Open an International Bank Account Online: Here’s How!

In this article, we’re going to talk you through the process of how to open an international bank account online.

If you’ve tried to do this lately, you already know that it’s not an easy feat. Fewer banks are allowing online opening these days. And, the account opening requirements are getting stricter and more invasive.

In fact, of the few banks left that do allow online account opening, it’s often only available to citizens, residents, and companies from certain countries

Unless, of course, you have access to the proven formula for opening international bank accounts online!

If you’d like to get a head start on international account opening as a non-resident then download our FREE Non-Resident Banking Starter Guide right now!

So, what exactly does this formula require?

Well, you need the right information and bank contacts. You’ll also need to know which banks to target and how to navigate their opening process. Of course, knowing which supporting paperwork they’ll require is important. But knowing how to provide those details in sufficient format is even more critical.

Also referred to as “remote opening”, opening an account online simply means that the bank does not require customers to physically come into a bank branch to open a bank account.

And, it is gloriously convenient. But, it can also be a total nightmare if you don’t know what you’re doing. 

Thanks to the internet, the banking world is now more connected than ever before. And that means, many banks no longer require you to physically visit a branch in order to open an account. Instead, you can apply for and open your bank account online, all from your laptop or mobile phone!

But, there are a few caveats. And, opening international bank accounts online is not all sunshine and rainbows. It can be challenging and there are disadvantages. So, you need to be careful about which banks you choose and how you approach them. 

Below we’ll explain the formula for how to open an international bank account online. 

We’re also going to cover what to watch out for. And you’ll get our highlights of the benefits and the challenges of online account opening. Of course, we’ll also tell you which banks allow it so you can get started right away.

Why Open an International Bank Account Online?

open an international bank account online steps

There are a lot of reasons why someone might want to open an account online. We’re going to cover seven of these below. But ultimately, whether or not you choose to open an account online comes down to your preferences and the type of bank account you want to open.

#1. Convenience

It’s easier and faster to open an international bank account online. You don’t have to take a 7-hour flight and spend the night in a hotel room just so you can visit the bank in-person. 

Instead, you just apply online, submit any supporting documents that are needed, and you’re done… without leaving the comfort of your living room.

#2. Cost

For the same reasons mentioned above, not traveling to open an account is also cheaper. You don’t have to pay for flights, hotels, local taxis, or possibly a local address. 

By comparison, an international bank that specializes in remote opening and allows customers to open accounts remotely requires none of that. 

However, banks that allow online account opening aren’t always cheaper. In fact, some may hit you with other fees that make it more expensive than in-person account opening options in the long run. So you need to be careful, we’ll talk more about this below. 

#3. Accepts Non-Residents

Many international banks that allow online account opening are willing to accept international clients and non-residents.

This means the bank might not require customers to show proof of a local address, a local tax ID number, or have any ties to the country

If the bank is heavily reliant on international customers because it’s in a difficult to reach location, online account opening is an easy way to attract depositors.

#4. More Lenient Account Opening

Banks that allow customers to open international bank accounts online can sometimes have more lax account opening rules. This is especially true for smaller, “shoe-box” banks that are poorly capitalized and desperate for depositors. 

The bank’s objective is to make account opening as easy as possible so they can attract as many depositors as possible. 

Warning: If you’re trying to open international bank accounts online, there’s a strong chance that you’ll be forced to deal with lower quality banks. That means taking on greater risk. Read on to learn more.

#5. Accepting of Unlucky Customers

Many banks that allow online opening are accepting of nationalities and residencies from high-risk countries that other banks won’t take.

They are also more friendly to high-risk businesses that can’t open accounts elsewhere or that are involved in high-risk industries. This might include offshore companies with no economic substance or ties to the country.

#6. Relaxed KYC & AML Standards

These banks have lower standards for KYC and AML. For instance, maybe the bank won’t verify or authenticate the customer’s identity or supporting documents in the way that they should. And since they are from smaller countries with fewer resources, regulators are less likely to monitor and catch these mistakes. This can snowball into problems later.

Similarly, it’s possible that the bank won’t request certain supporting documents such as a bank reference letter, account statements, tax residency certificate, an authenticated copy of your passport, proof of address, etc.

#7. Lower Opening Requirements

Some of the banks that allow you to open an account online won’t have any required opening deposit or minimum balance thresholds that customers must meet. In other words, customers are not required to deposit a certain amount of money in order to bank there. 

That said, banks in far-flung jurisdictions, that allow online account opening and don’t have any deposit requirements, can have high fees and headaches. So, it’s important to be extremely selective and avoid the bad apples.

Problems & Challenges When Opening International Accounts Online

open an international bank account problems

If you’re only interested in banks that allow remote account opening, great. But there are some serious issues that you need to be aware of and take into consideration.

Limited Options

If you are willing to show up in person to open an account, more banks and higher-quality will be available to you. 

Lower Quality Banks

For the most part, banks that allow remote opening will often have some undesirable elements, limitations, or weaknesses. 

Here are some examples:

  • Poor financials
  • Unstable correspondent banking relationships
  • Horrible customer service
  • Extortionate fees
  • Long wait times
  • Inexperienced management or staff
  • Low-quality online banking
  • High ratio of lost incoming & outgoing transfers
  • Extreme requirements of supporting paperwork
  • Located in an undesirable or high-risk jurisdiction
  • Poor KYC & AML standards
  • Low-grade account security
  • Restrictions on transfer size and frequency
  • Currency limitations
  • No deposit insurance
  • And more…

Higher Fees

Banks that open international bank accounts online AND have low (or non-existent) deposit requirements, often charge high fees for items that are normally free at other banks. 

The solution? Find international banks that can open accounts remotely – but that have reasonable fees!

Here are some examples of fees to watch out for:

  • Account opening fee
  • Annual account fee 
  • Monthly maintenance fee 
  • Higher than normal fees for transfers
  • Foreign exchange fees
  • Account statement review fees
  • Historical accounts statement review fees
  • Bank reference letter fees
  • Account closure fees
  • Lost transfer via SWIFT tracing fees
  • Annual debit card fee
  • International transaction fees on debit card spending

The 8 Steps to Open An Offshore Bank Account Online

open offshore bank account remotely

Here’s what the typical process looks like when you open an international bank account online. Funny enough, it’s not that different from opening an account in person. You just need to provide the documentation and pass the KYC & AML procedures over the internet. 

Here’s what the normal process looks like…

  • Identify the banks that allow remote opening
  • Confirm the account opening requirements and make sure you can satisfy them.
  • Compile all of the required documents and information you need
  • Complete the online application form
  • Submit the supporting documents
  • Answer any follow-up questions that the bank has.
  • Receive information, codes, and materials needed to activate your account
  • Activate your account.

The actual steps that you need to take and the documents that will be required will depend heavily on the bank. But as we’ve mentioned, banks that open accounts online can be higher risk than banks that require you to show up in person.

Additionally, there are some specific challenges that you will face when opening a bank account online, such as being able to provide supporting documentation, proving a local address, and presenting yourself as a suitable client to the bank.

How to Find Banks That Allow Online Account Opening

Being able to open accounts online successfully mainly depends on which bank you choose. It might also depend on which country you’re in, or where the bank is located. And of course, it will also depend on what that bank’s account opening requirements and address verification procedures are.

In other words, you need to find a bank that is the best fit for you, based on their requirements, your needs, and what you can provide. 

So, how can you start to find banks that actually allow online account opening?

Well, we discuss several lesser-known online account opening options and strategies in GlobalBanks IQ

With GlobalBanks IQ you also get access to the GlobalBanks Database which currently has more than 50+ banks from 250+ countries, most of which allow online account opening for different client types.

Here’s a sneak peek inside the GlobalBanks Database which you can use to quickly search for and identify the best banks for every situation and client type, based on several criteria.

globalbanks database

If you’re interested in learning more about GlobalBanks IQ, you can click here or visit the GlobalBanks IQ page under the products tab above.

Best Options for Online Account Opening

Determining which banks allow you to open an account online can be tedious and time-consuming. You can either do it yourself or use GlobalBanks IQ. Regardless, there are specific types of banks that you should be targeting.

In addition, each individual bank has a different set of criteria, prerequisites, and requirements that determine who is allowed to apply online and who has to physically come into the branch. 

To find the best banking option for you, you’ll need to analyze each bank’s account opening requirements, procedures, and must-have supporting documents as they can vary widely. 

You also need to identify which banks allow online account opening for a customer with your particular characteristics or client profile. 

To get an idea of your client profile, you need to consider things like your nationality, residency, available supporting documents, how much money you have available to deposit, and more. 

Then you need to do research to determine which banks are best suited and most accepting of your particular client profile.

But there’s something else you need to be aware of as well. And that’s the bank’s unspoken requirements. 

More specifically, before applying, you need to know if the bank has any hidden requirements, restrictions, or preferences that are not listed publicly. 

Often, the only way to find out what a bank’s hidden requirements are by talking to bankers, bank employees, customers, and applicants who went through the bank’s application process themselves. 

We share all of this information in the GlobalBanks Database and within our GlobalBanks Intelligence Reports. These reports pinpointing which banks are best suited to the specific needs of each client group. 

Below are the types of banking options that offer online account opening:

  1. Less discerning banks that accept anyone
  2. Banks that accepting your particular passport
  3. Banks that are open to your residency
  4. Interested in your deposit or you can meet their deposit requirement
  5. Open to companies from any country or industry

Are You Ready to Open an International Bank Account Online?

If you want to open an international bank account online and need help figuring out what to do next, you can get started by using the information in this article.

But if you need more help or want to know which banks will accept you, which countries you should target, the best account opening strategies to use, how to avoid high fees, and how to overcome tough paperwork requirements, then we’d be happy to help you on your journey.

If you’re ready to take action and start opening international accounts 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.

You can also view all of the account opening solutions offered by GlobalBanks on our products page.

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