Expat Life: Opening a New Bank Account in Your New Home

A new country typically means a new bank account. Here's what you'll need to open one.

Xe Consumer

August 6, 2020 4 min read

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When you move to a new country, there’s a lot to take care of. From visas and passports to international taxes and housing, the months leading up to your move are likely to be filled with research and planning. One important thing to consider is how you plan on banking your money in your new home.

Unless you plan on keeping all of your money in cash and carrying it with you at all times, you’re going to want to have some sort of bank account. But what kind of account should you have? How do you open the account? Why can’t you just keep your old account? We’ve got the answers to these questions and more.

Why open a new bank account?

Here’s why: foreign currency fees. It may have been fine when you spent a week overseas on vacation, but when you’re living in a new country and frequently needing to make payments or withdraw cash, those transaction fees can quickly add up. And if you’re constantly converting from one currency to another, market motion has the potential to drastically impact how much money you’re spending.

That said, if you plan on returning to your former country of residence one day (either as a permanent resident or for occasional visits), we recommend keeping at least one bank account open in that country. This will protect you from foreign transaction fees when you return, and it will allow you to keep your line of credit and continue to pay any outstanding bills and loans in your former country.

Local bank account or international bank account?

Fortunately, you have several options available to you. The best one will depend on your circumstances and your preferences.

  • Depending on who you currently bank with, they may have branches in your new country and offer an international bank account option. This would allow you to stay with your current bank and utilize your existing credit history.

  • However, if you’re planning on staying in your new country for a long time, a local bank account in your country of residence will help you to build a line of credit and make it easier to make payments in the local currency.

Opening a local bank account

So you’re planning on staying in your new home for a long time, and you want to set up a local bank account. Great!

Every country is different. Depending on where you’re moving, the process for opening an account could be drastically different. Some countries may allow you to start the process online, before you arrive, while other countries may require your physical presence before you can open an account. Don’t make any assumptions: make sure you know your new country’s requirements before you start planning.

In general, you will need the following things to open a bank account in a new country:

  • Identification (many banks require two forms of ID)

  • Proof of residency

  • Visa or other documents to prove your legal right to remain in the country

  • Proof of education or employment

  • Minimum deposit (if required)

In conclusion…

As you think about how you plan to bank in your new home, make sure to consider the following things:

  • How long will you be living in this new country?

  • Do you plan on returning to your former country of residence? When? How often?

  • Do you have any outstanding debts or bills that would still need to be paid?

  • What are your assets?

  • Will you be earning income in a new currency?

  • What kind of payments will you need to make?

  • Do you need to send money back home?

If you do plan on transferring money between bank accounts or sending money to loved ones in another country, our Money Transfer service can help you out. No need to wait in line at the bank or pay high service fees for wire transfers: send money online to over 130 countries, and watch it arrive quickly and securely.

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