If you are coming to Germany from outside the European Union to study or look for a job, you must prove that you have sufficient financial resources to cover your living expenses. This is an essential condition for obtaining a visa or residence permit. Opening a blocked bank account (Sperrkonto) is one of the most common ways people provide proof.
What is a blocked account (Sperrkonto)?
It is called a blocked account because it requires the account holder to deposit a predetermined sum of money, as specified by the government, in advance of arriving in Germany. This lump sum can then only be withdrawn in monthly pay-outs.
As of January 1, 2020, the annual requirement is 10.236 euros and the maximum you can withdraw each month (for students) is 853 euros.
Who needs a German blocked account?
In general, if you are from outside the EU and you won’t have any income in Germany, you will need a blocked account. Even if you didn’t need a visa to enter Germany, you will need to open a Sperrkonto before starting the residence permit application procedure.
This applies to students who have already been accepted by German universities or language schools, au pairs, job seekers and apprentices. However, if you’re coming to Germany on a fully-funded scholarship from an organisation like DAAD, you don’t need to apply for a blocked account.
Blocked account providers Germany
There are a few banks that provide blocked account services in Germany. While some allow you to open an account almost instantly by submitting a form online, others will require paperwork to be submitted physically.
Opening a blocked account abroad
The following companies all allow you to open a German blocked account from abroad:
- Expatrio (online application)
- Deutsche Bank
Opening a blocked account in Germany
If you are already in Germany, you have a few more options. Most banks will offer blocked account services, including:
How can I open a blocked account?
Once you have decided which bank you want to open your blocked account with, you will need to fill out an application form. You can do this online or by requesting a paper application form (depending on the provider).
After completing your application, you will be required to submit documents that prove your identity. You may need to have your forms and documents certified by a German embassy. If your documents are in order, the bank will set up a blocked account for you.
Once you receive confirmation that your account has been created, you need to transfer the required amount of money as soon as possible, well in advance of your visa appointment. Some banks charge a one-off fee for this transfer. Once the funds are deposited, you will receive a confirmation from your bank. Make sure you take this to the German embassy as part of your visa application.
How do I close my blocked account?
Normally, you will continue to use your blocked account for the duration of your studies, or until you find a job. At this point, your bank may switch you over automatically to a regular current account, or simply close your blocked account.
There are, however, two reasons why you may need to close your blocked account early: if your visa application is rejected, or if you need to leave Germany sooner than expected.
If your visa application is rejected
If you are still in your home country and your visa was rejected, or you withdrew your application, you will need to provide an official confirmation from the German embassy to close your blocked account. A visa rejection letter counts as an official confirmation.
If you need to leave Germany
If you are already in Germany and you want to leave unexpectedly, you will need to obtain the consent of your local Foreigners’ Office (Ausländerbehörde) before your bank can close your blocked account. Note that a de-registration letter (Abmeldebestätigung) is not accepted as official consent.
Once your account is closed, your money will be transferred back to the account it came from.
How much does a blocked account cost?
All banks charge a one-off set up fee for creating a blocked bank account. This is usually between 50 and 150 euros. Some banks also charge fees of around five euros per month to maintain the blocked account.