Guide to Bank Accounts in Europe for Non-Residents

Many non-residents of Europe want a European bank account but don’t know where to start or if it is even possible. We have gathered together a brief guide with the relevant facts that you will need to know if you are a non-resident that wants a bank account in Europe.

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    European Banking
    Europe’s banking sector is well developed; each country has its own regulations and processes but most European countries share a number of basic banking policies in common. SEPA is one of the systems that most unites European banks by facilitating cross-border euro transactions within Europe as if they were domestic.

    Understanding SEPA
    SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area) is a European initiative for simplifying banking by making euro transfers between SEPA-member nations as smooth as a domestic transfer. The SEPA zone includes all EU countries plus Iceland, Switzerland, Norway and Liechtenstein. Andorra, San Marino, Vatican City and Monaco. Since Brexit, the UK still participates in SEPA technical schemes. SEPA has made cross-border euro payments to accounts anywhere in the SEPA zone more efficient and less fragmented. If you’re planning on opening a bank account in Europe, then SEPA will be an important part of your financial dealings. SEPA payments are usually cheaper and faster than transactions made between non-SEPA countries or between SEPA countries and other nations outside of SEPA. If your transaction within the SEPA zone is not in euro but in a different currency it won’t be privileged to the conditions of SEPA.

    Can a non-resident open a bank account in Europe?
    Believe it not, people that are not residents of Europe do have a few options when it comes to financial services and bank in Europe. In some European countries like Bulgaria, Lithuania and Poland it is possible for non-residents to open a bank account. Estonia is also an option for non-resident banking so long as you can show a link to the country such as property ownership or a business. You can also become an e-resident of Estonia and set up a virtual business in Estonia which you can access remotely.

    Can a foreign resident in Europe open a bank account in Europe?
    Foreigners living legally as foreign residents in Europe are usually permitted to open a basic bank account in Europe. There are generally several financial services and products available to foreigners living in Europe. However illegal residents or non-residents of Europe will find it difficult to open a bank account in Europe. Some European countries make it easier for non-residents to open a bank account than other EU countries.

    Where can a non-resident open a business bank account in Europe?
    All European banks are connected by SEPA so it doesn’t matter which SEPA country you open your business bank account in you, will still have the banking services you need for business across Europe. The Baltic states, Poland and Bulgaria are a few of the European countries where non-residents are most likely to be approved for business bank accounts. The Czech Republic welcomes foreign-owned EU companies, offshore companies and non-EU companies to open business bank accounts within its borders thus giving you access to the European market. Non-residents can also open a business bank account in Cyprus and Luxemburg. Remember – each European country has its own requirements for new business bank account applicants. Before making your choice of where to open your business bank account in Europe research the requirements of each specific country.

    Why open a business bank account in Europe if you are a non-resident?

    • SEPA fees for money transfers are lower, so paying your Eurozone suppliers from your Eurozone account will be cheaper.
    • SEPA euro payments are faster and can take as little as one day.
    • Your clients in Europe will find it much easier, cheaper and faster to make SEPA payments to your European account.
    • Banking regulations and requirements can change between European countries and even between specific banks. However, if you have customers or suppliers in Europe having a European bank account will always be to your company’s advantage.


    What do you need in order to open a business bank account in Europe?
    Opening a business account in Europe if you are a non-resident is usually extremely difficult. The requirements for open a non-resident bank account in Europe vary from country to country. You may need to provide your bank with your company’s physical address in Europe. You could use the address and services of an appointed European attorney; notary; Registered Agent or company representative as permitted by the laws of each respective country in Europe. Some banks may require that you set up a subsidiary in their country or that you show that your company has a high transaction volume. To open a business bank account in Europe as a non-resident you may need to show an EU tax ID number or make a physical visit to the bank. Your business may need to prove minimum capital. The jurisdiction where you company is registered can be critical when applying for a non-resident business bank account in Europe.
    Different banks in different European countries may offer non-residents different financial services and products and may impose different restrictions as to accessing your account without being physically present. Most European banks require non-residents to visit a bank branch to open an account and physically bring documents into the bank. The European countries where non-residents can open bank accounts usually offer non-residents limited services and higher fees.

    Summary: European Business Bank Accounts for Non-Residents

    • Having a business bank account in Europe if you have customers or suppliers in Europe is advantageous for many reasons.
    • Opening a basic bank account in European countries as a legal foreign resident is normally possible although banking services and products may be limited.
    • It is possible to open a business bank account in Europe as a non-resident but it is extremely difficult and the rules and conditions between the different EU countries vary.
    • European legislation differentiates between legal resident foreigners who can usually open a European bank account and non-resident foreigners who will find it difficult to open an account but not impossible.

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