N26 has long been my favorite bank in Europe, and for good reason. Their user friendly app, low fees, useful integrations—like Transferwise—and their investment module puts them miles ahead of most of the competition.
The fact that you don’t have to show up in a physical branch anywhere makes it an even sweeter deal—especially for the nomadic crowd.
I’ve written extensively in the past on why I love N26 so much, so if you’re still not sold check out this article.
Anyone can open a N26 Bank account, as long as they are resident in the EU or EEA. In order to open an account, you need a mailing address in one of the countries where N26 operates for them to send you your Mastercard.
As of this writing, N26 operates in all the Eurozone countries, except Malta and Cyprus. That leaves Germany, Austria, Spain, Italy, Ireland, Slovakia, Greece, France, Belgium, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia and Slovenia. They will also start offering local accounts in the United Kingdom and the United States around mid-2018.
You also need a smartphone running iOS 9 or Android 4.4 or higher.
Opening an account in N26 bank is easily done in three steps:
- Filling out the online registration form
- Completing an ID verification, either through
- Remote ID verification through N26 app, or
- ID verification at a German post office
- Pairing a smartphone with your account
The first and thirds steps are the same for everyone, but the second step varies depending on your nationality and residency. We’ll get back to that in a minute.
No matter your residency and nationality, you start by filling out the N26 registration form. Just go here and click the Open Your Account button.
If you happen to be traveling outside of your country of residency (especially if outside of the EU/EEA) I’d recommend using a VPN server in your home country while registering.
The country you sign up with will determine the features and pricing for your N26 account “forever”, even if you move to another EU country at a later date.
You will be asked to enter your:
- Email address
- First name
- Last name
- Country where you live
- Email address
- Date of birth
- Phone number (can be from any country, but not a virtual number like Google Voice)
- Mailing address (for sending your Mastercard—use of a C/O address is okay, e.g. if you want to have your card delivered to a friend or family member)
Next, you’ll be asked for “the serious legal stuff” (standard AML—anti money laundering—questions), which includes your:
- Job title and industry
- City of birth
- Tax residency (country where you pay tax)
- Tax ID number where you’re tax resident (optional)
Finally you have to agree to their terms and conditions, and optionally opt in to product updates and some privacy settings.
After you have confirmed your email, you can log in to your account and choose which N26 plan you want. If your account is based in Spain, France, Italy, or Ireland, you can choose between N26 and N26 Black. If it’s based in Germany or Austria, you can also choose N26 Business. If it’s based elsewhere in Europe, you can only choose the regular N26 plan. Read more about the different plans here.
The next step is confirming your identity. Whether you can do this in the N26 app in a matter of minutes, or if you have to visit a German post office, depends on your nationality and ID documents.
N26’s identity verification partner, IDnow, currently supports the following passports and ID cards:
- Argentina (Passport only)
- Austria (Passport & ID card)
- Belgium (Passport & ID card)
- Bolivia (Passport only)
- Bosnia Herzegovina (Passport only)
- Brazil (Passport only)
- Bulgaria (Passport only)
- Canada (Passport only)
- China/Hong Kong (Passport only)
- Colombia (Passport only)
- Croatia (Passport & ID card)
- Cyprus (Passport only)
- Czech Republic (Passport & ID card)
- Denmark (Passport only)
- Estonia (Passport only)
- Finland (Passport & ID card)
- France (Passport & ID card)
- Germany (Passport & ID card)
- Greece (Passport only)
- Hungary (Passport & ID card)
- Iceland (Passport only)
- Ireland (Passport only)
- Italy (Passport & ID card/CIE only)
- Japan (Passport only)
- Latvia (Passport & ID card)
- Liechtenstein (Passport & ID card)
- Lithuania (Passport & ID card)
- Luxembourg (Passport & ID card)
- Malta (Passport & ID card)
- Mexico (Passport only)
- Morocco (Passport only)
- Netherlands (Passport & ID card)
- New Zealand (Passport only)
- Nigeria (Passport only)
- Norway (Passport only)
- Poland (Passport & ID card)
- Portugal (Passport only)
- Romania (Passport only)
- Russia (Passport only)
- Singapore (Passport only)
- Slovakia (Passport only)
- Slovenia (Passport & ID card)
- South Africa (Passport only)
- South Korea (Passport only)
- Spain (Passport & ID card)
- Sweden (Passport & ID card)
- Switzerland (Passport & ID card)
- Tunisia (Passport only)
- Turkey (Passport only)
- Ukraine (Passport only)
- United Kingdom (Passport only)
- USA (Passport only)
There are exceptions where an older passport, even from the mentioned countries, is not supported. That might be the case if it lacks biometric safety features—something most modern passports have.
If you don’t hold any of the passports or ID cards listed above, don’t worry. Just skip ahead to the section about the PostIdent method.
You can choose to verify your identity in the web browser, or on your iOS or Android device. If you want to use your laptop, make sure it has a good webcam and good lighting conditions. Phone cameras tend to be a bit better, but good—preferably natural—lighting is still important for the ID verification to work.
Make sure you have your:
- Passport or ID card (according to the list above)
- Your smartphone with the phone number you entered previously
- A few minutes in a quiet place to have a quick video call—you will be interacting with a human being
Once you initiate the call, you will usually be connected to an agent without much delay. On some occasions you might have to wait a little bit, but rarely more than 5-10 minutes. Note that you can only do the video verification between 8 am and midnight German time.
During the call you will be asked to verify a few details from your registration form, as well as typing in a code sent to the phone number you registered with. You will also be asked to show your ID document to the camera in different angles so that the agent can verify that it’s legit.
If you’re interested, here’s a video made by the IDnow team that explains the call in a bit more detail:
Note that the call will take place within the N26 app, not the separate IDnow app mentioned in the video—but it still follows the same format.
If you don’t have one of the ID documents listed above, your only remaining ID verification option is the PostIdent method. It is really only practical if you’re living in Germany or are planning to visit.
To be honest, visiting a city like Berlin for a while is not such a bad thing, anyway. At least in the spring or summer. It’s one of the most creative cities in Europe, and still relatively affordable. And I’m sure other parts of Germany is worth visiting as well. Oktoberfest, anyone?
Anyway, once you do find yourself in Germany, this is how you verify your identity:
- Once you’re at the video ID verification step (see previous screenshot), click the “I prefer to do it per PostIdent in Germany” link.
- Click the “Send me the coupon per email” button.
- Print out the PostIdent coupon you received per email.
- Bring the coupon, your ID proof, and residency proof to your nearest German post office. Third party parcel shops generally don’t provide the PostIdent service, so you should seek out an official Deutsche Post office. The service is free of charge.
- Wait a day or two until you receive an email from N26 about your account being ready.
The final step to activating your account is to pair your smartphone. It needs to run iOS 9 or higher (iPhone 4S or newer), or Android 4.4 or higher.
Just download the N26 app and log in. Since your account isn’t yet paired with a phone, you will be guided through the steps when you open the app.
Make sure the number you entered during the activation is correct and click confirm. You then receive a four digit verification code via SMS and enter it in the app.
If you need to change the number you registered with, just contact N26 support and they will help you out.
Once you have paired your smartphone, you can use it to verify transactions such as SEPA transfers, Moneybeam, activating your Mastercard or Maestro card, and a few other things.
That’s it! Look out for your shiny new N26 Mastercard in the mail!
So what are you waiting for?
Open your N26 account right now—you won’t regret it!