When it comes to moving abroad, you may feel that you have a million things to do. Finding a job or a study program, preparing your visa permit, finding accommodation and opening a new phone contract, are just some items on that seemingly never-ending list - but opening a foreign bank account should be your priority.
Having decided to open an international bank account in a foreign country, you might have a lot of questions. Will the language barrier become a problem? Will your money be safe? Do I really need to open a foreign bank account? But don’t be overwhelmed, as we have broken down some information to guide you through the process.
Why You Should Open a Foreign Bank Account
Although some bank accounts and credit cards from your home country may work to a certain extent abroad, opening a foreign bank account will definitely make your transition smoother, and your life more comfortable in the long term. For instance, it is very difficult to obtain any kind of loans - personal loans, business loans, private student loans etc. - without a local bank account, required by most institutions. In addition, if you’re moving to a country with a different currency, your home bank is likely to have a high exchange rate for international transactions and substantial transaction fees.
Setting up a Foreign Bank Account
In order to open a foreign bank account, you will need to present personal identification to the new bank; in most instances, this will be a passport. Sometimes bank accounts require a residence permit as a second proof of identification, in which case you will have to wait until your residence permit has been granted. Occasionally, if you are asked for a proof of residence, you can provide your latest utility bill to validate your address, however confirm what is required with your bank in advance. In addition, be prepared to find a certified translator for any official documents to be used in your new country.
Here is a list of documents that could also be required by your bank, depending on their policy, the type of account you are opening, and the financial services you need. It is a good idea to have these documents ready at hand in case.
- Income tax
- Birth certificate
- Marriage certificate
- Copies of recent old bank statements
Navigating a New Bank Abroad
Once settled in your new country, you will realise that many aspects of foreign banking are different from home. During the process of setting up an account, don’t be frustrated by delays, unexpected questions, or far more paperwork than you are used to. In some countries, banks may also require a certain amount of money to be placed in the account for a first balance. All you can do is be prepared with your paperwork and let the process flow. Having managed to complete, sign and stamp all the forms accordingly, expect a wait of approximately 2-8 weeks for your ATM cards and cheques, and you will officially be an owner of a foreign bank account.
In-Person or Online?
In several countries, it is possible for you to open a foreign banking account online. Some banks will allow you to scan all of the required documents and upload them to their website. If you have an account with a global bank already, uploading everything in advance like this will make it much easier to open a new account in your destination country. Depending on the financial services you need, you might also be required to place a deposit into your account.
In some cases, however, you will have to physically go to the bank to open a new account. If you are struggling with the local language, we advise that you bring a colleague or friend to help avoid any problem, that may be caused by a language barrier. Alternatively, check if the bank has any staff who are able to speak English, and try to make an appointment with them, or ensure they will be working when you are there.
On top of all the other decisions to make when moving abroad, we understand how difficult it can be to choose a bank account to open. This is particularly tricky, when you don't have any knowledge of the local banking systems and procedures in that particular country. Nevertheless, we recommend having a foreign bank account, no matter how complicated the process might be, to make your life easier in the long run. If you need any help or guidance with foreign bank accounts or any aspects of your move, contact Avvinue, the all-in-one relocation platform, to ensure your transition to a new country is as smooth as possible.