5 banks offering Euro accounts to non-EU residents

5 banks offering Euro accounts to non-EU residents

Need a Euro bank account but you are not an EU resident?

This can be quite a hassle.

Most banks want you to be resident.

Some are OK with non-residents if you are opening an investment account for a good sum of money.

I’m thinking here about the Luxembourg or Monaco banks of the world.

And “good” can be hefty.

They’ll usually want you to put up $100,000, or more.

Less than that and they are just not interested.

But there are still options with a spot of homework, which we’ll look at in this article.

First things first though:

Do you need a traditional bank account?

It’s worth quickly validating for yourself whether you need a Euro account as a non-EU resident.

You might need to get paid in Euros, make a SEPA transfer without forex fees or connect up your European brokerage account.

For some of these use cases, you might get along fine with a virtual money service solution like a Revolut or a Transferwise (EDIT: Now called just “Wise”, by the way).

I like these because they are simple and low commitment. And you won’t get eaten by recurring fees like you will at a traditional bank.

Wise, with their so-called borderless account, lets you hold balances in a whole range of currencies pretty easily.

I use Wise, have had their debit MasterCard for a couple of years now and hold a small Euro balance for convenience.

Euros aren’t my home currency so I personally like being able to withdraw cash on the go without the same fees and markup that a regular bank card would have.

Wise is also perfectly fine for receiving money.

You get an IBAN for your chosen currency, and you can put this on your invoices or give it to whoever needs to pay you.

It’s simple, and you can arrange it in just a few minutes if you have an account already. Frankly a lot better than what the scene was like a few years ago.

All this said, Revolut and Wise aren’t going to cut it for everyone. The key points here are:

  • there can be issues when sending money, meaning your IBAN can’t be verified by other services (like your broker or investment fund)
  • you have to remember Revolut and Wise aren’t banks, or at least not yet – and so the deposit guarantee situation can be a bit unclear (I wouldn’t want to routinely hold large balances with them)
  • for some situations you are just going to need an established bank, with someone to ring up, the ability to get bank reference letters and more fulsome account functionality

Getting an EU bank account

So we’re talking here about a personal account, in Euros, with a bank in the EU.

This used to be much easier ask than it is today. While the Eurozone has made it seamless for EU citizens to open a bank account anywhere in the EU, it has conversely become harder for non-EU nationals or folks from so-called third countries to get their feet in the door.

However there are still a few choices if you are prepared to do some leg work and research.

One big ‘if’ is whether the bank requires you to come physically into a branch or is happy to onboard you online.

This can be critical, practically speaking.

Another point is what ties you have to the country where you want the bank account. Do you, for example, have real estate locally? Or are you going to be buying real estate, or starting a business?

Whether or not you can jump through the hoops depends on your situation.

Some banks are less demanding than others, but you’ll always have to pass KYC checks, explain beneficial ownership and be clear on the source of your money.

And keep in mind that most banks view non-residents as a hassle and will tend to load on some extra fees. Par for the course.

Personally, I would look for banks that make it easy on certain points. So I’d pick out:

  • Banks that have good online services and have their interfaces in English (there are some banks in Spain open to non-residents, but their online services are all in Spanish…)
  • Banks where you can pass ID and verification checks through a video interview, or by sending certified copies of your ID to them
  • Banks that are up front about their fees (Who wants surprises on this?)
  • Banks that are responsive and have good customer service if there is a problem

Much of this you will have to work out on your own, but I’ve selected a few good options that could be worth a closer look if you’re after a non-resident EU bank account.

Some options to look at…

DSBC Financial Europe – Personal Account

First up is DSBC, a Lithuanian bank. They offer a Personal Account that you can open online.

The account is in Euros, although you can choose to hold your balances in different currencies. As with all eurozone accounts, you are within the SEPA scheme so receiving or making SEPA payments is no problem.

There is no fee to open the account, and DSBC offers both online banking and mobile banking as standard with the basic account.

It takes about three days to a week to set up the Personal Account. You’ll need to submit supporting documents and have a video chat with DSBC’s compliance team, which is based in Singapore. Once all documents are submitted, it doesn’t take very long to get the actual account running.

There is a EUR 19- monthly account maintenance fee, so this is something to keep in mind.

DSBC will issue you with a Debit Mastercard, if you want one, but there are some limitations on your residency status. Apparently you can have an account as a non-EU resident but you cannot order a card unless you are resident in the EU or EEA.

There are also some nationalities which DSBC cannot issue a card to, and these look like the normal countries under sanctions. There’s about 28 of them.

(Personally, I feel like you would know about it if your country was on this type of list, but you can review the full list on DSBC’s website.)

If you need the card and are not an EU/EEA resident, then you might consider pairing this account with a Revolut or Wise account. You could fund a virtual money service card with your DSBC account, using a simple SEPA transfer, and then pull cash out as you need to. SEPA transfers are fast these days.

In summary, DSBC could be good for you if you’re looking for a higher level of service, don’t mind the fees and want to open a bank account quickly.

You’ll get a fully-featured transactional account and it will play nice with your EU broker, etc., for account verification. DSBC also say it is fine to use the personal account if you are a freelancer, although this could change in the future.

At 12x EUR 19 in monthly fees, so EUR 228/year, you are incurring some costs for the privilege of your new EU account. Keep in mind the pluses though: you’ve got a fully licensed bank, responsive support and non-resident service. It could be a nice deal for you.

I’ve put them first because I think that, if you need a solution, DSBC ticks most of the boxes and will get you up and running quickly.

You can check out DSBC here.

LHV Pank, Estonia

LHV Pank is a very well-established bank in Estonia.

They allow non-residents to become clients but they have some pretty strict conditions you need to be able to meet.

To open a personal account you need to be able to prove that you have strong connections to Estonia. If you show a good connection to the country, you don’t need an Estonian passport or residence permit to open an account.

The types of documents you might need to show a good connection include:

  • a signed residential lease agreement
  • a signed employment contract
  • a certificate from an educational institution regarding enrolment
  • document substantiating connection to enterprise

As you can see, you’d only have some of these documents if you were moving to Estonia very soon.

If you could show you received payments in Estonia, for example as a personal contractor or freelancer, this might be something that you could use in your application. If you own Estonian property or something like that, now would be the time to fish out that document. Being an Estonian e-Resident isn’t enough.

In order to confirm your identity with LHV Pank, you are required to physically visit one of their branches.

There is no video interview option unfortunately.

There’s also no exception we could see for e-Residents.

Once approved, there is a monthly account maintenance fee of EUR 20 for non-residents. For customers who are not residents of any EU or EEA country, there is an account opening fee of EUR 200.

Payments within the SEPA zone are free and you get your EU IBAN.

If you can get it, LHV Pank offers a comprehensive and very modern banking package. You can easily order bank cards and set up your internet banking.

One of the difficulties though is showing them you have enough of a connection to Estonia.

For this reason, LHV Pank is probably only a good option if you already do business in Estonia or have other links on the ground. DSBC is slightly cheaper and more friendly to non-resident applicants.

You can check out LHV Pank here.

Bank of Cyprus – Individual Account

The Bank of Cyprus is reasonably friendly to non-resident clients, along with (generally speaking) most other Cypriot banks.

It is possible for non-EU residents to open an individual account.

To do so, you need to contact the international desk and schedule an appointment. To tick off identity verification and KYC, you will either need to visit the bank personally or appoint a “local professional intermediary” to attend for you. There’s no way to complete this step online or via video call.

You will need a reason for choosing Cyprus and to explain how you will use your EUR account. It doesn’t look like the Bank of Cyprus will be as strict as the Estonian banks on having a local connection, provided you can point to some type of activity you intend to do locally or within the EU.

While the process of setting yourself up with the Bank of Cyprus is a little more manual than some of the other banks mentioned here, this Bank is a good choice when it comes to products, online banking and general functionality.

The fee structure reflects the fact you’re going to be an international client though.

It will cost you EUR 500 to open an account if you are not a resident of the EU/EEA.

Account maintenance fees are EUR 25-/a quarter, or EUR 100 a year, for an individual (i.e. personal) account. Corporate accounts have their own fees and these can be hefty.

(You’ll see that account maintenance here is lower than for DSBC or LHV…)

Of course, once set up you’ll get a Euro transactional account with all the bells and whistles. You’ll be able to make and receive SEPA payments, no problem, and can also access brokerage services and other facilities on offer with the Bank.

If you can’t visit Cyprus yourself, you’ll have to factor in retaining a local lawyer or financial agent to work with you in opening the account and attending the first interview. I can’t see this being less than another EUR 500, depending on what the hourly rate arrangement is.

So factor in about EUR 500 – 1,200 to open your account.

The Bank of Cyprus option could be a good one for you if:

  • Cyprus is a base for you or could be one in the future
  • You’re looking for a traditional, established bank that is open to non-resident business
  • You don’t mind the manual KYC and onboarding processes
  • You’re happy with some upfront costs to get your account running

If this sounds like a fit, have a look at the Bank of Cyprus.

Dukascopy – Multi-Currency Account

OK, we’re slightly cheating here.

That’s because Dukascopy is a Swiss bank, not an EU bank. (Hint: Switzerland is not in the EU)

Nonetheless, it offers Euro accounts to non-residents.

Switzerland is actually within the SEPA zone for Euro payments, so this could be a handy option for you.

The Bank is actually super friendly to non-resident customers, although some limits to how much you can deposit do apply. These depend on:

  • your country of origin
  • whether you have verified your income or not via formal processes with the Bank

For example, I checked this for Ethiopia for the sake of it.

If you’re a resident there, then you would be limited to a quarterly deposit amount of EUR 1,600 if you don’t verify your income or complete any additional procedures with Dukascopy.

If you can prove you’re employed or have a registered business, for example, this increases to EUR 3,300 per quarter.

However, if you verify your income, you can deposit up to EUR 37,000 per quarter.

So you can see that Dukascopy has balanced the due diligence aspects of the non-resident business with some strict limits.

This is a good thing, though, as it allows access that you may not otherwise be able to get with a bank plugged into the EU system.

These are the two personal account options Dukascopy has:

  • Multi-Currency Account
  • Private Banking Savings

Applying is easy, you download an app on your smartphone, scan a QR code on your computer and go from there.

The compliance and ID verification interviews happen by video call. Tick.

These two accounts above are linked closely with Dukascopy’s brokerage offerings, which include USA stocks, currency trading, commodities, and cryptocurrency. So it’s easy to add these into your package if you want to.

You can order a prepaid Visa card, which is linked to your accounts and can make dealing with day-to-day transactions easy. You’ve also got some currency options with the card, so that’s a plus.

Opening and closing accounts with Dukascopy is free, but some of you will be paying an account maintenance fee. This varies depending on how much you are holding with the bank.

It can add up.

If you are holding EUR 100k with Dukascopy, this would be USD 81-/per month in account maintenance. While this does look high, I think the negative interest rates on the Euro are baked in there as well.

Keep in mind, though, that you are not paying the large upfront fees to get your account activated.

If you’re holding less, the account maintenance is less because it is based on a percentage.

At EUR 50k, it’s only about USD 4-/per month. Under EUR 40k, it’s free.

Not bad.

If we keep the Ethiopian example from above, it would take you a little while via your deposits to hit these kinds of account maintenance fees.

For your transactions, there are various fees. And I think there are fees on SEPA, so this is something to verify before you commit. I’m thinking a few Euros per transaction is likely (Correction: The fee per SEPA transaction is EUR 2.30, or EUR 20 if you’re making a non-SEPA transfer).

All said, Dukascopy is a modern, highly convenient and responsive Bank. This could be a good match for you if you’re OK with a niche, largely online bank and the limits don’t worry you.

The Swiss bank angle also must get a plus in my books.

Check out Dukascopy Bank Switzerland.

Bank of Ireland/Allied Irish Banks

There’s one other place to look if you’re in the market for a non-resident Euro bank account:

Ireland.

You’ve got it.

English speaking, always business savvy, and now at the center of things post-Brexit.

Ireland figures in the Brexit mitigation strategies of many. As a result, Dublin is literally the new capital of the English-speaking European Union.

Thankfully, its banks are well-positioned on this front and have a pleasingly cosmopolitan approach towards non-resident clients.

Two banks to look at if you’re a non-EU resident are the Bank of Ireland and the Allied Irish Banks (or “AIB” for short).

Bank of Ireland personal accounts

While you can’t apply online for the personal current account, it is possible to become a client of the Bank of Ireland remotely.

Once a client, you’ll have the possibility to open a transactional or savings account.

The Bank of Ireland has special onboarding procedures for people who live abroad.

(And it even contemplates folks opening an account who don’t intend to move to or live in Ireland. So that’s good news.)

You can have a look at the Bank of Ireland here.

AIB

Similar to the Bank of Ireland, AIB isn’t hugely fussy about non-resident clients.

You can’t open your account in the normal way (i.e. smartphone these days) and have to take special care to verify your identity before they’ll consider your application.

You can check out AIB here.

Both Bank of Ireland and AIB have standard, modern offerings and you’ll get a traditional EUR transactional account suitable for most use cases. Bank cards such as prepaid Visa or MasterCard and a Maestro ATM card can be arranged very easily.

It may be a bit of extra hassle to deal with their paper onboarding processes, but it could be well worth it. The obvious pluses are:

  • both Bank of Ireland and AIB accounts can be set up remotely, with some time investment
  • you’ll be getting a EUR account at a reputable, highly established bank
  • Ireland is English-speaking and has a durable deposit insurance system
  • Regular account keeping and transactional charges are low (although you may have to pay additional fees for non-resident account maintenance and service)

Wrapping it up – verdict for a Euro personal account

If you’re in need of a Euro bank account in the EU, there are options for you.

Don’t expect each part of the process to be easy or seamless.

Even if there is some leg work involved, you’re very likely to end up with a solution that works for you.

In terms of the options we’ve looked at today:

  • DSBC and Dukascopy seem to be the best in getting you up and running quickly, with high-tech onboarding processes and a friendly approach towards non-residents. These might be good accounts for you to start with and, as your interests develop, you could move onto other banks as desired.
  • LHV Pank shouldn’t really be your first choice unless you have good connections to Estonia. Unfortunately being an e-Resident doesn’t win you any favors in opening Estonian bank accounts. Pity…
  • The Bank of Cyprus is an excellent, established choice and a good fit if you don’t mind the time and cost to get started. This could be a better fit if some of your interests are in Cyprus already, but this doesn’t necessarily have to be a dealbreaker for the Bank depending on your profile and future intentions.
  • Both the Bank of Ireland and AIB might be worth a look if you’ve prepared to go through the manual ID verification processes and have a special interest in Ireland, either as a base or a safe choice for your Euro holdings.

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Last Updated: 2021-03-05 08:15
Suitcase Investor Team

Suitcase Investor Team

Our trusty writers at Suitcase Investor comprise a team obsessed with the business, travel, tax, and immigration strategies of an international lifestyle. Call them tragic passport geeks, if you want, but these are folks who know the landscape and work hard to keep on the pulse of new developments.