If you're looking to set up a bank account, you can choose between branch-based banks and direct banks. Branch-based banks operate with subsidiaries where customers can approach staff members face-to-face. Direct banks do not have local offices, so your account will be set up and managed online (online account). An overview of numerous Hamburg-based bank institutes can be found in the Hamburg Business Directory (available in German only).
Some banks offer bank accounts that are free of charge under certain conditions, while others demand an account maintenance fee. It is recommended to ask more than one bank institution for their account types and any fees that may be charged, so that you can compare.
In order to use your bank account in everyday life, you will receive an electronic chip card. With this card and the corresponding PIN you can make cashless payments in most shops and restaurants. You can also withdraw money free of charge from your bank’s cash machines (when using cash dispensers from other banks, a withdrawal fee may be charged).
Before setting up a bank account, the bank needs to verify your identity. You will be asked to submit the following documents:
- a valid ID card or passport,
- a registration certificate stating your current residence in Germany
- for some banks and/or account types: a pay statement from your employer and your residence permit.
Normally, setting up a bank account is a personal affair and can’t be done by a third person. (Exception: persons with parental responsibility filling in for underage children.)
Loss or robbery
Upon loss or robbery, you should immediately block your bank card to prevent misuse by third parties. The free blocking emergency phone number 116 116 can be reached around the clock (please dial +49 116 116 or +49 (0)30 40 50 40 if you are abroad at the time of the call). For blocking the lost bank card, please keep your account number / IBAN and the bank code / BIC (or at least the name of the bank as an alternative) ready.