Complete guide to opening a business bank account in Germany

Complete guide to opening a business bank account Germany
  • International business

Opening a business bank account in Germany is a necessary step in completing your business registration process.

  • German law mandates business bank accounts for several entities
  • These include GmbH, UG, AG, eG, KGaA, or eV

The challenge: You usually need to already have established a business in Germany and need documentation such as a commercial register extract.

We walk you through the process and suggest valuable alternatives to keep your financial expenses as low as possible from day 1.

Benefits of opening a German bank account

Once you have opened your business account in Germany, you are ready to starting business in Germany and profit from a lot of benefits when it comes to your financial transactions. First of all, you gain access to the SEPA network, which allows you to pay like a local within the 27 EU member states plus Switzerland, the UK, San Marino, Vatican City, Andorra, Monaco as well as the three EEA countries of Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein.

This is not only beneficial to you, but also to your customers and suppliers. If you rely on the SWIFT network for international transactions, high costs incur, which are either paid by the sender, by the receiver or shared by both parties. The SEPA network eliminates these additional costs and lets you pay throughout Europe at local transaction costs, which only comprise a small fraction of the SWIFT network costs. Further, when using a EUR account, you also save on conversion fees when conducting business in Europe.

What to consider when choosing a business bank account?

The right business bank account in Germany mainly depends on your personal preferences. Before choosing a partner, it is worth comparing the following points:

  • Services: How much service do you need from your bank? Are online banks enough or do you prefer brick-and-mortar branches? This decision will also influence the fees and charges structure.
  • Fees: Look into account maintenance fees, transaction fees, overdraft fees, FX fees, additional fees for debit cards or ATM withdrawals and any other charges associated with the account. Compare these fees across different banks to find the most cost-effective option for your business.
  • Foreign currency account: If you are planning trade outside the European Union, you might consider an additional foreign currency account to receive, hold and spend currencies other than the Euro. Alternatively, you can check for online financial providers to conduct your international business payments.
  • Minimum balance: Some business accounts require a minimum balance to be maintained. Ensure that the minimum balance requirement aligns with your business’ cash flow and financial capabilities.
  • Additional features: Accounts may come with additional benefits such as interest payments on your account balance, physical and virtual debit or credit cards, various integrations and more.

By considering these and other personal preferences, you are able to develop a framework of how to choose the best bank account for your business.

Comparing business bank accounts

After having established your outline, you can compare different business bank accounts.
See an example below:

Deutsche Bank Business BasicKontoCommerzbank Klassik GeschäftskontoN26 Business You
PurposeBasic model for low usageBasic model for low usageMainly for freelancers
Basic price€12.90/month€0 basic price for 6 months, then €12.90/month€9.90/month
SEPA transfers€0.3510 free orders per month (from the 11th order €0.20 per order)€0.49 per transaction
Cards1 debit card includedBusiness Card Premium Debit, €5.90/month1 debit card included
ServicesOnline banking and brick and mortar banksOnline banking and brick and mortar banksOnline banking

Can non-resident aliens open a business bank account in Germany?

In principle, all German banks can open a business account to foreign nationals, however, most banks require foreigners to hand in various documents, which in turn require a residency.

Frequently required documents include:

  • Proof of identity such as ID card or passport
  • Evidence of business activity: e.g. business registration for traders, extract from the commercial register for merchants, founding documents for start-ups, etc.
  • Proof of representation rights and powers of the company or entrepreneur
  • Proof of professional status and authorization to represent you: This applies to notaries, lawyers and trustees

To summarise, it might be possible to set up a business bank account in Germany as a non-resident, however, in most cases, you will need to have a permanent residency in Germany to open a bank account and start your business activities.

What German banks offer bank accounts for foreigners?

When opening a business in Germany as a foreigner, it is advisable to first of all check the larger German banks and compare their offers and requirements. The top 3 German banks in 2022 are Deutsche Bank, DZ Bank as well as Commerzbank.

  • Deutsche Bank: In the financial year of 2022, Deutsche Bank reported total assets of around 1.337 billion Euros, which makes it by far the largest bank in Germany. Deutsche Bank offers 3 business accounts, which offer different features, such as the amount of business debit and business credit cards issued.
  • DZ Bank: With total assets of 627 billion Euros in 2022, the German Central Cooperative Bank (Deutsche Zentral-Genossenschaftsbank) is the second biggest bank in Germany. Opening a business bank account requires an identification document for legitimation, a business registration or an extract from the commercial register, your business ID/tax identification number as well as a current extract from the transparency register for legal entities.
  • Commerzbank: With total assets of 534 billion Euros by the end of September 2022, Commerzbank is among the largest credit institutions in Germany. The Commerzbank offers 3 subscription models for a business bank account in Germany, which differ in their scope of service. You can check online whether you qualify for a business bank account in Germany at Commerzbank.

Alternatives of a business bank account in Germany

As you have seen, opening a bank account in Germany is associated with a lot of red tape. This is even a bigger problem for young startups, which need quick access to the European financial market. Luckily, there are a few things, which can be done to minimise your transaction and FX conversion costs from the get-go.

Create a foreign currency account at your local bank

You might be inclined to open a foreign currency account at your local bank before coming to Germany, as you are able to conduct transactions in Euros. With a foreign currency account, you can both receive and make payments in currencies other than your home currency.

However, even though you can save conversion fees when opening a foreign currency account in Euros, you will not be able to make local transactions through the SEPA network, as compared to a business bank account in Germany. Further, you might encounter increased handling fees and paperwork when opening a foreign currency account. Therefore, weigh in all the pros and cons before making a decision and check out other alternatives.

Create a EUR account with amnis

Foreign currency accounts in amnis dashboard

A better alternative to a foreign currency account at your local bank is creating a EUR account at amnis. As a global financial provider, amnis enables you to hold multiple currencies and conduct transactions at transparent costs within one account. With amnis, you are able to access the SEPA network from the beginning, which enables you to save significant amounts of money with every transaction.

Further, when choosing to open a business account in Germany with amnis, you have all the means necessary to streamline your financial transactions. Clever cash management automations enable you to automatically convert incoming funds to your home currency and send them to your house bank account. Alternatively, you can buy Euros or other currencies automatically on a weekly or monthly basis to make sure you always have enough balance and to mitigate currency fluctuation risk.

Even better: The amnis EUR account comes with a free physical multi-currency business debit card plus unlimited virtual debit cards, so that you can already set up your financial operations from the start. Opening an account at amnis is paperfree and takes only 48 hours until you can profit from all its benefits.

NEW: Your safeguarded funds at amnis help you earn interest on your business account balances. As one of just a few providers, amnis is now forwarding interest on foreign currency accounts, including EUR, USD, CZK and GBP.

Improve your international payments today

With amnis, you gain access to a financial ecosystem to streamline your financial processes and reduce unnecessary transaction costs. You gain full control over all your expenses and pay like a local wherever you are, no matter where your company is located. Further, you are able to make use of physical and virtual multi-currency debit cards.

Set up your free demo account with amnis now to make your transition to Germany as smooth as possible.

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Sabrina Maly
As a marketing manager at amnis I provide SMEs with fx market, international business and news updates on our blog & FAQ page.
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