When you decide you want to move to Ireland (or back to Ireland as the case may be), one of the first things you’ll need when you get here is a bank account (think loans, getting paid, making payments etc). What I’ve actually found since moving is that I need a bank account for quite a lot more things than I needed in the USA. Many service providers (e.g. electric, mobile phone etc) insist on a bank account to directly pull payment from when you sign up. In the US I was used to having more payment options, e.g. paying by credit card. It was slightly more complicated than I thought to open a new account here, so I thought it’d be a good idea to share some tips to help you get up and running with your own first bank account in Ireland.
For people unfamiliar with the terminology used in Ireland, a Current account is basically like a Checking account in the US. It’s commonly used for receiving payment from your employer, making payments, and withdrawing day-to-day cash. Most banks offer a variety of other types of accounts (savings, deposit etc), but a current account is the one that is most useful initially.
What you’ll need to open a bank account in Ireland
As I mentioned above there were a few little bumps along the way to getting a new account opened. I think this is partly due to the recent banking crisis in Ireland, as well as the various fraud protection measures that banks have in place. The Irish can be so complacent about some things. I found banking isn’t one of them!
The banks I looked at (and even the credit unions, which were always much more relaxed) were quite strict in their documentation requirements for opening an account. Providing I.D was easy – a passport is the easiest option here if you have one. It got a little harder when trying to show proof of address (e.g. a utility bill, bank statement, health insurance documentation). If you have just moved to the country, there’s a good chance you may not have an acceptable document available immediately. From what I found they won’t accept many things that you think might be acceptable. I brought ‘welcome’ letters from service providers (electric and health insurance), but was told it had to be a statement from them. Talk with the bank staff, or check their website to find out exactly what you need.
Proof of your PPS number (like a US Social Security number) is also required. Many acceptable documents will have this printed on them, but again, if you need to apply for you PPS number first, then you’ll probably need to wait a while to open a bank account.
Other documentation, depending on your circumstances, may also be needed, e.g. proof of immigration status, income/employment verification, school letter for a child account etc. The best thing you can do is check with the bank you intend to open an account with (most have this available online). This will minimize the amount of time you need to spend going back and forth to the branch.
Really cool tip! How to find the right bank for you
We all have different needs when it comes to banking, so which one will be right for you will depend on what exactly you want your bank to provide. When doing my research I found different banks had better offers for one type of banking (e.g. loans, savings, etc) than another. Actually some of them varied greatly depending on what you want. Most seem to offer a *free Current account. Be careful with the word free though! The bank usually attaches conditions to these accounts in order to minimize the fees you pay , such as having a minimum balance at all times, or a minimum monthly amount must be deposited. When trying to figure out which bank is best for you be sure to also look at the saving options and loan and credit card offers. You may even decide to bank with multiple institutions to satisfy your needs.
Here’s that really cool tip…I’m happy with the choice of bank I made. To help me decide which one to go with, I found a really useful website, consumerhelp.ie, which has tons of tools for choosing the best bank for you. For example if you want to search which bank has the best rates for savings, you tell it how much you’d like to save per month, and it gives you back a breakdown of what various Irish banks have to offer, including their rates, how much of a return to expect, and if they have any introductory offers. You can do the same thing for Current account fees, mortgage rates etc. It was very useful in helping me decide which bank to go with.
Student accounts are generally free (again check with the bank for full terms), but you may need additional documentation to open such an account, i.e. proof that you are a college attendee. From what I’ve seen, banks typically want to see a college registration form, or an invoice for student fees to open these accounts. This should be easy enough to come by if you’re legit : )
Online banking is pretty much a standard these days, and in my opinion a must-have when opening a new account. To be honest, if a bank didn’t offer this service, firstly I’d be very surprised, and secondly I’d quickly move along to the next option.
Happy banking! If I’ve forgotten anything, please let me know.
This post was published in a category about moving to Ireland. You can find all other posts in that category here.