4 Steps to Opening a Foreign Bank Account

Opening a foreign bank account may be something you are considering if you conduct a great deal of business overseas , travel frequently, or are interested in foreign investing. It is important that you understand the rules and regulations regarding foreign accounts, but the process of opening an account can be quite simple and can actually be done online or by going into the domestic branch of a bank that operates in the country that you are interested in.

Things You Will Need To Open Your Account

There are certain things you will have to provide in order to open a foreign account. If you want to open a foreign account from inside the United States, the items you need to open a account do not differ significantly from what you need to open a domestic account, but be aware that each country will have its own requirements.

Identification.  Most foreign banks will require at least two forms of identification.  A valid driver's license is typically accepted, as are passports. Most banks will require at least one form of ID to include a photo.  If you do not have a passport, expect the process to take 8 - 12 weeks and cost approximately $100.

Social Security Number. In most cases, you will be asked to provide your social security number.  This will be used both to verify your identity and to review your credit rating.

Birth Certificate. Many foreign banks will require a certified copy of your birth certificate.  If you do not have a certified copy, you can obtain one from the vital statistics office in the county where you were born.  There may be a small fee to obtain the copy, usually less than $15.

Once you've collected the information you need (check with the intended foreign bank to make sure you can meet their requirements for identification), you can begin the process of opening the account.

Step 1 – Fill Out the Application

Many reputable foreign banks will allow you to begin the process of opening a foreign account with an online application. Whether you complete the application online or manually, be sure to fill it out completely. You will be asked to agree to the terms and conditions of the foreign bank. Do not assume that their terms and conditions are similar to your domestic bank's terms. Be sure you carefully read the terms and conditions and agree to them before signing or submitting the application.

Step 2 – credit check

Most foreign banks will not allow you to open an account without checking your credit. If you have poor credit, it may make it more difficult to open a foreign account, but it is not impossible. You can improve your credit by clearing up any discrepancies on your report, paying off past judgments, and keeping all of your credit card payments current.

Step 3 – Funding the Account

To deposit money in the account, most foreign banks will accept wire transfers and in-person deposits. Some foreign banks will also allow you to transfer money electronically from your domestic account. The bank will provide you with information about how to use and access the account.

Step 4 – Using the Account

If you open a checking account in another country, the bank may be able to issue you a debit or credit card to access the account.  Savings and checking accounts can typically be accessed online as well as in person.  Many banks will not allow you to complete the process of opening the foreign account without appearing in person, so make sure you understand your bank's requirements and be prepared to do a bit of traveling if needed.

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