Creating a Foreign Bank Account

Creating a foreign bank account actually isn’t all that complicated. Your best bet is to see if your host school recommends a bank or branch. Maybe they have connections, maybe you can get better rates, or maybe they can just give you a little guidance.

If you’re on your own, here’s some advice to consider: 

  • Scout out the local banks. See which bank most students seem to be using and which ones have a student account option. When you do find a bank and go to set up an account, tell the employee helping you that you’re interested in opening a student account. In prefacing this whole process by saying you’re a student, they should understand upfront that you don’t want anything complicated.
  • More often than not, the paperwork is very simple and straightforward. You will probably need multiple forms of photo ID, your passport and visa, a letter from your host school saying you are an enrolled student and some sort of confirmation that you are living in that country for the duration of your time abroad. Often under student finance sections on most college websites, they’ll have a special letter already available for these situations. 
  • Over the course of the next two weeks after opening your account, there will probably be some snail mail from the bank confirming account numbers, pin numbers, etc. Read the fine print, sign where you need to sign and send back whatever they need. Soon enough you’ll have your very own foreign bank account.

It’s not always necessary to open an account; however, there are a couple of benefits. You won’t have to worry about withdrawal fees or exchange rates, and you can sign up for a monthly phone plan instead of paying as you go. Some people find it worth it, some don’t. It’s all up to you and what works best for your personal study abroad budget.