Guidelines on How to Open a Bank Account in the UAE

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  | Published: 27 July 2021

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Opening a bank account in the UAE is fairly easy, quick and reliable. The robust banking system offers a wide variety of banking products and being a financial hub in the Middle East, it attracts a lot of expats in addition to local citizens to open a bank account in the UAE. Here, you can open a bank account in just a few minutes, meaning you can easily apply for a bank account online in the UAE or visit a branch to get an account instantly.

The UAE has a strong and secure banking system with resilient capital buffers regulated by the Central Bank established in 1980. With more than 50 local and international banks, there are different types of bank accounts that a customer can choose from to fulfil his/her needs. The article will guide you through the online bank account opening process in UAE, documents required and the type of banking products that are helpful to you.

Types of Banks in UAE

There are primarily four types of banks in the UAE that operate under careful vigilance of the Central Bank of the UAE.

  • Investment Banks
  • Commercial Banks
  • Islamic Banks
  • Industrial Banks

All the banks in UAE operate in Arabic and English language, offering easy services to individuals from across the globe. There are around eight fully functional Islamic Banks that offer Shariah-Compliant services and follows Islamic banking laws and principles for generating profits. Banks in the UAE provide global standards services, with financing reports and global accounting.

How to Open a Bank Account in the UAE?  

Banks in the UAE have simplified the account opening process. As an individual, you have the choice of either visiting the local branch or opening a bank account through the bank’s website. Application for any type of bank account in UAE follows two simple basic steps; firstly, the applicant has to fill a bank account opening form, followed by submitting the required documents. The process can be a little different for expats than it is for the locals. 

Online Bank Account Opening in UAE for Residents & Nationals

The residents of UAE can easily apply for opening all kinds of bank accounts online.. Usually, it takes two working days for opening a bank account online in the UAE. The residents will have to make sure that all the relevant documents are available at the time of opening a bank account. Here’s a list of documents required to open a bank account.

  • Copy of a valid Passport
  • Copy of a visa (Not applicable to UAE Nationals)
  • Salary transfer certificate.
  • An Emirates ID or an Emirates ID Registration Form (in certain banks, Emirates ID is mandatory).

Note: Additional documents like utility bill, sponsor’s certificate, etc can be asked by the bank at its own discretion. 

Online Bank Account Opening in UAE for Non-Residents

A non-resident has certain limitations while opening a bank account in the UAE. They might only be allowed to open a savings account. Moreover, the non-residents are not liable to get a chequebook. However, they are provided with a debit card to access their funds. Additionally, the non-residents might also be asked to maintain a minimum or maximum account balance depending on the bank. Following are the documents required by the non-residents for opening an online bank account in the UAE.

  • A copy and an original Passport for record and verification. 
  • A visa permit 
  • Salary certificate
  • Latest utility bills
  • A reference letter from the other bank where the applicant has an existing account.
  • Latest bank statements (of last 6 months) from the country of origin or a bank anywhere else in the world.
  • Source of income information also needs to be furnished if asked by the bank.

Charges for Opening and Maintaining Bank Accounts in the UAE 

Banks in the UAE may levy charges and fees for operating and maintaining the accounts. Following is the list of basic charges and fees levied on a bank account in UAE.

Particulars Fee Charged
Account Opening Charges AED 0
Minimum Balance Requirement AED 3,000 to AED 5,000 (Depending on the Bank)
Fall Below Charges (When the minimum balance falls below the requirement) AED 50
Using another local Banks ATM in UAE AED 2
Supplementary Cheque Book AED 25 (First Chequebook is free)
Account Balance Letter AED 50
No Liability Certificate AED 60
Cheque Bounce Fee AED 100
Cheque Bounce Fee (to yourself) AED 0
Account Closure Fee AED 100

Some Things to Remember for Online Bank Account Opening in the UAE:

Bank account opening in UAE is easy for both residents and non-residents, and with a large number of expats in UAE, the banking system has evolved to be responsive to customers’ needs. However, there are a few important things to know before opening a bank account in UAE. 

  • The bank charges and when to pay them. 
  • The minimum and maximum balance requirement.
  • Number of withdrawals that you can make each month.
  • The charges applicable on banking services like chequebook, online and mobile banking, issue related to debit and credit cards, etc.
  • Is it easy to make foreign transactions through the chosen bank or not? (for individuals requiring to send money abroad or to their native country)
  • Does the bank provide easy access to your funds through digital banking? 
  • Does your bank have a nearby banking branch or ATMs?
  • How is the reliability of the bank?

It is advisable to do a thorough research and take feedback from the people around to make a worry free investment in the bank you choose to invest your finances.

Types of Bank Accounts Available in UAE

Banks in UAE offer multiple products to their customers, and they can choose the type of account according to their financial needs. Following are some of the most common bank accounts in the UAE.

  • Savings Account - Most of the savings account in the UAE banks offers high interest rate and can be a good choice if you want your money to work for you while it’s sitting idle. The savings account, however, has some limited access conditions like minimum deposit and fixed tenure, after which the interest is paid. Some penalties may be charged for premature or partial withdrawals.
  • Current Account - A current account can be useful in cases where the customer requires unlimited transactions on a daily basis and needs chequebook payments. The downside of a current account is that it offers least or no interest on the funds. The current account comes in two variants - with and without salary transfer. A salaried individual can choose to go with a salary transfer current account, preferably with your employer’s bank. This will ensure a quick transfer of salary to your account.
  • Investment Account - The banks in UAE offer investment services where you can invest your funds in a term deposit or other investment schemes by signing an agreement with your bank. Such an account can be maintained for fixed or variable durations ranging from a few weeks, months to up to 10 years. The investment account promises an interest of around 3-5 percent. These accounts can have a minimum initial deposit criterion. 
  • Islamic Account - Numerous banks in the UAE offer Islamic accounts that are based on Shariah approved profit generating activities. Wakala Deposits and Mudaraba Accounts are examples of Islamic accounts that are Shariah-compliant and follow the principles of Islamic banking services.

Closing a Bank Account in UAE

In case an individual wishes to discontinue an account, banks in the UAE take around five working days to close the account. The individual will have to submit an application to close the account citing where he/she wants the balance amount to be transferred. Prior to that, he/she will also have to clear the loan and credit card debts. The bank will then process the account closure and an amount of AED 100 (maximum) will be charged as an account closure fee. 

Frequently Asked Questions  

Q1: How can I open a bank account in the UAE?

Ans: A bank account in the UAE can be easily opened by filling an application form online or visiting the nearest bank branch. An individual is required to carry all the required documents as per the bank’s criteria. 

Q2: Can I open a bank account in foreign currency?

Ans: Banks in UAE accept funds in major foreign currencies like USD, GBP, EUR, etc.  

Q3: What are the documents required for online bank account opening in UAE?

Ans: ID proof and address proof are required to open a bank account in the UAE. The passport acts as identity proof, while a resident visa or utility bill acts as address proof. Apart from these, the bank may ask for additional documents for verification at its sole discretion. 

Q4: Do I need a Passport to apply for a bank account in the UAE?

Ans: Yes, a passport is a compulsory document required to open a bank account in the UAE.