Living in Germany means having your own bank account. It doesn’t matter if you want to study, work or live off state benefits – all transfers, such as payments of student loans, scholarships, wages or unemployment benefits, take place to a bank account. For those who don’t speak German well enough, we have prepared step-by-step instructions on how to open a bank account in Germany with Postbank, Norisbank and Commerzbank online.
Below you will find step-by-step instructions for opening an account with German banks – currently Postbank, Norisbank and Commerzbank (others in the pipeline).
Opening a bank account at the German Postbank
The Postbank account has been free for some time only for students and under 22 years of age (“Postbank Giro start direkt” – see below). This account is a so-called receiptless account (“beleglos”), which means that all transactions are carried out online, by phone or at Postbank terminals. For this, you will get access to an online customer panel and access to telephone banking, through which you will be able to control everything and make transfers and other transactions, such as recharging your cell phone account. In addition, the comfort account (“Postbank Giro extra plus”) is free of charge, but only if the monthly inflows to the account are min. Otherwise this account costs 10,90 Euro per month!
Currently, Postbank offers the following types of accounts (below we explain how to open a Postbank Giro direkt):
- Postbank Giro direkt, which is an online account and costs €1.90 per month, and is free for students and trainees
- Postbank Giro plus, which costs EUR 4.90 per month and is especially geared towards people who do not have a regular income
- Postbank Giro extra plus which is free if the minimum monthly income is EUR 3,000 (otherwise it costs EUR 10.90 per month)
- Postbank Giro start direkt, which is aimed at young people and is free for anyone under the age of 22 and when the account is a no-receipt account
At one time we received the advice of one of our readers (at that time the Postbank account was free with receipts of 1000 euros per month):
“[…] it is worth adding that with inflows of less than 1000e, it is enough to withdraw the money at an ATM and deposit it again with a deposit machine. The bank will consider it as a withdrawal and will not charge you for the account. I don’t know how legitimate this is, but it works. I tested it by withdrawing and depositing at the same machine within a few minutes. ;)” – thank you Mr. Rafal!
Unfortunately, we haven’t checked if withdrawing and depositing 3000 euros into the account every month will be free.
Having a bank account with German Postbank carries the following benefits:
- Free Visa card for the first year of account ownership (optional), then 29 euros/year
- Free Postbank card
- Free withdrawal of money in Germany at more than 10,000 ATMs
- Free telephone and internet banking
- Free standing orders
To do this, print out the application for an account in duplicate and keep one (below you will find step-by-step instructions on how to complete the application for an account online). Then sign the second copy in the marked places (black cross) and go with it to a branch of Postbank or German post office (Deutsche Post). In order to verify and open the account, you will need to take with you:
- the completed application form
- PostIdent-Coupon – you will find it at the very end of the application
- ID card, passport or other document confirming your identity
An employee of Postbank or the post office will give you a confirmation of acceptance of the form and will send it back at Postbank’s expense. Now there is nothing left for you to do but to be patient. Within a few days, you will receive a welcome package. The ATM card and PIN code are usually sent in a separate letter for security reasons.
How do I verify my identity via video?
To verify your identity via video you will need a computer with a camera and microphone, your ID and a phone with the phone number you provided in the application form. You will be redirected to a page where a consultant will conduct online verification for you.
To open a bank account with Postbank, go to their website: Postbank Giro direkt and click on the button “Online abschließen” (German: conclude online) to go to the application form for a personal account. Below, you will find a step-by-step guide with the necessary pictures so that you can easily open an account in Germany (in this case with Postbank).
Instructions for filling out an application to open a bank account with Postbank
To open a bank account with Postbank, go to their website: Postbank Giro direkt and click on the button "Online abschließen" (German: conclude online) to go to the application form for a personal account.
Go down a little bit to skip the advertising banner of Postbank and go to the first part of the application:
1. In this part, you enter your personal information: gender (Frau - female, Herr - male), first name (Vorname), if you have additional first names, you also enter them (Weitere Vornamen), last name (Nachname), marital status (under "Zur Bonitätsprüfung", e.g. ledig - single, verheiratet - married).
2. In the next section, you provide your date of birth, place of birth (Geburtsort) and nationality (Staatsangehörigkeit).
Next, you must answer whether you were born in the US or have US citizenship (1).
Then you have to indicate if you are only taxable in Germany (2). If you work most of the year in Germany, live here permanently or just settle your taxes here, you should tick JA (yes). If you have ticked JA, then in section "Die Steuer-Identifikationsnummer ist" tick "nicht bekannt" if you do not know your Steuer-Identifikationsnummer or do not have it at hand.
At the end of this part of the application you have to indicate your address: country and address (see field "Geben Sie hier Ihre Adresse ein") and whether you have lived here for more than 3 years (Wohnen Sie hier seit über drei Jahren?).
Please enter your cell phone number (1). This must be from a German mobile phone provider. You will receive your TAN codes for Online-Banking on this number.
Then please enter your contact information (2).
Finally, indicate that you have read all legal information (at each point "IAM") and click on the "Weiter" button to proceed to the summary:
In the summary you can check all the data you entered. If everything is correct, you can scroll to the bottom of the page and return the application by clicking on "Kostenpflichtig bestellen" (sometimes Postbank changes the name of this button, for example "Jetzt online abschließen").
After submitting your application, you must confirm your identity:
- In person (persönlich) or by video (Videolegitimation). In our case, we chose to confirm our identity via video.
- Therefore, you have to choose whether you want to identify yourself now or later (you will receive an e-mail notification). In order to identify yourself by video, you will need a computer with a camera and microphone, as well as proof of identity and a phone with the phone number you provided in the application. If in doubt, ask in the comments.
When it comes to verification in person, more information can be found above under the item "Activation of an account in Postbank".
Opening a bank account with Norisbank Germany
A Norisbank account is free if there is a monthly cash inflow of €500 or more. If this requirement is not met, a fee of €3.90 is charged at the end of the following quarter for opening the account from 27.01.2021. The month in which the account was opened is free of charge to give the new customer time to inform their payment partners about the new connection to the Norisbank account.
A Norisbank account carries the following benefits:
- Free cash withdrawals with your Maestro card (debit card) at over 31,000 locations (use the ATM finder here: www.norisbank.de)
- Free credit card in the first year. From the 13th month, an annual fee of €24 applies
- Cash machines throughout Germany, search engine (as above): www.norisbank.de. Free with Maestro at Deutsche Bank ATMs
- Free cash withdrawals abroad at all ATMs with the Mastercard logo
To activate your Norisbank account, you must identify yourself. Norisbank offers two ways:
- video ID in about 5 minutes
- You can also confirm your identity at a Deutsche Post branch using the Postident procedure – for this you will need a Postident voucher, which you receive with your account application (below you will find step-by-step instructions on how to do this online) and a valid identity document. Send the signed application form to norisbank GmbH, 10910 Berlin. Tip: It is best to submit it at a Deutsche Post branch
To open a bank account with Norisbank, go to their website: www.norisbank.de and click on the button “Jetzt eröffnen” (German: open now) to proceed to the application form for a personal account. Below you will find a step-by-step guide with pictures to help you open a Norisbank account in Germany.
Instructions on how to apply for a Norisbank account
To open a bank account with Norisbank, go to their website: www.norisbank.de and click on the button "Jetzt eröffnen" to go to the application for opening a personal account.
First, indicate whether you are already a Norisbank customer:
If not, select "Nein, noch nicht" and click on the "Weiter" button to display further options.
In the next section you have to answer the question whether you want to open an individual account (Einzelkonto) or a joint account (Gemeinschaftskonto):
If you open an account exclusively for yourself, you select "Einzelkonto" and click on the "Weiter" button. Next, Norisbank wants to know if you are self-employed - "Arbeiten Sie als Selbständiger?".
After selecting from one of the options, you will see another page where you need to decide on additional options (see step 2).
First, you need to decide if you want an overdraft (the bank gives you a given amount by which you can overdraw your account) - if so, check "I" next to "Dispositionskredit" and choose the amount:
At point two, you must decide if you are ordering a credit card. There are two types of credit cards to choose from:
- Maestro Card direkt (creditworthiness required), which is free in the first year and costs 24 euros per year in subsequent years. Its advantage is that you can withdraw money free of charge 12 times a year all over the world. In addition, unlimited cash withdrawals in ATMs of partner banks, e.g. Barclays, Bank of America and others. Additionally, money can be withdrawn free of charge within Germany at ATMs of banks belonging to the so-called "Cash Group", which include Postbank and Deutsche Bank. Money can also be withdrawn at partner supermarkets in Germany such as ALDI SÜD, Lidl, Netto-Markendiscount, PENNY, REWE, toom Baumarkt and others. The card is also available without regular income.
- Maestro Card which is completely free of charge, but regular deposits are required. As with Maestro Direct, withdrawals are free of charge within Germany at ATMs belonging to the "Cash Group" as well as at partner supermarkets.
In point 3 you have to decide if you want to open a savings account (Tagesgeldkonto), which will be listed as a sub-account.
Further on the same page you can select additional options:
In point 4, we mark if the account will be used as a company account (if so, we mark it). In section 4 we mark if we want to enable additional function of monitoring our expenses (if yes, we mark it, if no, we leave it blank). At the end we have to mark if we agree to receive information about current bank's promotions (if yes, we have to mark how - by phone or e-mail).
Click the "Weiter" button to go further.
In the following section of the form, you must provide personal information:
Then fill in the information about your address of residence (Meldeadresse) and give your telephone number and e-mail address to which the documents will be sent. Under "Bezug zu den USA" you must indicate whether you were born in the USA (option 1) and whether you have American citizenship (option 2):
Finally, under the heading steuerliche Ansässigkeit you have to indicate whether you are liable to tax in Germany (option 1), in Germany and another country (option 2) or not in Germany and another country (option 3). You also agree to the verification of our reliability by SCHUFA and click on the button "Weiter" to proceed:
The next step is a collection of various pieces of information that you need to read and confirm that you have read them (the "I" buttons next to each information section:
One of the final steps is a summary:
You will need to select a PIN and click on the "Jetzt verbindlich beantragen" button (see above) to send an application for a bank account with Norisbank.
Opening a bank account with German Commerzbank
Currently Commerzbank offers the following types of accounts:
Free “Basic” account (we will focus on this later in this guide)
Extra Klassik (6,90 € / month)
Extra Premium (12,90 € / month)
The account is free of charge under the following conditions:
- You use the current account privately
- Minimum monthly inflow of €700
- You manage your current account digitally (paperless) and use ATMs of Commerzbank or banks belonging to the Cash Group
- EUR 2.50 per transaction/cheque for paper-based domestic/SEPA transfers, for the collection of domestic cheques issued in euro and for cash withdrawals and cash deposits at Commerzbank cash desks
- If your account is credited with less than EUR 700 in a given month, an account management fee of EUR 9.90 will be charged for that month
An account with Commerzbank carries the following advantages:
- It is free of charge when monthly inflows to the account exceed €700
- 50 euro bonus to start. To get the bonus you have to open an account online (see our step by step instructions), use the account for at least 3 months and agree to receive advertising offers by e-mail and telephone. People who have already had an account with Commerzbank within the last two years are not eligible for this promotion
- Free cash withdrawals from all ATMs of Commerzbank and Cash Group in Germany. In addition to Commerzbank, the Cash Group also includes Deutsche Bank, UniCredit Bank, Postbank and all the subsidiary banks of these institutions. More than 9000 ATMs in total
- Cash can also be withdrawn for free at around 1,300 Shell petrol stations and participating branches of Rewe, Penny, Toom, Aldi Süd, Lidl, Edeka, DM, Netto, Norma, Famila and Galeria Kaufhof. The minimum purchase value is between €5 and €20, depending on the store
Details on how to activate your account with Commerzbank can be found in the step-by-step instructions below.
To open a bank account with Commerzbank, go to their website: www.commerzbank.de and click on the button “Kostenloses Girokonto eröffnen” (German: open a free account) to proceed to the application form for a personal account. Below you will find a step-by-step guide with all the necessary pictures to open a free account with Commerzbank.
To open a bank account with Commerzbank, go to their website: www.commerzbank.de and click on the button "Kostenloses Girokonto eröffnen" (German: open a free account) to proceed to the application form for a personal account. Below you will find a step-by-step guide with all the necessary pictures to open a free account with Commerzbank.
In the next step we fill in our personal data:
- Frau / Herr (Mrs / Mr)
- Title (optional)
- First name (Vorname)
- Surname (Nachname)
5. surname of birth (Geburtsname) - optional
6. date of birth (Geburtsdatum)
7. place of birth (Geburtsort)
8. country of birth (Geburtsland) is selected in the menu
9. in the menu choose the nationality (go down to ''Polen'')
Continue by clicking on "Weiter".
In the next part we fill in our registration data: postal code (1), city (2), street (3), house number (4) and since when we live at this address (5).
We can enter the tax identification number (6) of the Steuer-ID (this is not necessary) or tick option 7 (I am tax resident in other countries). Continue by clicking on Weiter (8).
In the next section, select the appropriate employment relationship (1) and then proceed (2).
In the next step we provide how best to contact us. We can give a phone number (1) or an e-mail address (2) which should be repeated (3).
After completing the selected field, we move on (4)
In step five you enter a user name (1) and password (2) which you repeat (3). The user name must be 8 to 50 characters long and contain a minimum of one number or one special character (?_@!...). The password must also be at least 8 characters long.
This will be our login data which is best saved somewhere safe.
We can go to the next step (4).
In this step, we provide our account turnover:
- Monthly income
- Monthly transactions (cash withdrawals, transfers)
- Select this option if you regularly make transfers abroad or receive transfers from abroad.
- After selecting the appropriate amounts go on.
In this step we can opt for an additional debit card. The current cost of this option is 3.50 Euro per month. If you want to take advantage of this offer, check the box (red arrow). Continue (Weiter)
We can also open a DirektDepot. This is an offer for clients who want to trade securities. Regardless of our decision (if we want to open a DirektDepot, we check box 1) we can proceed further (2).
Terms and conditions and declaration of consent (Vertragsbedingungen und Einwilligungserklärungen): In this step, we can download detailed terms and information for our account as a PDF file (Bedingungen und Informationen für das Girokonto (PDF)) as well as the cancellation policy (Widerrufsbelehrung).
We can also choose to send the above mentioned documents together with our application to the e-mail address (1).
Points 2, 3 and 4 are mandatory if we want to proceed further. In these points we confirm the legal conditions for opening an account:
2: I act in my own business interest and not in the interest of third parties;
3: I have taken note of the depositor information sheet which contains information about the amount and scope of statutory deposit guarantees.
4: I have read the depositor information sheet containing information on the scope of deposit insurance and I agree with the deposit insurance agreement.
In the next point, you can select whether you want to receive information about current offers and financial topics. We can choose between a telephone number (5) or e-mail address (6).
We can agree to the use of our data to advise on financial services (7). Like the previous option, this one is also optional.
The last option (red arrow) is that we agree to give our data to Commerzbank's partners (also for financial consulting purposes).
In this step we review and check all the data we have entered. You can change them. We also have the option to download all documents directly as PDF-files (Unterlagen herunterladen) or to send them by e-mail (Unterlagen per E-Mail senden).
It remained for us to confirm our identity.
We download our application directly as a PDF file or use the email option.
We can confirm our data quite conveniently, without leaving home, using a smartphone or tablet. To do so, we use the sms that was automatically sent to our number. Download the Commerzbank videoIDENT application (link in the sms) and use the operation number (also in the sms) by entering it in the application.
We also have the choice to identify ourselves at a branch of the German Post (Deutsche Post) or at one of the branches of Commerzbank.
After a few days, you will receive a photoTAN activation letter. You will also receive your bank card and PIN by mail (for security reasons in two separate letters). Our electronic mailbox will be activated automatically.
Online Banking is available 1 - 2 days after confirmation of your identity.
Using the card is possible after about a week.
I already have a bank account with another German bank. Do I have to close it before opening another one?
This is not necessary – anyone can have as many bank accounts in Germany as they like. Since the procedure to open a new account in Germany (including the time to send new payment cards) usually takes 1-2 weeks, we recommend waiting for this process to be completed. Then make sure that your employer as well as all service providers that charge your account have been informed by you about the change of your account number. Finally, all you have to do is transfer any money from your old bank account and then go to the nearest branch with your payment cards and inform them that you want to close the account. If you go to the bank in person, you do not need a written cancellation.