Überweisung / bank transfer in Germany

The Überweisung or bank transfer is by far the most common method of payment in Germany, both for paying invoices (unless you use direct debit) and for person to person payments.

Filling out a Überweisung form

If you hold a current account with a German bank you can usually get the necessary forms free of charge from your branch, your bank and it's sorting code will normally be pre-printed and your bank may sometimes also pre-print your name and account number for your convenience.

german Ueberweisung form

The form consists of two pages, the orange sheet shown above which you need to hand in to your bank and a thinner, second page for your records. If you fill in the form by hand print all names and numbers clearly in black or blue ink, using capital letters where possible and keep to the boxes as this makes reading the form easier and also indicates how many characters any given field may have:

Date and sign the bank transfer before handing it in to your bank, the signature on the bank transfer should match the specimen signature you gave when you opened the account.

How long do bank transfers in Germany take?

The answer is: That depends. First it depends on how your bank received your bank transfer: Electronic orders via online banking are usually quicker to process since they do not need to be scanned first. Secondly it depends on the clearing arrangements of your bank and thirdly it depends on the booking mechanism employed by your bank (real-time processing of orders or batch transfers once/twice a day).

Usually a bank transfer will take around two to three business days, more than four days (counting from the day after you handed in the transfer at your bank) are not permitted. If the paying and the receiving bank have special clearing arrangements or use the same computer and clearing center your payment may even arrive on the same business day.

What if you received a pre-printed form with your invoice?

Many companies will have a pre-printed bank transfer form attached to the invoice. All you need to do in this case is to add your name, account details (don't forget your bank's name and sort code at the top), date and signature. The form may look slightly different than the one above (for example it may only have a shorter reference field) but will contain any data the beneficiary needs to identify your payment. If you have a close look at the form you will notice that these types of bank transfer have a 17 or 18 in the bottom right corner as opposed to the 20 in our example. This transaction code identifies the type of form to your bank's computer when scanning the paper.

Disclaimer: All information on this site is provided "as is" without any guarantee as to it's correctness, suitability for a particular transaction etc. While all reasonable care has been taken to ensure that the information is correct and up to date, no responsibility will be accepted for business transactions conducted or losses incurred due to relying solely on the information contained here. Please check with an independent source wherever possible.
Apologies for the disclaimer, but the lawyers wouldn't have it any other way.