How to Transfer Money in Germany

For expatriates or international students living, studying, or working abroad in Germany, the time may indeed come when they need to transfer money to or from German bank account with a bank account in their home country.

There are a few options on how to do this. The first involves using a remittance form, and the second is the more modern way of transferring money – by doing it online. Depending on the accounts and banks you are transferring money between, you may be limited to only one of these options, or you may have some extra options to facilitate international or inexpensive transfer options depending on your needs.

Filling out a Remittance Form

Yes, this used to be the only way to transfer money, but since the internet there may be more expedient options. However, if you find yourself having to use a remittance form to transfer money while in Germany, keep in mind it’ll need to be filled out with all of the following information:

  • Forms used to require a bank account number and bank code, however SEPA transfers (meaning those within the EU) now require an IBAN number and BIC code.
  • The full name of the person to receive the transfer must be entered.
  • The up-to 34 digit IBAN code of the person to receive the transfer.
  • The recipient’s bank’s BIC Code if the recipient is in the EU.
  • The recipient’s bank’s 8-11 digit alphanumeric SWIFT code if it is an international bank.
  • The reference number for this transfer. This alerts the recipient to what the transfer is for.
  • The full name of the person sending the money.
  • The IBAN number of the person sending the money as well.

Once a completed form has been turned into and approved by a teller at your bank, it may take up to 2 days for the transfer to complete.

Transferring Money Online
In Germany, like the rest of the world, doing your banking online offers a quicker, less complicated and time consuming process. To start with, the principal is exactly the same as it was with the remittance form. You need to make it expressly clear who you are transferring money to as well as the appropriate IBAN and BIC numbers.

The difference comes once the information has been submitted via the online portal. In most cases, the system automatically adds many of the details it needs from the recipient’s sort code. Additionally, the transfer is given a unique transaction number it can be reference and tracked by.

There is more information you need to know to transfer money, but it applies different depending on where you are sending money to, the banks you are transferring between, and other unique factors. These will be covered next.

Tips for International Transfers
The most common instance of transferring money while in Germany is to a bank account outside of Germany. For example, a student wiring money to their home account or a businessman sending funds to his family to cover bills. There are different options depending on specifically where you want to send money and how you’d like it to get there.

Transfers inside the European Union
The EU created the payment-integration program known as SEPA (Single Euro Payment Area) as a way to simply bank transfers for euros within Europe. This includes Scandinavian countries as well. Since being established, SEPA represents the easiest way to transfer money between banks available in Germany.

SEPA forms are very similar to domestic transfer forms but include the IBAN and BIC codes discussed earlier. They must adhere to the EU standard of three days maximum on transfers. Since their first implantation back in 2008, SEPA transfers have more and more replaced both domestic and EU standard transfers. Today, they are quite simply the easiest and most standardized way to transfer money from a German bank account to any other bank account within the EU.

Non-European Transfers
When transferring to bank accounts outside the EU, a SEPA transfer is still likely the best option, but some additional information is needed. Specifically a special transfer form, known as a Payment Order of Foreign Trade, must also be filled out. Clearly, the type of currency to be transferred to needs to be stipulated along with the normal information given with transferring money.

Another additional piece of information needed is a SWIFT code. Knowing which codes you need for your bank outside of Germany will be an important part of preparing to make a transfer.

3rd Party Transfer Options
Many students and expatriates living in Germany are not aware that there are third-party options to using a bank to transfer money. In most cases, the options are cheaper. Many also provide services to more international destinations and even offer online transfer options. Here are a few solid third-party options available in Germany:

  • TransferWise: One of the most economic options out there with fees typically around 15% of what international leaders like Western Union charge. A relatively new option, founded in 2012, TransferWise offers transfer services to all major currencies and countries around the world
  • Azimo: This British company offers quick, secure money transfer services to nearly 200 countries around the world. With rates far below the industry standard and the ability to send money through social media networks like Facebook, Azimo is on the cutting edge of convenience and technology.

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