European Bank Account for Non-Residents

European Bank Account for Non-ResidentsIf you or your company is a non-resident of a European country where you wish to open a bank account, you’ll likely have limited options and will have to deal with a heap of challenges. Opening a bank account in a European bank demands a lot of effort due to the increased requirements for non-resident individuals and non-resident companies as well as complex application processing.

Nevertheless, you shouldn’t abandon your plan. Our team here at IB-IA GROUP UAB has eight years of experience in helping people and companies to open personal and corporate bank accounts across Europe. We use our vast network of trusted partners in the European banking industry to offer the most suitable and efficient solutions that contribute to the more convenient and successful lives of our clients.

Just to be clear, in Europe, permanent residence is defined as:

  • The place where an individual permanently and legally lives (home country)
  • The place where a company is registered (incorporated)

If none of the above applies to you, you’ll need to open a non-resident (a.k.a. offshore) account in a European country.

Why you might need to open a European bank account:

  • You’re a frequent visitor of a European country, whether it’s business or leisure
  • You frequently pay for products and services in a European currency
  • You’re starting a business in Europe
  • Your business is expanding to Europe
  • You accept payments from European clients
  • You intend to apply for a loan in Europe
  • You’re looking to hold savings and investments in different currencies
  • You’re looking to make investments in Europe
  • You’re looking for a more stable banking system to protect your money
  • You’re in need of more banking privacy

The main advantages of a European bank account:

  • Accepting and making payments in local currency
  • Faster transactions between local banks
  • It’s easier to send and receive money in the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA)
  • Your money is safe and protected

Regulations of the European Banking Industry

The European banks are fully licensed and thoroughly regulated and therefore trusted by many individuals and international businesses. One of the key participants of the regulatory framework is the European Banking Authority (EBA), the EU’s regulatory agency, whose role is to enforce transparency and integrity across the financial industry and who’s authorised to override national regulations in order to achieve its goals. EBA provides guidelines and recommendations to mitigate and manage risks, improve technological standards, and works on the consolidation of the banking principles across the Single Market.

If you’re determined to open a non-resident bank account for yourself or your business, you must keep in mind that all clients of the banks operating in the EU are subject to adhering to anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing rules. They include know-your-customer (KYC) procedures – a process of checks carried out by the bank to verify a new client’s identity and assess the level of criminal risk they may pose. Moreover, customer due diligence (CDD) processes will ensure your personal or business activities are continuously monitored to avoid money laundering and other financial crime.

To enforce all the relevant regulations, a bank will require detailed information and a lot of documents translated into the local language and certified by a notary public. If you need help with the preparation of the documentation, our team is more than happy to step in.

That said, some countries are more willing to allow non-residents to open a bank account. Portugal, Estonia, Lithuania, Germany and Switzerland are the go-to countries for non-resident accounts.

Essential Banking Services in Europe

When exploring your options you might want to look at both – traditional and digital banks. Both the types have their own advantages and disadvantages. Although for any bank one of the key indicators of success is the total of the balance sheet, keep in mind the smaller banks can also offer competitive products and services so take the time to look at lesser-known but still regulated and reliable institutions.

Traditional European Banks

Traditional European banks provide the following services:

  • Digital onboarding
  • Online (internet and mobile) banking, including forex, shares trading, and wire transfer abroad, that will enable you to access business accounts from anywhere in the world
  • Electronic signatures
  • Credit and debit cards
  • 24/7 customer service
  • Personalised customer service, including a personal banker
  • Harmonised service and pricing models across the countries where their branches are available
  • International debit cards
  • Connectivity of bank accounts with virtual wallets and such online payments systems as Paypal
  • Business advice
  • Standardised reporting formats

You may want to consider the following traditional banks:

  • SEB (HQ in Sweden, available in Norway, Finland, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia Lithuania, Denmark, Germany and the UK)
  • BNP Paribas (HQ in France, available in France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and the UK)
  • Novo Banco (HQ in Portugal, available in Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and Italy)
  • HSBC Holdings (HQ in the UK, available in France, Malta, Switzerland and the UK)
  • Deutsche Bank (HQ in Germany, available in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Switzerland and others)
  • Banco Santander (HQ in Spain, available in Poland, Germany, the UK, Spain and Portugal)
  • ING Group (HQ in the Netherlands, available in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Poland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Romania and Spain)

Digital Banks in Europe

Digital banks are known for the following:

  • Mobile-first banking services have replaced physical locations
  • Accessibility due to the user-friendly interface of the bank’s website and mobile application
  • Speedy digital onboarding process
  • Lower or no processing and periodic fees
  • Streamlined transaction processes with reduced administration fees
  • Borderless multi-currency accounts
  • Facilitation of transfers and collection of payments, including bills, taxes and transfers to suppliers
  • Exchange from euro into other currencies and vice versa
  • Instant access to the current balance, available balance, monthly statements and other records of information
  • Higher savings interest rates
  • Numerous online support channels – forums, chatbots, FAQs, social media

You may want to consider the following digital banks:

  • Wise (HQ in the UK, available across Europe)
  • Revolut (HQ in the UK, available across Europe)
  • Bunq (HQ in the Netherlands, available in the Netherlands, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Iceland, Norway, Greece and others)
  • N26 (HQ in Germany, available in Germany, Austria, Spain, Italy, Ireland, Slovakia, Greece, France, Belgium, Estonia and other Eurozone countries)
  • Statrys (HQ in Hong Kong, available globally)

While traditional banks have strict requirements for non-residents, some digital banks are more liberal. Non-residents may opt for a borderless account provided by a digital bank (e.g. Wise or Statrys) since this option is quite easily accessible (can be applied for and set up remotely) and offers multi-currency accounts.

What to Look at When Choosing a European Bank

Although as a non-resident you will usually have limited options, depending on your needs you can still have room to choose. Doing some essential research in advance will later save your time and money.

Key things to consider before choosing a bank for your business or personal account:

  • The bank’s licences, debts and liquidity
  • Quality of offshore banking services
  • Availability of the type of account you’re looking to open
  • Online banking and other digital services
  • Pricing model (monthly, annual, overdraft, wire transfer or other fees)
  • Interest fees
  • Customer support, including spoken languages
  • Availability of branches in your local area
  • Security and compliance (how well the bank works to prevent fraud and other financial crime)
  • Integrability with other financial products services
  • If you’re opening a corporate account, whether it’s friendly to your business industry (e.g. crypto) and operational framework (e.g. connectivity with Paypal)
  • Transfer limits
  • Insurance of deposits
  • Innovative features

Requirements for Non-Residents

When defining requirements for non-residents, a selected country for a bank account (jurisdiction), the applicant’s citizenship and tax residence country as well as requirements of a specific bank must be factored in. Eligibility requirements vary depending on all of these factors. For instance, not every bank will require you to physically travel to one of their branches to submit an application but may video call you to verify your identity. However, certain documents are commonly required by every institution.

Generally, the following documents are required to open a personal bank account:

  • Proof of identity (passport or national ID)
  • Proof of permanent address
  • Proof of employment or enrolment in a school
  • Proof of source of funds

The following documents are usually required to open a corporate bank account for a non-resident company:

  • Articles of Association, Memorandum of Association or other company documents (e.g. partnership agreement)
  • A certificate of company’s registration from the authorities of the country of residence
  • The company’s business plan
  • Proof of identity of the company’s shareholders and directors
  • Proof of company’s registered address
  • Samples of signatures by individuals who’ll use the business account
  • History of turnover
  • Details about the company’s customers and suppliers

How to Open a Non-Resident Bank Account in Europe

If you or your company is a non-resident of the country where you wish to open a bank account, the process will be lengthier than usual as the bank needs to verify your supplied information and assess risks associated with you or your business.

Whether it’s a corporate or a personal account, the following steps are essential:

  • Research your options well and make sure that your selected bank accepts non-residents
  • Reach out to your selected bank to clearly define their requirements and application process
  • Collect and possibly translate required documents
  • Submit an application to the bank (either online or at the branch)
  • Transfer a required initial deposit to your new non-resident account

If you’re a non-resident of a particular European country where you’re willing to open a corporate or personal bank account, highly experienced consultants of IB-IA GROUP UAB will be delighted to assist you with finding the best solution and submitting an application. Over the last eight years, we’ve developed a vast network of trusted relationships across the European banking industry which will streamline your application processing at a selected bank. Book a personalised consultation now.