Have you been looking into how to get a SCHUFA and are slightly confused about how to go about it? What is a SCHUFA and How to Get One in Berlin?
We know that most of the bureaucracy new Berliners need to deal with can be overwhelming, so we spoke with a SCHUFA agent to find out everything you need to know about getting your SCHUFA in Berlin.
Why do you need a SCHUFA?
Are you looking to rent your own unfurnished apartment in Berlin for the long term? As you may have already heard, every landlord will be expecting to see your SCHUFA, or credit rating score before they even consider showing you the apartment. In addition, if you are applying for a loan, you will need a SCHUFA for the bank to determine how high your interest rate will be.
What exactly is a SCHUFA?
SCHUFA is the largest German credit rating agency, and it stands for: Schutzgemeinschaft für allgemeine Kreditsicherung. This translates to ‘general credit security agency’ and your score is calculated by information the agency receives about you when you open a bank account or start a phone contract. Your SCHUFA will only include information about your life in Germany. Any previous information regarding your credit rating in your home country, good or bad, will not be part of your SCHUFA score. Future banks, landlords, or property managers, as well as phone and internet providers, will look at your SCHUFA rating to determine how risky of a client or renter you are.
It’s actually not so complicated to get your SCHUFA score as a non-German speaking expat.
However, you can only get a SCHUFA score once you’ve registered in the city, meaning that you need to technically be living somewhere in Berlin already. To combat this dilemma, it is best to find an apartment in Berlin, which is furnished and can be rented on a temporary basis or a shared apartment first, register yourself there, so you can get your documents for Anmeldung in Berlin. Once you have your SCHUFA, you are eligible to apply for unfurnished, long term apartments.
You have a few options when it comes to going about getting your SCHUFA. Follow our experience to find out how to go about this process.
Our Experience of Getting a SCHUFA:
We wanted to know how everything works with getting a Schufa as an English-speaking expat. Since most bureaucratic tasks in Berlin are done only in German, you may be wondering if it’s the same with a SCHUFA. We decided to find out, so we gave the customer service line a call. Turns out… there isn’t an English line, but they will transfer you to an agent who speaks English.
After calling this number: 0611 92780 I was directed to a German recording system. I chose option 1, which lead me to an agent able to help with starting the SCHUFA process. Next, this person transferred me to an agent who spoke English. I only waited about 2 minutes to be transferred. My agent was incredibly helpful and friendly. Here’s what I learned from him about getting a SCHUFA in Berlin or Germany if you don’t have a German passport.
There are a couple different SCHUFA options:
- The Free Option
Everyone is entitled to one free SCHUFA report a year. This is a paper document which is sent to you by mail. The Free Option is for your viewing purposes only to find out your credit score. The free option will take 2 to 3 weeks to get to you.
If you are looking to rent your own unfurnished apartment, or you need your SCHUFA as quickly as possible, it’s best to go with the following option. Most landlords won’t accept the free version.
- The Paid Option (29.95 euros)
This option provides you with a reliable and official credit rating report to give to landlords without disclosing any of your other personal data. The paid option also includes an extensive report for you to keep for yourself. This one-time SCHUFA purchase is great if you just need to show it to a landlord. Keep in mind that most landlords will want to see a recent SCHUFA report, so it’s best to purchase it within a couple of months of applying to apartments.
How to Get a SCHUFA
There are a few different ways to apply for your SCHUFA. You can apply via post, or through the online portal system. You can also talk the process through and order your paid SCHUFA via phone with a customer service agent. Take note that the free version is not available over the phone.
When you are applying, you will need the following:
- Your Anmeldung Document
- Your Bank account details
- Your Passport
Apply Via Mail
Fill out the forms and make photo copies of your passport and your Anmeldung.
Free Option: Simply choose your preferred language and fill out the SCHUFA Order Form You can leave the ‘Alternative’ (paid section) unchecked and blank on this page. Take note that the free option is only available to order via mail.
Paid Option: Print and fill out this English SCHUFA Order Form
Send all of your documents to the SCHUFA office and this address:
SCHUFA Holding AG
Postfach 10 25 66
44725 Bochum, Germany
This method takes the longest, and you can expect to receive your SCHUFA approximately 2 to 3 weeks after applying.
Apply On the Phone
If you plan on applying for the paid SCHUFA, we think it is easiest to do over the phone. When we called, there was only about a 5 minute wait time until a friendly English-speaking agent came on the line. You will need to have your bank details on hand as well as your passport and Anmeldung document. The agent will then confirm your identity and create the report for you. They will mail it out the next day and you should receive it within 2 to 3 business days.
Customer Service Line: 0611 – 92780
Press number 1 first when you are given the options in German. You will be directed to a customer service agent. If your German isn’t great, simply ask to speak to an agent who speaks English and they will transfer you along.
Apply in Person at a Bank
If you are in a time crunch and need your SCHUFA report immediately, your best bet is visiting a bank. It does not matter if you do not have a bank account with these particular banks, they will still be able to process your SCHUFA for you. To get your SCHUFA done quickly, you can go to any of these Berlin Postbanks or Volksbanks.
Bring all of the aforementioned documents with you.
Apply Online through MeineSchufa.de
To apply online, simply fill out this form and provide your details.
To clarify some myths or confusion surrounding SCHUFA:
During our phone call with the SCHUFA agent, we clarified some more information regarding the SCHUFA:
- Your SCHUFA is calculated soon after you have opened a bank account or started a contract with a phone company, internet, etc.
- The neighbourhood you live in does not affect your SCHUFA score
- A good SCHUFA score is about 85% and higher
- The average SCHUFA score is 91.64%
- No one starts with a 100% SCHUFA Score
- Your SCHUFA score will fluctuate based on your contracts, however, can always improve
- It is not recommended to have many bank accounts or to switch banks often as this can affect your score
- Your SCHUFA rating won’t be affected by the number of times you request a new SCHUFA document
In a Nutshell…
Many administrative tasks in Berlin can seem daunting. Getting a SCHUFA is actually fairly straightforward. If you are planning on staying in Berlin, you may want to get your own lease on an unfurnished apartment. Getting your SCHUFA will give you that opportunity. Our experience of getting a SCHUFA wasn’t too difficult. We recommend getting your paid Schufa on the phone, as there are English-speaking agents who can help you, and the process is quite fast.
Once you get your (good!) SCHUFA score, you will be well on your way to landing a great unfurnished apartment in Berlin. Let us know how you applied for your SCHUFA in the comments!