Setting up a bank account (Girokonto) isn’t difficult, but does take some planning. It’s easiest to walk in at a bank office and schedule for a later appointment. Be sure to bring your passport, residency permit, proof of residence (Meldebescheinigung) and documents stating you’re a student or employee.
If you’re living and working in Hamburg, most sources of your income will be taxable.
- Lohnsteuer (wage tax) is automatically withheld from your wage and paid directly to the Finanzamt (tax office). Rates vary from 14 percent to 45 percent, depending on your income and tax class. Though not obligatory, it can be a good idea to file your taxes: some educational, medical and travel expenditures may be reclaimed.
- Einkommensteuer (income tax) comes from sources like self-employment, service fees and investments. It must be paid separately, on a yearly basis. If (part of) your income stems from other sources than employment, it is your own responsibility to file your taxes in time, either online or in paper form. The deadline is typically the end of May of the following year.
- Umsatzsteuer (VAT or Sales Tax) currently lies at 19% and is paid for services and goods. It is already added to prices in supermarkets, restaurants and shops. Self-employed persons in most occupations have to add it separately to their invoices. A reduced fee of 0% and 7% applies to several services and goods, including newspapers and basic food items.
Important: As tax forms are only available in German, it is advisable to get in touch with a tax advisor, or Steuerberater, who will take over correspondence with the tax office and will fill out the necessary forms according to your specific situation.
Find more information about taxes in Germany at the Hamburg Welcome Center.
Are you an international student? There are several resources for funding. Check out your options.