If you want to open a bank account in Vietnam, you better have a good reason. Banking here can be insanely expensive. Not to mention extremely difficult to open accounts unless you’ve got the right visa.
And, it’s not a great sign that wealthy Vietnamese are looking to open accounts elsewhere. Not to mention, tough restrictions on international transfers and currency exchange have people literally trading cash in the streets.
To open a bank account in Vietnam as a foreign non-resident, you need to provide proper documentation, overcome challenging hurdles, and understand exchange controls and government restrictions. That said, with guidance on where and how to open accounts, it is possible to bank in Vietnam.
In this article, we explore how to open a bank account in Vietnam as a foreign non-resident. We’ll discuss who should open accounts. And, we’ll share important mistakes you need to avoid and how to overcome them. Lastly, we’ll also cover the benefits that foreigners can tap into when they open a bank account in Vietnam.
Of course, to successfully open a bank account in Vietnam you need to know which specific banks will accept you. You’ll also want to know how to open an account, and how to avoid being charged extortionate fees. We’ll cover all this and more below.
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 accounts in top banking hubs around the world.
Vietnam may be known for its rivers, beaches, and incredible street food. But, for a select number of people, it’s an interesting (maybe necessary) banking hub.
In fact, whether you’re a foreign resident working in Vietnam or a regular tourist, choosing to open a bank account in Vietnam could offer some benefits.
For example, by opening a bank account in Vietnam as a foreigner you’re able to pay all of your expenses locally instead of incurring high-frees from international transfers. Depending on your lifestyle, this could save you thousands of dollars per year.
That said, banking in Vietnam is not for everyone. So, let’s explore the specific groups that could benefit if they choose to open a bank account in Vietnam.
Typically, those people that can benefit from banking in Vietnam include expats, digital nomads, regular visitors, business owners, and foreign investors.
Here are some types of foreign non-residents who might find banking here useful:
In all cases, the decision to open a bank account in Vietnam over another jurisdiction should be based on your unique requirements. This should, of course, include an assessment on whether Vietnam is in fact the best place for you to bank.
This is especially important because, depending on your client profile, there are probably more suitable jurisdictions available elsewhere.
Now, if you do fall into one of the above categories and you want to open a bank account in Vietnam, you’ll need to make sure you can unlock the benefits you’re after. Let’s review the available benefits now to see if Vietnam could be a fit for you.
For the right person, there are plenty of benefits that come with opening a bank account in Vietnam. For starters, having access to a local bank account can make life a lot easier. This is especially true if you’re looking to reside in Vietnam for more than six months.
Here’s a quick list of the benefits that some foreigners seek from opening a bank account in Vietnam:
Of course, in order to tap into these benefits, you need to know how to successfully open accounts. That means knowing which bank and banker to connect with, where to avoid being overcharged on fees, and knowing which risks and challenges you may face during the account opening process.
So, with that said, let’s jump into the challenges you may face when you open a bank account in Vietnam as a foreigner.
As a foreign non-resident, opening a bank account in Vietnam can be rewarding if done properly. However, it does have its challenges. And, if you’re not careful, it can end up being more costly than it’s worth.
For instance, Vietnam has strict policies on international money transfers, making it difficult to transfer money to other countries. These restrictions are put in place to apparently avoid money laundering and illegal workers entering the country. But, in reality, they just make life difficult for anyone that wants to pay local expenses and transfer money into more stable currencies.
So, if you don’t know which banks to target and you don’t have the right information, you’ll be faced with the following challenges.
Taking the benefits and challenges associated with opening an account in Vietnam into consideration, you can start to see that banking here is not for everyone.
Instead, it’s best suited to prospective clients who are looking to reside in Vietnam for longer periods of time. Alternatively, if you’re a regular visitor or digital nomad that needs access to the Dong, then opening an account here can also make sense.
However, to avoid running into difficulties when transferring money back out of the country, you should only transfer in what you actually expect to spend during your stay.
In fact, if you do need to transfer money out of Vietnam, you may find (like many expats in Vietnam already) that purchasing cryptocurrency with VND before leaving is a better option. Alternatively, many people seek the assistance of local Vietnamese friends when trying to navigate these restrictions. We don’t recommend either of these options. But, we are seeing both of them being used frequently by foreign non-residents in the country.
Bottom line, if you don’t actually need a local bank account, you will probably be better off banking elsewhere. For instance, if you simply want a regional account, you may want to consider Singapore instead. Banks there are better suited to international banking activities and have fewer restrictions on international transfers.
That said, if you’re confident that Vietnam is right for you and you’d like to move forward with opening a bank account in Vietnam, we’ll outline the process in the next section of the article.
In case it isn’t clear already, as a foreigner looking to open a bank account in Vietnam, you’ll need to jump through hoops. This will include submitting specific documents, providing proof of residency or visa, and in most cases making a minimum deposit.
Pretty straightforward, right? Yes and no.
Of course, like everywhere, certain banks are more open to foreign non-residents without the right visa than others. And, some banks are more strict when it comes to the account opening process. This is especially true thanks to recent updates to banking regulations.
So, let’s take a look at the requirements to open a bank account in Vietnam as they stand today.
Of course, these mandatory documents differ from bank to bank. And, it’s important to note that not all Vietnamese banks will accept foreign non-residents.
More specifically, you’ll need to identify which banks and branches actually accept foreigners, what their required documents are, and what their account opening (and activation) process entails.
Also, it’s important to note that the local documents listed above need to be issued within 12 months of you applying to open a bank account. So, if you want to bank in Vietnam, ensure your documents are up to date and complete.
Lastly, before diving into opening an account, it’s important that you’re aware of the fees that can be associated with opening a bank account in Vietnam as a foreign non-resident. Let’s take a closer look at these now.
Obviously, fees differ from bank to bank. But, generally speaking, there are three different types of fees that you need to be aware of when banking in Vietnam. These include ATM fees, banking fees, and international transfer fees. We’ll cover these in more detail below.
When withdrawing money from a different bank’s ATM, you’ll obviously be charged a fee.
That said, such fees are usually reasonable ranging from VND 20,000 to VND 55,000 (roughly US $1 to US $2.50).
Of course, depending on the amount of money you withdraw or the number of transactions per month, these fees may increase substantially.
Although you’re not charged a fee when opening a bank account as a foreign non-resident, you can be charged fees if your account goes below the minimum account balance.
Additionally, if you try to close your account before the one-year anniversary, you may also incur fees from the bank.
Again, such fees can vary from bank to bank. So, if you’re worried about fees, make sure you confirm these before applying.
Obviously, if you’re looking to transfer money internationally, you’re going to pay fees for doing so. But, unlike other countries, such fees can skyrocket in Vietnam.
So, before sending a transfer, it’s important to know the exchange rate you’re about to be charged and any additional fees levied by the bank.
That said, there are more cost-effective transfer services to use when moving money internationally.
The simple answer is “Yes”. You can open a bank account in Vietnam as a foreign non-resident.
But, you’ll need the right information and you’ll need to know which banks best match your banking needs and will actually accept you as a client.
That said, the real question is, are you sure Vietnam is the best place for you to bank?
Fortunately, that’s where we come in…
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