If you’re based in an EU member state – opening a European bank account has never been easier. As long as you are able to provide a passport from your respective country and a proof of residence, you should be able to get the account opened on a same-day basis.
However, what do you do if you are looking to open an EU bank account as a non-resident?
You might need to do this because you have a need to accept payments from a European client, or because you’re looking to keep some cash in the safe-haven of an EU member state. Either way, although your options are going to be extremely limited, it’s not an impossibility.
With that said, the easiest way to get an EU bank account as a non-resident is to open a Multi-Currency Borderless Account with TransferWise. In doing so, you’ll have access to a fully-fledged Euro-denominated bank account – subsequently allowing you to send and receive payments at the click of a button.
Fancy finding out what you need to do to get an EU bank account today? If so, be sure to read our comprehensive guide. We’ll take you through the ins and outs of how you apply, who is eligible, and what the account permits.
Why you Might Want an EU Bank Account
- 1 Why you Might Want an EU Bank Account
- 2 EU Bank Accounts – The Current State of Play
- 3 Using a TransferWise Multi-Currency Borderless Account
- 4 EU Bank Account via TransferWise – Banking Facilities
- 5 What the TransferWise EU Bank Account Can’t do
- 6 How to get a Non-Resident EU Bank Account With TransferWise
- 7 The Verdict?
Before we delve into the fundamentals, let’s explore some of the key reasons why you might want to open an EU bank account as a non-resident.
This might include:
- You’re planning a trip across Europe and want access to cheap and seamless ATM withdrawals. You know that using your local debit card is going to be costly, so you want a card issued by an EU institution.
- You are a digital nomad with clients in Europe. As such, you want the ability to receive payments in Euros without paying extortionate conversion fees. Alternatively, you have a number of suppliers based in Europe that you need to pay in Euros.
- You are planning to make an investment in Europe – such as purchasing a property that you wish to rent out. As such, you want to receive your monthly rental payments in Euros.
- You have surplus cash that you wish to store in one of the most secure regulatory blocks in the world – the European Single Market.
EU Bank Accounts – The Current State of Play
First and foremost, it is important to note that although the EU Single Market creates a cohesive banking regulatory framework for all 27 member states, the specifics surrounding eligibility for non-residents can vary from institution-to-institution. Nevertheless, in the vast majority of cases, you will need to be a resident of an EU member state to open a bank account.
For example, it’s just as easy to be a Romanian opening an account in Germany, as it is for a Dutch citizen opening an account in Spain. However, if you’re a non-EU resident – it doesn’t matter where you attempt to do it – opening an account is going to be extremely difficult.
There are a number of workarounds to this, such as opening a European company and getting the account opened in the name of your firm. However, it’s a highly cumbersome process that isn’t really worth the bureaucracy that it comes with.
Alternatively, certain EU member states like Estonia are more relaxed when opening accounts for non-residents. However, you still need to prove that you have substantial ties to the country – which again, would need to be something like a local business.
Using a TransferWise Multi-Currency Borderless Account
As we briefly noted earlier, opening a TransferWise Multi-Currency Borderless Account is likely to be the easiest option available to you in your hunt for a non-resident EU bank account. Not only is this because the platform accepts most nationalities, but you can complete the application process in a matter of minutes.
Most importantly, you’ll likely find that the TransferWise Multi-Currency Borderless Account allows you to access all of the required banking facilities that you seek. As a result, before we delve into the step-by-step account opening process, let’s first explore what the account allows you to do.
If you’d like to read more about Transferwise, Check out our full review here.
EU Bank Account via TransferWise – Banking Facilities
If your primary objective of opening an EU bank account as a non-resident is sending and receiving payments in Euros, then TransferWise has you covered. When you first open the account, you will be given a unique European bank account number. This will resemble an IBAN that allows you or other people to transfer funds into the account externally.
Take note, your IBAN won’t reflect an actual bank account per-say. Instead, it’s merely a digital address that allows people to send cash to your TransferWise account. With that said, it’s a bank account in all-but name.
It is important to note that payments can only be made into your TransferWise account via SEPA. This is the native payments network utilized by all 27 member states. Not only are payments free, but you’ll likely receive the funds the next working day.
However, as TransferWise does not support SWIFT for incoming Euro payments, your EU account cannot receive payments outside of the SEPA network. Instead, you’ll need to send it to an alternative currency account that TransferWise offers (such as GBP), and then make the transfer from there.
On top of receiving payments, it’s also likely that you have a need to send payments from an EU bank account. Once again, the TransferWise Multi-Currency Borderless Account has you covered.
You’ll be able to access your bank account on the move via the TransferWise app. Upon logging in, you simply need to enter the bank account details for the person you are transferring the funds to.
If the transfer is to a bank account in an EU member state, then it will go through SEPA. Alternatively, TransferWise will need to use the SWIFT network if the transfer is to be made to a non-SEPA compliant institution.
Regardless of who you open an account with, one of the core banking features that you will likely want access to is that of a fully-fledged debit card. The good news for you is that the Multi-Currency Borderless Account allows you to link it to the TransferWise debit card.
As the card is issued by MasterCard, you can use it much the same way as any other debit card in the market. This includes purchasing goods and services online and in-person, as well as withdrawing cash from an ATM. This is ideal if you’re looking to do a trip across multiple European states and want seamless access to your cash.
There are no monthly fees to keep the debit card going, and you’ll be able to withdraw the Euro-equivalent of $250 per month without paying any ATM fees. Moreover, you will also benefit from zero foreign transaction fees when using the card, so you’ll have access to the same mid-market rate that TransferWise gets.
Security and Control
As noted above, you can control your TransferWise EU bank account directly from your mobile app. Not only does this allow you to send and receive money with ease, but you can also keep tabs on your spending.
For example, you’ll receive a real-time notification every time you use your TransferWise debit card. The app also allows you to freeze your debit card if you misplace it. If it turns out that the card is lost or stolen, you can then order a replacement.
However, if the card turns up you can simply unfreeze it from within the app. You’ll know if somebody tried to use the card, as TransferWise will send you a notification!
TransferWise vs. UK high street banks
|Compare the costs||Transferwise||Barclays||Lloyds||Santander|
|Send £250 to EUR||£1.54||£7.89||£18.73||£23.55|
|Spend £250 on debit card in EUR||83p||£15.66||£17.43||£16.91|
|Withdraw £250 / month cash in EUR||£1.76||£17.14||£18.40||£20.64|
|Receive AUD, EUR, GBP and USD into your account||Free||N/A||N/A||N/A|
What the TransferWise EU Bank Account Can’t do
When it comes to sending and receiving funds – as well as having access to a debit card – TransferWise gives you an EU bank account as a non-resident in all but name. However, there are a number of things the TransferWise option can’t provide, that a traditional bank account typically would.
Deposit Protection Scheme
One of the most important things that you need to consider when going with TransferWise is that you won’t benefit from a deposit protection scheme if the platform went bust. Ordinarily, financial institutions – regardless of which EU member state its based in, would fall within the remit of the European Deposit Insurance Scheme (EDIS).
For those unaware, this means that were a European bank to collapse, your deposits would be protected up to the first €100,000. As such banking with a traditional EU bank is effectively risk-free, as long as you don’t store more than €100,000 per institution. However, the TransferWise Multi-Currency Borderless Account does not benefit from the EU deposit scheme, nor is it covered by the UK’s Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).
To counter this, TransferWise notes that it keeps all client funds in a Barclays bank account. As such, even if TransferWise went under, your money would be safe. However, if Barclay’s itself ceased to exist, your funds would be at risk.
By opting for the TransferWise option, you won’t be able to earn any interest on your savings. This could be an issue if you are looking to store large amounts in your EU account. With that said, if you are looking to keep significant amounts of money in an EU bank account as a non-resident, you will be best off going the traditional route.
Although you’ll need to go through a cumbersome account opening process, you’ll benefit from the protections of EDIS – as well as earn interest on your deposits.
Finally, you will not have access to traditional credit products when you open a TransferWise EU bank account. This includes the likes of loans, credit cards and overdrafts. However, you likely wouldn’t get this anyway regardless of where you held a non-resident bank account, as credit facilities are typically reserved for locals.
How to get a Non-Resident EU Bank Account With TransferWise
So now that you know the ins and outs of what is required to get an EU bank account as a non-resident – and you’re fully versed in what a TransferWise EU account can offer, we are now going to show you what you need to do to get started.
Step 1: Visit TransferWise and Sign Up
Your first port of call will be to head over to the TransferWise website and then click on the ‘Borderless Account’ button at the top of the page. You will then be taken to the registration page. As is the case with all electronic money accounts, you will need to enter some personal details.
This will include your:
- First and Last Name
- Date of Birth
- Country of Residence
- Home Address
- Contact Details
Step 2: Verify Your Identity
Regardless of where you are opening the account from, you will need to verify your identity to get started with TransferWise. This is to ensure that the platform remains compliant with all relevant anti-money laundering laws.
As such, you will need to upload a copy of your passport, as well as a picture of you holding the ID next to your face. Moreover, TransferWise is likely to ask you to upload a proof of address. This will need to be an official document – such as a utility bill or bank statement.
Step 3: Apply for the TransferWise Debit Card
Once your identity has been verified, you should now have a non-resident EU bank account, alongside a unique European bank account number. Great!
However, you’ll likely want to apply for the TransferWise debit card too, which needs to be done separately. Otherwise, you won’t be able to purchase goods and services, nor will you be able to withdraw your money from an ATM.
Simply follow the on-screen instructions to apply for your debit card. Once you have, TransferWise will post your debit card to the address registered on your EU bank account. This can take anywhere from 3 working days (Singapore residents) to 3 weeks (US and New Zealand residents).
Once the card arrives, you’ve got everything set up and you can begin using your newly opened non-resident EU bank account!
In summary, opening an EU bank account as a non-resident can be a highly cumbersome process. You’ll need to prove that you have substantial ties to the EU member state in question, which in reality, can only be done if you are prepared to open a local business.
With that being said, all is not lost – as you can easily open a non-resident EU bank account with TransferWise.
Through its Multi-Currency Borderless Account, you’ll have access to most of your required banking needs at the click of a button. This includes the ability to send and receive money in Euros, as well as make purchases and withdraw cash via the TransferWise MasterCard debit card.