How long should I keep bank statements for?

Sylvie Ernoult
It’s very important to make sure your finances are in order on a regular basis. One question that people often ask in this context is whether or not it is ok to simply throw away bank statements from previous years, or whether they have to be kept for a certain period of time by law. Read this article to discover answers to the most important questions regarding bank statements:

How long do I need to keep bank statements for? The answer is that in Germany, there is no set period of time or requirement that private individuals need to follow for keeping bank statements. Legally, private persons are not required to show proof of payment for purchases they make. However, there are some good reasons to store your bank statements, and a variety of recommended lengths of storage depending on the reason in question. 

How long do private persons need to keep bank statements?

In general, as a private person in Germany, there is no requirement for you to store bank statements at all. However, despite this, keeping them for a few years is advisable. One good yardstick is the statute of limitations, which in Germany is three years for most regular transactions. The most important thing is that you can access your bank statements: it makes no difference whether you print them out or save a digital copy, as long as you can, if needed, prove that you have in fact made a payment (for your rent, insurance policy or similar) or that an item is still under warranty. If you make a larger purchase, such as buying a house or a car, or if your life changes significantly in a way that impacts your finances, such as getting married, it makes sense to save related bank statements for longer than you would otherwise. 

Additional information on storing bank statements:

An exception to the rule that you don’t have to keep bank statements are payments to tradespeople or for services connected to property. In general, proof of these payments must be stored for a total of two years. If you want to claim the costs of a gardener or a cleaner as household-related services (haushaltsnahe Dienstleistungen) on your taxes, then you have to save the bank statement showing those payments for at least as long as it takes for you to receive your tax return and until after the time limit for filing an appeal has passed. 

How long do high-income earners need to save their bank statements for?

In Germany, private individuals who earn more than 500,000 euros a year are an exception. More specifically, anyone who earns over this amount or more through any combination of employment, investment income, rental and leasing properties or additional income in accordance with Section 22 of the German Income Tax Act must keep and store their bank statements for a total of six years for tax purposes.

Wie lange man Kontoauszüge aufbewahren sollte. Source: YouTube

How long do entrepreneurs need to keep bank statements for? 

Entrepreneurs are subject to even stricter laws. Businesses require bookkeeping and are subject to a legal requirement to save documents, including bank statements, for ten years. 

What should I do if I can no longer find my bank statements?

If you no longer have your bank statements, or if you can’t find them, you can request them from your bank. You can view your bank’s list of prices and services to find out how much this will cost. If you have an online banking account, you will usually be able to access your bank statements from the last several years yourself and print them out. Many banks allow you to save bank statements digitally in an online inbox or archive.

Kontoauszüge aufbewahren

Can I use my bank statements to exchange a purchased item?

Bank statements can also be useful if you want to exchange an item you have purchased but can no longer find the receipt. You can find more about using your bank statements to exchange a purchased item in our article on the subject. 

When do I need to examine my bank statements carefully?

It is particularly important that you take a careful look at your bank and credit card statements immediately after going on holiday. This will help you to quickly identify any suspicious or unauthorised charges. Our ‘Financial tips for after your holiday’ blog post provides information on how to deal with unauthorised charges and what to pay attention to when paying with card.