Konto ohne Wohnsitz
Konto ohne Wohnsitz

Is it possible to open a bank account in Germany without a residence? This question is raised by many immigrants who plan to move to germany. Such an account is indeed possible, but only few banks allow to open such an account. Applicants must provide proof of identification due to the german money laundering legislation and this is considerably more difficult from abroad. How the opening of an bank account from abroad nevertheless can succeed, I’ll explain in the following article:

Only direct banks allow account opening abroad

Whether a bank account without a residence in Germany can be opened depends on the conditions of the bank. Classic branch banks such as Sparkasse, Volksbank, Postbank etc.. in most cases refuse such an account opening. Branch banks are usually restricted to customers in their own business area. The correspondence is often still postal and with a foreign residence this is of course problematic. The situation is different with direct banks (bank without any branch network), where there are various providers who offer free accounts (often including free credit cards) even without residence in Germany. Direct banks have the clear advantage that the account management (for example transfers, communication with bank employees) is already happening online and account statements are made available via e-mail or as a download. Therefore the direct banks are more flexible when it comes to residence.

Comparison of possible bank accounts

A bank account can be opened at DKB (direct bank subsidiary of Bayerische Landesbank) without domicile in Germany. Another supplier is Comdirect. With N26 I would also like to include a third provider in the comparison; the bank is now active in 23 European countries. The most important tariff details I have summarized in the following table:

Note for mobile phone users: this table can be moved sideways.

 DKBN26Comdirect
BankdkbNumber26comdirect
Who is allowed to open a bank account?
German citizens living in Germany
German citizens living abroad
Foreign Citizens
with residence in Germany, Austria and Switzerlandwith residence in Germany, Austria, Irland, France, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Finland, Luxemburg, Slovenia, Estonia, Greece, Slovakia, Switzerland, Great Britain, Poland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Lichtenstein, Iceland, USAwith residence in Germany, Austria and Switzerland

Important Account Details
Account Management fee / monthly feefreefreefree
Cards

Girocard and Visa Credit Card (both free)

dkb-visacard

Maestro-Card and Mastercard Credit Card (both free)

Mastercard von Number26

Girocard and Visa Credit Card (both free)

comdirect

Withdraw money in Germany

free with Visa Credit Card on all ATMs with Visa sign

free 5 times per month on all ATMs, above this 2 € for each withdrawel. Cash can be withdrawn free of charge in over 9,000 retail stores in Germany (e.g. REWE, Penny, dm).

free with Girocard
– only Cash Group ATMs*

withdraw money outside Germany
in EU-countries
free with Visa Credit Card on all ATMs with Visa signAll withdrawel in Euro currency are freefree with Girocard on all ATMs
withdraw money outside Germany
no EU-countries
free with Visa Credit Card on all ATMs with Visa signWithdrawel in non Euro currency, fee of 1,7 %free with Visa Credit Card on all ATMs with Visa sign
Interest rate0,1 %0 %0 %
interest paid on overdraft6,74 %8,9 %6,5 %
Test results / recommendations 
Open bank account
Account opening possibleonlineonlineonline
proof of identification
in Germany
PostIdent, VideoIdent (Webcam)PostIdent, VideoIdent (Webcam)PostIdent, VideoIdent (Webcam)
proof of identification
abroad
Local Bank / LawyerPhoto identificationNotary
 Open Bank AccountOpen Bank AccountOpen Bank Account

* 9,000 domestic atms of the cash group banks Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank, Hypovereinsbank and Postbank.

Summary

DKB (top recommendation)

With over 4 million customers, DKB is the second largest direct bank in Germany. There are no monthly account fees, nor is a salary or income required for the opening of the account. At DKB, cash can be withdrawn free of charge from all Visa ATMs (over 1 million worldwide) in Germany and abroad. Usually, foreign banks demand a high fee of up to 5 Euros per cash withdrawal. Therefore, the DKB is very popular with German holidaymakers.

Open Bank Account (DKB)

N26 (easy account opening)

Founded in 2013, Bank N26 is one of the fastest growing banks in Europe with over 3.5 million customers. By default, N26 is a credit-based account. The account cannot slip into the negative as you have only the money available, which was previously paid into the account. Therfore the account opening is easier compared to the other providers. Once the account has been opened, an overdraft facility can be applied for retrospectively, only then a credit check will be carried out. In addition to German nationals, EU citizens from 23 countries are allowed to open an account with N26. Monthly account fees do not apply. Credit card payments in Germany (and abroad) are free of charge. Cash can be deducted free of charge in Germany 5 times per month at local ATMs. In addition, the withdrawal at ATMs costs 2 € each. UPDATE: N26 now offers free withdrawals for customers from 7,000 retail partners in Germany. In other EU countries, withdrawals in EUR currency are free of charge. For withdrawals in non-euro currencies, a fee of 1.7 of the amount must be paid. The registration process is available in different European languages. For customers abroad, N26 offers a particularly simple procedure for legitmation using photo identification.

Open Bank Account (N26) – English Open Bank Account (N26) – FrenchOpen Bank Account (N26) – Italian Open Bank Account (N26) – Spanish

comdirect

Comdirect offers very similar conditions to the DKB. There are no monthly account fees or income required to open the account. Within Germany, however, customers can only use the approx. 9,000 ATMs of the Cash Group banks to withdraw cash free of charge. In foreign countries, Comdirect customers can use all Visa machines for free cash.
Open Bank Account (Comdirect)

How long does the account opening take?

It can take up to one week until the banks carried out the checks (e.g. credit score) and confirm the opening of the account. After this, another week may pass before you hold the bank cards and all other documents in your hands. The reason for this is that the cards/documents are sent separately for security reasons. Particularly fast is N26: Due to the missing credit score check, the Mastercard and the corresponding online access data may already arrive at the customer after 3-4 days (abroad +6 days).

Proof of identification

For the account opening, a proof of identity has to be provided. Such proof is necessary due to the German money laundering legislation. There are three possible methods for legitimation which take a different amount of time. So you have a little influence on how long the account opening takes.

VideoIdent (fast)

The fastest way to prove identity is using the VideoIdent method. The method of legitimation has been possible in Germany since 2014. This requires an Internet-enabled PC / Tablet computer with webcam as well as the ID card / passport. For legitimation, a video chat with a bank employee takes place. The passport must be held into the camera so that the safety features can be checked. In addition, a photo of the applicant’s face is made. The VideoIdent procedure is free of charge for the applicant.

PostIdent

With the PostIdent procedure one must visit a post-branch in Germany for the identity verification. The postal worker completes the PostIdent coupon (which you receive after the online account opening), checks your identity card (identity card or passport) and sends the PostIdent coupon you have signed to the bank. Of course, it takes 1-2 days until the proof of identity arrives at bank. The account opening is therefore faster with the VideoIdent procedure. The PostIdent procedure is also free of charge for the applicant.

From Aboad

N26: Customers outside Germany can use the photo identification procedure. N26 works together with SafeNed, a payment service provider licensed in the UK. As part of the procedure, a selfie and a photo of the ID must be uploaded, which is then checked by Safenet. As soon as the documents have been checked and accepted by Safened will, N26 will open the account.

DKB: Foreigners can also open an bank account. Identity verification is possible at a local bank or a lawyer abroad. The lawyer or bank must complete the registration form and send it directly to the bank. The costs incurred for this are not covered by the DKB. The possibility of legitimation by a bank / attorney is not possible in all countries.

Comdirect: Identity verification is possible with a notary. The costs incurred for this are not covered by the Comdirect. The possibility of legitimation by a notary is not possible in all countries.