Debunking "Setting Up a Bank Account in the UAE is Difficult"

types of bank account in uae

Have you ever heard people say that setting up a bank account in the UAE is difficult? While it’s true that changes in the regulatory environment may lead people to believe it, we’re here to walk you through the parametres to keep in mind as you seek to open up a bank account with ease. What does this involve? We have all the details.

 

Can a foreigner open a bank account in the UAE? Your available options

The answer is yes; a foreigner can open a bank account in the UAE. Like in most countries, you can open a standard current account, savings accounts, and investment accounts at banks in Dubai and the rest of the UAE. There’s also an option to open an offshore bank account, especially in Dubai. There are some restrictions regarding the types of accounts you can open in the UAE, depending on your residency status (which we’ll detail further below). Still, the key is to know what banks are most open to your business and how to apply successfully. 

When it comes to banks in the UAE, you can classify the country’s financial institutions into four categories. Commercial banks (those that manage accounts for enterprises and individuals), industrial banks that distribute funds for development purposes, Islamic banks that adhere to Sharia law and merchant/investment banks that engage in buying and selling stocks. 

 

What are the requirements to open a bank account in the UAE? 

We recently discussed how the tightened regulatory framework to align with global financial reporting standards and the Economic Substance Requirements have made it appear challenging to open a bank account in the UAE. In our view, it’s a matter of knowing how to make a compelling case to the institution that will take you on as a client. We also left a set of recommendations for those interested in opening a corporate bank account in the Emirates to demonstrate their commitment to the country. 

One of the intricacies of the banking system is that non-residents cannot open a bank account online in the UAE because they must physically go into the bank. Fortunately, we have what you need to get all your documents in order and can aid you in the process of choosing the right bank for you.

 

How to open a bank account in the UAE as a non-resident

Non-residents generally only have access to savings accounts and are often subject to high minimum deposit requirements. If you can meet the criteria that the banks set up, you would need the following documents

  • A copy of your passport with the entry page from the UAE

  • An updated CV

  • An original copy of your bank statements from the last six months from a bank in your home country or anywhere in the world

  • An original copy of a reference letter from your bank where you have a personal or corporate account

 

Requirements to open a bank account with a residency visa

If you have a residency visa, things become much easier for bank account opening offers in the UAE. More banks are willing to work with you, and there are more accounts at your disposal besides savings accounts. What documents must you present at a bank to open your account? They are:

  • The original and a copy of your passport with your UAE residency visa

  • Your Emirates ID card (and a copy)

  • Depending on how you’re living in the UAE, one of the following:

    • A salary letter from your employer 

    • Your spouse’s labour card/work ID (the original and copy) if you’re a spouse on the visa

    • An original trade licence if you are self-employed 

  • A document proving your residency in the UAE (it can be a utility bill, lease agreement or letter verifying your employment)

 

How much money do you need to open a bank account in the UAE?

Along with the required documents stated above, Emirati-based banks will require you to deposit upon opening the account. This number depends on your residency status. Suppose you’re opening an account as a resident, the required deposit amount averages between 3,000-5,000 AED (roughly £590.88-£984.81). For non-residents, the requirement tends to be much more stringent, with that average minimum deposit amount around 100,000 USD or £72,345.81. Banks will also charge you penalties if you do not meet those requirements, so make sure you look at the fineprint! 

 

What’s the best bank account for your personal finance or business in the UAE?

Suppose you’re interested in opening a corporate bank account or curious about the best banks in the UAE to open a savings account. In that case, our bank account opening and introduction services will guide you through the public financial institutions as you prepare your application. Our relationships with some of the most reputable local and global institutions will give you an edge as you find the right fit for your money. Our insights and tips come through decades of collaboration with premier stakeholders in the Emirati business community.

 

Are you ready to start the process of opening a bank account in the UAE? Don’t hesitate to schedule your initial consultation today. 


 

Written by
Adrian Oton
Adrian Oton
CEO, Europe Emirates Group

Banking and Financial Services
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