How to open a bank account in Turkey as an Australian

Roberto Efflandrin

Turkey, also known as Türkiye, is a large Mediterranean country famous for its beautiful and historic sites including the Blue Mosque, Cappadocia and Agean islands. There are many reasons Australians move to Turkey, including for work, love and even retirement. A move like this involves quite a bit of planning, including what you’re going to do about your finances.

In this article we will take a look at banking in Turkey, including who can open an account, how to open one and what the fees are like. We’ll also introduce you to Wise as an alternative method of managing multiple currencies.

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What are the biggest Banks in Turkey ?

Like Australia, Turkey has its own unique currency known as the Turkish Lira (TRY) in English.

It also has its own major banks which are different to those we have in Australia. Here are four of the biggest.¹

  • Ziraat Bank (Ziraat Bankası)
  • Halkbank (Türkiye Halk Bankası)
  • VakıfBank (Türkiye Vakıflar Bankası)
  • Garanti BBVA (Türkiye Garanti Bankası)

Of those four, the first three are state owned.¹

Can an Australian open an account in Turkey?

As an Australian you can open a Turkish bank account with relative ease provided you have one of the following.²

  • A valid foreign national identity number
  • Turkish working permit
  • Turkish residence permit

With some banks it’s possible to open an account without actually residing in Turkey, but it’s a more complicated process.² Applying that way generally requires giving someone within Turkey Power of Attorney and a minimum deposit which needs to remain in the account for a certain period of time.

To find out more about opening a Turkish bank account without residing in Turkey it’s best to contact the banks directly to see if they offer this service and what their requirements are.

Read more: How to open a bank account in Cyprus

What is the procedure to open an account in Turkey

How you go about opening an account in Turkey depends on the individual bank. Some have the digital infrastructure for you to apply for an account online using a standard application form, similar to many of the bigger banks in Australia.

Other banks don’t have the capability to accept applications online so ask that new customers to visit a branch instead. If the bank you’re interested in needs you to come in person it’s a good idea to see if any of their branches have English speaking customer service agents available.

What documents do you need to open a Turkish bank account?

As we mentioned earlier you will generally need to organise a foreign national identity number, Turkish working permit or Turkish residence permit before you can open a bank account in Turkey.²

Once you have one of these, you will likely only need to provide three more things to open a bank account, aside from your full name and contact details.²

1. A valid passport

Your current Australian passport should be fine as it meets the main criteria of being less than 10 years old. You may also need to provide another form of ID depending on the bank, such as an Australian drivers licence.

2. Proof of address

The easiest proof of address is a utility bill in your name, such as the water or electricity bill.

If none of the utilities are in your name you can go to your local civil registry (Nüfus ve Vatandaşlık İşleri Genel Müdürlüğü) and organise a paper copy of your address registration. The bank should then accept this along with a copy of the rental agreement.

3. Turkish tax ID number

If you don’t already have a Turkish Tax ID number you can apply to the Turkish Revenue Administration (İnteraktif Vergi Dairesi) to get one. The application can be done online or in person at the local tax office, and you should only need to provide the following documents.³

  • Original passport
  • Photocopy of your passports photo page
  • Completed Tax ID Request Petition form

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What are the usual bank fees in Turkey

Like most banks around the globe, Turkish banks charge fees for certain services. Here’s a look at some of the more common fees.

Account Fees

Similar to Australian banks, some Turkish banking institutions charge a monthly account maintenance fee and some don’t. Factors that impact whether a bank charges a monthly fee include what currency the account is in and which branch it is held at.

Let’s take a look at Garanti BBVA as an example. One of the largest banks in Turkey, they do not change fees for Turkish Lira or FX Current accounts held at a domestic branch.⁴ They do however, charge a 170 TL equivalent fee for Current accounts held at a Cyprus branch.

International Transactions

As an Australian you’re likely to be converting AUD to TRY, and vice versa. You want to be able to do this as cost effectively as possible, whether it’s through your Australian bank, a Turkish bank or an alternative provider like Wise.

Most Turkish banks charge fees to send and receive money internationally. When choosing a Turkish bank, make sure you check whether they charge a flat fee or percentage, if there’s a minimum fee, and if there are any additional or hidden fees for certain currencies, destinations or using systems like SWIFT. It’s also a good idea to check their exchange rates and if they apply a profit margin.

ATM and Card Fees

When it comes to debit cards some Turkish banks let you withdraw money from their ATM for free, but most will charge fees if you use another bank's ATM, including overseas. The cards themselves usually don’t attract any kind of maintenance fee, but again it’s best to confirm this with the bank of your choice.

Read more: Travel to Turkey: the ultimate guide

Alternative banks with special accounts for foreigners/non-residents

A number of banks in Turkey have dedicated services for expats and English speakers. Here’s a few to get you started.²

  • Türkiye Bankası - English speaking division aimed at foreigners
  • DenizBank - English speaking customer service and known for foreign currency savings accounts
  • Garanti BBVA - Offers many everyday services in English including telephone banking
  • Akbank - Along with English customer service they also offer tax consultancy services

There are also a few international banks that operate local divisions in Australia and Turkey, such as ING and HSBC. While you may not necessarily be able to use these banks' Turkish services, you may get benefits using their ATMs if you hold an Australian account.

The Wise multi-currency account

If you want Turkish account details without having to deal with the hassle of opening a Turkish bank account, you could just open a Wise Multi Currency account.

With a Wise Multi Currency account you can convert and hold 53 different currencies through a single account. Of these currencies, there are 10 for which you can get local account details, including AUD, TRY and EUR. Using your TRY account details you can send and receive money like a Turkish local.

When you convert between currencies your money is exchanged at the real exchange rate, like you see on Google. There are no hidden fees to worry about and exchanges can be done anytime through the app or online portal. This makes managing AUD, TRY and any other currencies you happen to have simple.

You can also order a Wise Debit card for your Multi Currency account. The card is accepted in 200 countries and makes daily spending in foreign countries easy. As a bonus, you can also generate virtual card details which are handy for online payments.

With no monthly account fees and an easy online sign up, why not test Wise out for yourself and see if it’s the solution to your international banking needs.

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  1. S&P Global - Turkey's non-state banks
  2. Istanbul Airport - How to Open a Bank Account in Turkey as a Foreigner?
  3. Istanbul Technical University - Tax ID
  4. Garanti BBVA - TL Current Account

Sources checked on: 9 August 2022

*Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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