Here’s all you need to know about foreign currency accounts with Bank of Sydney. The fees requirements and foreign exchange rates.
Opening a bank account as a foreign national in any country can turn out to be a complicated process. Fortunately, Pakistan generally keeps the process simple for both residents and non-residents. With this in mind, you may be wondering if it’s possible to open an account in Pakistan as an Australian.
If you are planning to make this move, we’ll take you through all there is to know about opening an account in Pakistan.
|💰 Wise provides you the real exchange rate and low transparent international transfer fees shown upfront.|
In Pakistan, there are 33 different banks in operation, that share between each around 14600 branches spread out throughout the country.¹
As in every country, there are banks that share more of the customer base than others. Here are the top five biggest banks in Pakistan that have the largest number of branches across the country.
The National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) was established in 1949 and is government owned. It is currently the biggest public bank in Pakistan with over 1550 branches across the country.¹ NBP offers customers a large variety of financial services including individual accounts, islamic banking, trade services, home loans and digital banking products.
The largest privately owned, full serviced bank in Pakistan is Habib Bank or HBL. HBL was the first commercial bank to open in Pakistan in 1974. There are over 1650 branches located across Pakistan and serves 27 million customers worldwide.²
United Bank Limited or UBL, is another large privately owned local bank with over 4 million customers. There are over 1400 UBL branches across Pakistan but also offers its customers products catered to branchless banking.³
Allied Bank Limited (ABL) is another local private bank that has a large network of branches and ATMs across Pakistan. It was the first bank to be established in Pakistan. ABL offers personal, business and Islamic banking products, with its main speciality being retail banking services.⁴
To round out the top 5 biggest banks in Pakistan is MCB, a large privately owned bank with its headquarters based in Lahore. MCB has over 1400 branches and has international offices in the UAE, Sri Lanka and Bahrain.⁵
There are also some notable smaller banks that are popular with customers. These banks include:
- Bank Alfalah
- Faysal Bank
- Bank Al-Habib Ltd
- Askari Bank
On top of the local options, you’ll find some large multinational forieign banks that have branches located in some of the major cities. Some foriegn banks include:
- Standard Chartered
- Bank of China
- Deutsche Bank
- CitiBank N.A
|Read more: How to open a bank account in China|
It is possible for residents and non-residents to open a bank account in Pakistan. However, there are caveats to being able to do so as a foreign national.
Although the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) lists in their policy that foreign nationals residing abroad or within Pakistan are categorised as non-residents when it comes to bank account policy, only those who live in Pakistan with valid residency and nationals of Pakistan can open an account.⁶
This means that it is only possible for an Australian citizen to open an account in Pakistan if they have dual citizenship or have proof that they will be moving to Pakistan to study or work.
To open an account in Pakistan is simple and applications can be done online or by visiting a branch. Which method is available will vary between banks.
It is also possible to open a bank account from abroad at some banks if you hold any of these local national ID cards as a primary document.
- Computerised National ID Card (CNIC)
- Smart National ID Card (SNIC)
- Pakistan Origin Card (POC)
- National ID card for overseas Pakistanis (NICOP)
There are special designated non-resident accounts for holders of these ID cards. For example, MCB has a Motherland account where Pakistanis residing abroad can open an account.⁷
Similarly, HBL offers the Roshan Digital Account (RDA)for non-resident Pakistanis who reside abroad which can be opened completed online.⁸ A bank also may request you make a minimum deposit of a certain amount as part of the account opening process.
On top of the listed local national ID cards, you’ll need to provide subsequent documents to be able to open a Pakistan bank account. Some common documents that banks may request from you include:
- Copy of a valid passport (foreign passport included)
- Valid Visa if a foreign national
- Proof of income
- Proof of the origin of the funds for initial deposit
- Rental agreement or utility bill
If you are an Australian who wants to start the process of opening an account before you arrive in Pakistan, try and reach out to a relevant bank representative to check if you can, and what documents they will accept as a non-resident, foreign national. Otherwise, you can wait until you are settled and have the relevant local documents ready before opening an account.
As varying are the account choices that are offered by all the major banks, the fees that are associated with opening and maintaining an account are equally as varied. You will notice that many pakistan bank accounts will share some common fees and costs. Fees can include general account fees, ATM fees, and foreign transfer fees. Let's break down some of these usual fees below.
Overall, bank fees have been coming down in recent years and many of the major Pakistan banks are beginning to offer digital versions of accounts that are more low cost to open and manage. Nonetheless, a bank may charge you some of these general account fees.
- Account opening fee
- Monthly or annual account keeping fee
- Debit or credit card fees
- Internet banking subscription fee
- Account closing fee
To get an idea we’ll compare some of these common fees associated with the current accounts available at HBL, NBP and ABL in the table below.
|Fees*||HBL Current account⁹||NBP Choice Current account ¹⁰||ABL Current account¹¹|
|Ongoing account keeping fee||43 PKR p/m if balance fall below 5000 PKR||Free if balance is maintained above 25 000 PKR on average annually||50 PKR p/m if balance falls below 25 000 PKR|
|Card fees||HBL Visa Debit Card |
Annual fee = 1900 PKR
Replacement = 500 PKR
|Free issuance and renewal of Visa debit card if an average balance of 25 000 PKR is maintained annually||Allied Classic Visa Debit |
Annual fee = 1800 PKR
Replacement = 800 PKR
|Account closing fee||Free||-||500 PKR or or whatever minimum balance is available in the account.|
*Fees up to date as of 23 August 2022
Regardless of which country you open a bank account in, generally there will be instances where you may attract an ATM fee to withdraw cash. Luckily, many of the major Pakistani banks have a large ATM network that offer free to low cost ATM cash withdrawals if you withdraw from their own designated ATM or a member network.
If you do end up going abroad and are withdrawing cash, you may incur a higher withdrawal fee and a currency conversion fee. You may also find that banks will change a balance enquiry fee when using an ATM to check your balance.
If you need to send or receive money overseas, chances are it may cost you. Depending on the bank, some foreign transfer fees can include correspondent bank fees, currency conversion fees, handling fees and a processing fee to initiate or receive a transfer. Fees also may vary if you process a foreign transfer in a branch or through the internet banking portal.
|Read more: ATMs in Pakistan: Credit cards and fees|
Many of the major banks in Pakistan are now offering foreign currency account options that are making it easier to hold and transact in major world currencies. An example that is targeted towards foreign nationals specifically is HBL’s Foreign Currency account that comes with USD, EUR, GBP and CNY currency accounts.¹²
Wise is an authorised financial services provider that specialises in helping you manage your international finances, money tranfers and multiple currencies — all from one online account.
To help avoid expensive fees when sending money between your Australian and Pakistani bank accounts, you can use your Wise account to make the international money transfer instead. You just choose an amount to send, input the bank account details for where you want it to go, pay for the transfer and Wise handles the rest.
With Wise, you get the real exchange rate, just like the one you see on Google. Your fees are always shown upfront, so you know what to pay and whay your recipient account will receive.
Opening an account is free, so why not check it out for yourself and see what Wise can do for you.
- State Bank of Pakistan branch data
- HBL Bank information
- UBL Bank Information
- Allied Bank information
- MCB bank history
- SBP Non-resident Policy
- MCB Motherland account
- HBL Roshan account
- HBL current account fees
- NBP current account fees
- ABL current account fees
- HBL foreign currency account
Sources checked on: 20 Aug 2022
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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