Germany is a country with a well-established banking system. There are many options available for expats looking to set up a bank account in the country. In this article, we will answer some common questions about banking in Germany, including information about local banks, major UK and USA banks, accounts and services aimed at expats, typical bank opening hours, areas of concern, and how to open a bank account in Germany as an expat.
Local Banks in Germany
There are several local banks in Germany that expats can choose from. Some of the main local banks in Germany include:
- Deutsche Bank: It is one of the largest banks in Germany and offers a wide range of banking services.
- Commerzbank: It is the second-largest bank in Germany and offers a range of services such as current accounts, savings accounts, and investment products.
- Sparkasse: It is a group of savings banks that operate across Germany. Each local Sparkasse is independent, and they offer a range of banking services to individuals and businesses.
Major UK and USA Banks in Germany
Many major UK and USA banks have a presence in Germany. Some of them include:
- HSBC: It is a global banking and financial services institution that has several branches in Germany.
- Citibank: It is a US-based bank that has a presence in Germany. They offer a range of banking and financial services to individuals and businesses.
- Barclays: It is a British multinational investment bank that has several branches in Germany.
Accounts and Services for Expats
Most banks in Germany offer accounts and services specifically aimed at expats. Some of these include:
- Non-resident accounts: These accounts are specifically designed for expats who do not have a permanent residence in Germany.
- Multicurrency accounts: These accounts allow you to hold and manage funds in different currencies.
- English-language banking: Many banks offer English-language services, including online banking and telephone support.
- Credit cards: Banks in Germany offer a range of credit cards, including those with cashback rewards and airline miles.
Typical Bank Opening Hours
Most banks in Germany are open from Monday to Friday, from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. Some banks may have extended opening hours on Thursdays or may be open on Saturdays. However, it’s essential to check the opening hours of your local bank as they may vary.
Areas of Concern
Expats should be aware of the following areas of concern regarding the banking system in Germany:
- Fees: Some banks may charge high fees for their services, so it’s essential to compare the fees of different banks before opening an account.
- Language barriers: While many banks offer English-language services, it’s still possible to encounter language barriers when dealing with some banks.
- Identity verification: Banks in Germany are required to verify the identity of their customers, so expats should be prepared to provide several documents, such as a passport or ID card, proof of residence, and proof of income.
Opening a Bank Account
- Choose a bank: Research different banks in Germany to find one that meets your needs. Some banks offer English-language services or have branches in your home country, which can be helpful for expats.
- Gather the necessary documents: To open a bank account in Germany, you will typically need to provide your passport or national ID card, proof of residence in Germany (such as a rental contract or utility bill), and proof of income or employment (such as a payslip or employment contract).
- Make an appointment: Most banks in Germany require an appointment to open a new account. You can typically make an appointment online, over the phone, or in person at a branch.
- Attend the appointment: At your appointment, you will need to provide the necessary documents and answer any questions the bank representative may have. You may also be asked to fill out paperwork or sign an agreement.
- Wait for approval: After your appointment, the bank will review your application and may request additional information or documentation. Once your account is approved, you will typically receive your account information (such as your account number and PIN) in the mail.
- Activate your account: To activate your account, you will typically need to make an initial deposit. You can do this by transferring money from another account, depositing cash at a branch, or using an ATM.
It is important to note that the exact process for opening a bank account in Germany may vary depending on the bank you choose and the type of account you are opening. It is a good idea to research the specific requirements for the bank and account you are interested in before you start the process.