Ministry of Labour, Social, Family Affairs and Integration

Bank Account & Taxes Setting Up a Bank Account

In Germany, many transactions of daily life are handled cash-free through a bank account. It may be beneficial for you to open a German bank account.

Setting Up a Bank Account – Hamburg Welcome Portal

Do I need a German bank account?

If you wish to withdraw cash in Germany, make cross-border transfers, or make cashless payments in stores and you use your foreign bank account, you will generally be charged a fee. The conditions depend on your foreign bank. In addition companies or landlords may refuse to collect money from or transfer money to an account in other EU countries to prevent the fees. By opening a German bank account you can avoid these problems.

Banks in Germany

There are branch-based banks and direct banks. Branch-based banks operate subsidiaries in Hamburg and throughout Germany, where staff members are available for personal contact to customers. An overview of numerous Hamburg-based bank institutes can be found in the Hamburg Business Directory (available in German only). Direct banks do not have any local offices. An account with a direct bank can therefore only be set up and managed online (online account). 

Some banks offer bank accounts that are free of charge under certain conditions, while others demand an account maintenance fee. Thus, it is recommended to ask more than one bank institution for their account types and any fees that may be charged, so that you can compare the different offers with each other. 

In order to use your bank account in everyday life, you will receive an electronic chip card. With this card and the corresponding pin number you can make cashless payments in most shops and restaurants. You can also withdraw money free of charge from your bank’s cash machines (when using cash dispensers from other banks, usually a withdrawal fee will be charged).

Required Documents

Before setting up a bank account, the bank needs to check your identity. Therefore you will be asked to submit the following documents:

  • a valid ID card or passport,
  • a registration certificate stating your current residence in Germany and
  • for some banks and/or account types: a pay statement from your employer and your residence permit.

Please note:
Normally, setting up a bank account is a personal affair and can’t be done by third persons. (Exception: persons with parental responsibility filling in for underaged children.)

The basic bank account

Anyone who does not yet have an account and lives in the European Union has the right to open up a basic bank account. This is a simple bank account with all the regular functions. Usually it must not be overdrawn and therefore does not provide any credit. The basic account can be set up with all usual banks and savings banks. The banks can charge reasonable fees for the account.

Further information about the basic bank account

Loss or Robbery

Upon loss or robbery, you should immediately block your bank card to prevent misuse by third parties. The free blocking emergency phone number 116 116 can be reached around the clock (please dial +49 116 116 or +49 (0)30 40 50 40 if you are abroad at the time of the call). For blocking the lost bank card, please keep your account number / IBAN and the bank code / BIC (or at least the name of the bank as an alternative) ready.