How to open a bank account in Dubai

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How to open a bank account in Dubai

With a major financial sector and with its population being largely comprised of foreigners, Dubai is a magnet for expats. It makes sense right? Look at its skyline. Dubai has excellent schools, shopping, beaches and a lot of sunshine which attract investors looking for a safe haven or a second home, workers looking to take its technology to the next level and student looking to take advantage of the Emirate's promising future.  

Dubai makes it relatively easy to open an bank account. Having an account there is safe because of its governmental guarantees and wealth. Here is our guide on how to open a bank account in Dubai.

Documents needed to open a bank account in Dubai

The types of documents vary quite a lot, but you can easily find out what are the major requirements for each bank online or even call the bank as they are friendly and speak English. Bringing more won't hurt, for sure. One note: bring copies of everything, including extra passport pictures.

  • Passport (with copies and extra pics)
  • A letter stating you are in good standing, from sponsor or employer
  • A letter from employer stating your salary (optional)
  • A copy of the visa
  • Emirates ID card (or the application)
  • Utility bill
  • Letter of recommendation from your home bank

It will all depend on the type of account you are opening and the bank itself. It is, again, important to bring as many documents as you can.

Can I open a bank account in Dubai as a non-resident?

Yes it is possible to open a bank account in Dubai as a non-resident. The biggest difference is that it may take longer for the account to be approved since they have to run through KYC (Know Your Customer) checks which may take a while. Otherwise, you would walk out of the branch with a working account.

Best banks in Dubai

Probably the best thing to do as an expat is to stick to the familiar as that gives a sensation of security that may not be matched in a unfamiliar territory and unfamiliar institution. This makes a lot of sense especially if you are a new arrival.

With that said, thanks to competition there are some great offers by banks all over the country with local institutions aggressively pursuing your loyalty. It is probably also wise to think about choosing a bank that is conveniently located near you, with quality online banking and perhaps use the same bank as that of your employer which can serve as a recommendation to start out.

Emirates NBD: they have a large coverage in the nation considering how small it is, with over 250 ATMs and branches for your convenience. Besides their large offers for loans, mortgages, cards, insurance and the like, their basic accounts come with free cash withdrawals in the AED and accounts can be multicurrency.

FAB: First Abu Dhabi Bank is the largest bank in the UAE (a merger of National Bank of Abu Dhabi and First Gulf Bank). This could be a convenient option for you because you get hundreds of branches and ATMs to choose from. Accounts have credit cards as an option, free use of ATMs in the UAE and you get a debit card included.

HSBC: with 10 branches and 70 ATMs in Dubai, this can offers the convenience as well as multi-currency accounts, 50% off on movie tickets, a credit card with cashback and a debit card. They also have a full selection of loans, business accounts and insurance offers.

Citibank: With 50 or so ATMs but only 2 branches, it is still convenient to use Citibank specially because their online banking tool connects all the accounts you have with them all over the world. Basic accounts include the choice of currency (AED, USD, EUR, GBP, JPY, NZD, CHF, AUD or CAD), free use of citibank ATMs worldwide and a debit card.

All banks in Dubai will offer a full spectrum of features including debit and credit cards and loan options. Fees may vary immensely as they compete against each other and may offer special deals from time to time and perhaps when you arrive one of them will be offering a special that is hard to pass.  It is important to ask for a list of fees from your banking agent as many banks will have minimum balance and initial deposit requirements, ATM charges and high currency conversion fees.

The virtual bank account alternative

It is expensive to do international money transfers from Dubai

If you are using your bank to transfer money abroad from Dubai, chances are you are spending too much on currency conversion fees. For example, if you send 1000 euros to India, you only get about 9000 euros worth of rupees back in India depending on your bank. This happens because banks have to cover their high operational costs by charging a lot above the mid market rate which is the rate banks use to transfer money to one another.

With B2B Pay's virtual bank account we charge you a 1% flat fee, so the same transfer gets you 9900 euros worth of rupees back home, saving you up about 900 euros. We reckon that is a good deal. You also get a free European IBAN you can use to send and receive money within the EU and send money abroad to over 200 nations in 32 currencies.


How to open a bank account in Europe

We have a few guides to guide you through the process of opening a bank account in multiple European countries and explaining why a virtual bank account with B2B Pay may be a better alternative if you are transferring money outside of Europe and taking advantage of a better rate.

How to open a bank account overseas

We have a few guides to guide you through the process of opening a bank account in multiple countries all over the world and explaining why a virtual bank account with B2B Pay may be a better alternative if you are transferring money outside of Europe and taking advantage of a better rate.

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