Can You Open a Bank Account in Another Country? | SoFi (2024)

By Jamie Cattanach ·January 24, 2024 · 6 minute read

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Can You Open a Bank Account in Another Country? | SoFi (1)

If you’re wondering, “Can I open a bank account in another country?” the answer is typically yes. Whether you are pursuing life as a digital nomad, studying abroad for a semester or two, or traveling with friends or your significant other for a few months, you’re going to need access to funds.

If you keep your American bank account, you’re likely to face a slew of foreign transaction fees, which can really take their toll on your finances.

Fortunately, opening a bank account in a foreign country is totally possible — and totally legal, as long as you’re not doing so for tax evasion purposes. However, it may take a few more steps than opening a domestic account would. Read on to learn the details.

What is Banking Abroad?

Banking abroad is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: It involves opening a bank account in a country that is not your primary or official country of residence or citizenship.

If you’re an American, this means opening a bank account in any other country, whether it’s Canada or Cambodia. Of course, some countries — such as, famously, Switzerland or the Cayman Islands — are specifically known for what are called offshore bank accounts, thanks to incentives such as high levels of financial privacy and serious deposit protections. These features can and have attracted the attention of high-net-worth individuals over the years.

But opening a foreign bank account isn’t reserved only for the ultra-rich. Regular, everyday individuals may benefit from banking abroad in certain circ*mstances. If you are wondering if you can open a bank account overseas because you’ll be spending the bulk of your time there, you probably can.

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Is Banking Abroad Legal?

Banking abroad is legal if you’re doing so for the right reasons.

Most of us associate banking abroad with nefarious activities like money laundering or tax evasion, which are, of course, illegal — and could result in large fines or even imprisonment.

But if you’re living in or earning legitimate wages in a foreign country, opening an account there is totally legitimate. It’s also likely your best bet for avoiding excessive foreign transaction fees. It will also reduce or eliminate the hassle of having to deal with a customer service team based in a very different time zone.

Some people also open offshore bank accounts for investment purposes. If this interests you, it’s worth enlisting the help of a financial professional to ensure you’re staying above-board. Foreign investments or offshore banking for tax purposes can be quite complex.

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How to Legally Bank Abroad

In order to legally open a checking account in a foreign country, you’ll usually need to verify quite a lot of personal information for the bank. This is so all the parties involved can confirm you’re banking in a foreign country for legal reasons and not engaging in illicit activities, such as tax evasion or money laundering. You will probably have to share some details with US officials, too.

So what does all that mean for you as someone interested in opening a foreign bank account?

Paperwork — potentially lots of paperwork, though it may not be that complex.

Recommended: Can You Have Multiple Checking Accounts with One Bank?

Requirements to Open a Bank Account Abroad

The specific documentation you’ll need to provide to open a foreign bank account will depend on a lot of factors. Among the variables that may impact exactly what you’ll need to provide: The specific bank you choose, the regulations of the target country, how much money you’re planning to deposit or hold in the account, and more.

Generally speaking, though, you can plan to provide the following:

• Proof of identification, such as a passport or driver’s license

• Proof of residence, such as a utility bill

• Up to a year of bank statements from your current bank account in the US

• Paystubs or a statement from your employer

• Documentation relevant to investments or business transactions, such as sales contracts

Keep in mind that these documents may need to be notarized by a third party or sent through the local consulate for the target country in order to be deemed official. The bank will give you explicit instructions on all required documentation and may also ask for a written statement of purpose for opening the account.

Don’t overlook the home team either. The US government is likely to have its own questions about your activities. If the value of your account abroad will be more than $10,000, you’ll need to file a Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR).

Note: Interest earned on monies held in foreign savings accounts are usually still taxable here at home. Always consult with a professional if you have questions about your tax liability.

Pros and Cons of Offshore Banking

So, what are the benefits and drawbacks of offshore banking? When does opening a foreign bank account make sense? Take a closer look.


First, the upsides of opening a bank account in another country.

• An offshore bank account can help you avoid foreign transaction fees if you’re living or doing business in a foreign country.

• Having a bank account in a foreign country you’re living in can also make it easier to perform basic daily banking tasks without having to navigate overseas phone calls.

• Offshore banking can have some legitimate tax incentives — though in order to take advantage of these legally, you’ll probably need to consult a tax professional.


Now, the disadvantages:

• Opening a foreign bank account can be a relatively arduous process, with a lot of paperwork and verification involved.

• Foreign banking can have unforeseen taxation consequences — for example, interest earned overseas may still be taxable at home.

• You may need to file additional paperwork with the IRS if your foreign account will be valued at over $10,000.

Here’s how these pros and cons stack up side by side.

Pros of Opening a Foreign Bank AccountCons of Opening a Foreign Bank Account
Helps you avoid foreign transaction fees if you’re living or doing business abroadComplicated process involving a lot of paperwork
Easier to conduct day-to-day banking while abroadTax considerations; for instance, interest earned may be taxable in the U.S.
There may be tax benefits to having a foreign accountIf your account is worth over $10,000, you likely need to file extra paperwork with the IRS

The Takeaway

The answer to the question, “Can I open a bank account in a foreign country?” is likely to be a big yes. Gathering and submitting the right documentation may take a while, but it can ease your time abroad tremendously. It can help you spend more time reveling in the local culture than wrangling your personal finances.

If you’re looking for an easy-to-use banking alternative here in the US, consider your options to find the right fit.

Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.

Better banking is here with SoFi, NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Checking Account Overall.* Enjoy up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.


What countries allow foreigners to open bank accounts?

Most countries will allow foreign nationals to open a bank account on their shores as long as they can provide proof of legal residence in that country (and other necessary documentation). Some countries make it easier than others to open a foreign bank account, however.

Can I open a bank account in another country without being a citizen?

Yes, but you will likely need to provide extra documentation to verify your identity, place of residence, and the legal purpose of the account.

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Can You Open a Bank Account in Another Country? | SoFi (2024)


Can You Open a Bank Account in Another Country? | SoFi? ›

We're here to help!

Can you open another bank account in another country? ›

However, the exact requirements depend on the bank, the country, and your residence situation. That said, to open a foreign bank account you'll pretty much always need: Proof of ID — usually your passport. Proof of address — often official correspondence or utility bills in your name.

Can I open a US bank account from another country? ›

Yes, you can. The process might be a bit complicated for non-citizens, but it's not impossible. Whether it's for business, travel, or personal reasons, setting up a US bank account will be worth the trouble. Banking in the US has many advantages.

How hard is it to open a bank account in another country? ›

It will probably take longer than you're used to

It's not a huge chore to open a bank account abroad, but it will likely be more complicated than doing so in the United States. You'll need to provide your passport or another identity document, and potentially proof of address, as well.

Is it good to have a bank account in another country? ›

A foreign savings account provides investment opportunities, access to financial instruments in the country where it is held, and protection against possible economic turbulence in certain countries. Sometimes, banks located outside the U.S. pay higher savings interest rates as well.

Is it legal to have overseas bank accounts? ›

No, opening an offshore bank account isn't illegal — in fact, pretty much anyone can do it. However, offshore banking often gets a bad rap. That's because some people use foreign bank accounts for money laundering or tax evasion, which are both definitely illegal.

How much money can a US citizen have in a foreign bank account? ›

Who Must File the FBAR? A United States person that has a financial interest in or signature authority over foreign financial accounts must file an FBAR if the aggregate value of the foreign financial accounts exceeds $10,000 at any time during the calendar year.

Can U.S. Bank be used internationally? ›

Yes, cards issued by U.S. Bank can be used in most foreign countries. If you're planning to travel and want to use your card, let us know. This will help reduce declined transactions on your trip. Knowing your trip details also helps us protect you from fraud.

Is there an international bank account? ›

An international bank account is a specialized account that provides its holders with the flexibility to perform financial activities beyond their home country's borders. It allows customers to send and receive money internationally, access funds while traveling abroad, and conduct transactions in different currencies.

Can I open a bank account without SSN? ›

Can I open a bank account without a SSN? Yes, it's possible to open a bank account as an undocumented immigrant or without having a Social Security number. You'll need to provide other forms of proof of ID, such as a passport, driver's license, consular ID or birth certificate.

What is the easiest country to open a bank account in? ›

Generally, Belize is where you can set up a bank account with ease. Another reason behind its popularity is the financial stability level. All banks in Belize are legally required to have at least a 24% liquidity ratio.

What is the most international bank? ›

Top 5 International Banks for Worldwide Banking in 2023
  • J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.
  • Bank of America.
  • CitiGroup.
  • HSBC.
  • Standard Chartered.
Nov 20, 2023

What if my foreign bank account is less than $10,000? ›

Failing to file because individual accounts are less than $10,000. Remember that the balance of all foreign accounts counts towards the $10,000 threshold. So if your client has two accounts with $6,000 each, they'll still need to file an FBAR since the accounts add up to more than $10,000.

Can I open a bank account in a country I don't live in? ›

Anyone can open an offshore bank account with just a few hours of work. Each offshore bank and foreign jurisdiction has its own requirements, so you'll have to do some research to find the specific requirements relevant to your situation.

Can I open a bank account in the USA but living in another country? ›

Yes, non-resident aliens are able to open US bank accounts. They still need to provide the required documentation to prove their identity, address, and employment as well as a US Taxpayer document.

What is the safest country to keep your money? ›

Switzerland has a long history and strong reputation of providing safe offshore private banking. However, jurisdictions like the Cayman Islands, Singapore, Germany, Gibraltar, Germany and Belize are also very safe options for offshore banking.

Is it illegal to have two bank accounts with different banks? ›

There's no limit on the number of checking accounts you can open, whether you have them at traditional banks, credit unions or online banks. There is, however, a limit on how much of the money you keep in your checking account is FDIC insured.

What is the easiest country to open a foreign bank account? ›

Which Countries Are Ideal for Setting Up an Offshore Bank Account?
  1. Switzerland. Switzerland is a popular choice for opening offshore accounts for several reasons. ...
  2. Hong Kong. ...
  3. Cayman Islands. ...
  4. Germany. ...
  5. Belize. ...
  6. Singapore.
Feb 15, 2024

Can I open a UK bank account from the US? ›

Yes, US citizen's can open either a bank account with a UK bank or an account with a specialist provider. However, non-residents will need to provide identification, such as a passport or drivers' license alongside other possible requested documents, like proof of address.

Which USA bank is for international? ›

Citibank. Citibank is one of the best international banks in the US for expat banking because of their very international model. It currently physically operates in 97 markets 2, supporting clients from more than 160 countries, making access to their ATMs more convenient.

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