Advisor for international doctoral candidates and researchers
Service for international researchers
We strongly recommend opening a bank account with a local German bank if you stay in Germany for a longer period of time. Set up a current account (Girokonto) with a bank, a savings bank (Sparkasse), or with the Postbank (post office savings bank). Your salary, wages or fellowship/scholarship money can be directly transferred to your account, and living expenses such as rent, bills or insurance can be debited from it by standing order or direct debit.
When you open an account with a local bank, you will receive an Electronic Cash card (EC-Karte) that allows you to withdraw cash from any cash machine (note that withdrawal fees may apply if it is a cash machine from a different bank). You can also pay for your purchases in most supermarkets and shops with an EC card. To open an account with a local bank, you will need your passport or identification document and the confirmation of residence you received upon registration at the Bürgerbüro. Since account maintenance charges may vary, it is worthwhile to compare terms and charges.
If you plan to make transactions to and from an account in your home country, it is a good idea to check with your home bank to find out whether it co-operates with a German bank. This may shorten the time required for international transactions, and in some cases reduce or even eliminate transaction fees.
You will be able to use cash, travellers' cheques and credit cards for payments. Alhough credit cards are becoming more and more common in Germany, everyday purchases and payments of small amounts are still typically made using cash or an EC card.