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How to open a bank account

Need help opening a bank account abroad? This article tells you how to open a bank account abroad and manage your finances while studying in a university.

Ashwin Sriram

You may choose to use your international credit card to manage your initial expenses, but in the long run, it is highly impractical to manage your money without a local bank account.

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Managing your finances abroad can be a tricky affair. Unless you have a guardian or parent living with you overseas, you are going to have to look into ways to transfer money from India to the country you are moving to. Even if you are funding your education with your own money, you are going to need a local bank account to safely store your cash, and gain easy access to it – via ATMs.

The process of opening a bank account can involve a lot of annoying paperwork, but with the recent improvements in infrastructure and customer care, opening an account has never been easier.

Still concerned about selecting the right bank? Not sure what type of account to open? Don’t fret; we have you covered. We will guide you through the whole process.

Advantages of Having a Local Bank Account

  • You may choose to use your international credit card to manage your initial expenses, but in the long run, it is highly impractical to manage your money without a local bank account. Your overseas bank will charge you for every transaction you make using the international credit card. You will also not be able to set up direct debits from an overseas account, often essential when setting up a phone contract.
  • Some landlords of private apartments prefer receiving their monthly rental fee as a sum transferred to their bank account. So to pay your rent to your landlord, you may need a bank account.
  • Having a local bank account can also prove useful if you are taking a part-time job. Your employer may want you to open a salary account.
  • When you first move abroad, you are likely to carry large amounts of cash to manage your initial expenses. Having a local bank account ensures your cash is safely credited and easily accessible using debit cards.
  • If you are a research scholar doing your PhD abroad, you might be earning a monthly stipend. This amount is usually credited to your local bank account.

Getting Expert Guidance

A lot of universities have a special office catering only to international students. In many universities, it’s called The International Students Office or the International Student Support Team. Among various functions, their role involves helping international students open a bank account. Sometimes, a designated staff member from the bank will arrive in your uni to help you open an account.

Almost every university runs an ‘orientation program’ for international students on the first few days of college. During this period, the uni staff may offer you suggestions on choosing a bank.

Many universities have bank-branches and ATM machines within their campus and this makes it easy for the student to open and operate a bank account. Students are generally guided to open a savings account.

Additionally, if you have a local guardian, you can take his/her advice on opening a bank account.

Documents Needed to Open an Account

To open a bank account, students will usually have to submit the following documents:

  • Copy of the passport.
  • Copy of the student identity card issued by the university.
  • A letter of confirmation of admission issued by the university.
  • Two or three passport size colour photographs.
  • Proof of address: Some banks will require proof of your local address and your Indian home address. Different banks accept different documents as proof of address.

Getting Started

Once you’ve filled all the forms and handed in your documents to the bank staff, they should take anything between 24 hours to a week before they activate your savings account.

Upon activation, the bank will provide you with a cheque book, debit card, account details, internet banking options, password details and an ATM pin code. If you are already set with your mobile phone connection, then you should receive SMS alerts from your bank.

A lot of major US banks offer student banking solutions — accounts and services designed specifically for students. If you are living in the US, you can open one at the Bank of America.

Play it Safe

Some banks require a minimum deposit to open certain accounts and charge a monthly fee. Certain bank accounts also require you to maintain a minimum balance in your account.

Banking rules and rates vary slightly from country to country and bank to bank, and students should take enough care to read the fine print when opening an account. Keep your bank statements safely. If you live in the UK, you will need these original statements to extend your visa.

If you are paying bills by direct debit, make sure you have the money in your account. Otherwise, you will be charged penalty fees by the bank and also sometimes by the organisation that is expecting to receive the direct debit payment.

Once you have opened an account, always let your bank know in writing when you change your residential address. If you are leaving the country for a long break, inform your bank, otherwise they might treat your account as 'dormant' and close it.

Conclusion

Opening a local bank account is beneficial and will help you save money on transactions. If you opt for a part-time job abroad, you can get your salary paid into the local bank account.

As part of our services, we also help you open a bank account abroad with one of our international banking partners. 

If you follow these suggestions, you should have a bank account open in a jiffy.

Have any more tips related to banking? Drop us a comment below. We would love to hear from you!

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Neha Jain Neha Jain,
Study abroad expert.
Call us now on 1800 103 2581 / 1800 103 9634 (toll-free) for guidance