Do I need a Belgian bank account?

Why it might make your life easier

Starting a new life in a different country can be very exciting, but also extremely stressful and exhausting. So don’t risk your Belgian adventure being spoiled by banking fees and other complications. As an expat, you should look into your options and consider opening a Belgian bank account to save you some trouble.

When do you need a Belgian account?

If you are planning on working for a Belgian company, you may be required to have a Belgian bank account to receive your salary. In many cases, you will definitely need one for getting a phone/internet contract and paying utility bills. All sounds more boring than the prospect of enjoying a delicious Belgian beer, but are nonetheless necessary things to bear in mind when making the move.

Another reason to get an account is to start building up a local credit history, so you can later get a credit if you need to. Or in case you fall in love with a Belgian and want to get a mortgage with good conditions for your dream house later on.

Why getting a Belgian account is probably cheaper

If you have a non-EU account, you will face charges (exchange rates and a transaction charge) when making a cash withdrawal or transaction.

With a bank account from another EU country, you now only have to pay the same transaction charges as at home, but you can still get charged when withdrawing Euros from a Belgian ATM.

Can I open an account from abroad?

Most banks in Belgium do not allow you to open an account unless you are already there. Fortunately, there are a few expat friendly banks; BNP Paribas Fortis allows you to start the application process from home with a valid passport and proof of address; then pick up your card and finalise the process on arrival.

Which bank to choose?

Considering your options, you should make sure of the bank’s trustworthiness and check there is a branch near where you plan on living. If you don’t speak French or Dutch, check if your chosen bank offers all services in English.

Check the costs associated with a new account and also that they provide all the services you will need. One thing to bear in mind is that in Belgium, many landlords require a deposit to be made and this can be held in a special savings account if the bank offers it.

This article has been published in cooperation with BNP Paribas Fortis; the bank for expats . © 2003-2021 Just Landed