Officialization 6: Bank account

Officialization TOC

Opening a bank account

Versailles… ah to be this rich…

There are a lot of banks here in Saarbrücken, but I decided to go with Deutsche Bank, because they are a well-established chain with branches across Europe (and even some in the US), including Trento, Italy, where I am going next year. Hopefully I can keep the same bank account there.

To open a bank account, you need proof that you have an address. In my case, she said a lease would be sufficient, however, I made sure to register with the city first. The first thing I needed to do, was make an appointment to open an account. To make an appointment, you need der Ausweis (identification), i.e. a passport.

The process at the bank is pretty painless. They ask you some basic questions and open the account for you, after walking you through how the account works. Well, to be honest I didn’t understand much of how the account works, since it was explained to me in German, but it seems like the basics are pretty much the same as in the US.

You can have a free student account until 31 years of age, and you don’t need a starting balance to open this account. After 31 years of age, the account is automatically converted to a non-student one, which costs €5 per month. I’m not 31 yet, so this works for me for now. I don’t know if other banks have better deals or not. I’ll be honest with you, I just don’t have the desire to shop around right now. It’s easier for me to go with a big national chain and just roll with it at this point. If I hear of something better down the road, I can always switch.

Required documents:

  • der Ausweis – identification (I used my passport)
  • die Meldebescheinigung – confirmation of registration from the Bürgeramt

After you set up your account, they give you a bank account number that you can use immediately to transfer money in and out. The bank card and PIN apparently come later in the mail.


After you have an account, Deutsche Bank sends you a shit ton of stuff in the mail. All of these things are different PINs for different forms of logins. The main ones are (a) the PIN to use on the website, (b) the QR-code style PIN to connect your phone, and (c) the 4-digit PIN to actually use your card with at the ATM machines. By the way, make sure to use ATM machines that your bank is affiliated with, otherwise you will get hit with a large fee.

If you are a US citizen, you will also get sent a W-9. As a US citizen, you get taxed even if you are a resident abroad (on amounts over the foreign income exclusion, which is around $100k in 2016), and I guess this form lets Germany report your income to the US, or something… It should go without saying that you should not use this blog for legal or financial advice.

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