Account statement: overview and documentation

A bank statement gives you an overview of your current account balance and the transactions that have taken place in your checking account. The relevant account data, such as the account number, are also printed on it. The statement shows the balance at the beginning and at the end of the specified period, and you can track all incoming and outgoing payments made through this account. These are given with date, purpose and amount.

In addition, you may also find on your bank statement information about the amount of the credit line granted to you. At the same time, account statements are also often used as evidence to prove payments made.

Get a bank statement

You will receive the statements with your bank card at the bank statement printers in the branches of your bank. There you can theoretically print bank statements at any time and get informed about new account movements. You can also receive the extracts by mail. This usually happens automatically if you have not picked them up from the statement printer within a period of 30 days. Banks are required by law to inform their customers at least once a month about their account transactions.

If the customer has neither picked up a printout nor downloaded an electronic account statement, the statements will be sent by post. However, banks are not allowed to charge the customer for such unsolicited account statements. Only the postage costs may demand from the customer, a processing fee is however according to a judgment of the regional court Frankfurt (Az. 2-25 O 260/10) not permissible.

Daily statement and clearance

The regular bank statement that you receive at the machine or online is also referred to as a daily statement. It provides the current status of your account and lists the last account transactions. However, bookings are not always displayed immediately, but only when they have been executed. For example, if you have paid in a debit card business, the appropriate payment will not be displayed if you print a bank statement a few minutes later.

So if you want to quickly prove a transfer, it is best to use a bank transfer receipt. With online banking, you can print them out immediately after making a transfer.

The clearance of accounts, on the other hand, takes place at regular intervals – often on a quarterly basis – and includes interest credited or billed to you, but also the fees incurred, such as account, card and postage.

That means the abbreviations on the bank statement

  • EC: Electronic Cash You have paid with your debit card and have authorized the payment by entering your PIN.
  • ELV: Electronic Direct Debit You have made a card payment and authorized it with your signature.
  • GA: ATM You have withdrawn money from a machine. Here also the machine number, date and time are given.

electronic bank statement

If you use online banking, your bank will probably offer you an electronic bank statement there. This contains the same information as the variant on paper from the statement printer, but the layout is usually different. Therefore, the electronic account statement may initially seem unfamiliar.

You can apply to your bank to convert to the electronic bank statement and receive it always at the agreed time in your mailbox in the online banking area of ​​the bank. In most cases, the online digital statements are available for twelve months, and longer depending on the bank's terms and conditions. It is strongly recommended to download the electronic bank statements regularly and to save them on a storage medium. In addition, they can of course be printed.

Note, however, that under certain circumstances a postal delivery of bank statements takes place. If you do not retrieve the statements online for a long period of time, the bank will notice that you are not aware of your current account movements. Then many banks send a letter with the current excerpts to comply with their obligation to inform.

Advantages of the electronic account statement

With the electronic bank statement you have the opportunity to quickly get an overview of your account transactions at any time, without having to visit a bank branch. Instead, simply retrieve the information via the regular online banking access. The excerpts are quickly stored and archived without you having to create large file folders. In addition, you avoid the postage costs incurred in the case of a postal delivery of the statements.

Legal Aspects

As the Federal Ministry of Finance has decided in 2006, an electronic bank statement, which is available in immutable PDF format, equivalent to an original statement from the bank. Accordingly, he can serve as evidence as well as this – for example, to the tax office. However, this does not apply to all groups of people: Anyone who is required to keep an account must be prepared for the tax office to carry out an assessment for tax recognition in the case of an electronic bank statement.

The bookkeeping obligation exists for all merchants as well as for commercial entrepreneurs and farmers and foresters from a certain annual turnover. If in doubt, companies should inquire with the tax office as to whether electronic bank statements are sufficient for them. With an electronic signature, however, this form of bank statement is equivalent to the paper variant. Because this ensures that it is a forgery-proof original document. For your safety, however, you should ask your bank whether it will create the electronic bank statements with such a recognized signature.

Legal and advisable retention periods

For private individuals, there is usually no prescribed period for which they must keep account statements. An exception, however, is for people who have more than € 500,000 in income per year: they must archive their bank statements for six years. Even if you have commissioned craftsmen, you must keep the relevant statements as proof of payment for two years from the end of each calendar year. However, it is not about your own finances, but about a means of control for the tax offices, which can thus verify the sales tax of craft businesses. In addition, since the legal warranty period for craft services is five years, archiving for this period is also recommended.

Apart from these obligations, however, it is advisable for all consumers to keep account statements for a certain time as proof of payment, especially for larger purchases. The basic limitation period can serve as a guide. It is three years from the end of the respective calendar year. So if a purchase takes place on 15 June 2012, the limitation period begins on 31.12.2012 and ends on 31.12.2015. After this time no claims can be enforced.

It is also advisable to keep account statements in order to prove the regularity of your own rental payments to a future landlord, for example. Even if you have carried out a credit comparison and apply for a loan, financial institutions often ask for bank statements as proof of the information provided in the loan application- home-page.

Bank statement with the bank demand

Banks are required to keep their bank statements for ten years. So it is possible to ask for excerpts there if you have lost or not kept them and now you need them. However, this service often incurs charges that often increase with the age of the required bank statement. Therefore, it is advisable to keep account statements carefully.