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.

250 Comments

  • Reply Farnaz 16/11/2017 at 20:56

    Hello Bastian,
    I moved to Germany in january 2016 so it’s not been one year and (with my husband that has been living in Germany since 2012) , I recently (about 3-4 months ago) opened a bank account and now have a job and also a mini job. I don’t have any contract anywhere and no credit cards I pay cash for everything. In this circumstances how is my Schufa score ?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 18/11/2017 at 14:49

      Hi Farnaz, your SCHUFA record is not populated but your SCHUFA score should be high enough. How high? Nobody knows except you if you ask for a copy of your record.

  • Reply Lara 11/11/2017 at 15:03

    Hi!

    I’ve just received my Anmeldung the other day, but have been living here for 4months and already opened a bank account with N26 for about 3.5 months. I’m now looking for a long-term flat. Can I get a SCHUFA through immobilienscout24 now, or not..how long do I have to wait before I can obtain a SCHUFA? Thank you!!! <3

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 12/11/2017 at 14:54

      Hi Lara, you should have a SCHUFA record by now yes.

  • Reply Reza 15/10/2017 at 21:03

    Hi, i was a Gebührenfrei gold mastercard customer. Due to my lack of knowledge abour credit card system and German knowledge, i kept a 70 euro bill unpaid for 6 months. I thought there is only 2 euro interest per month so i will pay when it will be 80. I can do other things with the money now. I didnt know i had to pay a minimum amount each month. As a result they transferred my case to a cash collection company and i had to pay 150 euro to them and the canceled my card. From then i am getting rejected for other credit cards too. Is it a very big issue? Its just 70 euro and after all i paid and i didnt know the system. Can you tell me how long it can take to get back to good schufa scoring?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 16/10/2017 at 22:13

      Hi Reza. I don’t know; it depends on many factors. You can get a general idea from the table in the article.

  • Reply Bobby 13/10/2017 at 08:53

    Hello,

    Great website. How could I complain or challenge a Schufa entry because they’ve incorrectly given me a rating for something I haven’t done? Bear in mind I don’t speak German.

    Who would I contact? Can I send an email with evidence?

    Regards

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 14/10/2017 at 11:56

      Hi Bobby, i would contact them directly by phone with the help of a German speaking friend. You have their hotline details on this page (last question).

  • Reply Erla 25/09/2017 at 14:22

    Hi,

    Is there a chance of doing the SCHUFA online without being in Germany?

    Thanks,
    Erla

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 26/09/2017 at 11:23

      Hi Erla. Yes it is possible if you already registered your residency in Germany and fulfilled all requirements already. If you have never lived in Germany before; no it’s not possible.

  • Reply Shadan 21/09/2017 at 14:11

    Hi Bastien,
    First of all, thanks for your information.
    Here I am writing to get more information about the process of SCHUFA in Germany.
    I am a refugee and I have Meldebescheinigung and blue Passport and I am under Jobcenter, so can I also get the Schufa in Germany ? because whenever I want to rent a Flat, then I will be asked for Schufa.

    I would appreciate if you could give me details in this matter.

    LG
    Shadan

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 26/09/2017 at 10:10

      Hi Shadan, your current situation as a refugee does not change anything, you will also have a SCHUFA report on you, since you did all the right steps. This post is also valid for you.

  • Reply Erika 15/09/2017 at 21:15

    Hi Bastien,
    I’m italian, to get the record is it a problem if i don’t have a passport?
    Only my ID.
    Thank you

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 18/09/2017 at 09:28

      The SCHUFA website specifically mentions a passport together with a Meldebescheinigung, sorry.

  • Reply Maria 13/09/2017 at 14:45

    Hi Bastien,
    Is it possible to get the schufa at the Postbank without the Anmeldung paper? For some reason I cannot find it and I urgently need the Schufa. I know i can get another copy if i go to the burgeramt but I’m afraid that can take a while, so that’s why I’m asking.
    Thanks!
    Maria

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 13/09/2017 at 17:35

      Hey Maria. You get a copy of your Meldebescheinigung at the Bürgeramt. You might need to get up a little bit early to be early in the queue, that’s all.

  • Reply Z 14/08/2017 at 19:49

    Hi Bastien,

    A few months ago I was traveling in Germany for the first time as a tourist with a French residence permit, and I forgot to validate my train ticket before getting on it. the controller wrote down my passport info and said I need to pay a 60 euros fine. I asked him where and how cuz I didn’t have enough cash on me. he said I would receive a letter soon and he left without giving me a receipt or ticket , and I waited for a month but the letter never came. after that I went to an officer at the train station asking how I can pay the fine since I didn’t receive anything and he said since I’m a foreigner I don’t have to worry about it .

    At the moment I’m applying for an internship visa in Germany and I am really worried about the whole SCHUFA system which would potentially cause some trouble.
    But in your article you wrote”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.”

    so my question is , does this mean if I was just traveling in Germany as a foreigner without opening any bank account nor complete my Anmeldung, I don’t even have a schufa number ? because I’m worried this would affect my visa application since I never paid the fine.

    Best regards,

    Z

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 15/08/2017 at 18:29

      Hi Z. I think you will be fine as you were not a German resident at the time yes.

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