The top 5 International Banks in India for Expats

Our comprehensive guide covers the top international banks in India, their requirements their account requirements, and how you can open an account of your own.

Xe Consumer APAC

July 8, 20216 min read

Using an international bank account in India

India is the world’s 6th largest consumer market and among the fastest-growing economies in the world. Forecasts predict that by 2030, the country will have moved to 3rd position. One thing you can't do without while in India is a bank account.

The good news is it’s very easy to open a bank account. The country’s banking sector is well organized and one of the biggest contributors to the economy. The 1991 banking reforms revolutionized the Indian banking industry for good. India’s banking industry comprises 22 private banks, 12 public sector banks, 10 small finance banks, and 43 regional rural banks.

In India, foreign banks mostly focus on wholesale lending, trade finance, treasury services, external commercial borrowing, and investment banking. In September 2020, the country received $500.12 billion USD Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), the highest amount ever. This triggered unparalleled growth in existing financial institutions and encouraged new ones to be set up.

To operate in India, international banks need a minimum capital of $5 million USD--or reciprocity. There are currently 46 international banks in India. The presence of international banks has encouraged foreign companies to set up shop in the country, further advancing the economy. They have improved the ease of doing business and helped the country to have a greater international presence.

If you’re looking to open an international bank account in India, you’re in the right place. This post covers the requirements for opening a bank account, how to open one, and the best foreign banks.

What are the requirements for opening an Indian bank account?

The Indian government recently partnered with IndiaStack to digitize the country’s banking infrastructure. As a result of this partnership, having a bank account is almost a necessity for people who want to access financial services or buy financial products.

To open a bank account, you must fulfil some requirements known as “Know Your Customer (KYC)” requirements. You must have these 4 things:

  • Aadhaar card: A card with a 12-digit identification number and demographic and biometric data.

  • Permanent account number (PAN): A unique 10-digit alphanumeric number issued by India’s Income Tax Department

  • 2 recent photos

  • Documents for address and identity proof: These vary from bank to bank and include your passport, a copy of your visa and residential permit, and a telephone or electricity bill.

How to open a bank account in India

1. Fill out the application form

If you have all the required documents, visit the bank’s website or the physical branch and get the bank account opening form. You will have to provide personal details such as your name, date of birth, permanent address, and the names of your parents or spouse. When you’ve filled out every section, sign the form to show you agree with the bank’s terms and conditions.

2. Submit documents (Proof of Identity and Address)

This is necessary to fulfill the “Know Your Customer (KYC)” requirements mentioned above. Indian banks can only allow customers to open bank accounts after they provide these documents as proof of identity. Most banks ask for a PAN card, Aadhaar card, and two recent photos.

3. Allow the bank to assess your documents

In India, banks take 1 to 2 days to approve new accounts. Once your documents have been accepted, the bank will contact you for verification or clarifications. They may need to clarify errors in your KYC documents.

4. Get your debit card and account details

Once the bank approves your documents, you’ll be given an account number and a unique customer ID for online banking. The bank will also give you a debit card to use for financial transactions. And in case you need a checkbook, the bank will provide one.

What are the top 5 international banks in India?

1. Citibank

Citibank is one of the oldest banks in India. The first branch was opened in Kolkata in 1902, though this multinational American bank has its origins in New York. There are 44 Citibank branches in India that cater to a variety of clients, from households to small and mid-sized enterprises.

The bank’s products and services fall into two categories: Global Consumer Bank (GCB) and Institutional Clients Group (ICG). Citibank offers retail banking products and services such as private banking, credit and debit cards, and investment banking.


HSBC Bank India, a subsidiary of HSBC Holdings plc.,  is among the world’s largest banking and financial organizations. The bank set up its first ATM in India back in 1987 and its headquarters are in Mumbai.

HSBC Bank has over 25 branches in India and caters to more than 100,000 (1 lakh) customers. Its services and products include personal banking, retail banking, loans, internet banking, debit and credit cards, and foreign exchange. It also offers commercial banking, wealth management, and global banking.

3. Standard Chartered Bank

Standard Chartered Bank is one of the largest and most trusted banks in India--with 100 branches scattered across 43 cities. It offers commercial and private banking, corporate and institutional banking, and wealth management.

Customers can open current and savings accounts, get insurance and financial advice, and access credit solutions such as mortgages. Standard Chartered Bank also provides electronic and online banking services. Corporates can take advantage of corporate banking services like cash management and liquidity management.

4. Royal Bank of Scotland

Popularly known as RBS, the bank began operating in India in 2003 as a Microfinance. It launched a 3-year Microfinance Technical Assistance program in North and North-East India to support enterprise development.

Apart from the regular banking services and products, the Royal Bank of Scotland also offers Demat accounts, check protect, doorstep check pickup, and non-branch ATM/Drop boxes.

5. Barclays Bank

Barclays Bank is one of the leading international banks and has been operating in India since 1990, with 7 branches in the country. The bank offers integrated banking services to both individual and corporate clients. For corporates, it provides investment banking solutions such as capital raising, cash management, comprehensive advisory, and financing and risk management.

Individual customers can access a variety of services--like portfolio management, wealth management, and investment banking.

What’s next?

Settling in India doesn't have to be hard. You may not have everything figured out, but at least you know where to start when it comes to opening a bank account. These 5 international banks offer excellent services and some have been operating in the country--and serving expats--for decades.

One additional bonus of having a bank account in India is that it will make it easier for you to send Rupees to yourself, should you need to make any purchases in India. But should you use your new bank to facilitate these transfers? Not quite…

If you want to send money to India or to another country, you can always use Xe money transfer for cheap, competitive exchange rates and fast money transfers (that can arrive in India within minutes). Opening an account is super easy. Get started today so you’ll be prepared to send money to India when the time comes.

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