Students who need a visa to study in Germany may need to open a blocked bank account (“Sperrkonto”) into which they pay enough money for a year’s cost of living before they can get their student visa. Need to know more? Read on:
When applying for a visa for Germany, a blocked bank account (or: “Sperrkonto”) is required by international students and job-seekers as proof of sufficient financial resources to cover their cost of living.
It is called a “blocked” account because an initial sum for a whole year is paid in, and then blocked, i.e. only 1/12 (one twelfth) can be paid out per month. It is also known as a limited-withdrawal bank account.
In 2023, visa-seeking students must pay 11,208 euros into the blocked bank account. This is equal to 934 euros per month.
Certain types of visas may also require a 10% higher amount.
Generally, that means that citizens of other countries in the EU and EEA do not need a blocked bank account to come to Germany for their studies.
In short: You open the blocked account - pay in the required amount for one year - and then every month, one twelfth of the amount can be paid out and used for living expenses. Usually, the monthly withdrawal will have to be transferred to another “normal” bank account with a German bank.
Over the whole year, your payout plan will look like this:
|Blocked account payout plan
|Amount you pay into the blocked account
|Amount that must remain in the account
|Before you apply for the visa
|After 1 month
|After 2 months
|After 3 months
|After 4 months
|After 5 months
|After 6 months
|After 7 months
|After 8 months
|After 9 months
|After 10 months
|After 11 months
|After 12 months
Blocked accounts are a very specific product and there are not that many providers offering it. The below is a selection:
Note that we do not endorse or explicitly recommend any of those providers. Please take care in deciding which one is the best for you.
Blocked account providers charge money for their service. Some have multiple plans to choose from, but at the most basic level, you should expect to pay this much:
Note that these fees are subject to change, and there may be additional surcharges not listed here. We strive to keep the list up-to-date.
The German Federal Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt) estimates the amount considered necessary to cover typical living expenses as a student.
934 euros per month is enough to get by in most university cities across the country, but it may be difficult in some places where accommodation is extremely expensive - like Munich or Hamburg. Your university in Germany should be able to give you some guidance on the actual cost of living that you should expect. (It’s possible to optionally transfer more money than the legal minimum into the blocked account.)
Blocked bank accounts that are offered by private financial institutions regulated by the German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) are generally considered safe. That said, there are always risks and there has been one case where a lesser-known account provider failed to pay out all funds to students in time.
Don’t just rely on a fancy website when picking a provider. Do some research:
While blocked accounts are the most common proof of financial resources, there are alternatives, for example:
Ask the embassy which options are relevant for you. In practice, though, a blocked account is almost always their preferred proof of financial resources.
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