How to Open a European Bank Account for Non-Residents?

Last Updated on July, 2024

Opening a European bank account as a non-resident has many advantages. 

Whether you’re an emigrant, a student, or a business owner, having a European bank account will make financial transactions easy. So you can have a tremendous international banking experience!

However, unless you’re Bill Gates, you should follow some basic steps to create a European bank account. But it’s not as complicated as you might think.

So, I’ll help you understand and create an account with confidence!

Quick Summary

There are several options for non-residents to open a European bank account, including traditional banks, US-based banks, and online banking services.

When opening a bank account in Europe, it is essential to consider your purpose, understand the best account options for you, and provide necessary documents such as proof of identity and address. This ensures that you choose the best account option and are aware of any potential costs and regulations.

Opening a non-resident bank account in Europe can offer numerous benefits, including cost savings, currency flexibility, and enhanced financial services, but it is important to research and compare options to find the best fit for your needs.

How to Open a Bank Account in Europe as a Non Resident?

opening a bank account in Europe for non-residents

Step 1: Determine Your Purpose for Opening a European Bank Account

Before opening a European bank account, identify your specific reasons.

Whether for seamless travel spending, handling international property transactions, expanding your business, managing freelance income in various currencies, or diversifying your savings and investments, clarifying your objectives is crucial.

Understanding your day-to-day usage requirements will help you choose the most suitable bank account or financial product to meet your needs.

Additionally, if you’re considering local transactions, exploring the option of a local bank account can provide added convenience.

Step 2. Understand What’s the Best European Account Option for You

Once you’ve determined the transactions you’ll be handling and the features necessary to you, explore specific account types created to your requirements.

Consider the following options.

Non-Resident Physical Person Account

  • Eligibility requirements vary among banks and countries.
  • Opening a euro-denominated account may be easier in countries like Estonia.
  • Significant banks may offer non-resident banking based on your connections to the country.

US-Based Banks Offering Euro Bank Accounts

  • Opening a euro-denominated account in the US can be challenging.
  • Traditional US banks might focus on saving and investing in euros rather than day-to-day spending.
  • Compare options from banks like East-West to find a suitable fit.

European Bank Accounts Online

  • Consider specialist providers for practical online account set-up, verification, and usage.
  • Explore options like Wise for both personal and business services.

Filing for E-Residency in Estonia

  • E-residency minimizes paperwork, allowing global access to Estonian banking services.
  • Estonia’s digital infrastructure enables online management of various activities.
  • Become an e-resident of Estonia to access accounts in Europe.

Step 3: Choose Your European Banking Solution and Begin

Now that you’ve completed the main steps, it’s time to select the best place to manage your money in Europe.

Opening a Traditional Bank Account

If you choose a traditional European bank account, follow their application process:

  • Some banks allow online applications for non-resident bank accounts, while others may require in-person visits.
  • Arrange all the necessary documents, including proof of identity, address, business information (for business accounts), and tax residency details.
  • BE AWARE that a minimum opening deposit may be required.

International Multi-Currency Accounts

  • Consider alternatives like Wise or Revolut for versatile multi-currency solutions.
  • These options enable seamless sending, receiving, and spending in Europe without European residency requirements.
  • Go for a Wise Account if you seek flexibility in managing payments across Europe.
  • Easily set up and manage your finances across numerous currencies.

With options ranging from traditional banks to modern alternatives like Wise, finding a suitable solution for your non-resident European bank account is within reach.

Choose the best approach to your needs and start the application process.

Required Documents for a European Bank Account

a picture of a bank building

You typically need to provide these when opening a non-resident European bank account online:

  • Verification of Identity
  • Verification of Address
  • Verification of Income (for specific account types)

For those already in Europe, various banks and account options are available.

However, securing a non-resident bank account might pose challenges for some banks, such as Barclays International, which doesn’t offer expat accounts to US residents.

Some banks may have high minimum balance requirements or demanding eligibility criteria, like HSBC’s expat account, which needs a substantial income or account balance.

Consider EU country banks that provide non-resident bank account options for holding EUR balances, like the Santander Spain non-resident bank account.

Alternatively, explore specialist online banking services like Wise and Revolut, which often offer more affordability, simplicity, and flexibility for non-resident accounts.

Benefits of Opening a Bank Account in Europe

Are you considering a European bank account? Here’s what you stand to gain:

  • Cost Savings
  • Cut down on currency conversion costs for euros, pounds, and other European currencies compared to dollars.
  • Currency Flexibility
  • Receive International payments in euros, pounds, and other European currencies and keep funds in these currencies without needing dollar conversion.
  • Fee Avoidance
  • Sidestep foreign transaction fees when spending in European currencies.
  • Lower Transaction Costs
  • Send money within Europe with reduced overall costs.

As a non-resident, additional benefits include:

  • International Accessibility
  • Convenient access to the Eurozone for transactions across multiple European countries.
  • Enhanced Financial Services
  • Access to various financial services for non-residents, including investments and wealth management.
  • Currency Diversification
  • Diversify your holdings by keeping funds in a European bank account online, reducing reliance on a single currency.
  • Financial Stability and Security
  • Benefit from security and the stability European Union banks offer with robust regulatory frameworks.
  • Business Expansion
  • Facilitate business operations within the Eurozone, streamlining international transfers and building credibility with European partners.
  • Personal Convenience
  • Simplify financial activities like receiving payments, managing expenses, and conducting online transactions in euros.

Research specific banks to find the right fit for your non-resident needs.

Is it Possible to Open a European Bank Account Using Only My Passport?

opening a bank account in europe using passport

Due to global and European banking regulations, opening a bank account in Europe usually requires more than just a passport. Most European banks will demand your address, often verified through required documents like utility bill(s).

While some provider accounts may accept minimal documentation, full access typically necessitates completing a verification step, including proving your address.

Here’s a guide on opening an online bank account for migrants.

Eligibility Criteria

Anyone 18 or older with a valid passport or national ID proof card can open a bank account.

Documentation Requirements

Residents of certain third countries may need only a passport and proof of address, while other countries might require additional documents.

Example – Slovenia

To open a bank account in Slovenia, a foreigner may need a foreign passport, a Slovenian tax number, and a foreign tax number for non-residents. Obtain a Slovenian tax number by filling out the required form and submitting it to the tax office.

Application Process

Submit documents to the bank branch, upload them online, or present them in a video chat, depending on the institution’s identity verification method. Remember that banking regulations vary, and you should check the requirements of the specific European country where you plan to open a bank account.

Minimize Paperwork By Exploring Alternative Solutions Such as Wise or Revolut

For those seeking a stress-free way to manage European currencies without residency requirements, consider modern online alternatives like Wise or Revolut.

These providers offer multi-currency accounts, including GBP, USD, and Euro accounts, allowing you to HOLD, TRANSFER, SPEND, and RECEIVE various European and global currencies.

No Residency Restrictions

  • Open an account with a US proof of identity and address.
  • Non-residents can easily maintain balances in European currencies without complications.

Flexible Eligibility

  • There are no restrictive eligibility requirements to contend with.
  • There are no minimum balance constraints, providing flexibility for users.

Digital Set-up and Verification

  • Initiate the account online or through the provider’s app.
  • Complete the verification process digitally from the comfort of your home.

Which Non-Resident Account is Best in Europe?

a person using online banking for money trasnfers

When exploring the best non-resident accounts in Europe, many European banks offer diverse options for international visitors.

Explore a few examples: financial technology companies Wise and Revolut, Santander with non-resident EUR options, and globally recognized banks like HSBC.

ServiceWiseRevolutHSBC ExpatSantander
CurrenciesOver 40 currencies, including USD, GBP, and EUR25 currenciesCurrent accounts available in GBP, USD, and EUR. Savings accounts in 19 currenciesEUR
Can I open a bank account online?YesYesYesVisiting a local branch is typically required for non residents.
Initial feeNo feeNo FeeMinimum balance requirement: Equivalent to 50,000 GBP in the respective currency (additional eligibility criteria may also be applicable).No charges apply, but acquiring a certificate of non-residence in Spain might include a fee.
Fall below feeNo feeNo feeApproximately 35 GBP per month.No fee
Maintenance feeNo feeUp to 16.99 USD/monthFee is waived with the maintenance of a minimum balance16 EUR/month
International transfersInexpensive fee, subject to currency differences.The fee varies based on the payment value, with a maximum of 10 USD.Online bank transfers up to 4 GBP + Third party charges + Markup on the exchange ratesTypically, standard online transfers come with no charge.
Transfers conducted in-branch obtain a fee ranging from 0.7%, with a minimum charge of 6 EUR to 20 EUR. 
An additional charge is applied to the exchange rates

Wise

wise online money transfer

Open a Wise multi-currency account effortlessly online or through the Wise app to manage major European currencies like EUR and GBP, plus 40+ other currencies. Here’s a quick view.

Top-Up and Currency Switch

Instantly top up your account in USD and switch to the currency you need. Receive payments from Europe using local bank details for EUR and GBP transactions.

Currency Exchange Benefits

Transfer payments to 70+ countries and use your Wise international payment card in 170+ countries.

Account Details

Wise personal multi-currency accounts are free to open with no monthly fee or minimum balance.

Eligibility

Non-residents can open an account using proof of identity and address from their home country. Service availability varies by location; check the Wise website for complete details.

Safety Assurance

Wise is a secure provider overseen by global regulatory bodies.


Revolut

revolut logo

Open your Revolut account with ease using your US identity documents.

Enjoy multi-currency functionality, a linked debit card for spending and cash withdrawals, and additional benefits like budgeting and saving tools.

Here’s an overview.

Account Features

Multi-currency functionality for seamless transactions.

Linked debit card for spending and withdrawals.

Budgeting and saving tools for added financial management.

Plan Options

Revolut offers account plans with no monthly fee, including some no-fee currency exchange.

Upgrade to a different account tier with a monthly fee for higher no-fee transactions and extra benefits.

ATM Withdrawals

Standard account plans allow no fee for in-network ATM withdrawals and up to 400 USD/month for out-of-network leaves with no extra costs for users in the US.

Account Types

Choose from Revolut plans with no monthly fees or use plans with ongoing costs, priced up to 16.99 USD/month, offering additional features.

Eligibility

Available to residents with addresses in various EU countries and regions, including the UK, EEA, Australia, Singapore, Switzerland, Japan, and the US.

Safety Assurance

Revolut is authorized to trade in all served countries, is covered by the FCA in the UK, and holds a European banking license for the European Union.


HSBC Expat account

hsbc expat logo

HSBC Expat is the international division of the renowned global banking giant HSBC, specializing in offshore and international banking services.

With a focus on high-wealth individuals, here’s an overview.

Account Types

Current accounts support GBP, EUR, and USD, while savings accounts serve 19 global currencies.

Eligibility

Bank Accounts come with high-income and minimum balance prerequisites.

Account Options

Create an HSBC Expat current account from the US, denominated in GBP, USD, or EUR, with savings accounts available in 19 global currencies.

Requirements

Note the substantial minimum balance requirements for eligibility. To qualify, maintain a minimum balance of 50,000 GBP or have an annual income exceeding 100,000 GBP.

Safety Assurance

HSBC, one of the world’s largest banks, operates under full regulation in Europe and globally, ensuring safety and security.

How to Open an Account with HSBC Expat?

  • Confirm eligibility criteria.
  • Assemble the necessary paperwork.
  • Visit the HSBC Expat website, find your preferred account, and select ‘Apply now.’
  • Follow the prompts to enter details and upload document images.
  • Your account will be opened upon verification.

Santander

santander logo

Santander, a global banking brand originating in Spain, is designed for non-residents, particularly those with vacation homes in Spain. Explore the Non-resident Mundo bank Account, featuring a 16 EUR monthly fee for maintenance, a debit card, and payment options via cash, bank transfer, or check.

However, note the requirement for proof of non-full-time residence and the need to visit Spain for the account opening process. Additionally, Santander offers business banking solutions for non-residents looking to conduct business transactions within the Eurozone.

Account Types

Designed explicitly for non-residents, it is available in euros only.

Safety Assurance

Santander, as one of the world’s largest banks, operates under the oversight of regulators in all regions in which it trades globally.

Eligibility

Consider the Non-resident Mundo bank Account for a euro account from a European bank.

How to Open a Non-resident Account with Santander?

  • Confirm eligibility for the Mundo Account.
  • Gather the required paperwork.
  • Visit a Santander Spain local branch to initiate your bank account.

What Do I Need to Know Before Creating a Bank Account in Europe?

Europe has a diverse banking sector, offering many choices, but for non-residents, options may be limited as most standard bank accounts require proof of a local address.

This often directs non-residents toward accounts designed for foreigners and high-net-worth individuals interested in European currencies.

  • Identify banks willing to open accounts for foreigners and understand their terms and fees.
  • Assess the convenience of using mobile applications for various transactions to ensure a user-friendly experience.
  • Go for an international bank and assess the economic stability of the source country.
  • Check whether the bank provides customer support and documentation in a language you’re comfortable with.
  • Be aware of any initial deposit requirements and ensure you have the necessary funds when opening bank accounts.

By preferring these factors, you can navigate the process of opening a bank account more smoothly.

Remember, local knowledge can save you time and headaches when dealing with specific requirements.

How Much Does it Cost to Open a Bank Account?

Generally, there’s no fee to open a bank account in Europe. Still, non-resident and international services may impose high minimum balance requirements, leading to substantial fall-below costs if not met.

When considering opening a bank account as a non-resident, it’s essential to be mindful of potential costs associated with expat banking services.

Many non-resident accounts have minimum deposit requirements and high fall-below fees for maintaining balances. To secure the best deal, compare various providers, including cost-effective specialist services.

While opening a standard checking account in most countries is typically free, be mindful of potential monthly maintenance fees.

Tips for Transferring Money Between the United States and Europe

When sending money abroad or between the US and Europe, relying on your regular bank may not be the most cost-effective or efficient choice for international payments. Preferring a specialized service can save you money on fees and exchange rate markups.

Consider the following tips to avoid extra costs associated with international transfers:

  • Compare Exchange Rates: Compare the offered exchange rate with the mid-market rate to identify markups.
  • Inquire About Third-Party Charges: Be aware of potential third-party charges that could significantly increase overall costs.

Before sending money overseas, compare your bank’s offerings with specialist services to find potential savings.

When dealing with traditional banks for international money transfers, keep in mind:

  • Transfer Fees: Traditional banks often impose high fixed service fees, sometimes ranging from 20 to 50 euros per transfer.
  • Exchange Rate Margins: Less favorable exchange rates, known as exchange rate margins, allow banks to profit from the difference between the market rate and their offered rate.
  • Correspondent Bank Fees: Banks using the SWIFT network might impose correspondent bank fees and additional charges from intermediary banks involved in the transfer process.

Think of these factors when choosing a method for transferring money between the US and Europe to ensure cost-effectiveness and efficiency.

Related guide:

Conclusion

Forget traditional banking when you have SMART options today to simplify your financial transactions and enhance your international banking experience!

Remember! Each bank may have specific documentation requirements, so thorough research and following the discussed steps are crucial.

Mark my words.

Not skipping any part of the process, you can protect yourself from pitfalls and ensure a smooth and secure bank experience in Europe as a non-resident.

FAQs

Yes, if you have legal residency in a European country, you can typically open a European bank account as an American. Otherwise, Wise provides access to Euro account information without residency requirements.

The time to complete the account set-up can vary. Online applications typically take 10-15 minutes, with processing and account issuance taking 1-2 days. In-person openings, lasting 30 minutes to an hour or more, offer immediate functionality, especially for cash deposits.

Spain and Estonia are both known for being easy for foreigners to create a bank account. Spain’s NIE (Número de Identificación de Extranjero) and Estonia’s digital advancements and e-residency programs make the process streamlined and accessible.

Yes, you can open a European bank account online. Simply use a specialized online service and submit an international proof of address from your laptop or mobile device. Alternatively, opt for an expat banking brand to set up your account online.

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Allen Morning
I'm Allen Morning, with a background spanning over 15 years in international finance and education from Harvard and Stanford. I founded Currenciap with a vision to demystify and streamline global financial transactions. My journey in finance has fueled my commitment to creating a platform that is both user-friendly and efficient, making international finance accessible to everyone. You can find more about me here.

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