opening go to ► Online account with prepaid MasterCard.