European bank accounts for non-residents are becoming increasingly valuable. Whether you’re after a euro account, a bank account in one of the many SEPA countries, a European IBAN, a backup bank account, or you’re looking to facilitate investments via European crypto platforms.
In other words, European banks can be incredibly useful.
In this article, we’re going to help you find and open a bank account in Europe as a non-resident. This will include who should open accounts, the challenges you’ll need to overcome, which specific European countries are best suited to certain client groups, and whether you should open an international digital bank account or a traditional bank account.
We’ll also uncover some of the quirks of opening a European bank account for a non-resident business. Similar to individual accounts, we’ll break down different banking options and specific business-friendly jurisdictions.
Finally, we’ll share how you can get started opening European bank accounts as a non-resident right now. This will include information on how to open in popular EU jurisdictions like a non-resident bank account in Portugal.
Feel free to use the table of contents to jump ahead to the sections most relevant to you.
Table of Contents
- Can You Open a European Bank Account for Non-Residents?
- Can a Non-Resident Open a Euro Bank Account Remotely?
- Who Can Open a European Bank Account Online?
- What Are the Challenges of Opening European Bank Accounts?
- How to Open Accounts as a Resident in Europe?
- Where in Europe Can Non-Residents Open Bank Accounts?
- Frequently Asked European Banking Questions
- Do You Want Help Opening Bank Accounts?
Can You Open a European Bank Account for Non-Residents?
Yes, you can open a European bank account for non-residents in several European banking hubs. In fact, non-residents can open European bank accounts remotely with limited deposits at large brick-and-mortar banks. Such banks provide strong online banking, multi-currency accounts, reasonable fees, English language support, and SEPA transfers.
Do You Want to Explore All Your Offshore Banking Options?
Can a Non-Resident Open a Euro Bank Account Remotely?
Yes, non-residents can open a Euro bank account remotely.
In fact, remote account opening is one of the many benefits that non-residents can tap into when banking in Europe. But, by no means is it the only benefit.
Benefits of Opening a European Non-Resident Bank Account
Europe is one of the most sophisticated financial markets in the world. Its banking sector is interconnected, fast, and affordable. Plus, if you believe that the European Central Bank still can bail out local banks, your money is protected by deposit guarantees of up to EUR 100,000.
Here’s a look at some of the other benefits you can take advantage of when opening a European bank account as a non-resident:
Benefits of European Bank Accounts for Non-Residents:
- Retail, private, and business banking jurisdictions are available
- Multilingual and multicultural support
- Fast and affordable SEPA transfers to member states
- Dedicated IBAN for you personally or your corporate account
- Accept members of the Unlucky Passport Club
- Availability of supplementary financial services (fintech, EMI, PSPs, crypto, etc.)
- Stable currency (compared to many jurisdictions)
- Stable banking sector (compared to many jurisdictions)
- Deposit insurance up to EUR 100,000
Of course, if you want to tap into the benefits of a non-resident bank account you need to successfully open a bank account. You also need to know which European or which EU country is best for you to open from abroad. That means knowing where the account opening hurdles are for your specific situation. And, it also means preparing your application correctly and avoiding costly mistakes.
While we won’t go into all the details in this article, we will discuss one of the most common mistakes that international non-residents make when opening European bank accounts for non-residents. And, that is: knowing why you want to open bank accounts in Europe in the first place.
Who Can Open a European Bank Account Online?
Basically, anyone can open a European bank account as a non-resident. But, non-residents need to demonstrate a justifiable reason for wanting an account in the first place.
Sometimes, simply spending time in the country as a tourist is sufficient. Other banks may require you to be a resident or already own a property in the country. And, even in a relatively homogenous place like Europe, the requirements are different from country to country and bank to bank. In fact, sometimes a bank’s account opening rules can even vary from branch to branch.
Note: This is important because your reason for wanting to bank in a country can make or break your application. So, it’s important to have this sorted before applying for an account.
Reasons to Open European Bank Accounts for Non-Resident Individuals
- Own or rent real estate in Europe
- Investing in stocks through European brokerages
- Access to cryptocurrencies through European crypto exchanges
- Wanting a stable currency & bank (e.g., Argentines, Brazilians, South Africans)
- Spending time in Europe as a tourist or frequent business traveler
Reasons to Open European Bank Accounts for Non-Resident Businesses
- Paying European suppliers
- Receiving payment from European customers
- Expanding operations into Europe
- Looking for a stable currency & banks (e.g., Argentines, Brazilians, South Africans)
- Need European payment processing
While you may think that demonstrating any of the above reasons should be straightforward, it’s not. In most cases, banks require supporting documentation that proves your need to bank in the country. Such documentation can include signed contracts, invoices, lease agreements, local utility bills, proof of address, having a locally registered company, tax ID numbers, and more.
However, even if you can demonstrate a suitable reason (and have the supporting ties) to bank in Europe, you still need to figure out which country, bank, branch, and even banker to choose for opening accounts. And, you’ll also need to overcome a handful of uniquely European account opening challenges.
What Are the Challenges of Opening European Bank Accounts?
Europe is known for being a very bureaucratic place to do business. Well, banking is no different. Some countries are, of course, better (and worse) than others.
So, knowing which specific banks to target and where to apply is an important factor in successfully opening accounts. But, there are other challenges that non-residents face as well.
To help you prepare for some of these challenges, let’s take a look at some of the most common hurdles that non-residents need to be aware of and overcome.
Challenges of Opening European Bank Accounts
- Requirements for local and regional ties
- Strict document requirements
- Local tax identification requirements
- Local phone number for verification and activation
- Providing the wrong proof of address
- In-person account opening
- Frequent bank account application denials
- Service providers overcharging or recommending the wrong banks
These are just a few of the challenges you can face when opening non-resident accounts in Europe. But, if you don’t know what you’re doing, they can be very difficult to overcome.
For example, the wrong address or not having a local tax identification number (or the right visa) can result in immediate denial. Likewise, if you contact the wrong banker, you won’t even receive a response.
That’s why bank selection, how you present yourself, and how you prepare your application are so important. And, that’s exactly why we share detailed instructions on how to overcome the challenges of opening a European bank account and avoid common mistakes in our premium reports.
Importantly, each country (and bank) is different. So, you need to make sure that the country you choose to open a bank account in is best suited to you (or your business). With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best European banking hubs for different non-resident client types below.
How to Open Accounts as a Resident in Europe?
Individuals trying to open a resident account will not face all of these challenges when opening a bank account. Instead, they will have a more streamlined approach as they will be opening a local bank account.
In other words, they will likely obtain a bank account number in their country of residence. This is true whether opening a traditional bank account or an online bank account since they won’t be opening an account abroad.
These applicants can also benefit from other products that non-residents don’t have access to, such as mortgages, various credit cards for payments, and possibly lower fees.
That said, all customers (local or global clients from abroad) can typically receive a debit card, savings accounts, checking accounts, dedicated IBAN, and the option to open a bank account online.
The same is true when trying to open a European business account online. Local businesses will have a much easier time opening accounts. On the other hand, international business customers typically need to provide certified documents and meet different requirements to open a business account successfully. Additionally, even if the business bank account is opened, they may not be able to access payment facilities such as payment processing in Europe.
Where in Europe Can a Non-Resident Open a Bank Account?
These days, most people think of the 27 member states of the EU when they hear “Europe”. But, when looking at Europe from a banking perspective, this is a mistake.
The fact is, all of Europe can offer interesting banking options to non-residents. And, in many cases, it can be easier to open European bank accounts outside of the EU member states.
In fact, sometimes it can even be easier to open euro bank accounts in non-EU countries. However, in almost all cases, non-residents can choose between opening in EU or non-EU banking hubs.
Of course, there are a few standout European banking hubs that are worth discussing. These include some of the most popular options for expats, digital nomads, entrepreneurs, and investors.
And, in most cases, non-resident bank accounts can be opened 100% remotely with reasonably sized deposits, and with low (or no) fees. Here’s a look at some of these banking jurisdictions now.
European Bank Accounts for Non-Residents
Below, we’ll highlight a few specific countries that cater to specific non-resident client groups. But, depending on your client profile and specific banking objectives, there could be far better jurisdictions available to you elsewhere.
Such jurisdictions may include Austria, Gibraltar, Liechtenstein, Portugal, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and many other European jurisdictions — all of which are included in the GlobalBanks Database.
The GlobalBanks Database shares the best non-resident banking options across Europe and highlights the most important considerations when opening a non-resident account at each bank. Below are just a few of the considerations we highlight in the GlobalBanks Database.
- Desired personal and business clients that each bank caters to
- Account opening requirements and process at each bank
- Banks that accept non-resident, offshore, high-risk, and other client types
- Availability of remote account opening and alternative opening options
- Account deposit requirements and the ability to negotiate terms
Where to Open a European Bank Account?
Several European banking hubs, such as the Isle of Man, Guernsey, and Jersey, offer excellent expat banking. Simply put, banks in these countries offer specific services designed to be supportive of the expat lifestyle. However, they still have onboarding requirements, which can be challenging to overcome for some.
We detail the entire process of how to open a bank account in the Isle of Man in our premium report “Banking in the Isle of Man: Expat Banking Goes Mainstream”.
Where to Open a European Private Bank Account?
Europe has a number of private banking jurisdictions to choose from. Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, and others have long traditions of private banking for non-residents.
However, if you’re just getting started with private banking, Andorra could be worth considering. A tiny country sandwiched between France and Spain, it caters to non-residents but requires a fraction of the deposit often required by other private banking hubs.
If you’re interested in opening a private bank account in Andorra, you can follow the step-by-step instructions in our premium Andorra banking report “Banking in Andorra: Accessible Private Banking in Europe”.
Of course, we cover all the European private banking hubs in our premium report “Private Banking Secrets: Make Money Like the Super Rich”.
Where to Open an Online Bank Account in Europe?
In addition to traditional banking options, Europe also has a wide range of online banks, fintech platforms, and EMIs to choose from. Such platforms often have specific nationality and residency requirements, as well as certain risk categories for businesses. For instance, certain platforms will only accept residents of certain countries. In other cases, platforms will cater to non-residents and even high-risk businesses.
But, unlike traditional banks, many fintech platforms that cater to non-resident individuals and businesses usually charge high onboarding, transaction, and maintenance fees. So, knowing which platforms will actually accept you is critical before applying.
We cover many top fintech and EMI platforms in our two premium reports “European EMIs for Non-EEA Individuals” and “European EMIs for Non-EEA Businesses”.
Honorable Mention: The Republic of Georgia
Europe has a wide range of banking options for digital nomads and entrepreneurs who lead location-independent lives. In fact, several European banking hubs are among the most popular in the digital nomad community.
But, one of the most popular jurisdictions lies between Europe and Asia, the Republic of Georgia. Yes, there are risks to banking in Georgia. But, some benefits can come from banking in Georgia as well. Such benefits include lower deposits, remote account opening, and higher risk tolerance than other banking hubs.
If you’re interested in banking in Georgia, we detail the step-by-step process to open a bank account and benefit from banking here in our premium report “Banking in Georgia: Nomad Heaven or Eastern Europe’s Cash Haven?”
Frequently Asked European Banking Questions
Below are a few of the most common questions we receive from people exploring how to open a European bank account for non-residents. If you have further questions you would like answered, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us directly.
Can I Open a Bank Account in Europe if I Don’t Live There?
Yes, you can open a bank account in Europe if you don’t live there as long as you choose the right bank and have a suitable client profile. That said, not all banks in Europe accept non-resident clients. And, of the banks that do, not all offer remote opening. So, bank selection will be an important factor to consider when choosing where to apply for a bank account in Europe when you don’t live there.
Can a US Citizen Open a Foreign Bank Account?
Yes, a US citizen can open a foreign bank account. That said, not all banks accept US citizens. This is because certain banks choose to not comply with FATCA and the additional compliance requirements and costs that come with onboarding US citizens. So, bank selection will be an important factor to consider when opening a foreign bank account as a US citizen.
Which European Countries are Easiest to Open a Bank Account?
The European countries that are the easiest to open a bank account in will depend on the applicant opening the bank account. More specifically, their citizenship, residency, deposit level, banking needs, and banking objectives. It’s important to choose banks where you can meet the account opening requirements and that have the banking services and products you require,
Do You Want Help Opening Bank Accounts?
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