If you’re moving to Germany on a job seeker visa or to study, you may have heard the term “Blocked Account” or Sperrkonto.
Essentially, this refers to a special kind of bank account used to prove your financial independence to the German authorities. We’ve put together a separate article for more general info about the best German bank accounts for expats.
To grant you a visa, the German Embassy or Consulate will want to know that you’ll be able to support yourself in Germany, either while studying or while looking for work. The blocked account is how you give them that assurance.
You pay a single lump payment into the account annually, which must meet a minimum requirement set by the German government. Once that’s done, you’re only able to withdraw that money in monthly instalments.
As of 1 January 2020, you’re required to deposit a minimum of €10,236 per year. From that sum, you can then withdraw up to a monthly maximum of €853.
This is the amount deemed to be the minimum sum necessary for a single person’s basic subsistence in Germany. More on cost of living in Germany in general here.
Who is a Blocked Account for, and what is the process to open one?
Most commonly, blocked German bank accounts are a necessity for students.
However, you may also need one if you’re moving to Germany from outside the EU and don’t have an immediate source of income upon arrival.
This is dependent upon your country of origin and the visa application criteria as stipulated by the German Embassy or Consultate there.
If you’re someone who needs a blocked account, it’s going to be a prerequisite for many of your upcoming administrative hurdles.
If you’re a student, you won’t be able to obtain a student visa or residence permit without a Sperrkonto (unless you’re coming to Germany on a fully-funded scholarship, in which case no blocked bank account is necessary).
Even if you don’t need a visa to enter Germany, unless you can prove a stable income immediately, you may need a blocked account in order to apply for a residence permit. In most cases, however, some other proof of financial means to support yourself will be sufficient.
For those of you who DO require one, this is a crucial step to get right first time to avoid any delays or administrative hassles during your residence permit or visa application.
How do you open a blocked account?
Thankfully, opening a blocked bank account is quite simple, as long as you take the right approach.
Choosing a Provider
First you’ll need to choose a provider for the account. Your two main options when applying from outside of Germany are Deutsche Bank and Fintiba. Applying for an account from within Germany presents a greater choice of options.
Making your application
The exact application process will differ depending on your choice of provider. We’ll outline the process for both Deutsche Bank and Fintiba below.
Applying with Fintiba
With Fintiba, you’ll only need your passport or a valid ID card to register your account. Usually it takes around 10 minutes to have your blocked account set up and ready to receive payment.
Here’s how the process breaks down:
- Register with Fintiba, either on their website or in their App.
- Fill in the application form with your personal details.
- Use their online platform to set up and manage your blocked account.
- Once you’ve got your account details, make your lump-sum payment and pay the initial fee charged by your bank.
- Wait for your application to be processed.
- Receive a confirmation email that your account is set up and good to go, with your deposit made.
- Once you’ve arrived in Germany, Fintiba will help you set up a regular bank account to receive the monthly payments from your blocked account.
Here’s a video from Fintiba that takes you through how to make an application online.
Applying with Deutsche Bank
With Deutsche Bank, the process is a little more complicated. First you’ll need to download a PDF application form from their website, and fill that in. Then you’ll need to compile the following to complete your application:
- An admission letter from your university of choice
- A valid passport
- A bank statement clearly showing your income
- A prepaid fee
From there, the process breaks down like this:
- Compile the list of required documents, and the completed application form mentioned above.
- Print out two copies of the above.
- Make an appointment to attend your nearest German embassy, with your documents in tow.
- Wait for the embassy to complete the legalization process.
- Wait for the embassy to send your information to the bank in Germany.
- Your application will then be processed.
- You’ll then receive a confirmation email that your blocked account is ready.
- Make your deposit, and await confirmation of your blocked account’s balance.
And that’s it!
Whichever provider you choose, you should eventually reach a point where you’ve made the deposit into your blocked bank account, and have confirmation to prove it.
Congratulations! Once you’re at this stage, you can use that confirmation to continue with your student visa or residence permit application.
Are there costs involved when opening a blocked bank account?
Yes, both account providers charge an initial admin fee and a monthly fee for maintaining the account. Fintiba charge an initial fee of €89 and a monthly fee of €4.90. Deutsche Bank charge €150 and a monthly fee of €5.90.
How long does opening one of these accounts take?
Many factors can impact the speed of this process.
If you’re applying through Deutsche Bank, you’re beholden to the speed and workflow of your local German embassy. There can also be delays with the legalization process, and communication between embassies and banks in Germany. Of course, if there are missing documents or errors in your application, this will also draw the process out.
Certain times of year may also lead to a delay in your application for an account. The fact that blocked accounts are a necessity for students, for example, means that the peak season for university applications can grind the process to a standstill.
There’s really nothing you can do to speed this process up, even if you’re pressed for time.
If you’re concerned about opening your bank account as quickly as possible, we’d recommend using Fintiba, as their streamlined application process leaves less room for error.
Are there any alternatives to opening a blocked bank account?
Opening a Sperrkonto is the most common way to prove your financial resources, but it’s by no means the only way. Perhaps you’ve secured funding for your studies via a fully funded scholarship, or you have a relative in Germany who can fund your stay.
In such cases, it’s best to contact the relevant German authorities and ask if you’ll to take this step, just to be sure. They’ll be able to tell you what alternative proof will be required, and how to submit it.
Do I need to prove where funds are coming from when opening my blocked account?
This depends on your choice of provider. With Deutsche Bank, you’ll need to prove the source of your annual payment when you make your application, usually by providing a bank statement from the account in question. With Fintiba, no such proof is required.
Can a third-party make the deposit into an account on my behalf?
This is perfectly doable, but you will need to provide confirmation of that third party’s identity, in the form of a passport or valid ID card, and a bank statement.
How do I close my account?
The account typically remains open until you no longer need it (usually because you’ve completed your studies, or found work). Then, your bank will either switch you to a regular account automatically, or notify you of your options moving forwards.
If your visa application is rejected
In this case, you’ll be able to get your account deposit refunded.
Get in touch with either your account provider, or your German embassy, and they’ll tell you how to go about securing this refund and closing your account.
Once the bank account is closed, your deposit will be transferred back into the account from which it was originally paid.