Blocked account Germany: the overview you were looking for

If you’ve been asked to setup a blocked bank account for Germany, also called “Sperrkonto”, then you’re probably in the process of applying for a German student visa. It is also sometimes required for other visa applications, like when applying for a short-time visa to learn German, look for a job, or prepare to study in Germany. But it’s most commonly needed for the student visa application.

Think of it like a monthly allowance from your parents, but through a bank and the German government. If you don’t like this option, talk to the immigration office or embassy about alternatives, such as proof of assets, a scholarship, or parental income. But if they insist on a blocked account, I highly recommend you research carefully before signing anything. This is why i’ve gathered the most important points here.

Blocked account Germany comparison

So, what is a blocked account and why do you need one?

A proof of financing…

Proof of financing (Finanzierungsnachweis) is usually one of the first things you’ll need to take care of after selecting a study program. “But why does the German government care about how much money I have? I can just work while I learn.” You might ask. Well, you might not be able to work. Most German short-term visas have strict limitations on how much you can work in Germany. For non-EU or EEA students the standard is 120 full days or 240 half days working per year (double check this at your appointment with the immigration office). This is mostly to ensure you focus on your studies and don’t use the student visa as a type of working visa. By requiring a blocked account for Germany to all students from non-EU countries, the government ensures you can cover basic living expenses.

… and a monthly allowance

Ok, but what is a blocked account? Think of it like a savings account with 0% interest. You hand over all of the money you put aside for your Germany stay, but instead of being able to withdraw as much as you like from the bank, you only get a bit of it each month. The exact amount depends on the conditions of your visa but starting in September 2019 it will be raised to €835 per month (€10.236 for a year). The rest of the money is frozen in the account until the next withdrawal. 

Think of it like a monthly allowance from your parents, but through a bank.


Opening up a blocked account for Germany

Gather requirements & documents

First, check about the requirements for your visa application. The Foreigner’s Office or local embassy needs to tell you how much money you have to block for each month, and which documents they’ll need. With this information you can shop around for the different providers (explained below).

To apply for a blocked account, you’ll always need at least your passport and often confirmation from a university or language school that you’ve been accepted to attend.

Open account and transfer funds

Fill out the account opening forms and wait for them to approve the application.  Next, transfer the required blocked amount to your new account (by using Transferwise for example, for cheaper fees). Some providers let you transfer the required funds in installments, but don’t panic if you don’t receive a confirmation for each partial transfer. Note that transfer times depend heavily on which country or bank the money is coming from. Plan to wait a week at least. Your account confirmation should be sent to you once they receive the full required funds.

Bring the confirmation letter and new International Bank Account Number (IBAN) to your student visa application appointment at the embassy or Foreigner’s Office (Ausländerbehörde). You can see what else, besides the blocked account, is usually required for the student visa application here.

Move to Germany and activate account

Once your visa is approved and you move to Germany, quickly sort out your housing, address registration (Anmeldung), university registration, and current/personal bank account (Girokonto). You’ll need these documents and sometimes your visa document to activate the blocked account. In the meantime, your money stays as frozen as Siberia in January. Yes, this means you’ll need to bring money with you or have access to alternate funds to pay for life until then.

Once your blocked account for Germany is activated, the allotted funds will be transferred each month to your personal account. This will usually happen around the 1st or 15th day of the month but check your contract if you’re worried about a delay. You can use the money however you like, but I recommend you budget carefully to cover rent, groceries, and other essentials.

The whole process TL;DR

  1. Check how much you need per month with the German mission and the documents you need to provide in return.
  2. Open an account with one of the providers below with a passport and the university acceptance letter.
  3. Transfer enough money to the new account.
  4. Bring the confirmation document and your IBAN number as proof to your visa application appointment.
  5. Move to Germany, get set up and activate your blocked account.

Who are the main providers of a blocked account for Germany?

While the “Sperrkonto” was a more common account back in the day for minors and students in Germany, nowadays it’s only offered by a few financial institutions. I’ve looked at the four most popular government-approved providers. Here’s an comparison table for blocked accounts in Germany, more details are underneath.

FAQsFintibaDeutsche BankExpatrioCoracle
How long does it take to get one?10 minutes to apply, 2-3 weeks to process3-6 weeks total depending on the month24 hours to apply,
2-3 weeks to process
24 hours to apply,
2-3 weeks to process
Can I apply for it online?YesNoYesYes
Is there a one-time setup fee?Yes – €89,00
(+ €110 cashback option)
Yes – €150,00Yes – €49,00
(free with code FREEBA19) 
Yes – €99,00
What does a blocked bank account for Germany cost?€4,90/month €5,90/month€5,00/month€60,00/year
(after 1st year)
Is an attestation of documents required?NoYes – expect a fee of €10-30NoNo
Can I easily transfer more than the required blocked amount?YesYesNoNo
Who is their partner bank?Sutor BankDeutsche BankMoneseDKB 
Can I get a blocked account for Germany as a minor?NoYesNoNo
Do they refund the setup fee if my visa is rejected?NoNoNoYes
Can I combine it with a checking/current account?NoYesYesNo
Can I combine the blocked account for Germany with a health insurance policy?YesNoYesYes
Can I change university/study programs after setup?YesYesYesYes
Can i transfer more than the required minimum?YesYesNoNo

Deutsche Bank (DB)

The most established, well-known option preferred mainly because this is a national, trusted bank which allows you to combine the blocked account with a personal one. This means you won’t need two bank accounts while living in Germany and can use any of the ATMs of DB’s partners.

The account costs €150 for setup and €5 per month after that. You’ll have to submit your documents either at a DB location or your local German embassy/consulate to have the documents and signature verified in-person (this might cost €10-30 extra). In addition to your passport you’ll need: proof of the origin of funds (bank statements), the university/language school registration, two printed copies of the application form, and a prepaid envelope to send the application to Germany. If you’re under 18 years of age use this form and also bring your parents’ valid proof of identity to the initial appointment.

The application processing time for a blocked account for Germany takes anywhere between a week to over a month if you are applying right before the semester starts. Once they send you the account approval and bank details you need to transfer the required amount to your new account – make sure you cover the setup and monthly fees as well. After your move to Germany, mail or bring the activation form together with the address verification and student registration to a local DB office to finish the whole process.

Some reviewers have complained about the long wait time and additional forms required versus other options. But there are several major positives – they’re one of the only providers that allow minors to open an account, they let you transfer as much extra money as you like, and you won’t need an additional personal bank account. Once you have a your DB blocked account for Germany studies then there shouldn’t be any troubles with the visa application.

Pick Deutsche Bank if you are a minor and/or if you don’t want to deal with opening an extra bank account.


Expatrio

This is currently the cheapest option on the market at only €49 for the setup and €5 per month. This option also includes health insurance, liability insurance, and a current bank account for just the €5 per month (€60 for one year) plus the cost of a public health insurance.

They’re also known to be quite fast and easy to reach. You can talk to customer service over social media, Telegram, and WhatsApp, in addition to over email or the phone. On the downside, you’re working with a 3rd party company, so while they’re insured up to the standard €100.000, you’re not working directly with a bank. You can’t transfer additional funds through the blocked account, just the required amount. However there have been some worrying reviews claiming the transferred money wasn’t returned after account cancellation.

You apply using the online form and only have to upload a copy of your passport. You should get a confirmation within a day or so. Then you can transfer the required amount and wait for the account opening confirmation. 

Once you’re in Germany you’ll need to send them your address confirmation, university/school registration, and personal bank account details. Then you’ll have your blocked account for Germany all set up!

Pick Expatrio if you need things to be affordable and go fast with nice extras.


Coracle

The other cheap option is Coracle. Their blocked account for Germany costs €99 to set up and there are no additional costs the first year (just €60 for the second year). They also have affordable health and travel insurance. This is another 3rd party provider with the attached risks, but otherwise I couldn’t find any really problematic reviews.

Apply for an account using the online form and make sure you have your passport and study program enrollment confirmation ready. You should receive the application approval in the next 24 hours. Then transfer the required amounts, as well as enough for the transfer and setup fees. Note that Coracle doesn’t want you to transfer a buffer and will charge you additional fees if you do. Activation happens after you arrive in Germany and send them your address confirmation, university/school registration, and personal bank account details. 

Coracle claims their blocked account for Germany studies has a 100% acceptance rate with the foreigner’s office. So, if your visa is rejected, they’ll refund the €99 setup fee!

Pick Coracle if you want a money back-guarantee if you application fails and no running costs every month.


Fintiba

Getting a blocked account for Germany through Fintiba is very quick, with reviewers saying their account was opened in just a couple hours. The cost is €89 for setup plus €4,90 per month. They also offer other relocation services, insurances, and accommodation assistance. The whole sign up process is very smooth with a step by step guide.

To apply for just the basic blocked account, fill out the online form and upload a copy of your passport. They’ll send you the application approval within the next few hours, a few days at most. Transfer the required amount to receive the confirmation letter you’ll need for the visa application process.
Once you get to Germany, you’ll need to complete their additional legitimation process. Don’t worry, unlike with the DB, it is usually digital thanks to the PostIdent process. Then just provide your personal bank account details through their web app and your blocked account will be activated. The app also gives you easy access to your account details and customer support.

On the downside, some reviews claim that support responses can take 3-5 days instead of the 24 hours they claim. And not every customer will be approved – the website states they don’t accept people with US Tax status, Residents of Iran, or Residents of North Korea. For everyone else, you’ll quickly have the necessary blocked account for Germany. One big plus – you’re allowed to transfer more than the required amount, though Fintiba might require additional documentation showing the source of the funds.

Pick Fintiba if you don’t mind slower customer support sometimes but want your account opened very quickly with a modern app experience and nice value packages.


FAQs

Is the minimum required amount enough to live in Germany?

Just because you have a blocked bank account for Germany doesn’t mean all your expenses are covered! That’s why I highly recommend you choose an option that lets you transfer more than required and then access it easily through your personal account. You might also be able to request an account release approval from your local immigration office. Or use an alternate method for transferring more money to your German account, like Transferwise. Because there will always been unexpected costs when living abroad – so it’s best to be prepared!

What if i need to close the account?

But what if you need to close the account? This might happen because you changed your mind, ended your Germany stay early, or (worst case) your visa application was rejected. In this case, get in touch with your provider. They’ll usually ask you for confirmation from the embassy, consulate, or Foreigner’s office that you no longer need a blocked account for Germany. Once that is processed, they’ll transfer the remaining money on your account, minus the account fees. Be patient – this can take up to a couple months unfortunately.


I hope this introduction to vast topic of German blocked accounts has been insightful to you. Don’t hesitate to leave questions in the comments if something is still unclear. 🙂

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

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