how to open a foreign bank account online
Do you want to open a foreign bank account via the internet? Fortunately, in recent years, the process has gotten increasingly simple. You can now open a digital bank account in a variety of countries across the world to benefit from minimal costs, flexible banking, and favorable currency rates.
First and foremost, in this article, we define “international” and “foreign” bank accounts in very particular terms. We’re talking about bank accounts (or other financial services) that provide everyday banking services (such as checking and savings) in countries and currencies other than your own, as well as cross-border payment services like currency exchange, online payments abroad, and international bank cards.
For the sake of this guide, we won’t be looking at the related (but quite different) subject of offshore investment banking and wealth management.
In general, you’ll have two major alternatives when it comes to opening a foreign bank account online:
- Using a Digital Bank to Open a Foreign Bank Account;
- Using a high-street bank in another country to open an account.
In general, opening a bank account with a traditional high-street bank in another country will require you to be physically present in that country (for work or residency purposes, for example) and to present a significant amount of documentation, such as passports, visas, and (occasionally) proof of residency.
Opening an account with a digital-only bank, on the other hand, is a more flexible alternative that does not require you to be physically present in another country. Many of the benefits and services supplied by traditional banks are still available, making it an appealing alternative for many people.
In this post, we’ll look at both options and consider the benefits and drawbacks to see which one is best for you.
What Is Required To Open An Online Foreign Bank Account?
The documentation you’ll need and the processes you’ll need to take to open an online bank account vary widely depending on a variety of circumstances. These include your country of origin, your preferred bank, the account’s intended use, and other considerations.
However, when opening an online bank account, you should expect to supply the following documents:
- Your passport or a valid government-issued identification card;
- Proof of residence in your home country is required.
If you want to create a bank account in a typical bank in a foreign nation, you’ll almost certainly need the following documents:
- A visa for the destination country;
- Proof of residence in the country of origin.
Banks may also need additional documentation, such as a letter of recommendation from another bank or an existing client, depending on the country. Before you open a bank account in another country, double-check the requirements.
What Are the Different Types of Foreign Bank Accounts That Can Be Opened Online?
While account names and larger account kinds may vary significantly from bank to bank, you’ll typically discover the following three sorts of bank accounts while banking with a foreign bank:
Checking accounts: These are transactional accounts that are designed for everyday use. Depending on the country, they’re called “transactional accounts,” “current accounts,” or “chequing accounts.”
Savings accounts: These accounts earn interest and have withdrawal restrictions. They’re designed to properly store money that won’t be needed very soon.
Multi-currency/Foreign currency accounts: These accounts can be opened in any currency other than your native currency and can be used for a variety of things, including cross-border transactions, saving, and investing.
Multi-currency account alternatives or checking account options with some cross-border capabilities are likely to be offered by online banks. Traditional banks, on the other hand, will almost certainly provide you with all three options.
This is because, as previously said, the average traditional bank is more likely to provide a wider range of services than the average internet bank.
We recommend a Wise Multi-Currency Account for recollection and travel abroad since it is a flexible online account choice that allows you to use your own dedicated bank account data in nine different countries and the Eurozone to pay and be paid like a local. Furthermore, you’ll be able to avoid terrible exchange rates for international transfers and finish the entire registration process from the comfort of your own home.
Using a Digital Bank to Open a Foreign Bank Account
It’s impossible to ignore the fact that digital-only banks are on the increase. Digital-only banks (also known as “challenger banks” or “neobanks“) have been challenging the financial services market in recent years in the EU and the UK, for example, by offering lower costs, broader appeal, and more accessible internet access than traditional high-street banks.
Digital banking is also on the rise in the United States and Canada, with banks like Chime Bank at the forefront. However, as of 2021, the North American market lacks the same level of customer choice as the European market. While the scenario is similar in Asia and Australia, where neobanks are also on the rise, the trend has yet to really take hold in the rest of the world.
As a customer, opening an online bank account with a challenger bank provides you with the following essential benefits:
- Cheaper: Because the cost structure is lower than that of high-street banks, users benefit from lower costs all-around.
- Cross-border accounts are fairly frequent, and there is often less focus on being a resident of a particular nation.
- Savvy: Services are available online, and internet and mobile banking are often well-designed and simple to use.
- Transparent: Consumer-facing communication and language are more basic, conversational, and clear.
- Global: As part of their service package, many (but not all) digital banks emphasize cross-border payments, international money transfers, and favorable exchange rates.
However, the following disadvantages suggest that digital-only banks may not be suitable for everyone:
- Brancheless: Because digital banks rarely, if ever, have their own physical branches, consumers who value face-to-face counselling are out of luck.
- Limited: High-street banks often offer a wide range of financial services, but digital banks’ service offerings are typically far more limited.
- Non-banks: Some (but not all) digital banks aren’t actually banks in the strict sense because they’re structured as wholly separate legal organizations.
Using a High-Street Bank to Open a Foreign Bank Account
Opening a bank account with a traditional bank is the usual option for most people when migrating to a new country or looking for a foreign bank to create an account with.
While many high-street banks around the world will accept non-resident account applications, the majority will not. Even if you’re one of the lucky ones, you’ll almost certainly need to verify your eligibility to live and work in the country, as well as your residency. (A noteworthy exception is the EU, which allows EU bank accounts to be used across the entire 27-member bloc and prohibits discrimination on this basis.)
As a result, traditional banks are much more restricted than digital banks, which is complicated even more by the fact that application criteria vary greatly from nation to country.
Traditional banks, on the other hand, have a solid reputation for stability and security. For many people, the fact that they have actual locations can be a significant benefit.
Recommendation on how to open a foreign bank account online?
The specifics of opening a foreign bank account online vary significantly based on the country in which you want to open one. If you use a digital bank, for example, you’re unlikely to face many constraints in terms of submitting a residency permit outside of your native country. If you want to utilize a regular bank, you’ll have to present proof of residency most of the time (but not always).
As a result, if you have a specific country in mind — whether you’re going there for employment or want to register a bank account in that country’s jurisdiction and currency — we recommend reading thru our in-depth guides for opening bank accounts in the key countries listed in this awesome article
It is sometimes possible to open a local bank account via the internet. You might be able to find a bank that will let you scan and email your documents, or you might have an account with a worldwide bank that will help you open a new account in your destination country. You may also want to deposit some of your assets offshore, depending on the financial services you require. More information on this topic can be found in our Offshore Banking for Expats article.
In most circumstances, tho, you will need to open your bank account in person. You should determine whether the language barrier will be an issue before heading to the bank. If this is the case, you should bring a trusted friend or an interpreter with you. If the bank has employees who speak English or other foreign languages that will be relevant to you, confirm that they will be available when you arrive. Make an appointment if necessary. Is the bank well-versed in dealing with foreigners? Check ahead of time to see if you’ll need to meet with anyone in particular, such as the bank manager.