Are You Allowed to Open a Bank Account in Another Country?

Do you want to learn how to open a bank account in Germany, France, the UK, or any other European country? You’ve reached the right place.  

Opening a bank account in another country makes sense when you live and work abroad, but it’s not an endeavor without challenges. Every country may have a set of rules that apply to foreign nationals who want to open a bank account; rules that go beyond proof of identity. 

Despite some hurdles, if you spend a long time in a foreign country – to work or study – having a local bank account makes sense. You can also opt for an online banking solution. But, we will get to that later on. 

Who is allowed to open a bank account in Europe?

Generally, if you’re legally an EU or UK resident, you are entitled to open a “basic payment account.” Moreover, if you are an EU resident, banks cannot refuse your application for a basic payment account

The only circumstances in which someone can be refused is if they do not comply with EU rules on money laundering and terrorist financing or if they already have a bank account with another bank in the same country.   

To open a bank account, you’ll need the following documents:

  • An identification document such as a passport or an ID
  • Proof of address such as a rental contract or a utility bill with your name on it from the last three months
  • Proof of income such as a payslip or an employment contract 

Note that in some countries you might be required to provide additional documentation such as the Netherlands, for example, in which you are required to provide your BSN (burgerservicenummer) number.

A basic payment account will allow you to make deposits, withdraw money, and conduct transactions such as direct card purchases. And, if you want to make advanced actions such as international money transfers, for example, you can opt for an online banking solution. In this case, you’ll add funds to your online account from your basic payment account.

What happens if you’re not a resident?    

This really depends on the specific country you’re looking to open an account in and the regulations that are enforced in it. It also depends on the bank. 

In some countries, you may be required to provide a lump sum, a passport, social security number, proof of residency in that respective country, a certified copy of your birth certificate, and a mountain of paperwork to approve your request. Some of these papers may need translation and notary seals. In addition, foreign banks often request a credit check. Know that if they find poor credit, your application will probably be rejected. 

Having a bank account in a country you live in is important for your local everyday basic needs. If you need to manage finances in more than one country, however, you should consider supplementing your basic local account with a trustworthy online banking solution that will enable you to care for your cross-border needs such as remittance or bill payments in your country of origin.