Europe is one of the dream continent everyone will want to be in, with different histories and cultures, this territory has a lot to offer financially. Most well known power and dream countries are found on this continent.
Though the continent seems charming, just as it is with the U.S. it is however not an easy task to own a financial asset in any of its countries. We talk here of owning a bank account and/or credit cards.
Most people aim of owning a European bank account is to have a virtual presence financially in the continent so as to better send and receive payments for good and services. If you are a business owner located in Europe and want to open a European business bank account, you will need to have some documents to verify your business.
Individuals and residents of Europe will also need to have some piece of documents to open a European bank account be it online or at a local bank.
When you own a bank account in Europe, you will be able to send and receive money to any country located within the European territory. Best secure payments can be done with SEPA bank accounts. But for you to open a SEPA bank account in Europe, your country needs to be in the SEPA country list or Zone.
There are two main processes to open a European bank account which are - online and local process. Many will prefer the online process because it is simple and fast and doesn't require a lot of time from you. However, there are slight advantages of opening your European bank account at a local bank branch because you will be able to discuss personally with the customer service to know what it takes to own a bank account in Europe (monthly fees, transaction fees etc).
However, having your own bank account in Europe is a crucial step to take in order to ensure your financial life. That said, in this guide, I will show you how to open a bank account in Europe online and at a local branch and also, you will get to know what it takes to own a bank account in the European territory.
What is a Bank Account?
A bank account is a financial account maintained by a bank or other financial institution in which the financial transactions between the bank and a customer are recorded.
No matter your country, bank rules remain the same though they vary for most banks. We talk here of fees of which each bank has a certain amount of fees it cuts monthly from any account holder and this will also depend on the account type.
Bank accounts such as Savings account do not have any fees no matter the bank. Checking accounts are the most common bank accounts and it is with this account that you get to perform all transactions to and from your bank. Some checking accounts come with instant debit card. But this is the case for online bank accounts.
Checkout this guide to learn more on checking account and know of the best online bank accounts accounts with instant virtual debit cards.
Bank accounts in Europe work effortlessly as bank accounts in the US and there are many benefits of owning a European bank account of which we have easy integration with SEPA for secure SEPA bank transfers and payments. Checkout some of the benefits of owning a SEPA European bank account.
Benefits of Owning a European Bank Account
Whether you plan to travel, start a new life or better still run a business in Europe, you will need a European bank account sooner or later since it will help you to transfer and receive money in the Single Euro Payment Area (SEPA) seamlessly within any country in Europe and even those out of the European Union. Now it is even possible for non residents to own a bank account in Europe thanks to many providers such as Wise, Revolut and similar providers.
In most European countries, opening a bank account can be free but however, before going in for such banks, you need to checkout their terms and conditions especially the section on month maintenance fees for such banks as we find many banks that trick people with free account opening and then charge superhigh monthly fees.
Many banks in Europe will issue a debit card to their customers that can be used for online payments and at local ATMs but can't be used abroad. To enjoy this offer to the fullest, make sure you go in for a bank that issues cards that are widely accepted such as MasterCards and Visa Cards. You will obviously want a card to perform contactless payments on platforms such as Play Store and Apple Store.
While online banking options are becoming more common, even at traditional banks, make sure your chosen institution offers online or in-app services that are easy to use and updated regularly. You should be able to access your balance and other banking information whenever and wherever you want.
Eligibility Requirements to Open a European Bank Account
As it is a rule for individual independence, anyone over 18 with a valid passport or other form of national ID is eligible to open a European bank account. Residents of a certain country can usually apply with just their passport and proof of address.
Slovenia, for example, even lets tourists open a bank account without having official residency. Other countries, like those in Scandinavia, have tough restrictions and will likely take more time to setup an account. Consider choosing a bank whose requirements match what you can offer.
What Do I Need to Open a Bank Account in Europe?
For each bank be it in Europe, US or any other country, they have different requirements that they expect every customer to have before holding a bank account with them. However, the below requirements are what all banks will demand from you.
- Passport or National ID
- Tax Identification Number (ITIN)
- Proof of address in a European country (utility bill, rental contract,...)
- Proof of employment (for workers) or Educational enrollment (for student)
ITIN wouldn't be a priority requirement for some banks though some will expect you to have it. However, you just need to spot a bank that doesn't requires that is you can't provide an ITIN.
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How to Open A Bank Account In Europe (Online and at a Local branch)
Today we count 44 different countries Europe according to the United Nations (UN), and this makes it difficult to narrow it down to just one typical process for opening a bank account. The process will depend on the country you choose to settle in, and the type of bank account you sign up for. (individual or business European bank account - checking, savings account).
If you will want to go in for a traditional bank, the easiest way to open your bank account will probably be to go in person to the bank's local branch. Either make an appointment or just walk in with all your necessary documents, speak to a teller about what you’re looking for, and let them guide you through the process. That's the best option since you will be well orientated on which account to open to suite your needs.
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Alternatively, you can go in for an online bank account. The entire process of such a bank account opening is fully online and you can do it directly from your home, or anywhere you have a internet connection. Have your passport and your residency document handy as you go through the sign up flow. You might have to do a short video call to verify your identity (for some providers), but in general, the process for signing up for an online bank is much easier and less time consuming than with a traditional bank branch.
How to Open A Bank Account In Europe at a Local Branch
If you opt for this then you will need to open your European bank account at a local branch of a bank in your country.
Follow the steps below to know how you can open your bank account in Europe in person:
- Identify and make sure you have the required documents for your bank
- Make an appointment or walk in to your bank local branch with all your documents
- Answer some questions and verify your identity with the clerk
- Wait for your confirmation, card, PIN, and other necessary documents to arrive by post
- Activate your account and online banking
- Start sending and receive payment in the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) seamlessly to and from any country in Europe. Most banks can even allow you to do international transfers which is equally great.
How to Open A Bank Account In Europe Online
While some traditional banks let you open an account online, it can be a tricky procedure. Often, you’ll need to know the local language. And in some countries you won’t get very far without a digital ID, which you have to set up in person. That’s why it’s usually easier to bring your papers to a branch.
Check your chosen bank to see if you have the option of opening a traditional bank account online. If it doesn’t look feasible, you can always opt for an online bank, where all of your services including sign up can be done over the internet.
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Follow the steps below to open European bank account online:
- Confirm your phone number or email
- Download your bank’s mobile app and select the type of account you want
- Finish the registration process
- Complete in-app ID verification
- Create a PIN and wait for your card to arrive by mail, if you’ve ordered a physical card
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How to Open a Business Bank Account in Europe
Online banks such as N26, Revolut and bunq let you open a business bank account online in Europe. They have banking options for residents, non residents, students and even expats. As a non European resident, you will need to show additional proves to verify yourself.
However, when opening a business bank account in Europe from any of these providers, you need to verify you have established a business in Europe by providing necessary documents to get your business bank account on track.
For a detailed guidance and process to setup your business bank account in Europe, you can checkout this guide on Financial hint.
Best Online European Bank Accounts Providers
There are many European bank account providers that you will find online but you need to be sure of the provider before going it. Providers such as Wise, Revolut, N26 are the best bank account providers you can find out there.
There providers even make it possible for individuals and business owners to open a European business bank account without complications and will generally not require much from you.
Their fees are equally ideal and affordable for everyone willing to own a European bank account online and with them, it is almost free to own a bank account.
A Wise European bank account is perfect if you live and work in multiple currencies. And if you want to receive multiple currencies without paying any fees.
Wise offers banking solutions for countries such as Canada, Eurozone, Australia, New Zealand, UK, US, Singapore, Romania, Turkey and Hungary.
You can use your European bank account to transfer and receive money in Euro without paying for hidden fees.
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In addition of owning a bank account with wise, you get a free debit card that you can use for online payments and at some local ATMs.
How to Open a Euro Bank Account in UK and other European Countries?
- Open a Wise account (or log in if you already have one).
- Click on "Balances" and then "Get started".
- Complete your profile and upload your documents to verify your account for security.
- Activate euros and any of our other 45+ currencies in your account.
- Order your debit card and start sending and spending money around the world.
Revolut is a financial technology company that offers banking services and solutions. Revolut has served as a banking solution for many non residents and help them own European bank accounts without being personally in Europe. Everything is done online and you won't be asked to visit a branch to open an account with Revolut.
Revolut is also known for providing instant virtual debit cards to all their customers that own a bank account as a way to better manage their money online. Their mobile app is one of the best instant virtual debit card provider apps in European countries such as UK, Germany, and many other countries. Residents of US can equally get this free instant virtual debit card seamlessly.
How to Open a European Bank Account with Revolut?
- Download the Revolut Mobile App
- Register or signup for an account
- Verify your identity and wait for sometime for the app to verify the documents you provided
- Follow the steps shown to get your account ready
- Once you complete the setup process, your bank account will be up and running.
N26 is another great choice to open a European bank account online. They have several benefits and open an account with them is completely free of charge.
With N26, you can send, receive, and manage your money in one place via their N26 mobile app or the N26 WebApp anytime and anywhere. In addition, there are no additional paperwork required from you to hold an account, no queues. no account fees to be attached to your account. They are amongst the best if not the best banking solutions to open a European bank account online even as a non resident.
However, that is for the free account, they have other premium bank account types such as Smart, You and Metal whose fees will very depending on the type of account you opt for.
Again, you will get a free virtual Mastercard debit card together with your free bank account which you can use to start spending with your smartphone right away. The debit card is ideal for contactless payments for Apple Pay or Google Pay. You will also get to enjoy 3 free cash withdrawals per month from NFC-enabled ATMs.
If you don't have an NFC-enabled ATM near you, you can order a physical Mastercard debit card which will cost you €10 for delivery fee.
How to Open a European Bank Account with N26?
- Confirm your email and personal details
- Select the type of account you want: - Standard (free) or a premium option like Smart, You, or Metal
- Prove your identity and link your smartphone to your new account
- Your account and virtual Mastercard will be active right away
- If you ordered a physical Mastercard in addition to your virtual one, this will show up via post.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on European Bank Accounts
What's the easiest European country to open a bank account as a non-resident?
Portugal is one of the easiest countries to open a bank account for a non-resident in the EU
What's the best bank in europe for foreigners?
Foreigners located in europe can opt for a local bank meanwhile non residents planning to go to Europe can open a European bank account with Wise or N26.
How to open a European business bank account online?
To open a European business bank account online be it for residents or non-residents, you will need to make sure you have required documents for holding a bank account in Europe.
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Final Thoughts on How to Open A European Bank Account Online and Locally
We have seen two ways which you can use to open a European bank account seamlessly in any country located in Europe.
We talked of a local method which involves going to a local branch of the bank and opening the account without borders. We somehow recommend this method as the best one to follow since you will get to open an account based on your need.
We also mentioned the best online banks you can used to open a European bank account online. This method is recommended equally for non European residents seeking to own a bank account in Europe be it a business account or an individual account, these online bank account providers got you covered.
For each bank be it traditional or online bank, checkout their eligibility requirements, the fees they will charge and how if the account can make international payments within the SEPA Zone and if possible out of the SEPA Zone.
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