How to open a bank account in Russia

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How to open a bank account in Russia

A large number of foreigners  have chosen to make Russia their home over the years seeking European living and its lively cultural and historical landscapes especially present in cities such as Moscow and St. Petersburg. Russia is an excellent choice for many other reasons: strong economy, the possibility of large gains in wealth, great English speaking schools and Russians being friendly to foreigners are some of the things that make Russia great for expats.

If you are looking to make the move, you will need a bank account in order to establish yourself and it should not be hard even as a non-resident. Here is our guide on how to open a bank account in Russia.

Documents needed to open a bank account in Russia

With a lot of accounts options to choose from and each having different requirements, it could be as easy as having a passport to open the most basic account. If you need a bank account with a full set of services, you will be required to have at least the following:

  • Passport
  • Resident permit
  • Proof of address in Russia such as utility bill
  • Reference from employer

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

Yes, it is possible to open a bank account in Russia as a non-resident. The process is rather easy and straightforward and there are accounts in foreign currency and other services specially created for foreigners.

Best Banks in Russia

With large and well connected networks of ATMs around the country, divided between national and international banking conglomerates, lack of options and inconvenience should not be a problem when opening a bank account in Russia. It may be a good idea to see if your local bank has a branch in Russia as it may be possible to open an account there before your step foot in the country.

  • Sberbank: As Russia’s largest you won’t have a hard time finding a branch or ATM of theirs anywhere in Russia as it has over 90 thousand locations. They have a full set of products available including accounts with debit cards, loans, insurance and investment accounts. You can get customer service over the phone or via the internet.
  • Rosbank: Owned by the Société Générale Group, this is a bank with experience serving expats. You can even setup an appointment to discuss what are the best options for you. Mobile banking is included with all accounts and it is available in Russian, English and in French. Here are their ATMs and offices.
  • Raiffeisen: As an international institution, this is also a bank with staff trained to cater to expats with products that cater to international clientele. Thus, they have a full set of service offers including accounts, cards, insurance and loans for everyone ranging from retirees and students to businesses. Another advantage is their international presence: if you travel abroad frequently, you may find this bank very convenient. See their network here.
  • Gazprom: With about 3 million customers, this is a large bank that mixes everyday banking offers with private banking and wealth management. Their accounts have debit and credit card options, loans, insurance packages of various types.

It should be rather easy to open an account with one of the 4 banks above. When it comes to fees, we recommend you read the fine print and investigate about fees in general. See if you will be required to pay to close your account, of if you use your debit card abroad it will be a flat 10 euro fee or if you are required to pay to use ATMs after hours.

Also, look at multiple banks simply because there could be overcharges for expats and international accounts in general: look specially if you are moving money between accounts of different currencies as currency conversion is expensive.

Can I open a Russian bank account online?

With A foreigner can apply for a Russian bank account online from outside of Russia but not many banks offer this service. One bank offering this service is Alfa Bank.
Alternatively, you can also check with banks in your country that also operate in Russia. You may be able to open an account for use in Russia. In case of card loss, however, the bank will typically require the account holder to sign application documents and to furnish signature specimen for verification. In this scenario, a foreign national is required to register at a Russian address and should make a personal appearance at the bank.


The virtual bank account alternative

It is expensive to transfer money out of Russia if you use a bank

Sending money out of russia is outrageously expensive if you use a bank. For example, if you transfer 10 thousand euros to India, you only get 9000 euros or so worth of rupees back home. This is because they have high costs to cover.

B2B Pay does not have a high operational cost structure and we can do the same transfer for a 1% flat fee. It means you get 9900 euros worth of rupees in India, saving you 900 euros in total. Plus, you get a free virtual bank account with your own private IBAN in Europe you can use to send and receive money within the EU for free and transfer money abroad for low 1% flat fees to over 200 countries.


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.

  • Barclays
  • Techstars
  • Nestholma
  • Nordea
  • Tekes
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