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Money Transfers for Expats in Germany

Submitted: October 2013

Germany does not impose any restrictions on inbound and outbound money transfers.

In theory, transferring money to Germany should be straightforward. In practice, you should plan for this in advance. Do also check if your financial intermediary is reliable enough, be it in terms of service quality or value for money.

International bank transfers

The easiest way is transfer money to Germany is to have a German bank account (Girokonto) opened, and then to proceed with an international bank transfer.

However, opening a German checking account from overseas may happen to be a difficult task, especially with smaller banks. This is because German banks often require proof of address in Germany, with registration of residence with the German authorities (Einwohnermeldeamt). Alternatively, you can withdraw money from an ATM in Germany and use the proceeds to open a bank account once you have an address in Germany.

Cheques

You may also consider requesting your bank to issue a cheque, which can then be cleared in an overseas bank account (from Germany to your home country, or from your home country to Germany). This process is quite lengthy though, and it may be expensive. Don’t forget that you might need to issue cheques before you can open a German bank account (e.g. to find accommodation).

Fees

Most, but not all, German bank accounts are fee-based. If you are looking for a free bank account, you will have to shop around. If you come from another Euro-zone country, you might consider relying solely on your overseas bank account, but this should be viewed as a temporary solution only.

Your bank is likely to charge you for international bank transfers and banker’s drafts, although fees may vary greatly. You might wish to check the applicable charges and restrictions at your bank.

Alternatively, you can use the services of a money transfer company. To save money, you can also use a price comparison website specialised in money transfers. Typically, your charges are largely passed on to the applicable foreign exchange rate. See Foreign Exchange for Expats in Germany.

The fees charged by a company specialised in money transfers are without prejudice to the fees that your bank may charge on transfers to the money transfer company.

Cash control rules

You are free to carry as much cash as you like when you cross the German border. However, you must make a declaration to the German customs authority (Zoll) if the amount exceeds €10,000.

Cash control rules cover hard currency, cheques, coupons, promissory notes, securities or other negotiable instruments, but not international wire transfers.

 

 



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