Home Guides How to Open a Bank Account Overseas

How to Open a Bank Account Overseas

Overseas bank accounts serve a multitude of people and purposes, and it is not just expats who need to access funds in foreign accounts. Due to the growth of international immigration, tourism, trade and commerce, money transfers are made all over the globe everyday, and an increasing number of people open bank accounts overseas to support these cross-border payments.

Updated: 20/05/2021
Read time: 5 minutes
Compare Rates
 
   
Spain
EUR
GBP
£

Why are you opening a bank account overseas?

Whether related to work, studying, retirement or family reasons, people open bank accounts overseas for all sorts of reasons. Before setting up a bank account overseas, it is worth evaluating your current financial situation, especially if you are moving abroad. By reviewing your existing banking you will be able to assess which features you use most, which services you may continue to require as well as anything you may no longer need once you have made moved overseas.

Moving overseas: don't forget about tax and pension contributions

At this stage it is important to contact the tax office and pension provider in your home country, to inform them of your move and new overseas bank account. Expats moving permanently overseas may want to learn more about switching accounts and claiming a pension abroad.

Once you have cleared up any outstanding finances, you can begin shopping around for a new overseas bank account. Also, if you want to know more about the process behind transferring money to a foreign bank account make sure to check our guide.

Opening a bank account overseas: Things to consider

  • Charges: Check if service fees and other costs, like monthly maintenance fees and charges for ATM withdrawals, are associated with your new bank account 
  • Minimum balance: Sometimes customers are required to maintain a certain amount in their bank account at all times, to avoid charges
  • Beneficial features: Ask yourself what types of features you consider most useful and crucial for your lifestyle; if you travel a lot, you may opt for a bank that offers free ATM withdrawals overseas. If you are frequently moving money between countries, you may want to open a multi-currency bank account.
  • Accessibility: Whether you prefer to access your account online, via mobile banking or in person at a local branch, make sure your new bank account is easily accessible
  • Security: Is the bank account safe and secure? Are they covered by the relevant financial authorities in that country?
  • Reputation: What do customers say? What sort of reputation does the bank have?
  • International money transfers: Does this bank account support money transfers between countries and what do their international bank transfer fees look like?

What information will you need to provide?

Generally, the following information is required to open a bank account overseas:

  • Personal information: this includes your full name, address, D.O.B. and contact information 
  • Proof of identity: you will need to provide proof that verifies your personal information, this is typically a passport, drivers license or in some cases, a birth certificate
  • Proof of address: you will be asked to provide proof of address, such as utility bill, bank statement, tenancy agreement or tax correspondence, as long as it clearly states your current address
  • Proof of status: As a prospective overseas bank account holder, you may be asked to divulge your status in the country; either as a resident or non-resident

How do you open a bank account? 

Online

Due to the changing landscape, digital-only banking is highly desirable to customers around the world, especially those who wish to open an overseas bank account from outside a country. Whether you are choosing to bank with a traditional institution or opting for a challenger bank, there are many companies who allow customers to open an account online. However, it is important to find out whether your international bank account can be managed exclusively online, if this is something you wish to do.

On the phone

Opening a new account over the phone is easy and convenient, and allows you to speak directly with a representative from the bank. You may incur charges for the phone call, depending where you are calling from. While you will be able to provide the above information over the phone, you may still be asked to visit the bank in person to verify documentation; this is something you can ask on the phone.

In person

The most traditional and ultimately safest way to open a bank account is by visiting the bank branch and setting up an account in person.  However, if you are opening a bank account with a digital-only bank, this will not be possible as they will not have physical locations. The importance of accessing in-person services is something to consider when deciding which provider to open an account with.

Overseas bank accounts: Resident vs Non-resident 

If you are applying for an overseas bank account you may be asked if you are a resident or non-resident. Anyone relocating for reasons such as work, retirement or studying, will usually qualify as a resident. 

If you are considered a non-resident, this could result in tighter restrictions or limits to your overseas bank account. It is worth checking with the provider, as not all banks offer the same flexibility for non-residents and in some countries, non-residents are not allowed to open standard bank accounts.

Overseas bank accounts for Expats

If you have recently moved overseas, to the country you are opening a bank account in, you may be asked to prove your status as a resident. Not all banks require this information, however, so it is worth opting for a bank that welcomes expats and supports international bank transfers. Check out our guide to the Best International Banks for Expats.

Summary

In conclusion, it is possible open a bank account overseas and most banks make it easy to manage your finances online wherever you are in the world. While not all banks offer overseas residents the option to open a bank account, many do have options for non-residents, although you may be required to visit the bank in person when initially setting up your account. For anyone moving overseas, this is a straightforward requirement, but for those opening an overseas account from their home country, you may want to opt for a bank with quality online customer service. Check out our comparison engine to find out the best rates for any overseas payments you may need to make.

Related content

Mastercard® Send™ Transfer Review
Founded in 1966, Mastercard is known as one of the biggest financial services companies of all time, having played a major role in the development of the electronic payments industry. Along with Visa, American Express and Discover, Mastercard competes for custom of handling member banks’ financial payments.  In 2015, the multinational conglomerate decided to turn […]
How to find sort code from IBAN
It can be hard to keep up with the various banking terms that apply to different international money transfers, which is why we strive to provide as much detail as possible on subjects relating to global payments. In this guide we will outline what sort codes and IBANs are, looking at when they are required and how to decode them. 
What is IBAN?
Using an IBAN is an effective way of simplifying global money transfers and removing the risk of errors. Regardless of whether you are sending £100 or £100,000, we believe remittances of all sizes should be protected and moved safely from A to B. One way of ensuring this happens is by helping our readers understand the basics of when and how an IBAN is used, as well as where in the world the system is employed.
April Summers

April is a journalist and full-time content writer for MoneyTransfers.com. Over the last decade she has written for a number of different online and print publications. Having lived overseas in Canada and Vietnam, April hopes to see more of the world as soon as possible, with Japan at the top of her travel list. As a former expat, April has first-hand experience of managing finances from overseas. She enjoys writing about forex trends and the future of banking.

Companies
All Services