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Image Source: Stepans – Freepik.com
In Germany, you will most likely be asked for several documents proving you're a decent tenant and can and will pay the rent on time when looking for an apartment to rent. One of these documents is called Schufa.
Some of the questions you might have now are; what is SCHUFA? And why is it such a challenge for newcomers to Germany?
This blog aims at answering all that, keep reading!
What is SCHUFA?
SCHUFA stands for Schutzgemeinschaft für allgemeine kreditsicherung which means General credit protection agency. This is the German credit score that is based on your financial history, it indicates your creditworthiness. The Schufa Holding AG collects data from various sources, such as banks, credit card companies, mobile phone companies, and any other place where a contract is required and then they create a comprehensive report about your financial stability and reliability.
Paying your bills later, or missing payments and other such things result in a decrease in your Schufa score.
SCHUFA document, and its necessity?
As previously said, your potential landlord will most likely require that you share your Schufa paperwork. The report assesses your financial stability and informs the landlord if you are a trustworthy rent payer. Almost every financial decision you make in Germany will need you to consult your Schufa: when signing a contract with a mobile phone or internet provider, while applying for a loan or mortgage, and so on. The final score you receive is based on previous experience and shows the likelihood that you will satisfy your financial responsibilities.
How to know if you have a good SCHUFA score?
In theory, the highest SCHUFA score (called your “Basisscore” ) that you get at the beginning is 100%, but if you don’t pay your bills, this score will decrease accordingly. Having a low credit score can be frustrating, as you might not be able to take on other contracts. However, even if you are able to pay all your debts, your score will go down for some reason.
For example, it is perfectly fine for you to have as little as 95% of the score. To give you an idea, here are the different “Basisscore” tiers and what they are. These scores indicate your creditworthiness to pay your bills, credit cards, and contracts on time.
Risk assessment – Level of risk
Above 97.5 %
Very low risk
95 % – 97.5 %
Low to negligible risk
90 % – 95 %
Satisfactory to increased risk
80 % – 90 %
Fairly increased to high risk
50 % – 80 %
Very high risk
Under 50 %
How to apply?
Purchasing a Schufa Bonitätsauskunft directly from meineSCHUFA is the easiest method. This is an official credit report that all landlords accept, which ensures your privacy.
If you plan to apply for a flat, be sure to get a report at the same time to ensure its current. Make sure you opt-in for an online download when you buy your report-you’ll receive a confirmation email.
Once you receive the confirmation email, you can download the PDF using the unique verification code provided. Ignore meineSCHUFA Kompakt, plus, and premium, as these services aren’t required for this purpose.
How to get a free SCHUFA record?
Every resident is legally entitled to at least one free review of their data. A free copy is available once a year. Simply order it online and it will be sent to you by mail (the free version is only available once every year). Please keep in mind that it may take up to four weeks to receive the document.
In order to order your free Schufa online:
- Visit the SCHUFA website to find this page
- You should see 2 columns, one of which is for free: “Datenkopie”. Click on Jetzt beantragen (order now) and you will be redirected to a page with a form to fill out.
- Fill in all the required fields in the next screen. If you have shifted your House in the recent days, enter the old address in the ‘Frühere Addresse’ section
- Image Source: www.meineschufa.de
- You can also upload a copy of your ID card, passport, and Meldebescheinigung (residence registration certificate).
- A paper copy will be mailed to you after you submit a request(which might take upto 4 weeks)
Get a SCHUFA record Immediately?
For those of you who don’t want to wait that long; you can receive the SCHUFA on the spot for €29.95
You can place an order for a Bonitätsauskunft record by clicking on “Jetzt Bestellen” on the SCHUFA website.
- Fill in your personal information and the payment method and information.
- Download your SCHUFA report immediately.
Another alternative is that you can receive the Schufa on the spot at different banks. Here you can find the closest one and just ask for one, the service is open to all, not restricted to bank customers.
KEY POINTS TO REEMBER
- SCHUFA reports are usually not available to foreigners unless they have already lived in Germany for some time and have a German bank account. If this is the case, they will need some other proof of their financial standing.
- It's not possible to alter your current rating using foreign sources.
- The Schufa will continue to collect information about you after you leave Germany, so make sure none of your open payments are left behind.
How to improve/maintain a good SCHUFA score?
Here are a few recommendations to maintain a good SCHUFA score (above 95%):
- Pay your bills on time
- Avoid opening too many bank accounts in different banks
- Keep your credit cards to a minimum.
- Taking out one large loan affects your credit score less than many smaller ones
- You shouldn’t zero out your bank account, but rather keep it healthy
- Avoid switching bank accounts too often.
- Make sure not to move too much, as this can affect your score
- Make sure you correct any errors in your SCHUFA-score once a year.
This sums up that one fact about SCHUFA that it purely depends on your behavior alone and not your income. You’re rated based on how you pay your bills, which influences whether you’ll qualify for a loan, a mobile phone contract, or that new TV you want to pay by installments.
Make sure you pay your bills on time, and always try to maintain a good Schufa score, otherwise, it can backfire.