A Quick Expat Guide in Opening a Philippine Bank Account

Opening a Bank Account in the Philippines: An Expats Guide

Over the years, the Philippines has been a choice location for many Expats due to investment opportunities, low cost of living, favorable currency exchange rates, and great location. Moreover, it is also a place many foreigners consider retiring to because most Filipinos speak English.

On top of that, the seven thousand plus islands, known for its clear, deep blue seas, prolific and lush forests, and gorgeous mountain views and terrain, attract a lot of foreign nationals. Many start as tourists who end up staying in the country for good.

If you’re an expat living in the Philippines for long-term work or permanently residing here, opening a local bank account in the country must be prioritized. Having access to this account minimizes your stress because you can have quick access to funds. It also means you pay less hefty finance fees and transfer charges from your overseas bank. Here’s how you can apply to open up your own bank account in the Philippines.

1. Have an Idea of How Long You Will Be Staying

Before deciding to open up a bank account in the Philippines, you must first determine how long you plan on living in the area. If you have a contract with your company stating years of service required or if you’re setting up a long-term business, you can use that as a baseline for your time in the Philippines. Knowing how long you will be in the country is very important as it will determine what kind of bank will best fit your needs.

If you are planning to live in the Philippines indefinitely, you can choose any national or commercial bank to help with your budgeting. On the other hand, if you are likely to move to another country or move back to your hometown, an International Bank will be the best choice for you as you can easily move your funds from one nation to the next.

2. Select the Best Bank That Fits Your Purpose

After determining your needs and purpose, prospect different banks. Make sure to research all the banks available in the area you will be residing in. You will find the following:

  • National Banks (Land Bank, Development Bank of the Philippines)
  • Commercial Banks (BDO, BPI, RCBC, and the like)
  • Small Rural Banks
  • Credit Unions
  • Purely Digital Banks (GSave, CIMB, Tonik, IMG)

Read on their services and products as well as the requirements for Expats. Every bank has varied accounts for personal and business needs. Each also come with varying interest rates, minimum balance, and offers like free life insurance. Many banks publish these requirements on their online portals, so research is key. As an expect, sticking to the large commercial banks and digital banks prove to be the best choice because of online accessibility.

3. Prepare Needed Requirements

Once you’ve decided what bank you would like to transact with, you may now acquire the needed requirements stated on their website. The most common requirements for foreign nationals who are residing in the Philippines are: 

  • Two government-issued IDs (passport and ACR-I card or Alien Certificate of Registration Identity Card) 
  • 1 x 1 ID picture
  • Any proof of address (utility bill or lease agreement)

Do note that some banks may impose additional requirements depending on the type of account you are getting – debit, credit, savings, personal or business, etc. Some banks also require proof of employment, as well as credit and bank history. 


Meanwhile, digital banks need all the details above plus a mobile number attached to your name. Noteworthy, any bank will require a minimum deposit to open the account. Once again, this varies greatly depending on the bank. But do note that your required deposit is much lower than what overseas banks ask for. For instance, BPI requires a minimum deposit of 500php, which is less than 10USD. 

4. Finalize the Application Process with Chosen Bank

All applications for opening a bank account can be processed at the bank location with a new account specialist. Once you have secured all the requisites, you may proceed to visit your banking location. Once there, claim a client number. Patiently wait for a banker to call on your number. From there, the specialist will assist you throughout the application and approval process. Typically, you will be asked to give specimen signatures for commercial banks.

Another option is filing requirements online. Since the pandemic, some banks have allowed you to open accounts using an online portal. Every bank has its specific procedural steps for virtual applications, so it would be prudent to verify using the website of your chosen bank. You will need a valid email address and a verifiable cell phone number for this one.

Final Wrap Up

Moving to a new country is already stressful enough. However, you can lessen the burden with the right preparation. If you need help getting your finances in order, especially if you intend to conduct business in the Philippines as a foreign national, give our team a call. Our accounting and business specialists can help you get started on the right track. We offer free 30-minute consultations.