If you plan to live for a considerable amount of time in a different country, you may start to think about opening a local bank account. However, banking is often one of the most complicated things for expats to arrange in a new country unless they become legal residents.
Banking abroad comes with various challenges, many of which involve the various documents required to open an account. Here are a few of the things you should know about.
Common Documents You May Require
When it comes to the requirements for opening a bank account, every country is different – and every bank is different for that matter. In some countries, it is a lot easier to open an account than in others.
In some countries, you may have to be a permanent resident before you can open a bank account, and in some countries this may be easier to arrange than in others. Other countries may not require you to be a permanent resident, but they may still require a lot of documentation to open an account in the first place.
Some of the most common documents you will require are proof of your address, which is usually in the form of a bill; a document proving your identity, which could be a national identity card or your passport; and proof of earnings, which can be tricky if you are not earning an income in the country.
Another thing to consider is that banking is not always free. If you are from the UK, you will be used to free banking, but this is not the case in many other countries. Monthly charges often apply to bank accounts, and in some cases there is also a charge for transactions including deposits, withdrawals, cheques and transfers.
Open an Account Before You Leave
Even if you are eligible to open a bank account, you may find that the whole process is too confusing, especially if you are living in a country where English is not the main language. In this case, you could either get someone to help you open an account, or you could try to open an account before you leave home.
HSBC provides a service where you can open an account before you arrive so that everything is set up when you land, and this can save a lot of hassle. The service is available in over 45 countries.
Open an Offshore Account
Rather than opening a local account, it may be simpler to open an offshore account – especially if you are only planning to stay for a few years or less. Although some offshore accounts require minimum earnings and balances that can be quite high, they can be a useful way to manage your money when you are living overseas.
You may be able to find an account that provides you with free ATM withdrawals as well, which could make getting access to your cash cheaper.
HSBC, Lloyds, Barclays and Santander are some of the best options for UK citizens moving overseas, so take a look at their accounts and see if any look suitable.
Other Options to Consider
If you cannot or do not want to open a local account, you could always keep on using your account back home. Some banks will allow you to keep your account even when you move abroad, but it depends on the bank. You could then get paid into that account and access it via an ATM whenever you need some cash.
Alternatively, you could transfer money from back home to your new destination using a service like Western Union or MoneyGram.
And if you do manage to open a bank account and you want to transfer money across, always try to look for the best deal. Bank transfers are often expensive, so it may be a better option to go with a specialist company like TorFX to make your money transfers simpler and easier.
Don’t Let Banks Give You a Headache
Opening a bank account can be a challenge in a new country, but it may not be necessary if you are not planning on staying long term. Try to find out as much in advance about the banking rules in your destination so that you can prepare for what to expect. And if you do want to open an account, consider using a service like that offered by HSBC to set up an account before you arrive.