Basics of banking in Germany



Opening a bank account in Germany is a simple process for which you normally require your national identification and some proof of a German address. It is recommended that you complete residence registration at the Einwohnermeldeam. The Girokonto (checking or current account) is the most common type of account in Germany and is used to receive a salary as well as make regular payments such as rent through standing orders, to transfer money and so on.   

Banking Options

You may have access to an overdraft facility (Dispositionskredit) which allows you to overdraw your account up to a certain limit set by the bank. The amount of such credit is normally related to your monthly income. Overdraft interest rates are quite high so use the facility only in case of emergencies. 

If you want to put money aside, you can set up a savings account; on opening a savings account, you will receive a "passbook" (Sparbuch) that you use to make payments with. With a normal passbook (that has a withdrawal notice period of three months) you can withdraw €2000 in a calendar month without prior notice. 

You may find it cheaper to handle your finances through a Postbank Account instead of a bank. There are Postbank counters at all post offices (Deutsche Post), and it is possible to withdraw money from your account when you present formal IDs such as passport or identity card. 

Bank hours

Banking hours differ, but usually, most banks are open weekdays from 9 am to 4 pm while those in rural areas are sometimes closed 1 to 2.30 pm. Most bank branches have ATMs that permit cash withdrawals, money transfers and generate bank statements 24 hours/day. 

Credit Cards 

On opening a bank account in Germany, you will receive an EC (Eurocheque) card with a corresponding Personal Identification Number (PIN) with which you can use to withdraw cash from many ATMs in Germany and Europe. Withdrawals from your own bank's ATMs are free while those from other banks attract a fee. There is also the Eurocard, a credit card connected to the MasterCard System and valid worldwide. Most shops and petrol stations also allow customers to pay for goods and services using the EC card in conjunction with their PIN or signature. Simply look for the EC/Maestro sign on the cash register. 

Money Transfers 

The quickest and most efficient way of transferring money from Germany is through the Society of Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT). You may also use the services of Western Union, MoneyGram and PayPal to transfer money. You may import and export any amount of money to and from Germany but are obliged to report to the Bundesbank any sums more than €12,500. Also, check the country of origin/destination of funds to see if restrictions apply there.



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Banking Guide