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. The process takes more time though. Download the form by clicking on the British flag for the English version. Don’t forget to add a copy of your passport AND a copy of your Meldebescheinigung with it. No need to check the “alternative” offer in the PDF.

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.

168 Comments

  • Reply giada 10/01/2017 at 12:03

    Hi,
    will the free Schufa be enough for a landlord to rent an apartment or I have to get the one that costs 29.95 euro? ..if so, do i just need to fill the form with my personal data but leave the “alternative” part and the “bank account data” ? Also do I need to tick “Current Scores” on the same paper?

    thank you for your answer!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 10/01/2017 at 16:09

      Hi Giada. Yes, the free copy is enough for your prospective landlord. As mentioned in the post, no need to fill in the “alternative” part.

  • Reply Rohith 06/01/2017 at 13:49

    Hi,

    Thank you for the detailed article. It really helps.
    I am looking to buy my schufa from meinschufa.de. I have two questions. It would be great if you could answer them

    1. If I buy the schufa online from meinschufa.de, will I be able to download the schufa immediately or will it come by post?
    2. It says we can demand a reimbursement within 8 weeks. So, can we get back the amount (~30 euros) back.

    “Hinweis: Ich kann innerhalb von acht Wochen, beginnend mit dem Belastungsdatum, die Erstattung des belasteten Betrages verlangen. Es gelten dabei die mit meinem Kreditinstitut vereinbarten Bedingungen.”

    Thanks and Regards,
    Rohith

  • Reply Mark 30/12/2016 at 20:26

    Will debts from other countries come up on my Schufa or is it specific to Germany?

    Thanks

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 02/01/2017 at 09:55

      Hi Mark. On this page on their website, under “Produktinhalte”, they list the countries in which they have partners. It’s hard to know if those partners are as efficient and widespread as SCHUFA in Germany.

  • Reply Khwezi 20/12/2016 at 15:52

    Hi, I had to leave Germany very quickly because of a death in the family, I was a student, but had an outstanding cellphone bill of about 300Euro. 1 How do I pay the money back?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 21/12/2016 at 10:16

      Hi Khwezi. Get in touch with your cellphone provider to resolve the matter. Give them your client reference number if you still have it.

  • Reply Sue 19/12/2016 at 22:28

    Hi there, my question is one what condition my name goes in the SCHUFA list?
    Is it true that I must get three letters from a bailiff, and if I don’t answer none of them then my name goes in the list?
    I had problem with ZDF/ARD beitragsservice. No body was willing to talk to me in English although I called several times and I was treated very disrespectfully. It was after I got a letter from a bailiff that someone finally talked to me in English. More interestingly, the bailiff was refusing to talk in English and finally she sent me a letter. But I cannot figure out if it’s about SCHUFA or not. 🙁 Does she has the right to put my name in the list after only one letter? I already told her I’m in contact with Beitragsservice people to pay them….

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 20/12/2016 at 10:51

      Hi Sue. It’s likely not going to impact your SCHUFA score if you resolve this situation quickly from now on. However, the only way to know for sure is to order a copy of your record afterwards.

  • Reply Mun 05/12/2016 at 16:14

    Hi there,
    i wonder if anybody can help.
    what exactly does SCHUFA records? say for instance you purchased something from a shop, swipe your card for 50Euros, but that that transaction only get debited from your account 10 days later when there isnt enough money on your account. but then they try debit the next month when there is money and it goes through. is this considered a missed payment? and can this go onto your credit record?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 05/12/2016 at 18:23

      Hello there Mun. Those smaller operations have probably little impact on your record. Your answer on what is recorded here here.

  • Reply Limo 02/12/2016 at 13:33

    Hi
    How long is a Schufa report valid for? I received mine 4 months ago but since then I am still looking for my own place. I send it when applying for every flat but I am now wondering if it being 4 months old, it’s making my application look bad. Hoping it’s acceptable as purchasing a report once a month will cost a lot of cash in the long run as it takes so long to find somewhere in Berlin.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 02/12/2016 at 17:25

      Hi Limo. That’s a good question and i think it’s up to each landlord to decide here. I think however it’s safe to say that anything less than 9 months old is pretty good.

  • Reply Jeffrey 15/11/2016 at 16:19

    If I fill the form for Schufa to request record, where should I put that I requested for free copy?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 16/11/2016 at 08:57

      Where to navigate and what to do is indicated at the end of this article.

  • Reply Jeffrey 15/11/2016 at 16:05

    I have negative Schufa I think for my credit card but I am now trying to set a new agreement with the credit card bank on the payment options ( to agree that I will still pay monthly until all settled. My credit card is now cancelled). If the bank agreed, do you think they can remove my Schufa entry?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 16/11/2016 at 08:55

      Yes, please look in the article in the table when it will probably be removed.

  • Reply Alana 10/11/2016 at 23:34

    Hi,
    I’m registered and I have just opened a bank account, will they send me a copy of my Schufa?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 11/11/2016 at 10:03

      Hi Alana. No they won’t. You always need to request it manually.

  • Reply Gabriel 09/11/2016 at 12:30

    Hey there,

    I’ve been in Berlin for 6 years and this is the second time that I’m moving and I will need a new schufa. I have to admit that I’m sloppy to pay my bills like GEZ and had some incidents with late payments of my Krankenkasse while I was a freelancer (I’m employed now). Do you think these incidents could bring schufa score below the acceptable?

    Thanks!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 09/11/2016 at 13:23

      Hi Gabriel. Hard to say. The only way to know is to get yourself a copy of your record.

  • Reply Beth 05/11/2016 at 21:33

    Hello,

    [original comment edited by moderator for clarity. Beth and husband were in Germany 10 years ago. They thought they terminated their Telekom mobile contract when moving back home, which Telekom denies]

    10 years later, we are set to return to Germany in the early summer of next year. Is 10 years long enough that these debts may not exist on our schufa any longer? Or do we need to be prepared to deal with this before establishing a new home?

    I have reviewed the links that you provided for obtaining a copy of our schufa reports, unfortunately we never obtained a Meldebescheinigung while living in Germany. All contract type services either just used our U.S. passport or even our U.S. military ID. What can we do to obtain a schufa report?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 06/11/2016 at 11:47

      Hello Beth. If you never registered in Germany, does that mean you also did not have a bank account here? If not, then together with the time that passed, i don’t think it will be a problem for you since you probably never had SCHUFA record during your time here.

      • Reply Beth 06/11/2016 at 21:12

        Thank you for answering so quickly. No, neither of us had a German bank account. I really appreciate your input. If we discover anything otherwise, I will update you in case it is helpful for your readers. Thank you again.

  • Reply nabila 03/11/2016 at 18:57

    Hi i have a schufa record recently cause i did not pay my credit card bill on time .i really dont have any idea about it .i am a student and i need time to pay the money.what is the solution ? can you help me with some information?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 04/11/2016 at 09:51

      Hi Nabila. Try to contact the company that owns the debt to negotiate more time. Otherwise, ask friends or family to lend you money to reimburse it. If nothing else works, there are short-terms loans but i would pick this option as last resort, as i mention it in this post about loans in Germany.

  • Reply kerry D 30/10/2016 at 17:24

    Hiya
    I’ve just moved to berlin with my partner in august and we haven’t got a clue on what we need to do to get our own place. Were from London with british passports, and we’re currently renting a sub let apartment, which means the owners will return soon and we’ll need to find our own place.
    We recently set up a joint account with a bank, does that mean we already have a Schufa? if so do we need to do anything else to help our chances with getting our own place, and do we still need to register with Anmeldung? sorry completely new to this!

    Thank you

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 31/10/2016 at 09:26

      Hi Kerry. Yes you need to go through with your Anmeldung as soon as possible, in the current apartment if possible when the owners agree. You can request a SCHUFA record but it will probably show a blank one. Have you had a look at this page for your search?

  • Reply Tegan 22/10/2016 at 21:29

    Hi!
    Do we need a SCHUFA? or will a credit score from another country suffice? I’m desperately apartment hunting, I’m going to try and get a bank account on Monday and hopefully a phone plan after that but will it be enough? I have tonnes of credit back in Australia, is there a way to get that recognised?
    Thanks so much for your help, this site is incredibly helpful!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 24/10/2016 at 09:45

      Hi there Tegan. It’s good thinking but put yourself in the shoes of your future landlord: being used to SCHUFA records and having a lot of people applying who have this, why bother understanding a record from another system in another language than your own? It never hurts to try however. 🙂 Good luck!

    • Reply Kerry D 26/11/2016 at 14:42

      Thanks for the reply!

      With the Anmeldung, do we still need it if were not applying for a German visa? We’re planning to stay for 1-2 years tops

      Thanks

  • Reply TK 02/10/2016 at 12:17

    Hi,

    Thank you for the useful post. I ordered Schufa online about 2 weeks ago but I have not received any document from them apart from the bill. Will the Schufa be sent directly to my postal address or do they also send it by email?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 03/10/2016 at 10:34

      You will get it by post. I am surprised that it takes such a long time though. Maybe you should call them or send them an email to know what’s going on?

  • Reply Kris 02/10/2016 at 00:24

    I am married in Germany but I never got registered because I work in USA and was worried about the taxes here. The current apartment is rented by my husband who is a German citizen. I want to move bymyself in a smaller apartment but have diffculty because of all the paperwork and not working here is a big minus. I have a bank account for 9 years here, with regular income from my work place in the States, but have not paid any living expenses from it because this was taken care of by my husband. Any ideas if not being registered but having a bank account will allow me to obtain a Schufa ?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 03/10/2016 at 10:30

      Hi there Kris. Quite an unusual situation that lasted for an unusual amount of time! I’d say that you would receive a blank SCHUFA record (no score) since you haven’t paid any bills at all and you are not registered here.

  • Reply Fashola segun Samuel 28/09/2016 at 15:54

    Please I did a contract phone using schufa,in an online shop called smartphone-dealz.com,I really don’t understand the contract.what do I do?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 28/09/2016 at 17:56

      This website seems to let you buy smartphones on credit without a positive (or non-existent) SCHUFA score. I guess they must make you pay a premium price for this service. What’s there not to understand?

  • Reply Maria Victoria 28/09/2016 at 09:39

    Hello! I have ordered my SCHUFA through ImmobilienScout24, I paid EUR 29.95, I only received by e-mail the “SCHUFA-BonitätsChecks” but now they are asking me a Schufa including scooring!!!! what is that? Do I have to pay more or what? I’m completely lost with this, and I am going to live in the street VERY SOON. Thanks for any information.

  • Reply Alias 03/09/2016 at 10:15

    Hello. I am moving to Berlin to study, but I’m also moving out for the first time. In other words I’ve never paid any bills myself, nor have I had any bank accounts or rented anything ever. I’m guessing my SCHUFA will be pretty blank, but I guess I need it to rent a room (so that I can register at the bürgeramt). Would the score of a blank SCHUFA be closer to 100 or 0?
    p.s. thanks for an awesome site.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 03/09/2016 at 15:12

      I don’t remember the exact words but it will say something like “there isn’t any data for this person” and you won’t have a score just yet.

      • Reply Maria Victoria 28/09/2016 at 10:07

        I’m really sorry I’ve pasted the wrong information in the Reply!!!! . It only says: ” Mit dem Verifizierungscode XXXXXXXXXX können Sie die Echtheit dieses Zertifikats innerhalb von 60 Tagen ab Ausstellungsdatum online unter http://is24.de/bonitaetscheck überprüfen.
        Für die Prüfung der Bonität ist die Aktualität der Informationen wichtig.
        Achten Sie daher auf das Ausstellungsdatum des SCHUFA-BonitätsCheck. “

    • Reply Maria Victoria 28/09/2016 at 10:02

      It only says: ” Mit dem Verifizierungscode XXXXXXXXXX können Sie die Echtheit dieses Zertifikats
      innerhalb von 60 Tagen ab Ausstellungsdatum online unter http://is24.de/bonitaetscheck überprüfen.
      Für die Prüfung der Bonität ist die Aktualität der Informationen wichtig.
      Achten Sie daher auf das Ausstellungsdatum des SCHUFA-BonitätsCheck. “

  • Reply Cornelia 17/08/2016 at 16:22

    Hello!

    I just arrived in Berlin a week ago and am having trouble, like many others working out the bureaucratic system here. I am renting a sublet in Wedding for two months and have been told by the person I am renting from that she doesn’t want me to do the Anmeldung in her flat/why would I want to when I’m only staying for two months. I assume this is because she would not want her landlady finding out that I am subletting from her even though she officialy did tell her landlady that I would be staying. I don’t quite understand.

    On your Anmeldung info page you say that a letter from a friend or the person you are staying with should be enough to register. I assume this is still not the case now? So many people have said that I need a landlord/landlady to sign papers and that that was a new law brought in this year?

    I guess this will now mean that I have to find a new flat before I can do my Anmeldung? I’m just aware that I don’t want to be waiting for two months to do my Anmeldung and find a job. Do you know any way around this at all? Also I am half German and have German citizenship. German being my second language but not fluently. Is there any benefit of this for the Anmeldung at all? My head is spinning a bit!

    One last question, can I get a shufa record without my Anmeldung? I would maybe need shufa for a new place so I would hope I wouldn’t need an Anmeldung as I wouldn’t have anywhere to live!

    Any help is much appreciated and sorry if these are super basic questions but I did not expect such complicated loop holes!

    Thank you.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 17/08/2016 at 20:33

      Looooong comment. Don’t hesitate to send me an email for such a long request. ;). In this anmeldung article, i do mention that you need a confirmation from the landlord as well as word from your main tenant (or contract). Best case scenario would have been to make really clear to her that you need to register but i guess that’s too late now. You are in a typical evil circle of bureaucracy that i also mention in this article; you need a SCHUFA record to obtain a flat, but as long as you can’t register somewhere and open a bank account, there is no way for you to obtain one. German citizenship doesn’t help much is my opinion unless you can register at a relative’s place. Try WGs or sublets that will allow you to register or if you have a bit more money, try Wunderflats. You can access flats with no SCHUFA records. Good luck.

  • Reply Mike 16/08/2016 at 11:34

    Hi , I order my schufa by net and pay, when and how I get the answer? By post or mail.. Thank you..

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 16/08/2016 at 12:05

      If you ordered via the MeinSCHUFA website, you receive it by post. If you ordered through ImmoScout, it’s via email.

      • Reply Mike 17/08/2016 at 23:13

        Thanks

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