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Business without borders – how to open a bank account in Europe for non-residents

It is a normal practice to open an account in a European bank if an overseas business incorporates its representative office in another country and will be paying to and receiving money from international clients and suppliers. As for individuals, they open accounts in Europe in order to save money and increase their capital. Irrespective of your purpose, either corporate or personal, most European banks would offer your excellent terms and conditions with minimum drawbacks.

6 advantages of European banks

Apart from political and economic stability of European countries that would save your money from potential depreciation, we have made a list of other pluses of European banks.

  1. Working with major currencies, multi-currency accounts and cards.
  2. Help with tax optimisation – opening several accounts for different income, preparing tax returns to avoid double taxation.
  3. No currency control and minimum interference from the state.
  4. Dealing with offshore companies (in some banks).
  5. User-friendly online applications, remote account management, 24/7 access to funds, worldwide coverage.
  6. Guaranteed confidentiality thanks to strict requirements.

Disadvantages of European banks

Even the Sun has spots, therefore it would not be fair not to mention minuses of European banking system along with its pluses. Because there are minuses though they are not obvious and critical for honest clients. We can actually say that they are the other side of the same coin which banks use to maintain and enhance their image and reliability.

  1. Low interest rate for saving accounts, even negative ones. There is reverse relation between bank’s reliability and paid interests.
  2. Account fees which are usually higher for non-residents. It would be in the range of €2 to €10 a month for a private account; it depends on a bank and a client.
  3. You must provide evidence of the source of funds. The same applies to large deposits exceeding €10,000.
  4. You must provide many other documents, including diplomas and CV.
  5. You might be required by law of the country of your residence to notify tax authorities of any foreign accounts and report any activities on the accounts. Failure to do so might lead to prosecution and/or penalties.

How to open an account in a European bank?

It might be a good idea to get in touch with a reliable legal firm that helps businessmen and other migrants open bank accounts in European banks.

Our company provides account opening support in the UK, Latvia, Estonia, Austria, Portugal, Czech Republic, Lichtenstein, Cyprus, Malta and many other countries. Depending on your circumstances, our experts will help you make the right choice.

Once you decide about a country and bank, there are three steps before an account is opened.

I. Read terms and conditions

Most European banks have official websites where you can easily find their terms and conditions. Pay special attention to bank fees and charges and additional services.

II. Prepare all documents

Check what documents your bank requires and make sure they are all in English or any other language, if required.

III. Sign agreement

After your application and documents are submitted and checked, the bank will email you a client agreement. It is normally possible to do everything remotely without travelling to Europe that would save you time and money. However, if it is necessary, you can sign all documents when attending a bank branch.

How to open a bank account in the UK

If you are moving to the United Kingdom or planning to open a representative office there, you will most probably need a bank account. British banking system has been operating for a few hundreds of years and is considered one of the most reliable.

However, there is one huge shortcoming that cast shadows on all advantages; it looks like UK banks are not interested in clients from abroad. A foreign company stands no chance at all of opening a UK bank account. Non-resident individuals can apply in theory for a local account, but chances are almost non-existent.

On the other hand, Great Britain has been and is still one of global business hubs that is home to lot of subsidiaries of foreign companies. It means that a subsidiary of your company in the UK is able to have an account in a local retail bank.

Step-by-step guide to UK account

Opening a bank account in the UK is different from opening one in Europe. Here are main requirements.

  • Provide ID and UK proof of address for Director
    If director of a UK company is not UK resident, there is no way a bank will open a business account for you. Director must be legally in the UK with the right to live and work here. It can be done with a long-term visa or a permanent residence permit.
    Director can be identified by a passport or any other form of ID. Proof of address in the UK can be provided in the form of recent utility bills or bank statement from another UK bank.
  • Provide documents and information about the business
    It is sufficient to give company number of your UK subsidiary to the bank to enable them to check your business.
    You must also provide any other required information including about business activities, customers, suppliers, payment methods and required currencies. All documents must be in English.
  • Additional requirements
    Director might be required to attend an appointment with a bank manager which requires good level of English. Another option is to take an interpreter.
    As you can see, opening a bank account on the British Isles is even more difficult than in Europe. Therefore, it is highly advisable to get professional advice and support.

Special offer for opening a bank account

Want to save time and money? Our experts can help you open a business account for UK-registered companies as part of the Imperial package. Our qualified advisers can also give you advice for taxation, financial and other matters that can affect how you run a business in the UK.

FAQ about opening a bank account in Europe

What bank accounts are available for opening in European banks?

An individual or a corporate client can open roughly the same bank accounts abroad as in their home country:

  • Savings account.
  • Investment account.
  • Current account.

The purpose of a savings account, as the term suggests, is to safekeep your money and to multiply it. As a rule, you will not be able to withdraw your money for a certain period of time under a savings account agreement in order to get interest. If you break this rule, the bank will enforce the penalty clause against you which sometimes means the interest rate being reduced to a minimum.

An investment account is designed for trade in securities and financial assets, for example, company shares, government bonds, etc. Clients can make investment themselves or with the help of a trader provided by a bank, or by depositing funds to a bank investment foundation. Sometimes an investment account is opened for a different purpose rather than trading on a stock market – to participate in one of the EU or Caribbean citizenship by investment programmes, or a similar Asian programme.

The purpose of having a current account in Europe is to be able to transfer money in a safe, quick and cashless way all over the world. As a rule, this banking product does not allow you to earn any interest. It is usually vice versa: you will either have to pay to the financial institution for this service or to maintain a certain minimum amount of money on this account to get the servicing free of charge.

How do European banks check their clients?

European financial institutions carry out Due Diligence checks where essentially they would be checking how trustworthy you are.

This check normally includes the following stages:

  1. All the data and documents submitted by a potential client are thoroughly checked.
  2. Sanction lists of various countries and international organisations are carefully looked through.
  3. Publicly available resources and private databases are screened to see if they hold any information on a potential client.

Due Diligence check helps a bank to achieve several things at the same time:

  • To establish identity of a potential client and to prevent any useof forged documents in the opening of an account.
  • To establish the source of funds.
  • To prevent financing of extremist or terrorist groups.
  • To prevent money laundering.

In other words, if you are a trustworthy person who abides by the law, you have no reason to be afraid of any check carried out by a bank, provided you have the support of qualified lawyers.

What Eastern European countryis the best for an individual to open a bank account?

The first thing to do is to decide what is the purpose of opening a bank account and what services provided by foreign banks are therefore relevant.

Financial institutions in the Baltic states offer multi-language support, have a user-friendly online application process and charge reasonable fees. In the Balkans, for example in Montenegro or in Bulgaria, there are no foreign currency regulations; on top of that, banking services there are relatively inexpensive and there are deposit protection schemes. Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic are well-known for their reliable banks, cheap loans and favourable conditions for investment accounts.

Book an appointment with our financial experts in order to find out which European bank meets your requirements fully.

Is there any simple solution for a British subsidiary of a foreign company to open a current account in a UK bank?

If you want to open a current account for a subsidiary with a British retail bank in a hassle-free way, have a look at our Imperial package. The package comprises a wide range of services for newly established companies, from support with signing an agreement with one of the British financial institutions to assistance in negotiations with the bank. Your company will also get a business address which is required to open a corporate account in the UK.

Tired of getting general advice?

We will work with you to find a customised solution for your immigration, second citizenship, business, tax and other needs.