Opening a Company Bank Account in Germany as a Foreign Director

German Corporate Lawyers

Opening a Company Bank Account in Germany
as a Foreign Director

German Corporate Lawyers

At Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte, our corporate lawyers are ready to advise corporate clients on the steps involved with opening a bank account in Germany. In particular, our team is available to guide international clients in their dealings with German banks. Over the years, we have supported many entrepreneurs and professionals in determining which bank is most suitable to their corporate needs.

If you require the advice of our corporate lawyers with opening a bank account in Germany, please do not hesitate to contact our team directly.

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Opening a Corporate Bank Account in Germany: The Procedure

If your company is incorporated, such as a GmbH or UG, it must have a business bank account. These companies need a notarized registration certificate to open a bank account as the companies need to be registered with the Handelsregister – the Commercial register. The document requirements for opening a bank account vary, but generally, the following documents are required:

  • A completed application to open a German bank account;
  • Copy of your travel document – the founder’s passport, including the pages with your photo and signature. The copy must be notarized.
  • A copy of the company’s articles of association certified by a notary;
  • A notarized copy of the company’s Registration Certificate,
  • The shareholder agreement,
  • A utility bill or a statement of your private account with a bank can be presented as proof of your address,
  • A copy of the Power of Attorney in the Director’s name;

It should be noted that different banks can require other documents not listed here. However, if you work with our lawyers directly, they will ensure that your applications are suited to the bank in question.

When incorporating a company determining which company directors will have access to the bank account is an essential step. Once this has been decided, they need to be granted the required powers of attorney to ensure they can access it.

Banks in Germany

When opening a bank account, it is essential to consider the bank itself depending on its available services and account fees. Once the bank has been chosen, it is crucial to prepare all the necessary documents needed for that particular bank. It is advisable to verify with the bank regarding the documents required to avoid any delays that an incomplete document submission may cause.

There are several different forms of banks in Germany, each of which has its legal and ownership structure. Customers choose between the following options:

  1. Private Banks: these private commercial banks represent the largest sector in Germany and include banks such as Commerzbank, Targobank and Deutsche Bank. These banks have branches nationwide and offer everyday banking services alongside other options, including wealth management and investment banking.
  2. Cooperative banks: these banks have a member-based structure and usually focus on small and medium-sized businesses and local investment. Volksbanken and Raiffeisenbanken are popular cooperative banks.
  3. Public Savings Banks: Public savings banks are public sector entities whose effect on local communities shows their success. The Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe is the largest group of public savings banks.

As well as the traditional banking forms, there are international and online banks in Germany that may be more suitable for your business. N26 is a popular online bank that doesn’t have in-person banking facilities and instead has all its business online via its App for desktop or mobile banking. Qonto is another online bank that is more suitable for business accounts as it targets supporting startups and SMEs.

At Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte, our team advises on the options available regarding where to open a bank account.

Opening a Bank Account from Abroad

It is not a legal requirement that a person must be a German resident to open a bank account in Germany; it is more challenging to do it from abroad. If you consider opening a German bank account from abroad, you will face bureaucratic challenges and may need to come to Germany in the case of some banks.

Generally, banks that are strictly available online are those where it is more straightforward for those not living in Germany to open an account without coming to Germany. It can be difficult for non-Germans who do not live in Germany to open a bank account with German banks.

At Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte, our lawyers will advise you regarding suitable banks for those clients looking to open a bank account from abroad.

Of course, the exact bank and its suitability will also vary based on your company’s structure. Banks suitable for freelancers and sole traders may not be suitable for limited companies.

It should be noted that the majority of German business bank accounts need to be opened by directors or significant shareholders in person.

If you are a foreign director and looking to open a bank account in Germany, you may need to show some of the following documents when opening the account:

  • Tax ID card
  • residence permit in Germany
  • sufficient funds to open a business account
  • good credit rating (preferably in Germany)

Being able to display a good credit rating is vital as German banks are very strict on this matter. Often banks seeks details from SCHUFA Holding AG. The SCHUFA collects data from all persons registered in Germany and its purpose is to protect its clients from credit risks. Banks that offer overdraft facilities will often check the clients’ SCHUFA account and creditworthiness data.

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Practice Group: German Corporate Law

Practice Group:
German Corporate Law

Dr. Matthias Wurm