Opening a Bank Account
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After you have found your new home, or at least a temporary local address, the next thing on your list to do should be to open a bank account.
This is crucial because large payments in Germany are usually made by bank transfer, called an Überweisung, not check, credit card, or cash. You’ll need the account early on to transfer your first rent payment, your security deposit (Kaution), and your student services fee (Studentenwerksbeitrag) (please note: Exchange students must pay the student services fee in cash).
A regular checking account is called a Girokonto, and a savings account is called a Sparkonto. Online and telephone banking is available, and most banks have cash machines available in their entryways, accessible 24 hours a day.
If you are coming from an EU country with the euro as the currency, you are not obliged to open a German bank account since transferring money within the eurozone is very easy and can be done online. A German bank account might be a good idea, however, so you can avoid paying a fee each time you are withdrawing cash.
What You’ll Need
- Certificate of proof of residence (Meldebescheinigung) or a copy of your rental contract (Mietvertrag)
- Proof of LMU student status (either student ID card or Zulassungsbescheid (notification of university admission)
- Valid identity card or passport
Most students set up an automatic monthly transfer agreement (Dauerauftrag) to pay their rent since it’s so convenient. To pay for utilities and a landline telephone, on the other hand, you are likely to be asked to supply bank account information and sign an Einzugsermächtigung, or permission for the utility company to automatically withdraw your bill payment monthly. It's common and quite safe and, like the Dauerauftrag, can save you a lot of time and headaches.
Make sure . . .
. . . the bank you choose exempts students from routine fees (most do), and that it doesn’t charge extra for using its cash machines. You should also check with your bank in your home country about exchange rates and how they handle transfers.
Need to Know More?
The “Make it in Germany” website has a helpful section on Money and Banking.