June 02, 2014

Expats’ Guide: Applying for a bank account

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    Having a bank account seems to be a rite of passage for everyone once they start working. It is essential to have one to be able to keep track of one’s savings as the years go by. It also serves both as a handy safe in the form of a shiny, plastic card. Though there are reports of ATM scams and bank robberies, banks are foregoing innovative security measures to safeguard everyone’s money.

    In the Philippines, bank account application is a fairly strenuous process for foreigners to undergo as they are entrusting money to a bank whose policies are nowhere near their own. In turn, local banks keep accounts that are most of the time from a foreign currency which makes currency exchanges somewhat tricky. However, ways are being implemented to ease the difficulty for expats in the country. The Philippines is not barring foreigners to open bank accounts. However, the process of opening an account depends on the status of the foreigner.

    Foreigners or resident aliens must at least stay within the country a minimum of 180 days. Only then are they allowed to open a bank account similar to Filipino citizens. Non-residents, on the other hand, are given the foreign currency deposit account option.

    Important requirements to prepare for foreigner bank account applicants are:

    • ACR I-Card (Alien Certificate of Registration card)

    • Passport or another photo ID

    • Any form of identification, such as ICR (Immigrant Certificate of Registration) which some banks accept as proof of residency; utility bill; or rental contract

    • One passport-sized photo

    If these are available, only then can one be able to deposit the minimum amount required for an ATM account or passbook.

    The requirements should be submitted together with the provided application form. There is a certain waiting period before the debit card is given out.

    The minimum amount is usually the maintaining balance of your account. There is a penalty of reducing an amount from your account if your maintaining balance is below the required amount. It is necessary to cancel your account if you mean to leave the country with no plans to return. Penalty is given to inactive and dormant bank accounts. Dormant accounts are bank accounts which are inactive for a long period of time even with the maintaining balance kept.

    There are around 40 commercial banks in the Philippines. Different banks mean different services and procedures. Keep in mind to always inquire from the personnel of chosen bank.

    Al-Amanah Islamic Investment Bank of the Philippines Korea Exchange Bank
    Asia United Bank Land Bank of the Philippines
    Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Maybank
    Banco de Oro Universal Bank (BDO Unibank) Mega International Commercial Bank
    Bangkok Bank Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company (Metrobank)
    Bank of America, N.A. Mizuho Corporate Ban
    Bank of China Philippine Bank of Communications
    Bank of Commerce Philippine National Bank
    Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) Philippine Veterans Bank
    China Banking Corporation (Chinabank) Philtrust Bank (Philippine Trust Company)
    Citibank, N.A. Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC)
    CTBC Bank Robinsons Bank Corporation
    Deutsche Bank AG Security Bank Corporation
    Development Bank of the Philippines Standard Chartered Bank
    East West Bank The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd.
    Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) UnionBank of the Philippines
    ING Group United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB)
    J.P. Morgan-Chase  

    It is recommended to open accounts from multi-national banks for international transfers and transactions.

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