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Finances and accounts

If you live and work in Germany, you need a bank account to receive your salary, pay your rent and other everyday necessities, such as a mobile phone contract. You do not need to be a German citizen to open a bank account in FrankfurtRheinMain (FRM). This section will inform you about everything you need to know about money in Germany.

Opening an account

As an EU citizen, you are legally entitled to a bank account. The banks are obliged to open a basic current account for you. Non-EU citizens need a work permit and a certificate of registration from the residents’ registration office.

Some banks offer free current accounts; others charge a fee. Comparing the available options is always worth it.

Once you have chosen a bank, you need to submit the following documents to apply for an account:

  • Valid ID/passport
  • Certificate of registration from the residents’ registration office. EU citizens only need this if they want to open an account with an overdraft facility (a “Dispo” in German).
  • Your work permit if you are from outside the EU.
  • A pay statement from your employer. Again, this is only necessary if you want an overdraft facility.

Once your application is accepted, you will receive your account details in the post. You get an EC card with a four-digit PIN code. This allows you to withdraw money and make cashless payments. Many banks will also give you a credit card, but this depends on the type of account you choose and your overdraft facility. You usually have to pay extra for a credit card.

Withdrawing money

You can use your EC card and your four-digit PIN code to withdraw money around the clock from many cash machines. Make sure to use a cash machine belonging to your own bank or a partner bank to avoid fees. If you withdraw money from other banks’ cash machines, you might pay fees of up to EUR 5.00.

You can also use your EC card to make cashless payments in most stores. Nonetheless, you should carry a little cash in Germany. There are still some smaller shops that do not accept payment by card.

Managing your account

You can access and manage your bank account over the internet. Your bank’s online banking service allows you to make wire transfers and download bank statements online. Many banks also allow you to manage your account at the counter or by using a machine in a branch.

To make a wire transfer within Germany, you only need the name of the recipient and the IBAN (International Bank Account Number). If you want to transfer money to another EU country, you also need the BIC (Business Identifier Code). For your own account, you can find both codes on your EC card.

Wire transfers outside the EU cost a fee. Again, you need the bank account details of the person receiving the money. In addition, you need to specify the currency for your wire transfer. Do take exchange rates into consideration. Using a money transfer service might help you save fees. You do not need a bank account for this option. You can simply transfer cash. As an added bonus, the recipient gets to collect the money in their local branch of the service provider just a few minutes later.