Your current account

Having a bank account is essential in Germany! A normal account is called a “Girokonto (current account)”. In this way people can transfer your money – your employer for example – or you can send money to friends and relatives. You can also withdraw cash from cash machines. Your bank will provide you with an “EC-Karte (debit card)” to do this. You can pay with your EC-Karte (debit card) in most shops and restaurants. The Basiskonto (basic account) is a particularly simple type of

Girokonto (current account). It offers you all the typical functions of a Girokonto (current account) and is particularly suitable for refugees. More information on the Basiskonto (basic account) can be found here in 7 languages:

You can open a Girokonto (current account) or a Basiskonto (basic account) at the Hamburger Sparkasse (Haspa), the Hamburger Volksbank or Commerzbank. You can also compare the terms offered by other banks here:

Children, pupils, students and trainees / apprentices are usually eligible for a free account. In all other cases, account management fees are usually payable.

Opening the account

To open a Girokonto (current account), you must first arrange an appointment either by phone or in person at the bank you have chosen. Ask about which documents it will be necessary to bring with you to open your new account. Usually at the appointment you will be required to submit proof of identity – for example your identity card or passport.

A document with your name, place of birth and nationality issued by a German immigration authority may also be sufficient. However, it should feature the letterhead and seal of the immigration authority as well as an official’s signature. Also, please bring an interpreter to accompany you if you do not speak German or English.

Withdrawing cash

If you have opened a Girokonto (current account) and the bank has sent you an EC-Karte (debit card) with a PIN then you are able to withdraw cash from cash machines. You can find cash machines in your area here:

Always try to withdraw from cash machines belonging to your bank! Otherwise, you may have to deal with expensive fees. On many cash machines it is also possible to change the language.

Put your card in the card slot, then enter your PIN number and choose the amount you would like to withdraw. Please remember to make sure that no one else can find out your PIN! Generally, your card will be returned first, followed by the cash.

If you make a mistake, stay calm. No matter what happens – if the cash machine did not dispense any money or you left your cash in the machine – please report the incident to the bank immediately. In most cases it is usually possible to resolve the problem at the bank and you will still receive your money.

Last Updated: 26.02.2020

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