What is “Schufa” and why do I need it?
While renting an apartment, your landlord will most probably ask for a Schufa statement. If you ask Banks for a loan, they will make a Schufa inquiry before they decide your request. Even if you buy a cell phone or lease a car, your contract usually includes a Schufa-related clause.
All this has to do with a company called "Schufa Holding AG". Schufa Holding AG is a credit investigation company which collects information from consumers and companies involved in the lending process. Schufa Holding will review your past payment history, and forecasts your payment behaviour in the future in the form of figures ("Schufa score"). This process is called credit rating.
Schufa Holding AG demands money for the credit report. However, according to German law, you are entitled to receive a free Schufa report once a year. Doing so will help you check what information is stored, where it came from, and to whom it was forwarded. We have created an animation video to show you how to get a free Schufa in a few steps.
Important: Some loan sharks may offer you money without a Schufa inquiry in newspaper ads or on the Internet. Do not fall for it! A majority of these offers are fraudulent.
What do I need to know?
The landlords often ask for a Schufa statement, to assure that you, as a tenant, can pay the rent regularly and on time. Some of the landlords or the property management demand to see your Schufa statement at the first inspection of the rental. Others ask for Schufa statement along with other documents, at the latest, when you apply for the apartment.
Once a year you can apply for and receive a free Schufa report. The main purpose of this annual report is for you to check the accuracy of all the data collected about you. Here is a step by step guide to ordering a free Schufa report:
- Go to the page meineSCHUFA.de. Scroll down to the bottom of the page. In the grey area down there find "Datenkopie (nach Art. 15 DS-GVO)". Click on the yellow link "zum Formular".
- You will again land on an overview page with all the paid and cost-free offers. In the left column, click on "Datenkopie nach Art. 15 DS-GVO" one more time.
- Do not feel confused - on the next page too, the website will try to sell you the Schaufa credit report. As mentioned, a Schaufa statement is only free through " Datenkopie nach Art. 15 DS-GVO" in the right column of the page. Click on it.
- Now you land on a page on which the features of a paid Schufa report and a free annual Schulfa report ("Datenkopie nach Art. 15 DS-GVO ") are compared with each other. If you click on “Jetzt bestellen” below the right column, you will come to the order form for the free Schufa report.
- Fill out this form and upload a copy of your ID card or a copy of your passport and registration certificate.
- You will usually receive your Schufa report after one to two weeks by post. If you need your report faster, you will have to apply for a paid Schufa report.
You can also use this visual step by step guide to order a free Schufa report on our Youtube channel.
No. No landlord has a legal claim to the Schufa information. But if you don't provide these data, your chance of finding a flat will be considerably reduced. If you have ordered a paid Schufa report, you can simply give the landlord a copy of it. If you have requested the free Schufa information, you should make a copy and black out the details that the landlord does not need to know. The free Schufa information contains all the data that Schufa has collected regarding you, while the landlord only needs to know that you generally have a positive, reliable record.
For English subtitle, click on the video settings
If you apply for a loan from a bank, for instance, the bank makes a Schufa inquiry. As part of this investigation, the bank seeks relevant data that shows your payment reliability. Depending on your credibility according to the Schufa report, the bank decides whether to grant you a loan or reject your request. Not only banks but also property managers, telecommunication service providers and car salespeople often have the right to make a Schufa query directly from Schufa Holding AG. But your approval is essential; that is why the second party in the contract asks you to sign a form before they make the inquiry.
In contracts, there is often a "Schufa clause". If you sign a contract with this clause, your data will be forwarded to Schufa Holding AG. With this signature, you also authorise the second parties to make schufa inquiries on you.
Schufa Holding AG stores all personal information (name, first name, date of birth, address and previous places of residence). It also records the information regarding your Bank accounts, mobile phone contracts, instalment payments, dunning and collection procedures, and other contracts and credits. The duration of loans, payment irregularities and contract terminations are also stored.
The Schufa does not record any information on marital status, employer, income, assets and custody, although the last three may have a positive effect on the consumer's credit score.
According to the Federal Data Protection Act, most of the gathered data must be deleted three years after the gatheing.
Various business enterprises, such as banks and telecommunication service companies, provide data for Schufa Holding AG. Schufa Holding AG is a private company which also finances itself through these different business enterprises. All these enterprises count as lending industries. The Schufa Holding AG only collects the data from the mentioned sources, without any independent research.
The Schufa Holding AG uses the collected data to calculate a score value indicating how creditworthy you are, i.e. how likely it is that you can pay the bill. This calculation can sometimes be flawed. That is why you are entitled to apply for and receive the Schufa statement once a year cost-free so you can react to possible errors. If you find incorrect information, you can always request a correction in writing.
The Consumer Center portal provides counselling on this topic.
According to the law, you are entitled to receive a free Schufa report once a year ("Datenkopie nach Art. 15 DS-GVO"). Learn how in section “How can I obtain a Schufa report for free?”.