It’s best to open an Irish bank account in person, rather than by correspondence from abroad. In fact, most Irish banks will insist on seeing you in person before they will open an account for you. Ask your friends, neighbours or colleagues for their recommendations and simply go along to the bank of your choice and introduce yourself.
You must be aged at least 18 and provide two forms of identification (including one with a photograph, such as a passport) plus proof of residence in Ireland (e.g. a recent utility bill) if applicable. It’s best to set up an account before moving to Ireland so that you can transfer funds in advance. It’s also sensible to keep an account open in the country you’re leaving to deal with final bills and unexpected expenses.
If you need to open an account with an Irish bank from abroad, you must first obtain an application form, available from foreign branches of Irish banks or direct from banks in Ireland. You’ll want to select a branch near to where you will be living in Ireland. If you open an account by correspondence, you need to provide evidence of your place of residence and, if you’re depositing a large sum of money, confirmation of where the funds originated.
Credit rating is calculated differently in Ireland from other countries and you should supply as much information as possible about your financial status in your present country of residence. If you’re leaving a country where credit rating is important, such as the USA, and to which you may return later, it’s worth asking your bank or credit card company if you can maintain a credit card rating while resident abroad, as credit cards invoiced in Europe won’t show in credit records in the USA. The Irish Credit Bureau (ICB) is a private company operating a credit referencing system. For a small fee you may have access to your own file and challenge or request clarification of any details you believe to be incorrect or potentially misleading.
Since Ireland became a full member of the European Union (EU), banking regulations for both resident and non-resident EU citizens have been identical, so that even non-resident EU citizens may open an Irish bank account.
Although it’s possible for non-resident homeowners to do most of their banking via a foreign account using debit and credit cards, you will still need an Irish bank account to pay your Irish utility and tax bills (which are best paid by direct debit). If you have a holiday home in Ireland, you can have all your correspondence (e.g. cheque books, statements, payment advices, etc.) sent to an address abroad. Most banks offer non-resident savings accounts in which you can deposit money in virtually any major currency without incurring handling or administrative charges.
In addition to ordinary deposit accounts, you may have the option of a term deposit account (in which you must leave your money for an agreed term of up to 12 months) or guaranteed bonds (which are for cash deposits of between 18 and 78 months with a minimum deposit).
Occasionally banks come up with ‘special offers’ for non-residents like the Bank of Ireland’s Double Option account. To open a non-resident savings account, you’ll need to provide proof of identity or a reference from your current bank. Non-residents can have interest paid gross in Ireland, provided that the relevant statuary documentation has been completed. You may, however, have tax liabilities in your home country on income earned in Ireland.
You’re considered to be a resident of Ireland if you have your main centre of interest there, i.e. if you live and work there more or less permanently. The procedure for opening a bank account is no different whether you’re a resident or a non-resident, but residents are subject to tax on all interest earned whereas non-residents are entitled to earn interest on deposits free of Irish tax. Note that it isn’t advisable to close your bank accounts abroad unless you’re certain you won’t need them in the future.
Even when you’re resident in Ireland, it’s cheaper to keep money in local currency in an account in a country you visit regularly (such as the UK), rather than pay commission to convert euros. Many foreigners living in Ireland maintain at least two cheque (current) accounts: a foreign account for international and large transactions, and a local account with an Irish bank for day to day business.
This article is an extract from Living and working in Ireland. Click here to get a copy now.