Opening a bank account turned out to be one of the simpler steps toward receiving our visa, once we got to the right bank.
Things that did not get us a bank account:
- Going to Sparkasse. When we asked the woman at the counter if we could open an account, she just said, “no.” And she didn’t feel like elaborating either.
- Going to Deutschebank in a city we did not intend to live in. Since each branch is different, unlike in the US, they don’t really allow you to open your account in one city and primarily use the branch in another.
Things that did get us a bank account:
- Going to Deutschebank in Freiburg. The staff were quite friendly, and even though I expected to need an appointment, I was seen right away, and left with an account in under 30 minutes!
I was afraid of being stuck in a loop, figuring that the bank would require proof of a visa despite the fact that you can’t get a visa without showing proof of funds in a German bank account (this is basically what happened with health insurance). Fortunately, that was not the case.
You will need to bring your passport to the bank, and a bit of patience. I did not have to make an appointment, but might have just gotten lucky. Additionally, your bank account isn’t actually usable (other than in-person deposits) until you receive your bank card in the mail a week or so later.