Closing a Bank Account Overseas [Foreign Bank Account]

Closing a bank account overseas can be done by following the bank-specific closing policy and paying the respected closing fees.

Interested in closing a bank account but your financial institution won’t let you? Welcome to the club.

Choosing banks with painfully annoying closure policies is one of the biggest mistakes people make before looking into how to open a bank account overseas.


KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Banks may refuse your request to close your account
  • Some banks charge closing fees
  • An in-person visit might be required to terminate your account
  • It’s important to read the fine lines of a banks closing policy before requesting to close your account

Expats, digital nomads, business owners, and anyone living an international lifestyle has experienced it. And if you haven’t already, you will. So, get prepared.

Here’s how the conversation normally starts:

You: “I want to close my bank account”

Bank: “No. Can I help you with anything else today?”

If you persist and ask the financial institution for specifics, get ready to start jumping through hoops…lots of hoops.

The worst part? Painfully bureaucratic account closure policies aren’t just annoying, they’re also complicated, expensive, and time-consuming.

In this article, we’ll explain how to close an overseas bank account, how to terminate accounts from abroad, and what to watch out for.

Transition – Insert Headline?

Having an account overseas makes sense – no matter what. Plus, having an emergency fund in a different banking system that is subject to different laws, puts you in a position of strength when crisis strikes. It also ensures that you’ll always have access to your money. It’s a tool you can use to protect your family’s finances from frivolous lawsuits, overreaching governments, account freezes, and financial predators at home.

But, sometimes, you’ll need to terminate overseas accounts.

Depending on the financial institution you chose, the type of account you have, and what the bank’s policy is for closing accounts – the closing process can either be easy or a painful and expensive battle.

The GlobalBanks team spends hundreds of hours each month analyzing banks, visiting branches, talking to bankers, and sifting through the intricacies of the international banking world. So we know that some banks are easier to deal with than others.

We know which banks are open to non-residents, what their account opening quirks are, their likes, dislikes, and what special client preferences they have.

But we also know which financial institutions are painfully annoying to deal with. Who has predatory fees, horrible customer service, and the most annoying (and expensive) closure policies in the world.

Feel free to use the table of contents to jump ahead to the sections most relevant to you.

Table of Contents

  1. Can Banks Refuse to Close an Overseas Bank Account?
  2. How Much Does it Cost to Close a Bank Account?
  3. Why Close an Offshore Bank Account?
  4. Bank Account Closing
  5. Open Accounts That You’ll Never Want to Close
  6. Frequently Asked Questions
  7. Do You Want Help Opening Bank Accounts?

Can Banks Refuse to Close an Overseas Bank Account?

closing a bank account overseas

Most people are shocked when their financial institution refuses to terminate their accounts.

But, it gets worse.

A bank is legally allowed to keep your account open and continue slapping you with fees if you can’t provide certain documents or can’t show up in person.

For this reason, knowing which banks have predatory closure policies and are least friendly to foreigners, non-residents, or anyone living abroad (or not next door to a branch) is crucial.

If you’re living an international lifestyle or bank overseas, knowing which banks will let you close foreign accounts in person or online is super important.

In fact, knowing precisely what it’ll take to terminate multi-currency bank accounts before you open them can save you thousands of dollars in lost time and money.

Do You Want to Explore All Your Offshore Banking Options?

How Much Does it Cost to Close a Bank Account?

It depends on the financial institution.

At some banks, closing an account costs absolutely nothing.

But at other banks, closing an account can cost anywhere from US $100 to $1,000 in fees. Or more, if you count the hours wasted talking to customer service, flying or driving to the branch,  and the incredible paperwork gymnastics that you’ll likely have to perform.

What Not to Do When Closing Bank Accounts

Warning: Do not tell the financial institution you want to terminate the account if you still have money in it.

Withdraw your money first, then terminate the account.

But, before you do anything, check the bank’s closure policy. Are there any requirements or conditions that could cause problems for you?

For example, do you have to show up in person to terminate the account? If you can’t travel to the branch in person, you have a problem. If you withdraw all your funds from the account, the financial institution will keep hitting you with fees every month until you show up.

Here’s an example of what not to do that one of our members offered to share:

“I made the mistake of trying to close my account while I still had money in it. I told the bank I wanted to terminate my account. The bank said “great, just give us your tax ID number first since we don’t have it on file.” The problem? I’m a foreigner so I didn’t have a local tax ID. And because I never gave the bank any tax ID number before, they couldn’t find me in their system. The result? The financial institution refused to terminate the account or give me my money back. They told me the only way to resolve it was to come to the branch in person…but I didn’t live in the country. “

So, he’s in a difficult position. He can’t terminate his account or get access to his money unless he buys a $700 flight, a $20 Uber, and a night in a hotel just to go to his bank’s branch.

On top of that, since he doesn’t have $2500 in the account (which is the minimum balance to avoid fees), he’s also paying $15 per month to keep the account open!

His account is effectively frozen and the bank will keep charging him monthly fees until he shows up in person!

How to Close an Account From Abroad?

The process to close an account from overseas depends on the financial institution. Each institution has different policies for closing an account. Some banks make the process for closing an account complicated and expensive. At other banks, it’s quick and easy. You can do it online or by phone in seconds. It just depends on the financial institution you choose and how bad their closure policy is.

Below are some things that a bank might require to close your bank account:

  • Physically go to the branch in-person to terminate the account
  • Pay a closure fee to close the account
  • Provide authenticated copies of your ID and mail them in by registered mail
  • Provide your tax ID number to the bank to terminate the account and release funds
  • Draft, sign, and notarize a POA and then hire someone to go to the branch on your behalf to terminate the account
  • Account closures require approval from a special department. That department needs to first review your application to terminate the account before the account is closed
  • You need to call a special number and request that the account be closed via phone… if they pick up
  • You will have to visit the branch in person to complete and sign forms. If your signature doesn’t match the one they have on file exactly, you’ll need to go to the branch in-person a second time and sign the forms again. This is especially common in Latin American countries.

Why Close an Offshore Bank Account?

closing a bank account overseas

Now you might be wondering why anyone would want to go through with closing bank accounts. Well, there are countless reasons why you might want to terminate an account. Here are some commons reasons:

1. Your Banking Requirements Change

Plans change. So do your needs.

Maybe you opened a bank account in the US because you got a job in the US and now you’re in Europe or the Middle East.

Maybe you opened an account in Singapore because you were getting paid in Singapore Dollars (SGD). But, then realized you were getting killed on currency exchange rates and transfer fees.

Maybe you opened a bank account in Europe because you lived there, needed low-cost SEPA transfers, and wanted a more cost-effective way to pay bills in EUR. But now, you don’t need that account anymore.

Whatever the case, needs change. Old accounts that previously served a purpose, may no longer be needed. And, instead of allocating capital to them or paying fees, you want to close them.

2. You Can’t Meet the Minimum Spend

Let’s say you want to know what you need to open a new bank account. In order to avoid fees at the new financial institution, you need to deposit a certain amount of money. So, you transfer the money from your old bank to the new bank.

The problem? You can’t meet the minimum requirement at your old bank. Result? Your old bank starts charging you fees every month…until you terminate the account.

3. Bank Minimum Balance Requirements Are Too High

If you can’t meet a bank’s minimum balance requirements, you’re charged monthly maintenance fees. So, you want to close your foreign bank account and move to a financial institution with lower minimum balance requirements.

By moving to a new financial institution, you can use your money and won’t constantly worry about whether you’re hitting the minimum balance or not.

For example, one financial institution might require a balance of US $50,000 to avoid a $50 monthly fee. Whereas another might only require a US $1,000 balance. By switching banks, you can free up US $49,000.

4. You Moved to a New Country

Let’s say you move to a new country. You need to pay bills, receive salary payments, use different currencies, and have a local debit card. In that case, you probably need a local financial institution in your new country than where you lived before.

And if you don’t have a specific need for the bank account in your old country, or if you don’t plan on moving back, you might choose to close it instead.

5. Bank Changed its Fee Structure and You’re Getting Charged Insane Amounts

Let’s say, in 2019, you opened an account with TD Bank in the US. Why? Because you wanted a debit card with no foreign transaction fees. This gave you an option to make international purchases without penalty.

But, a year later, the institution scraps that fee structure. Now they charge 3% for every non-US transaction. Now, the TD Bank debit card is useless to you and there’s no reason to keep your TD Bank account. You need to switch to a financial institution that has the service you want (aka: a debit card with no foreign transaction fees).

6. Bank Disabled a Certain Service That Was Necessary to Your Life

Did you choose a certain financial institution because of a specific product, service, or capability it had?

For example, let’s say you need to send/receive transfers from Revolut or Transferwise. If your financial institution all of sudden won’t allow transfers to Revolut or Transferwise, that account is useless to you. Plus, if you can’t use Transferwise, you’ll get killed on transfer fees.

7. Bank Froze Your Account and Requires Your Presence at the Branch for ID Verification

If physically traveling to the branch in person costs more than the account is worth, then you may want to close it.

This is a common problem for people who live abroad. It’s also why having backup accounts is important. If one account is frozen, you always have another option.

For example, let’s say a financial institution freezes your account or disables outgoing transfers. To unlock it, the institution requires you to travel to a branch in person and show your ID (this is common with many banks in the US).

But, that’s inconvenient and expensive for you. Especially if you live abroad or don’t live next to a physical branch, an international trip to unfreeze a bank account can easily cost over US $1,000+.

Bank Account Closing

In short, choose the right banks. And, understand the closure policy.

Don’t get stuck with banks that have an expensive and painful closing process.

A bank’s closure policy can cost you: High closure account fees, the cost of flying there in person, ongoing monthly fees, inactivity fees, time wasted dealing with customer service and closing paperwork, etc.

Before you open an account overseas, think ahead. Carefully examine each bank’s rules for closing an account (and watch out for hidden fees!). Choose your financial institution wisely so you don’t get hit with fees. Or worse, have to jump through hoops when closing the account in the future.

Open Accounts That You’ll Never Want to Close

If you’re worried about expensive closing policies (or already having problems closing your account) and need help figuring out the instructions of what to do next, you can get started by using the information in this article.

But if you need more help or want to find banks with cheap and easy closing options, which countries to target, the best account opening (and closing) strategies to use, and how to overcome tough paperwork obstacles, then we’d be happy to help you on your journey.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are three of the most common questions we receive from people exploring closing a bank account overseas. If you have further questions you would like answered, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us directly.

How Do I Close My Bank Account From Overseas?

The process of closing your bank account from overseas will depend on the bank’s account closing policy. In other words, the fees associated with account closing and whether or not you have to close the account in person. It’s important to understand the bank’s policy for closing accounts before choosing a bank.

Should I Close My Overseas Bank Account?

Whether or not you should close your overseas bank account will depend on the reason for having an overseas bank account. That said, if you are a US resident and you close your overseas bank accounts, the IRS may flag you

Do You Want Help Opening Bank Accounts?

If so, you can get access to GlobalBanks IQ in just a few clicks.

GlobalBanks IQ is our flagship international account opening solution. It gives you instant access to the…

+ Expert insights on which banks to choose & why

+ Step-by-step reports to open accounts in the best banking hubs

+ GlobalBanks international bank database & detailed bank profiles

+ Tried & tested banks for high-risk, offshore, & non-resident clients

+ Plus, get YOUR most pressing account opening questions answered by our team!

And “yes!” GlobalBanks IQ helps foreigners and non-resident individuals open a bank account.

In fact, GlobalBanks IQ even helps non-resident, foreign & offshore entities open a bank account.

To learn more about opening accounts with GlobalBanks IQ, just click here now. Or, contact us directly with any questions!

Sorry, but you cannot copy the content on this page.