How to open a German bank account from abroad

Step by step tutorial: How to open a German bank account for foreigners

Bank account coins

Once you made the decision to move to Germany your first priority is to open a German bank account.

In the past it was mandatory to be in Germany with an Anmeldung (registered address) in order to open a bank account.

However, without a German bank account most landlords won’t rent you an appartment.

Sounds a lot like a Catch-22, doesn’t it?

However, this was a major struggle and inconvenience for many expats in the past, which luckily has been finally resolved.

N26 bank account for expats and foreigners

N26 is a heaven sent for many of our friends that moved to Germany in recent years, as N26 is one of the few online (mobile) banks that allows to sign up from abroad without the need to present an Anmeldung (registration in Germany).

For most foreigners the document of choice is the national passport.

However, there are a few exceptions, such as for Chileans, that need another document, such as their German residence permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis).

Please check first the required document for your country.

Open a German bank account with N26 step by step

Now get your passport (or in some cases even your national ID) ready and within 15 minutes you will have your German bank account.

Step 1: Visit the homepage and confirm your language and country of origin

Visit the N26 signup page and pre-select your country and language.

Start of sing-up process

Step 2: Fill in all your personal information

Pretty straight forward, fill in your personal information online.

Personal information

Step 3: Confirm your email

This is to confirm your identity and for future login purposes.

Step 4: Online verification

We cannot stress this enough. This is where we noticed again how far we have come online.

Within a few minutes you will identify yourself online to a call agent by showing your passport and answering a few basic questions about your personal information.

This should not take more than 10 minutes.

In the past you needed to print out papers and take them to a German post office branch for them to ID you. That made it impossible to sign up already from abroad.

Step 5: Download the app and connect it to your account

Now that you have finished the registration process on your computer it is time to connect your mobile phone with the N26 account.

This way you can do all your banking not only online but also only by using your mobile phone.

Overview of services offered by N26

ServicesN26
English sign up processYes
Sign up from abroadYes, almost all nationalities
Bank account fees0€
Free cash withdrawal Germany3 times/month at any ATM
Free cash withdrawal worldwideYes, in N26 black tariff
Credit card includedYes 0€/month
Mastercard
Overdraft fees8,9% interest p.a.
Additional servicesUnlimited free cash withdrawal at 11.500 retail stores
Quick money transfer to other customers of same bankYes
Overview N26

Bank account free of charge

We hope you paid a lot of attention to the great overview we put together in the table above.

If so you already noticed that the N26 bank account is actually free of charge in the standard version.

For most of us the free standard account is enough, but if you prefer to have some additional perks such as sub-accounts or an extra card then you can also upgrade later to one of their paid accounts.

Furthermore, even though this has become less important since corona and the trend to pay cashless, you can still withdraw cash from any ATM in Germany free of charge (3 times a month).

And if you find yourself short on cash you can also withdraw money at more than 11.500 retail outlets in Germany.

So now that you sorted out your German bank account already before entering Germany it is time to check out which are the best mobile phone providers or the best internet providers in Germany.