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How to study in Germany without a Blocked Account? Comprehensive Guide (2023)

Would you like to find out whether there is a way to avoid the Blocked Account requirement for the German student visa? This article introduces to you the legitimate ways to do so.

Do you want to study in Germany? Do you need a German student visa for that purpose? If the answer to both questions is "yes", then this article might be of great help to you in terms of correctly planning your whole German study experience! Why is that so? Here is the simple answer:


You can think of a German student visa as an entry ticket to Germany. Without that ticket, you will not be allowed to enter the country and, consequently, you will not be able to study at a German university. One of the key documents without which any application for a German student visa is bound to fail is proof of finances (or Nachweis der Finanzierung in German). As you might already know, Blocked Account (or Sperrkonto in German) is arguably the most popular way of providing that proof. However, it is NOT THE ONLY one. In this article, we introduce to you other authorized ways through which you can study in Germany without a Blocked Account.

It is our goal to inform you honestly and accurately, therefore, we need to add a disclaimer:


You should use this text as a general guide, but it cannot be a legal consultation. The visa regulations are made and executed solely by the Federal Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt). Please be aware: Some rules and procedures can vary from embassy/consulate to embassy/consulate, even within one country. That is why we highly recommend you also consult the German representation abroad near you for information that applies to your case.

Is it necessary to open a Blocked Account in Germany?

The answer can be both "YES" and "NO". Which answer fits your individual case depends on two criteria:

  1. Your nationality; and
     

  2. Your access to alternatives.

 

To find out whether a student needs a German Blocked Account to study in Germany, we should start with determining whether the student needs a German student visa and/or a German student residence permit in the first place. Here comes the importance of citizenship. 

 

Actually, students are divided into three groups based on the need for a visa to study in Germany. These groups are:

  1. Students who need neither a German student visa nor a German student residence permit
     

  2. Students who do not need a German student visa BUT need a German student residence permit
     

  3. Students who need both a German student visa AND a German student residence permit

Table 1: Students who need a German Student Visa/Residence Permit and the proof of funds

Country of origin

German Student Visa

German Student Residence Permit

Proof of funds

European Union

❌

❌

❌

Norway

❌

❌

❌

Iceland

❌

❌

❌

Liechtenstein

❌

❌

❌

Switzerland

❌

❌

❌

Australia

❌

✅

✅

Canada

❌

✅

✅

Israel

❌

✅

✅

Japan

❌

✅

✅

New Zealand

❌

✅

✅

Republic of Korea

❌

✅

✅

United States

❌

✅

✅

United Kingdom

❌

✅

✅

Andorra

❌

✅

✅

Brazil

❌

✅

✅

El Salvador

❌

✅

✅

Honduras

❌

✅

✅

Monaco

❌

✅

✅

San Marino

❌

✅

✅

Rest of the World

✅

✅

✅

As the students falling into group 1 do not need a visa or permit to study in Germany, they also do not need to provide any type of proof of finances. Conversely, students in groups 2 and 3 will need to provide proof of funds for their German student visa and/or German student residence permit.

 

If you identify yourself as a member of the 2nd or 3rd groups, then you should proceed to the second step of determining the necessity of the German Blocked Account: finding the available alternatives and establishing their accessibility to you.

To sum up, when addressing the question "Is Blocked Account necessary in Germany for students?",  the bottom line is that: 

 

  • If you are from the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland, you can study in Germany without a Blocked Account. Students from these countries do not need a German student visa or a German residence permit at all. Hence, the requirement of proof of funds is not applicable.

  • If you are from any other country and there is no other way through which you can provide proof of sufficient funds for a German student visa and/or German student residence permit, then the Blocked Account becomes a compulsory prerequisite to study in Germany. However, keep in mind that if you are able to prove the availability of required finances through any other officially accepted ways, then the German Blocked Account ceases to be an integral part of your German student visa and/or German student residence permit application.

In the following section, we help you to discover the available alternatives to the Blocked Account and to establish their accessibility to you.

Is there any alternative to a Blocked Account in Germany?

Quick answer: Yes, there are several German Blocked Account alternatives for students. In other words, international students can study in Germany without a Blocked Account.

As already mentioned, when applying for a German student visa, Blocked Account is arguably the most preferred way of proving sufficient financial resources for German Embassies/Consulates. For instance, the German Embassy in Bogota (Colombia) explicitly recommends students to present a Blocked Account as proof of funds. Despite that, officially there are five German Blocked Account alternatives, based on the General Administrative Regulation on the Residence Act of October 26, 2009, §16.0.8.1 and §16.0.8.2. Those are:

List of German Blocked Account Alternatives

  • Letter of Commitment (Verpflichtungserklärung, also known as a sponsorship letter or declaration of commitment). Verpflichtungserklärung is a document with which the German resident assures that s/he will provide financial support to you during your stay in Germany.

  • Scholarship. To use this option as a complete alternative to the Blocked Account, students need to present a full scholarship certificate — equivalent to 934 EUR per month — from a reputable provider such as the DAAD

  • Parental income. Students need to present a document, which demonstrates their parents' income, and in general, their financial standing. For instance, parents' bank account statements might be suitable in this case.

  • Bank guarantee (Bankbürgschaft). This option is similar to the letter of commitment in the sense that it is also about the provision of a guarantee. But instead of an individual, here the guarantor is the financial institution which is based in Germany or which is permitted to carry out banking transactions within the territory of the country.

  • BAföG (Bundesausbildungsförderungsgesetz). The BAföG, or the Federal Education and Training Assistance Act, is a form of need-based financial aid provided to students requiring financial support for their studies in Germany. International students can also use BAföG as proof of funds. Beware that foreign students might be eligible for BAföG only under certain (limited) conditions.

Although all of the listed Blocked Account alternatives are authorized on the governmental level, we recommend international students to go for the letter of commitment or for the scholarship options. By doing that, they will keep their chances of a successful German student visa application approximately as high as in the case of the Blocked Account option. Here are two reasons explaining why a Letter of Commitment and a Scholarship are better than other Blocked Account alternatives:

 

  1. Many German Embassies/Consulates mention only a Letter of Commitment and a Scholarship as acceptable proof of finances other than the Blocked Account (see Table 2);
     

  2. Even if the website of the German Embassy/Consulate responsible for your student visa application explicitly mentions other ways of proving the finances, think twice before opting for that alternative (as in the case of a German Student Applicant Visa)! In fact, a) the German Embassy/Consulate might still not accept that proof, consequently rejecting your German student visa application or b) that alternative proof of funds might be accepted by your local German Embassy/Consulate, but still get rejected by the Foreigner's Office (Ausländerbehörde) when you will be applying for the German student residence permit, leaving you without the compulsory permit to stay in Germany for study purposes. As a result, in both cases, your dream of studying in Germany might be endangered.

Table 2: German Embassies/Consulates and the Proof of Funds for a German Student Visa

 

 

Blocked Account

Letter of Commitment

Scholarship

Parental income

Bank guarantee

BAföG

Link

German Embassy in Albania

✅

✅

✅

❌

❌

❌

more info

German Embassy in Armenia 

✅

✅

✅

❌

❌

❌

more info

German Embassy in Azerbaijan

✅

✅

✅

❌

❌

❌

more info

German Embassy in Bangladesh

✅

✅

❌

❌

❌

❌

more info

German Embassy in Cameroon

✅

✅

✅

❌

❌

❌

more info

German Missions in China

✅

✅

✅

❌

❌

❌

more info

German Embassy in Colombia

✅

✅

✅

❌

❌

❌

more info

German Embassy in Egypt

✅

✅

✅

❌

❌

❌

more info

German Embassy in Georgia

✅

✅

✅

❌

❌

❌

more info

German Embassy in Ghana 

✅

✅

✅

❌

❌

❌

more info

German Missions in India

✅

✅

✅

❌

❌

❌

more info

German Embassy in Indonesia

✅

✅

✅

❌

❌

❌

more info

German Embassy in Iran

✅

✅

✅

❌

❌

❌

more info

German Missions in Kazakhstan 

✅

✅

✅

❌

❌

❌

more info

German Embassy in Kenya

✅

✅

✅

❌

❌

❌

more info

German Embassy in Lebanon

✅

✅

✅

❌

❌

❌

more info

German Embassy in Malaysia

✅

❌

✅

❌

❌

❌

more info

German Embassy in Mexico

✅

✅

✅

❌

❌

❌

more info

German Embassy in Morocco

✅

✅

✅

❌

❌

❌

more info

German Embassy in Nepal

✅

✅

✅

❌

❌

❌

more info

German Missions in Nigeria

✅

✅

✅

❌

❌

❌

more info

German Missions in Pakistan

✅

✅

✅

❌

❌

❌

more info

German Embassy in Peru

✅

✅

✅

❌

❌

❌

more info

German Missions in Russia

✅

✅

✅

❌

❌

❌

more info

German Missions in Saudi Arabia

✅

✅

✅

❌

❌

❌

more info

German Embassy in Singapore

✅

✅

✅

❌

❌

❌

more info

German Missions in South Africa 

✅

✅

❌

❌

❌

❌

more info

German Embassy in Sri Lanka 

✅

✅

✅

❌

❌

❌

more info

German Embassy in Thailand

✅

✅

✅

✅

❌

❌

more info

German Embassy in Tunisia

✅

✅

❌

❌

❌

❌

more info

German Missions in Turkey

✅

✅

✅

❌

❌

❌

more info

German Embassy in Ukraine

✅

✅

✅

❌

❌

❌

more info

German Missions in United Arab Emirates

✅

✅

✅

❌

❌

❌

more info

German Embassy in Uzbekistan

✅

✅

✅

❌

❌

❌

more info

German Embassy in Vietnam

✅

✅

✅

❌

❌

❌

more info

Because of the above-mentioned details, in the upcoming sections, we will delve more into the topics of Letter of Obligation and Scholarship as credible ways to study in Germany without the Blocked Account.

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Further Reading

List of Blocked Account Providers

Letter of Commitment as an alternative to the German Blocked Account

                              Letter of Commitment: Pros and Cons

Pros

Cons

1. You do not need to have 11 208 EUR at once

1. It is only for a few. In particular, most of the aspiring students do not have a person in Germany who can take on such a responsibility

2. Less bureaucracy on your side

2. Your potential sponsor must meet particular criteria (incl. salary-wise). Otherwise, the application for the formal obligation will be rejected

 

3. Your sponsor needs to go through time-consuming bureaucratic procedures with the Foreigner's Office

 

4. Compared to the Blocked Account, it gives German authorities more room for "manoeuvre" to reject this document as proof of finances.

The Letter of Commitment (Verpflichtungserklärung) for the German student visa is a formal obligation by a resident of Germany to cover all the costs of the student for the duration of her/his studies. The costs to be covered include the money for food, clothing, medical treatment, accommodation etc. The Verpflichtungserklärung serves as proof that the visa applicants are able to finance their stay in Germany completely. Hence, the Letter of Commitment is something that you can use instead of the German Blocked Account to prove the finances for your successful German student visa application.

 

To be able to use the Verpflichtungserklärung during the German student visa application, usually, the document should not be older than 6 months. Some German Missions abroad clearly underline this requirement (e.g., German Embassy in Thailand, German Embassy in Mexico, German Embassy in Kenya, German Embassy in Iran).

 

Besides, the Letter of Commitment can be valid for maximum of 5 years. The usual case is that the document is valid for the duration of your studies (aka for 1.5-3 years). The good thing is that this formal obligation can be prolonged! For example, let's say you came to Germany to do your 2-year Master's, and the Verpflichtungserklärung was valid for exactly 2 years. However, because of some issues, you could not finalize your studies within the given timeframe, and you needed one more year. That is not a problem at all! Your sponsor can extend the Sponsorship Letter for your German student visa for that additional year. Keep in mind that this prolongation does not take place automatically. Instead, your sponsor must reapply for the Verpflichtungserklärung and pay the fee again.

 

Equally important to mention is the fact that the Letter of Commitment will stop working on several occasions. For example, the Sponsorship Letter is not valid anymore if:

  • The document has expired;

  • You left Germany;

  • You changed the purpose of your stay. For example, when you finalize your studies and convert your study visa to a job visa.

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Geeky Stuff Box

Letter of Commitment for a German student visa: Costs

In fact, you are not the one who has to pay anything. The person who has to pay is your future sponsor. The fee for the Letter of Commitment (Verpflichtungserkläng) is 29 Euros, which can usually be paid by cash or debit card. If your potential sponsor's application for the formal obligation letter was rejected due to her/his lack of creditworthiness, s/he still has to pay the fee. Moreover, the money will not be reimbursed if your student visa application is rejected.

For a more detailed information about the Letter of Commitment (including a sample), click here.

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Further Reading

Declaration of Commitment (Verpflichtungserklärung)

Scholarship as an alternative to the German Blocked Account

 

                                   Scholarship: Pros and Cons

Pros

Cons

1. You do not need to have 11 208 EUR at once.

1. Getting a recognized scholarship (like, for example, the DAAD scholarship) is extremely difficult. Competition is very high.

2. In many cases, scholarship holders' visa waiting times are reduced.

2. The whole application procedure for a scholarship is overly bureaucracy-heavy.

3. Scholarship holders often do not have to pay student visa fees.

3. It might take months from the time you apply for the scholarship until you get the confirmation that you won it. In other words, it is quite a slow process.

 

4. Compared to the Blocked Account, it gives German authorities more room for "manoeuvre" to reject the scholarship certificate as a proof of funds.

According to the General Administrative Regulation on the Residence Act of October 26, 2009, §16.0.8.2, international students can use three types of scholarships as legitimate proof of finances for their German student visa application, thus avoiding the German Blocked Account requirement. These are:

  1. Scholarships from German public funds (e.g., DAAD).
     

  2. Scholarships from a funding organization recognized in Germany (e.g., Erasmus scholarship).
     

  3. Scholarships from public funds of the country of origin, if the Federal Foreign Office, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) or another German scholarship-granting organization has taken over the placement at the German university.

In order for the scholarship to entirely replace the need for the Blocked Account for the German student visa application, it should be a full scholarship. In other words, the scholarship holder should be receiving 934 EUR per month, amounting to 11 208 EUR per year. However, even if the scholarship is not a full one, it can still be used as partial proof of funds. In that case, the availability of the lacking of money should be proven through other accepted means (for example, a Blocked Account). German Missions in Russia and Turkey are quite transparent regarding this opportunity.
 

Going back to the above-mentioned three types of scholarships, we recommend you to go either for the first or the second options whenever possible.  We think that these are the safest  and least complicated options, and here are four reasons that back up our suggestion:

  1. While surfing the websites of various German Embassies/Consulates, one can notice a clear tendency: a lot of German missions abroad specify that if students want to use a scholarship as a proof of fund for their German student visa applications, the scholarship should be from German or EU public institutions (see e.g., German Embassy in Egypt, German Embassy in Ghana, German Missions in India, German Embassy in Indonesia, German Embassy in Kenya, German Embassy in Peru).
     

  2. Your local German Embassy/Consulate might accept a scholarship from your home country as proof of funds, but you might still need to open a Blocked Account as a backup (like in the case of Ghana). This means double work, further complicating what is already a complex process.
     

  3. The local German Embassy/Consulate might accept a scholarship from your home country as proof of finances, but your application for a German student residence permit might still get rejected by the Foreigner's Office (Ausländerbehörde).
     

  4. The German Embassy/Consulate responsible for your German student visa application might actually not accept a scholarship from your home country as legitimate proof of funds, essentially rejecting your application.

So, keep in mind that even if the website of your local German Embassy/Consulate explicitly mentions a scholarship other than the one from German public funds or from a funding organization recognized in Germany as an accepted way of proving the funds, think twice before opting for that alternative. In a word, whenever possible, try to play it safe and opt for the options that are the least risky with regard to the student visa application.

Table 3: List of scholarships that can be used as proof of funds for a German student visa

 

Funding organisation

Link

DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service)

more info

Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung

more info

Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung

more info

Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung für die Freiheit

more info

Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung

more info

Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung

more info

You can find more regarding different kinds of scholarships here.

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Further Reading

Scholarships for international students (2022/23)

Why is the Blocked Account still the best way to prove your finances?

The key reason is that by having a Blocked Account, you are playing it safe! While with other alternatives there is still a possibility that your visa application will be rejected, with a valid blocked account the chances of your German student visa application to succeed are much higher. Why? Because the Blocked Account is the generally accepted standard solution for proof of financial means and is - as a matter of fact - accepted by all (local exceptions may apply) German Embassies/Consulates.

 

Moreover, the Blocked Account is the most convenient solution for German missions abroad and for you because it is fast, secure, and binding. With other proofs of financing, the Embassy/Consulate still has discretionary powers, which can lead to the rejection of your visa application. In addition, the opening of a Blocked Account can now be done quickly and easily digitally. Whereas in the past you had to visit the German mission abroad in person to have your documents for opening a Blocked Account at Deutsche Bank certified in paper form, today you can open the account online in a few minutes.

Bonus: List of German Blocked Account Providers

If after reviewing the alternatives you came to the conclusion that the Blocked Account option is the most feasible for you, then start choosing the German Blocked Account provider that fits you the best by clicking here. Meanwhile, here is the list of different providers:

Table 4: German Online Blocked Account Providers

 

Country

Service

Banking Model

German Deposit Protection

Trustpilot Score (6M)**

Fintiba

Germany

🌎*

German Partner Bank

✅

Excellent (4.6)

Expatrio

Germany

🌎*

Belgian partner bank with German branch

❌ but Belgian deposit protection

Poor (2.7)

ICICI

India

Only India

Own British bank with German branch

❌ but British deposit protection

--

Kotak Mahindra

India

Only India

Own Indian banking license

❌ but Indian deposit protection

Bad (1.4)

Allyways

Germany

🌎*

Escrow model with payment service provider in France

❌

--

Coracle

Germany

🌎*

Escrow model with payment service provider in France

❌

Excellent (4.9)

Edubao

Germany

🌎*

Escrow model with payment service provider in France

❌

(no scores)

DropMoney

Spain

🌎*

Escrow model with payment service provider in France

❌

--

Studely

France

🌎*

Escrow model with payment service provider in France

❌

(no scores)

RemitX

India

Only India

Escrow model with lawyer in Germany

❌

--

DDKonto

China

Only China

No Information

❌

--

*There may be exceptions for individual countries (e.g. high-risk countries).

 ** Last 6 months (until August 21, 2023)

 

The sorting within the list comes from the following criteria (in the order mentioned): banking model, deposit insurance, availability, provider name, and Trustpilot score.

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