What is SCHUFA : your credit record

SCHUFA Holding AG is the name of a private company keeping credit records of individuals in Germany.

What is schufa

 

What is SCHUFA : a somewhat intrusive credit record

The company will track all bills or  fines you might have left unpaid and put them in your credit record history. That’s why people say “SCHUFA” , they often mean the record held by the company.

Your record will be check by companies like Deutsche Telekom when opening a phone account or by your bank when you apply for a loan. They will then be able to tell if you have debts or not and if you can be trusted as a customer.

The company is basically rating your ability to pay your bills. This record (called SCHUFA Auskunft) will follow you everywhere as consumer in your everyday life, you‘d better keep it clean !

As a foreigner, it will be automatically created when you have completed your Anmeldung at the Bürgeramt, opened a bank account, and subscribed to a first contract like for an internet line for example.

 

What is SCHUFA : an efficient way to limit your debts

The cleanest SCHUFA score you get at the beginning is rated at 100% . If you don’t pay your bills, this score will decrease accordingly to how much you have been naughty. If it does, it can limit your ability to undertake other contracts which can be frustrating. However, this system is preventing that you become overwhelmed by debts overtime. However, even if you pay all your debts, your score will go down a few percents for some reason. It is completely fine to have score down to 92% for example.

Dont forget to pay on time !

That’s not all bad you see ?! Schufa actually stands for : “Schutzorganisation für Allgemeine Kreditsicherung” which roughly translates to “organisation for general credit safety protection”

As a foreigner, try to “populate” your record with positive entries by paying your phone bills, electricity and gas bills  and so on. It will come handy when you will want to apply to a loan in the bank. In my experience, even if you have been for a while in Germany, if your SCHUFA Auskunft doesn’t look clean, it will be hard to convince your bank.

Landlords ask also very often your credit record to be able to rent a flat.

What should i do if i get a negative entry in my SCHUFA record?

Their FAQs on the matter is not giving any magic formula unfortunately. The only thing you can do is try to resolve the cause of that negative entry as soon as possible and keep the rest of your financial related affairs in order. This mainly means paying all your bills and credits in time, and never use your overdraft possibilities if possible.

Negative records are impacting your score up to 3 years after you resolved your unpaid bills case and it can be kept as a “FYI side note” for up to 6 years overall. Here is a more detailed table.

Information entryHow long it stays in your record
Entries about credits / loans3 years after paying it back
Credit / loan requests12 months after request
Entries about your current bank accounts and credit cardsWhen closing the account
Requests from third-party companies12 months after request at the latest.
Entries about paying your bills late3 years or 4 years in case of unresolved disputes or longer sometimes.
Entries coming from the Amtsgericht concerning your possible debts3 years or sooner if debt has been declared resolved by the Amtsgericht.
Customer accounts with third-party companies3 years

How do i keep my score high?

To keep a good SCHUFA score (above 90%), those are the few recommended things:

  • Don’t open too many bank accounts in different banks and limit the amount of credit cards you own
  • Don’t switch bank account too often
  • If possible, try to keep healthy reserve in the accounts you own
  • Pay your bills on time
  • Check your SCHUFA-score once a year and correct any mistakes you might see

Help, i am stuck: I need a SCHUFA record to rent a flat, but i can’t get one until i’m registered somewhere

This is typical chicken-&-egg situation for many foreigners moving to Germany: landlords ask for a SCHUFA record for you to rent their flat, but you don’t have one since you are not registered (Anmeldung) and can’t open a bank account… because you don’t have a place yet. If you are in this situation, you might want to go for a flat share (WG) and register there until you find your own place. You can also turn to services like Wunderflats, which lets you rent furnished flats without a SCHUFA record.

Tip 1 : You can order a record from the company directly on the following website. It costs only 24,95€. (click on Bonitätauskunft on the homepage) : https://www.meineschufa.de/ . Some Postbank centers do offer to print one for you on the spot as well for the same fee. No need to be a Postbank customer.

However, you are entitled to one free record per year that you can also get from the same website here. On this page, click “Jetzt bestellen” on the right “Datenkopie (nach Art. 15 DS-GVO)” column. Enter your data on the page that follows. You will be able to upload a copy of your passport (“Dokumentupload” > “Kopie des Reisepasses”) and a copy your Meldebescheinigung with it.

Tip 2 : The SCHUFA will hold information about you long after you leave Germany and at a European level too. If you plan to leave unpaid bills behind and then come back to Germany, you might have to think twice before doing it. It could become harsh back fire in the near future.

Tip 3 : This system makes that your personal wealth, your personal property or yearly income doesn’t have any influence on your record ! You could be the richest man in the world but still have the worst record if you didn’t pay your bills. Just bear that in mind.

382 Comments

  • Reply Adam 19/05/2020 at 15:51

    Hi,

    I have a case where I received a Balif letter asking for 125 euros. Basically myself and my partner live in Switzerland and purchased an apartment in Leipzig but unfortunately they sent the land tax bill/document to the wrong address. We realised in March and called them and payment was done immediately. The Office in Leipzig confirmed everything was paid over the phone and quoted a reference.

    Unfortunately the Balif letter received this month was for another identical amount to the one paid as they had split the original payment between myself and my partner. The bill was paid (including additional 40 euro for Balif) just in time so no court action is needed (would have been required to appear in person if not paid) but now I wonder if we can have this removed from the Shufa or if it even appears as we do not live In Germany?

    Seems very unfair as they had sent all other letters to Switzerland.. would we need to contact the local Leipzig office to ask them to have this removed?

    Many thanks,
    Adam

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 20/05/2020 at 10:03

      Hey Adam. You can check your SCHUFA records first to see if it’s showing at all, then call an office to get it corrected if needed.

  • Reply Constance 03/05/2020 at 19:40

    What about past slip ups before I’ve even received a Schufa score? I had a prepaid sim card ….I thought it deactivated with no debts owed. When I came back to German and use it again it shows unpaid debts. Will this factor into my Schufa score once I get one?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 05/05/2020 at 15:33

      Hey Constance. That’s a great question and i simply don’t know. The best would be to call them and ask directly?

  • Reply Caoimhe Donnelly 19/04/2020 at 13:14

    Myself and two friends are looking for an apartment in Berlin. I will be arriving before them and finding a flat for all of us. Do landlords require SCHUFA from all tenants or would they be satisfied with just one from me? If this is the case is it still possible for my two friends to register with that landlord?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 23/04/2020 at 21:14

      Hey Caoimhe. As a rule, they want to see the SCHUFA record of everybody that will be on the contract. Some landlords maybe more flexible. Your friends can register of course, provided they are either hauptmieter with you, or untermieter.

  • Reply NOS Stewart 28/03/2020 at 09:53

    Hi, Is it possible that I get my Schufa in English?It is needed for a firm in the Caribbean. I ordered it recently with a mobile option for one year however the firm is unable to understand the details. What can I do? To translate the entire thing is quite expensive.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 29/03/2020 at 21:04

      Hey NOS. Yeah, not an English version around sorry.

      • Reply Ahmad Metwalli 23/04/2020 at 06:02

        Hello Mr. Bastien. I think I have a complicated problem with SCHUFA and I would like to have your opinion. It’s a long story and complicated. Can you please contact me to talk. Thank you

        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 23/04/2020 at 21:29

          No. I am not a consultant.

  • Reply Mohana 20/03/2020 at 20:14

    Hi,
    I took a credit card loan of 2000€. actually, I am unemployed from last 6 months. i suppose to repay the money by end of March 2020. due to financial problems, I didn’t. Now bank proceeds to close the credit card contract. Now, they trying to reclaim the debt with a collection agency. i would like to know what option available to have a good schufa rating. I am ready to pay full amount. But I want to keep a good schufa score.

    please suggest me.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 29/03/2020 at 20:48

      Hey Mohana. Contact the collection agency and pay what you owe asap. There is no other way unfortunately.

  • Reply ava 14/03/2020 at 10:58

    Hey! When do I need to get a new SCHUFA? My last one is from April 18 when applying for my current place. Now I am applying for new apartments, does that mean I need to get a new one?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 19/03/2020 at 21:44

      Hey Ava. Depends on the landlord really. The most recent it is, the best i suppose.

  • Reply Jessica Surman 17/02/2020 at 11:49

    Hi there, thanks for this article! I am going for a viewing at a WG, and have been asked to provide Schufa. I have just arrived in Berlin and have not got Anmeldung yet, so am I not able to get Schufa? The current flatmate has told me that I can get it if someone with a German bank card pays for it for me. Any insight appreciated!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 17/02/2020 at 16:49

      Hey Jessica. You have fallen in the typical issues of newcomers in Germany. You don’t have SCHUFA record yet and therefore can’t produce one. The best you can provide at this point is a so called “Mietschuldenfreiheitsbescheinigung“, which a paper filled in by your former landlord stating you haven’t left the contract with unpaid rent.

  • Reply Fritz 27/12/2019 at 13:10

    Hello Bastien,

    I realise you might not be the best resource for these questions but maybe you can provide some guidance.

    What happens when someone is unable to make credit card payments if they are unemployed? Here is a hypothetical example: say someone has 3.000 EURO of credit card debt that they are unable to pay and the bank proceeds to close the credit card contract. I assume that they would then try and reclaim the debt with a collection agency but what happens if the person no longer lives in Germany and has not registered German address? You talk about their being fines should the person return to Germany and have to but in the case the person is not to return is a negative SCHUFA score a problem after 3 or even 6 years.

    In this instance do you think the bank might be willing to close the matter if the person is to offer a settlement amount (albeit much less than the total amount owed) and then consider the matter resolved as opposed to going to a collection agency?

    You also talk about SCHUFA having an impact on a European level but should the person leave Germany how does a negative SCHUFA score impact their credit worthiness elsewhere (either within or outside of Europe).

    Otherwise might you know who someone could talk to if they have problems of this nature and no do not speak German.

    Thanks
    F

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 30/12/2019 at 15:42

      Hey Fritz. I cant really comment on this matter as the SCHUFA logic is not disclosed to anybody. If this person would leave Germany and only return after a long while, then yes, in theory the SCHUFA would not impacted anymore. In theory. The settlement option is a possibility but i believe you’d rather negotiate installments to repay the whole sum than negotiation the sum down. I can’t really direct you to anybody else. Maybe try a lawyer?

      • Reply Fritz 08/01/2020 at 20:45

        Hey Bastien,
        Unfortunately the bank doesn’t want to negotiate a payment plan and insists that the debt go to a collections agency despite repeated attempts to resolve. Since the person in question has already moved away from Germany and doesn’t plan on ever returning so what do you think makes the most sense? A lawyer would certainly be an expense that is not financially feasible. Plus how would the debt collection agency know where this person is now located?

    • Reply Krishna 12/01/2020 at 21:54

      Hi,

      I have missed the payment of 1800 euro of credit card and radio bill of 550 euro but recently i have paid the bills and cleared the matter. I settled in 2-3 months after I got notice.

      How much impact will this have on my schufa score? And can I get personal loan from a bank. ?

      Best Regards,
      Krishna

  • Reply mememe 13/12/2019 at 15:55

    Hi! Can I still ask for Schufa in case I already did Abmeldung to a foreign country? I was with registered address for several months. I can still access the mail there though. Thanks!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 17/12/2019 at 00:24

      Hey Mememe. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ . You can always try, it’s for free.

  • Reply Gent 10/11/2019 at 20:53

    I am living in a WG and in two months I am going to another apartment due to the family reunion. And I need to cancel the previous rent. Is that a bad point?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 25/11/2019 at 11:42

      Hey Gent. Not necessarily, if you respect the cancellation notice time and terms.

  • Reply Gabs 01/10/2019 at 16:29

    Thanks so much for sharing this article … stumbled upon your wonderful website in my search for flats to rent in Germany ….the more research I do, the more confused i get … so this SCHUFA can’t be applied for unless you have a registered address ( Anmeldung) am I right ? and are there any other platforms ( housing websites ) to rent a 1 BR flat ( not shared ) without having to provide a SCHUFA ? ( aside from Wunderflats which are CRAZY EXPENSIVE btw ) Thanks in advance.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 04/10/2019 at 09:57

      Hey Gabs. Another way would be get into a WG first, to register an address.

      • Reply Gabs 30/10/2019 at 04:02

        Hi ! Thanks a lot for your reply. Do you have more info on this pls ( website, etc …) ? Thanks a lot !

    • Reply Anja 09/10/2019 at 19:25

      Also, not all landlords ask for Schufa. I survived without Schufa in Germany for 3 years and 4 temporary flats (i.e. fully furnished flats, but you live in them on your own). Most do want to see it though, especially if you get the flat though Immobilien Welt.

      • Reply Gabs 30/10/2019 at 04:05

        Thanks so much ! That’s kind of a relief to know lol 🙂 May i ask which websites did you use to find your flats through ?

  • Reply NOEL 13/09/2019 at 22:32

    Hello, i got already a positive schufa rating and i am planning to apply for a loan in my bank . I am just afraid if i applied for a loan , will it automatically affect my score because i have an existing loan even if i paid it on time?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 17/09/2019 at 11:10

      Hey Noel. Just make sure you ask for the conditions of a loan first, and not make a loan application in itself. This way, just asking for information won’t affect your score.

  • Reply Maria Gutierrez 03/08/2019 at 23:26

    Hi! Thanks for this article, it’s of great help. I do have a question. I understand the Schufa is possible only once per year. Once I register, can I order it even if I haven’t paid any bills (i.e. I register within the first week of arrival to Berlin and immediately take the Schufa)? What would be the score then?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 05/08/2019 at 11:24

      Hey Maria. Not exactly. You can order it as many times as you want, it’s free once per year. Your Schufa report might simply state there is nothing about you yet.

  • Reply Alex 24/07/2019 at 23:56

    This SCHUFA thing blows my mind! I thought that Germany was the most strict country in EU in terms of GDPR, but here you go- a private company gets all your personal information and no one ever ask if you are ok with it.

    Do you think I can demand to delete all the information related to me basing on Global Data Protection Regulation?

    Great article by the way!

  • Reply medyna 18/07/2019 at 18:27

    Hey Luca !
    According to your tip 1 you can ask for a shufa without sending it to the place your angemeldet and take it directly at postbank or ?

    Thanks in advance !

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 19/07/2019 at 14:17

      Hey. You can get one at a Postbank yes.

  • Reply trish 16/07/2019 at 17:36

    Hi, and thanks for sharing this info! I paid my bill late and the collecting agency(Inkasso) got involved, but in the end I paid all the Bills. Will I have a negative Schufa entry? What’s the impact on the Schufa record?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 19/07/2019 at 10:12

      Hey Trish. It depends on multiple factors so i can’t really reply on this one. The best way to check is to order a record once bills have been paid to see the impact.

  • Reply Luca 08/06/2019 at 20:42

    Hi, and thanks for running this amazing website! Does paying your rent late impact your Schufa score? In my case it is a private renter (so I’m not sure if or how they would communicate that information to the relevant info-gathering place), and the rent was payed a day or two late on several occasions. Thanks!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 12/06/2019 at 15:46

      Hey Luca. Can’t be sure about anything but only a few days late is probably not having any impact on your score.

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