Apr 26, 2016

Banks and insurances in Germany

Germany relies on banks much more than Italy. I strongly advise you to attempt to open a bank account (Girokonto) as soon as you find a flat, before relocating to Germany. Here I assume that you will look for a non online-only bank account. I wrote attempt to open an account because most of the banks expect you to have a German residence and address when you open a bank account.

That said, most bank employees will understand your situation. They let me open a bank account with minimum working functionalities. By recording my Italian address and phone number, they provided me a bank account with IBAN address and a read-only home banking service. This is sufficient to:

  • Deposit money (at the bank office or through bank transfer)
  • Withdraw money (at the bank office)
  • Create SEPA mandates (you just sign some forms)
  • Check your balance online

Once you relocate and have your residence registered to the town (Anmeldung), you can come back to the bank and update your data. From that point on, you can apply for a bancomat (Bankkarte or Bankcard), a credit card (Kreditkarte), and a fully working home banking.

Now it would be a good time to ask the bank employees for insurance services, as it might be the case that there is a discount for existing customers.


Here I deal with the classic private insurances for individuals. I am not dealing with health and social insurances. Those are well-covered here.

There are three types of classic private insurances:

  • Personal (third party) liability insurance (Haftpflichtversicherung)
  • Household contents insurance (Hausratversicherung))
  • Car/vehicle insurance (Kfz-Haftpflichtversicherung / Autoversicherung)

The only really mandatory insurance is the one for vehicles, shall you have a vehicle of course. The personal liability and household contents insurances are not mandatory but are often mandated by a renting contract. Now, I heard that these obligations cannot really enforced. However, you would be just crazy to not have at least a personal liability insurance.

Costs for those insurances are comparable to those in Italy, at least in my previous town. I am currently paying ca. 450,00€/year for my car insurance (it is a Grande Punto) and ca. 250,00€/year for a combined personal liability insurance and household contents. However, I have to admit that for the latter I went with almost the full package. A basic combination would have costed me ca. 120,00 €/year.

written by dgraziotin

Dr. Daniel Graziotin received his PhD in computer science, software engineering at the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, Italy. His research interests include human aspects in empirical software engineering with psychological measurements, Web engineering, and open science. He researches, publishes, and reviews for venues in software engineering, human-computer interaction, and psychology. Daniel is the founder of the psychoempirical software engineering discipline and guidelines. He is associate editor at the Journal of Open Research Software, academic editor at the Research Ideas and Outcomes (RIO) journal, and academic editor at the Open Communications in Computer Science journal. He is the local coordinator of the Italian Open science local group for the Open Knowledge Foundation. He is a member of ACM, SIGSOFT, and IEEE.


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