How to Open A Bank Account in UAE

Living in the United Arab Emirates can be exceptionally fun but it comes with a series of financial affairs that need managing on a prompt basis in order for anyone, resident or ex-pat, to have a proper, glitch-free life in the Emirates. Opening up a bank account is the first one of these. Opening a new bank account in the UAE is very simple, thanks to the technological advancements of the country. Although, it does require some paperwork and a series of steps are to be followed to make sure that the process remains smooth. Let us find out all you need to know to open a bank account in UAE.

Banks in UAE

The more than robust banking system of UAE boasts over 50 banks including both local and international ones. You can easily have your pick from national banks or choose an international one. The banks in UAE function by having adopted several global or international banking standards, for example, International Accounting Standards, capital adequacy regulations, and financial reporting standards as well. This means that your general banking experience will not be a lot different when you open a bank account in the UAE if you happen to be an ex-pat. 

Top local or national banks functioning in the UAE include First Abu Dhabi Bank, Emirates NBD, National Bank of Abu Dhabi, Dubai Islamic Bank, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Au Dhabi Islamic Bank, Mashreq Bank, and RAKBank. Some of the best-known international banks in the UAE include the CITI bank, Royal Bank of Canada, HSBC, and Standard Chartered Bank. 

Choose A Type of Bank Account

There are four basic types of bank accounts that you can choose from whether you are a resident trying to open a bank account or an ex-pat. All these accounts come with a separate set of conditions, rules, and benefits which also differ according to every bank so, make sure that you have done your research before making a decision. Here is a basic overview of all the accounts:

Current Accounts

The perfect choice for everyday transactions and functions, current accounts are typically the most common kind of account any working professional in UAE chooses to open to perform their day-to-day functions. Unlike savings account in UAE, current accounts come with a checkbook which means that you can use this account to settle any post-dated rent overdues and other bills that had to go on hold during the time of your initial settling-in in the emirates. 

Since your current account is also generally your salary account, make sure that you open it with a bank that has a tie-up with your company. It is easier and faster to get salary transferred in these accounts and allows you immediate access as well. Salary transfers in any other bank would first, take more time, and second, will keep you waiting a few extra days to get accessed. 

Savings Accounts

A savings account in UAE may offer limited access to funds and a once-a-month or zero transaction limit (differs as per different banks), but they also offer a higher rate of interest on the account balance. This means more savings and more profit-earning for the account holders. Savings accounts can also be used as a salary account in most cases but, as mentioned before, you do not receive a checkbook for them. Apart from fixed and variable interest rates, another basic choice you get in a savings account is the choice of denominations ranging from Dirhams, US Dollars, Pounds, and Euros to Sterling. Make sure you read through the terms of opening a saving account that may include minimum balance to maintain, minimum salary required, withdrawal penalties, etc. 

Investment Accounts

Opening an investment account requires signing off an investment agreement with the bank in question in UAE which comes with a minimum contract of 12 months to 10 years or more. Apart from investment services, this agreement will come with a guarantee of fund management for you along with an assured return rate of 3 to 7 percent or more which can differ according to each bank. 

Offshore Accounts

A boon in disguise to smoothly export and import funds, offshore accounts can be something very important for ex-pats or non-residents. UAE has a very safe offshore banking system. It offers a bunch of benefits like low-interest rates, private bank accounts, asset management and protection, consultation for taxes, etc. Banks with offshore jurisdiction in UAE that you can look into are Barclays, HSBC Offshore, ABN Amro, and Abbey National Offshore. 

Opening Bank Account in UAE

The steps to open a bank account in the UAE are pretty simple in almost every scenario given that you have all the basic documents. Expats may be asked to file a few extra documents but that depends on the individual set of policies of banks. So, ensure that you read the fine print and get familiar with all the terms and conditions that come with opening a bank account in any of the considered and available banks in the UAE to keep yourself on track and well-informed. The minimum salary required to open a current or savings bank account in UAE is AED 3000. Some banks have a higher limit as well, for example, Mashreq bank requires your minimum monthly income to be AED 5000 in order to be eligible to open a current account in the bank.

How to Open an Account as a UAE Resident?

All you need to open a bank account in UAE as a resident is a firm decision on the type of account you would like to open, a set of a few pre-decided documents, and a nicely filled application form that can be obtained from the bank. Following is a list of documents that you will need:

  • Your original passport along with a copy
  • A signed copy of Visa to prove residency 
  • Salary slips or certificate from your company or the employers
  • Emirates ID card – some banks also agree to put the submission on hold for a while until you receive the card if you have just arrived in the country. Attach a copy of your application instead here.

How to Open an Account as a Non-Resident of UAE?

The account opening process in UAE as a non-resident is very efficient, easy, and fast-moving as well. It may take from a day or two to a week for everything to fall in order depending on the kind of account you choose to open and the verification of the documents. As evident, there is a separate set of documents required for each type of account in the UAE. Following as the basic documents that you will need to open a savings or current account in UAE:

  • Your passport – the original one and maybe a copy as well
  • A signed copy of the Visa page
  • Salary certificate from your employer (can be easily obtained by contacting the HR of your firm) 
  • Original Emirates ID card – some banks ask for Emirates ID as a mandatory document to be submitted primarily while others may put it off for a while if you still do not have it. Attach a copy of your application instead here.
  • Statement of account or a recommendation letter from previous bank/original bank 

Opening a Corporate Bank Account in UAE

The first and foremost that is required for a corporate account is the presence of a Director and shareholders of the corporation. The rest of the requirements may differ from bank to bank. The banks generally review corporate account applications thoroughly, run extensive background checks and even interview the applicants before approving the applications. Corporate accounts generally require a minimum amount ranging from 50k to 500k which can differ according to the bank as well. 

Following are the basic documents that you will require for a corporate account:

  • Company records including proof of business, info of the clients, suppliers, etc. These records are to be filled in the application form available with banks
  • Visa of the shareholders of the company (resident)
  • Copy of Emirates ID (Shareholders)
  • Director’s Passport (copy)
  • Disclosure mentioning the type of business activities
  • Reference letter
  • Business Plan 
  • Corporate Documents of the company
  • Memorandum 

Minor Bank Accounts or Bank Account for Children in UAE

Following are the documents that you will need to open a bank account for children 18 years of age or younger in UAE:

  • Original passport of the child and the guardian and a copy
  • Signed copy of Visa for both the child and the guardian
  • Salary certificate of the guardian 
  • Emirates ID card and copies – both the child and the guardian 

Note that only the father of the child can open a bank account for them in the UAE as per Sharia law. Mothers do not have the leisure of doing so even when they have been deemed as legal guardians. However, the father can transfer the power of attorney to the mother later so that they can manage the accounts. No withdrawals can be made from the minor account before the child turns 18 although, debit cards can be issued in their names after they have turned 15 years of age.

Managing the Account - Fee, Charges, and Services

Most banks offer a range of services to their account holders which can include but are not limited to, interest rates, ATM cards (debit and credit) and 24x7 ATM services, branch access, bill payments, car, and personal loans. There are also a few charges and penalties that you may be liable for after being an account holder in UAE. These are as follows:

Service/Task Charge
Check Book Issue AED 25 (free first check book for residents)
Manager’s Check Issue AED 25
No Liability Certificate AED 100
Bounced Check Fee AED 100
Account Balance Letter AED 50
Minimum Balance Penalty AED 25

Management of the account in UAE can be done either offline or online – via net banking or mobile banking apps as well. Most international banks have their banking apps and many national banks operate via Liv app, backed by the Emirates NBD bank. Online bank account applying is also possible using these platforms. 

More From Bank Accounts