If you’re looking to better understand the banking system in Vietnam, you’ve come to the right place.
Vietnam is a popular jurisdiction for expats and foreigners looking to explore Southeast Asia, so we’ve decided to take a closer look at the banking sector.
That said, we’re going to specifically focus on personal banking. If you’re looking for business banking, you may want to consider a company bank account in Malaysia, Singapore, or Hong Kong instead.
Feel free to use the table of contents to jump ahead to the sections most relevant to you.
Table of Contents
Banking in Vietnam 101
The current banking system in Vietnam started in 1976. That’s the year when the State Bank of Vietnam became the central bank. Of course, major changes have taken place since then, shaping the Vietnamese banking landscape of today.
Since the early ‘90s, Vietnam has been home to state-owned banks, joint-venture banks, and foreign banks. Not surprisingly, expats and foreigners considering banking in Vietnam tend to gravitate towards foreign banks in the country.
That said, there are not many foreign banks to choose from. And, in many cases, they either operate representative or branch offices. In other words, they are not full-fledged Vietnamese banks.
Additionally, Vietnam imposes many restrictions on foreign banking activities while also limiting the total foreign ownership in domestic banks. This means foreign banking activity is extremely limited, which is why foreign banks typically have very few offices and cater to select clientele (e.g. large corporations or high-net-worth individuals).
On the other hand, domestic banks suffer from a lack of confidence. And whenever possible, Vietnamese citizens prefer to bank outside of the country or (at the very least) with major foreign banks in the country.
Who Can Open a Bank Account in Vietnam?
As discussed in past articles, if you want to bank in Vietnam as a foreigner, expect high fees and be prepared to navigate exchange controls and government restrictions. Unfortunately, these are foundational elements of the banking system in Vietnam that everyone needs to deal with them, including locals.
In other words, it’s possible to open a bank account in Vietnam as a non-resident. But, if you can meet your banking needs with an international bank account or low-cost fintech alternative, it will probably save you a lot of time and headaches.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Below are two of the most common questions that we receive from people looking to open a bank account in Vietnam. If you have further questions you would like answered, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us directly.
Is Banking in Vietnam Safe?
Vietnam can be a suitable banking jurisdiction for individuals with local banking requirements. However, we do not suggest maintaining large deposits in the country. Deposit Insurance of Vietnam (DIV) only covers personal accounts held in Vietnamese dong and up to a total value of 50 million VND, which equals approximately 2,000 USD.
Additionally, the local population has limited confidence in the banking sector. In fact, as recently as October 2022, there was a run on one of Vietnam’s largest banks over fears related to a local fraud case.
Can a Foreign Non-Resident Open an Account in Vietnam?
Yes, it is possible for a foreign non-resident to open a bank account in Vietnam. However, the options will be limited. Additionally, supporting documentation and visas will still be required.
With this in mind, most non-residents choose to open foreign accounts and use international credit cards to support their financial needs in the country. That said, it can be quite difficult to do this as Vietnam is still predominantly a cash-based society.
Is a Bank Account in Vietnam Right For You?
If you would like assistance navigating the banking system in Vietnam or your banking options in other countries, we can help.
You can access GlobalBanks IQ, our international banking intelligence platform, in just a few clicks. Unlock our bank database, individual bank profiles, account opening strategies and reports, banker scripts, and more.
But, if you want a 100% personalized account opening service that taps into our team’s expertise and provides direct banker introductions, you can get started with GlobalBanks Insider.
Of course, if you have any questions, please get in touch with us directly.