Opening an international bank account is critical to the lives of many individuals and business owners.
This can be true whether you live in Southeast Asia or South Texas. If you have international commitments, being able to send and receive international transfers is essential.
Now, non-resident bank account opening doesn’t come easy. There are several steps you must take to successfully open international bank accounts.
But more importantly, there are mistakes you need to avoid when applying for accounts outside of your home country.
We’re going to this and more in the following comprehensive guide to opening an international bank account.
What you’re about to uncover…
The information we’re about to share is based on our team’s 10+ years of experience opening international bank accounts for ourselves, and our members.
During this time we have opened accounts in top international banking hubs, offshore destinations, and mainstream jurisdictions.
This has included accounts for all client profiles imaginable, navigating the most difficult of account opening challenges, and helping thousands of people just like you.
So, no matter the type of international bank account you’re looking for or the challenges you’re facing, the following insights will help you get started applying for an international bank account.
International Bank Account Opening
To open an international bank account, there are several steps to navigate. Including, preparing the necessary documentation and presenting your client profile in a way that is acceptable to the bank. That said, how you navigate these steps and present yourself will depend on the country where you want to open.
Here’s a look at everything we’re going to cover in this article:
Table of Contents
Important International Account Opening Factors
First, it’s important to mention that finding and opening an international bank account that matches your profile has never been more difficult.
Yes, there are many banks offering “international” bank accounts. But these accounts often come with specific criteria, overwhelming deposit requirements, and very high fees. Making finding a suitable bank harder than ever.
But harder doesn’t mean impossible…
In fact, there are great bank accounts available for every client type imaginable. You just need to know what to prioritize, how to present yourself, and where to find them.
We’re going to guide you through the process to do all of this right now.
But, before diving in, if this is your first time visiting GlobalBanks, don’t forget to download your FREE Non-Resident Banking Starter Guide. It’s designed to help non-residents open an international bank account in top banking hubs around the world.
International Bank Account Opening Factors
International bank account opening can be complex, but we’re going to simplify it for you.
That said, simplifying doesn’t mean we’re removing the decisions you need to make. It just means that you are going to be in a position to actually make those decisions by understanding the various factors that influence them.
Let’s start by considering a few factors that can overwhelm unprepared applicants…
Don’t get caught off guard when opening an international bank account
- Applicants don’t understand what the bank is asking for in application documents
- They trigger compliance departments by not knowing what concerns them
- Applicants do not understand the underlying meaning of questions that bankers ask
- They respond to bank questions with weak and unconvincing answers
- Are unable to explain themselves or their businesses to bankers
- They do not understand the root issues related to banks and the reporting issues they need to avoid
- They think that banking is a right instead of a privilege (…it’s not!)
All of the above should be taken into consideration when opening an international bank account. In fact, knowing how to address all of these issues will ensure you can open an international bank account.
Members of GlobalBanks IQ and GlobalBanks Insider use this exact approach to inform their decisions. In doing so, they’re able to get access to great banks that understand their personal or business profiles. And in doing so, they find banks that actually want them as clients.
The following is a list of considerations that GlobalBanks members use when opening accounts. Contrast this list to the list above, which one would you rather be a part of?
Here’s how GlobalBanks members approach international bank account opening
- Target the right banks and bankers
- Fill out paperwork to present their strengths while still sharing all information openly
- Understand what red flags are and how to not accidentally raise them
- Know how to treat the banker, turning them into an advocate
- Speak the banker languages and hear what they are really asking
- Understand hot button issues related to their client profile
- Know the sensitivities in their client profile (personal and business)
- Can highlight their client profile strengths
- Position themselves as a valuable future client for the bank
Keeping this list in mind, let’s discuss how you can successfully open an international bank account.
Why & Where Our Members Open Accounts
To help you start thinking through your options, we decided to share some recent statistics from our own members, showing the types of international bank accounts they want to open and where they want to open them.
We’ve also broken down their client profile (based on citizenship and country of registration), so you can get a better idea of the options that other people just like you are exploring.
Type of International Bank Account
The below table shares the type of international bank accounts our members are commonly looking to open. If you’re looking to open one of these account types, it’s entirely possible to do so.
|Account Type||% of Members|
|Private Bank Account||9%|
Note: “Private Banking” includes accounts for individuals and wealth management vehicles, such as holding companies, foundations, trusts, and similar entities.
Countries Where They Want to Bank
The below table shares the countries where our members are commonly looking to open an international bank account. If you are looking to open in any of these countries as a foreigner, non-resident, or foreign company, there are options available.
|Country||% of Members|
Important: If you are not looking to open in these countries, there are many other options available to you as well, including in the 42 other countries that we share with GlobalBanks IQ members & GlobalBanks Insiders in the GlobalBanks Database.
International Banks to Consider
Yes, there are many international banking options available that you can easily find online. Unfortunately, most of these banks have hard-to-meet account opening requirements, hard-to-navigate applications, and very high fees for maintaining (and sometimes opening) accounts.
That’s why GlobalBanks IQ members & GlobalBanks Insiders choose to open with the banks listed in GlobalBanks Database — which allows them to review the account opening requirements, preferred client profiles, and unique quirks that you won’t find anywhere else.
Of course, if you would like to try your hand at opening an international bank account on your own, you might want to consider one of these two options:
Both HSBC and Barclays cater to international clients. However, they have high minimum deposits, only accept very specific client profiles, and typically require you to be resident in a select number of countries.
Steps to Successfully Open International Bank Accounts
It’s no wonder account opening has become so difficult for the average person…
Over the past few years, compliance practices are becoming more stringent, document requirements are becoming more overwhelming, and finding banks that will accept your profile can be a total minefield.
Fortunately, it’s still entirely possible to open and keep open great bank accounts for you or your business.
But for that to happen, you need to know how to go about opening an account. If you can figure this out, you’ll be able to increase your chance of successfully opening (and keeping open) the bank accounts you need.
1. Know Your Client Profile
When it comes to opening an international bank account, one of the most important considerations is your client profile. Understanding your profile can make the difference in successfully opening or being denied.
In our recent article on bank regulators, we cover high-risk client profiles. These are the client profiles that banks take a much closer look at.
If you (or your business) fall into a high-risk category you should take extra care when applying to open an account since your chances of successfully opening can be much lower than the average person.
But high-risk profiles aren’t the only profiles that need to be careful…
Below is a list of the various client profiles that should take a more structured approach to account opening. If you would like to read more you can review our article Bank Regulators Are Killing Business.
Clients that should take a more structured approach to opening include:
- Individuals and businesses engaged in high-risk industries
- New businesses with a limited operating history
- Members of the unlucky passport club
- If the bank doesn’t understand your profile
- Individuals with crypto-sourced income or wealth
- If you share names with a politician or criminal
As for high-risk industries, banks will take a much closer look at the following:
- Physical products
- Consulting or digital services
- Regulated industries
2. Knowing Your International Bank Account Requirements
Knowing your requirements before you go through the process of opening an international bank account is critical. It ensures you actually get the results that you’re looking for.
Everyone’s requirements will differ, but generally speaking, there are a few major factors you can count on. We’ve found that reviewing these in the form of a question list is a great way to start.
This approach will help clarify what you need and (as a result) help you pinpoint the best bank accounts for you or your business.
Questions to Ask Before Opening an International Bank Account
- Are you looking for remote or in-person opening?
- Where will you be sending and receiving transfers to and from?
- What type of international bank account are you specifically looking for?
- How much are you able and willing to make in an opening deposit?
- How much are you able and willing to maintain as your average monthly balance?
- What level of transactions are you looking to process each month?
- How much are you willing to pay in annual fees for the account?
- Do you require payment processing connected to the account?
- Will you need to send or receive money to EMIs?
- Do you care about the reputation of the bank?
After going through the above questions, you will have a much better idea about your specific international banking requirements.
More importantly, your answers will help you target banks that actually match your account opening needs.
Of course, one major consideration when opening an account is the cost, both of opening and maintaining the account. This is an important consideration that should not be overlooked. That’s why we have a dedicated article about the costs of opening accounts. It provides details on the specific costs that can be incurred and how to reduce them for various client profiles.
3. Choosing the Country Where You Should Open International Bank Account
Now, if you’re in an emergency situation and need to find a bank immediately, you probably don’t care about where you end up opening. After all, that would mean you just need an account now…
But, when it comes to medium and long-term account maintenance, opening in the wrong country is a big mistake. So, if you have the time, make sure you find and open an account in the right country.
In fact, it doesn’t matter if you’re starting out or sitting on a small fortune, the jurisdiction you choose to bank in is critical. Also, it’s important to note that the decision of where you open accounts should be fully based on your specific priorities.
As a quick overview, here is a list of practical questions to consider when assessing banking jurisdictions.
Practical Considerations When Choosing Where to Open Bank Accounts
- Does banking in the country require you to transact in the local currency?
- Is the jurisdiction solvent and well managed?
- Has the jurisdiction introduced bail-in legislation?
- Is the jurisdiction on a blacklist or greylist?
- Could banking in the jurisdiction present reputation risk?
- Does the country follow international regulations and standards?
- Can you access better banking jurisdictions just as easily?
As mentioned, there is a second set of considerations that you need to look at when opening an account. These include the specific factors impacting the country.
Country-Specific Considerations When Choosing Where to Open Bank Accounts
- Economic Considerations
- Financial Consideration
- Political Considerations
- Regional Conflict & Risks
- Quality Of The Banks
- Blacklists (FATF, OECD, EU, and UK)
As mentioned, we cover both of these considerations in detail in our article on choosing the right country. If you’re interested in working through this decision for yourself, you can read the full article by clicking here.
The Key To Opening International Accounts
When it comes to getting the best bank account open for you (or your business), your approach should be to try and understand and work with the system. Don’t try and fight against it. This is how you successfully open the best international bank accounts.
Again, understanding your client profile and properly approaching the bank is critical to successfully opening. So, you must anticipate their questions and concerns about your client and risk profile before applying. Then address these questions in a clear and transparent way.
With this in mind, you should strive to make your banker’s life as easy as possible. One way to do this is to identify vulnerabilities in your client profile that might concern the bank before applying. This positions you to clearly explain any vulnerabilities and openly discuss them with the banker in a confident manner.
Below, we share information on how you can start applying for accounts in less than 24 hours. But first, we want to address two alternatives to international banking: Non-Banking Solutions & Crypto.
Can Technology Replace International Bank Accounts?
There have been a number of attempts to reduce our dependence on banks over the years. Though, none of these replacements have truly hit the mark. In most cases, these tools are less effective, higher risk, and more difficult to open and maintain.
That said, there have been certain instances where technology and traditional banking merge. In these instances, we see the best chance for technology-enabled banks.
But, there are still shortcomings that need to be overcome. And unfortunately, algorithmic compliance practices still make it difficult for everyday clients to rely on these accounts long-term.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at whether EMI and fintech solutions can replace traditional banks…
Can Electronic Money Institutions (EMIs) Replace International Banking?
Even today, it seems like there is a new EMI coming on the market every quarter. Though in some cases they are just rebranding. These platforms continue to be a favorite for certain client groups. Some of them even offer a viable solution.
But unfortunately, they don’t offer the same protections as traditional banks. And, due to the requirements placed on them, they often expose clients to much higher risk than banks as well.
This risk is due to EMIs not being subjected to the same regulations and safeguards as traditional banks. In other words, they aren’t the best place to keep your personal fortune for a rainy day.
But they can offer value. More specifically, these platforms can be great alternatives for sending and receiving money.
In fact, international transfers through these platforms are often more cost-effective and faster. But, once you receive the money, you should consider other options for holding deposits. Keeping money in these EMIs is just not safe.
Will Cryptocurrencies Replace International Banking?
Many gurus and banking critics have hailed cryptocurrency as the end to international banking. Some still do.
Don’t get us wrong… crypto is amazing.
And one day, the crypto ecosystem may end up replacing international banks entirely. But we’re not there yet.
In fact, many GlobalBanks IQ members & GlobalBanks Insiders are crypto entrepreneurs and investors… opting to use traditional banks to liquidate some portion of their crypto to fiat, unlock banks that support their higher risk profiles, and find suitable banks for their day-to-day expenses.
So, while crypto adoption is spreading, the rest of the world just hasn’t caught up yet. This means people leading international lives can’t completely opt out of fiat. Until opting out completely is an option, traditional banking still has a place.
If you fall into this category, you may be interested in our Advanced Banking Report: The Ultimate Guide to Banking for Crypto Entrepreneurs & Investors.
This advanced report outlines specific banks, account opening strategies, and important considerations depending on the type of crypto client profile you have. This report is immediately available to GlobalBanks IQ members & GlobalBanks Insiders.
Open an International Bank Account in 24 Hours
If you’re ready to take action and start opening international accounts right now, you can access GlobalBanks IQ, our dedicated international banking intelligence platform.
GlobalBanks IQ gives you everything you need to start finding and opening accounts for you or your business today.
When you join GlobalBanks IQ, you immediately unlock the GlobalBanks Database of international banks — home to 250+ banks in 50+ countries.
And, you get access to our library of premium (members-only) reports, including proven account opening strategies, country-specific banking options, and lists of banks for specific client types.
Plus, you unlock our account opening checklists, dedicated account opening alerts, and much more.
To get started, click here to see if GlobalBanks IQ is the right choice for you to start accessing the benefits of international banking today.