Foreigners are allowed to open a bank account in Thailand. However, it may not be as easy as it looks. Different banks and even different branches of the same bank may have different requirements. Even worse, at the same branch, two different employees may have different visions about what is required and how to do it. Let’s try to explain the opening of a bank account in Thailand for foreigners.
By Sebastien H. Brousseau, LL.B., B.Sc. (Do note that I am not an accountant or financial advisor. This is for pure information only)
Bank accounts can be opened in Thai baht or in foreign currency. You don’t necessarily have to live in Thailand to have a bank account, but a bank may ask you for some proof of residence. Proof of residence can normally be found on a work permit, a Thai driving license, or a document called a residence certificate from your local Thai immigration office. It could also be a lease agreement or rights like lease or usufruct of a title deed. The problem is that most foreigners don’t have a “blue ta bian baan” or even a “yellow one,” and they are allowed to have a yellow one. Because of this problem and the fact that a bank might be worried that a foreigner flies abroad and that illegal activities could be committed on the bank account, as well as the language barrier, it can be difficult for foreigners to open a simple bank account.
Please note that this article may not be up to date and you should verify with the banks. There is no regulation forbidding foreigners from having a bank account in Thailand. It’s just that some banks may require more documents, and some banks may refuse to give one to foreigners on a tourist visa, but the law does not forbid it. (updated in October 2023)
General Requirements are:
- Visa (as they want to see that you are legally in Thailand and a longer visa will simplify the process)
- Proof of residence in Thailand (e.g., rental agreement, utility bill unless you have a ta bian baan which would be the best to show them. A certificate of residence is also a strong proof of address and given by local authorities (immigration))
- Minimum deposit (the amount varies depending on the bank)
Additional Requirements for Certain Types of Accounts
- Savings account: None
- Current account: Proof of income or employment
- Foreign currency deposit account: Normally a minimum deposit of USD 1,000 or equivalent but again, this can vary.
The following provides the legal basis for transactions residents and non-residents of Thailand:
- “Foreign currency transactions between residents and non-residents of Thailand are governed by exchange control regulations, which are provided for under the Exchange Control Act (B.E. 2485) and Ministerial Regulation No. 13 (B.E. 2497) which was issued under the former. ” (MahaNakornPartners)
To open a bank account in Thailand, foreigners should visit a bank branch and bring the required documents. The bank staff will assist the customer in completing the account opening form and providing any other necessary information.
Once the account is opened, the customer will be given a bank account number and a debit card. The customer can then use the account to deposit and withdraw money, transfer money to other accounts, and make payments.
- It is important to compare the different bank accounts and banks before choosing one. Banks may vary in terms of fees, interest rates, and other features.
- It is also important to read and understand the account opening form and any other documents provided by the bank. Customers should ask questions if they are unsure about anything.
- Customers should keep their bank account information safe and confidential. They should never share their bank account number, PIN, or other personal information with anyone. Do not even share you PIN number with your legal spouse. I have seen dozens of problems just with this simple thing.
Example: BANGKOK BANK
According to a previous website, “foreigners with a long stay visa, work permit or even a tourist visa can open a savings account with Bangkok Bank at any of their branches nationwide.” The Bangkok bank website is quite complete in English and it’s just easier for us to explain you how it works for that bank.
According to Bangkok Bank, if you are working in Thailand, you will need your passport AND work permit.
If you are living in Thailand with a long stay visa, you will need your passport AND a proof of residence, like a certificate of residence from immigration or a house registration book for foreigners.
If you are in Thailand for a short stay or have a tourist visa, then you will need more documents:
- A letter of recommendation from a reputable company, an embassy or an international organization located in Thailand, or
- A letter of recommendation from your bank abroad. This must be a bank which is acceptable to Bangkok Bank and sent to Bangkok Bank via SWIFT*, or
- A letter of recommendation from a person acceptable to Bangkok Bank such as an existing customer of Bangkok Bank.
Right now, there is no reference in 2023 especially to foreigners but you need 500 baht to open a bank account. I personally used Bangkok Bank, Kasikorn Bank, Krung Thai bank, Sri Ayudthaya Bank, Siam Commercial bank and one other. My personal opinion is that the customer service at Bangkok Bank is horrible but it is easier for international transactions. I much prefer Kasikorn bank applications, especially for the corporate accounts. But they are more difficult to have services in English and might not understand well that foreigners deserved better in Thailand.
Each bank is different: Even the same bank can have different rules in different branches
Again, in practice, a local branch could accept your driving license with a picture or other documents. By experience, we know that it’s normally easier for foreigners to open a bank account at Bangkok Bank or Kasikorn. It should also be easier in places with a lot of tourists or expats, like Pattaya, Phucket or Chiangmai.
Once the bank account is open, it’s normally easy to get an ATM card. Internet banking will normally require some additional forms and again, each bank is different. And if you are looking for a clear answer, you might just have several different from bank employees.
This is Thailand!
- Bangkok Bank, www.bangkokbank.com
- Siam Commercial bank, www.scb.co.th
- HSBC BanK, www.hsbc.co.th
- Kasikorn Bank, www.kasikornbank.com
Do note that ThaiLawOnline can not help you to open a bank account in Thailand. We do not offer this service as people can normally this process by themselves.