Last Updated on February 15, 2024 by Nasir Hanif

Why should you open an account abroad if there are plenty of banks back home? Well, the first reason is diversification, which is a well-known key to financial safety: if you keep all your assets in one country, you risk losing them one day due to some adverse events. The second reason is the range of services which may be more extensive in foreign banks, including closed investment offers for bank customers only. The third reason is, of course, confidentiality: money loves silence, and there are not so many places where you can get guaranteed silence (Swiss banks offer the highest level of privacy possible, for instance). The list of reasons is in no way exhaustive, but these three are impressive enough to think of setting up an account with a foreign bank! We will discuss how to open a bank account abroad, and here you will find a checklist of documents needed for non-residents opening a bank account.

Documents You Will Need

The first thing a customer who wishes to open a foreign bank account needs to know is the list of documents required to set up an account with a financial institution (it may be not only a bank but also a brokerage company or a payment system). In fact, there are quite a bit of documents you need to submit!

First of all, you need a valid passport or any other ID issued by the government. If the document is in a language other than English or the language of the bank or other financial institution, you will need to have it translated and certified by a notary public and then submit a scanned original and the notarized translation.

The second document of the proof of your address of residence. It can be a utility bill that contains your name and address or a bank statement that also contains your name and details. The usual requirement is to provide a document issued no more than three months ago. If you want to save the time and expenses associated with translation, request your bank to provide an account statement in English (most banks can help with it).

Keep in mind that a foreign bank will not accept a copy of your passport page with the address as proof of the place of your residence as it does not actually prove that you are living there!

Also, make sure the information provided in both documents is reliable and consistent. It practically means that the country where you are a fiscal resident should be the country of your residence specified in the bank statement.

Major banks will be especially meticulous while checking the accuracy of your personal information, so what can you do if you have real estate in different countries and several residence addresses? The usual tip is to provide proof of address in the country where you paid taxes in the past reporting period, not the one where you were born or where you spent your vacation once or twice. What the bank or payment system needs to know is the fact that you live and pay taxes in the same country, so your fiscal residency is more important. If these two countries are different according to your documents, you will need to provide additional papers and answer the questions of bank employees. Why waste your time and money on that?

The third document is your TIN (Taxpayer Identification Number) issued in the state where you pay taxes as an individual. If your TIN is issued in a different country than the one where you actually pay taxes, your application will be turned down.

The fourth document is a reference letter or a financial statement from a bank or payment system in any jurisdiction where you have an active bank account.

The fifth document is the official proof of the legal origin of funds (assets) and evidence of income tax paid. It may be a certificate of employment, a real estate sale contract, a tax declaration, a Board resolution on payment of dividends, and other similar documents.

The five above-mentioned documents make up a standard package you will need to provide to any foreign bank. However, each financial institution may set its own requirements and request additional documents at its discretion.

For example, an additional document that is often required is a CV that lists your achievements in work, education, or business, as well as your personal qualities (you can provide a LinkedIn profile for this purpose).

The additional documents that will be requested depend on the customer’s individual situation. In any case, check the bank’s requirements before you submit the documents – for instance, you may need to provide notarized or original copies.

Pre-Approval Service

Not all banks are willing to work with non-residents, especially from some countries. And while the bank may not directly specify on its website that some countries are restricted, it may still turn your application down. But how to find it out in advance? Nobody wants to collect and submit a package of documents just to get a negative answer.

Fortunately, there is a way out: you can order the pre-approval of your bank account! It will be especially useful if you have applied to several institutions and have been turned down. You need to choose several banks and submit just an application form to them for preliminary approval. If their feedback is positive, you may proceed to collect the remaining documents. It will help you avoid wasting time on uncooperative institutions.

If you want to be on the safe side or you have doubts that the bank you have selected will onboard you, do not hesitate to use this service. It can be fee-based or free – please follow the above link to get more information.

You are sure to find all information on foreign bank accounts by clicking on the above link. Discover the best destinations to open a bank account, offshore and onshore jurisdictions that offer different conditions, the best countries in terms of banking secrecy and asset protection, and so on. We wish you safe and convenient foreign banking!