Step by step tutorial: How to open a German bank account for foreigners
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 German 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.
Step 2: Fill in all your personal information
Pretty straight forward, fill in your personal information online.
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
|English sign up process||Yes|
|Sign up from abroad||Yes, almost all nationalities|
|Bank account fees||0€|
|Free cash withdrawal Germany||3 times/month at any ATM|
|Free cash withdrawal worldwide||Yes, in N26 black tariff|
|Debit card included||Yes 0€/month|
|Overdraft fees||8,9% interest p.a.|
|Additional services||Unlimited free cash withdrawal at 11.500 retail stores|
|Quick money transfer to other customers of same bank||Yes|
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.
Mastercard debit card
Each N26 account comes with a virtual Mastercard debit card free of charge.
With this card you can do all your online shopping just like with a physical debit/credit card.
In order to pay offline e.g. in your supermarket you will need to add this Mastercard to either Google or Apple Pay.
Once this card is connected you just need to hold your smartphone against the card reader in the supermarket or restaurant. That’s all.
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.
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