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Thinking of moving to sunny Cyprus? Whether you’re working, studying, setting up a business or just visiting for pleasure, you might need to look into getting a bank account.
But how easy is it to open a bank account in Cyprus, especially as a foreigner? We’ve put together a guide that covers everything you need to know, including the documents you’ll need and how to get started. Plus, a roundup of the best banks in Cyprus for expats.
We’ll even throw in a handy tip for managing your money across international borders - the Wise multi-currency account. With this account, you can send money between Cyprus and the UK, or all over the world, for low fees and a fair exchange rate.
Plus, you can spend in euros like a local using your Wise international debit card.
But first, let’s focus on getting your Cypriot bank account open.
The good news for expats is that both Cypriot and foreign nationals can open bank accounts in Cyprus¹. The only difference is that you might need to provide a few extra documents as a foreigner.
The process of applying for an account is just the same as in other countries. You’ll need to submit an application form (or complete an online form) along with the required supporting documents. Then, the bank will open your account and send you your debit card and account details.
Yes, you can open a bank account in Cyprus if you’re not living there. This can be handy if you’ve not yet moved to the country, and want to get everything set up ready for your arrival.
You will usually need to provide proof of your residential address when applying for a bank account. But crucially, it doesn’t necessarily have to be an address in Cyprus². However, it all depends on the bank and its individual requirements and eligibility criteria.
It varies from bank to bank, but many Cypriot banks offer the option to open a bank account online.
With Bank of Cyprus, for example, you can open an account online if you’re signed up to its digital service 1bank³. While at Hellenic Bank, you can start the process of opening a bank account online, but will need to visit a branch in person to complete it⁴.
So, you’ll need to check with the individual bank what its procedures are, especially for non-residents.
As we’ve mentioned above, it is possible to open a Cypriot bank account from abroad. You might even be able to complete or at least start the process online, depending on the bank. However, bear in mind that some banks will require an in-person visit to a branch before opening the account.
All you’ll need is proof of your residential address in the country you’re living in, along with the other required documents. We’ll look at these next.
While it varies from bank to bank, here’s what most retail banks in Cyprus will require for opening a bank account⁵:
- A completed application form or online form
- Your passport or valid ID card (a passport is an essential requirement for foreign applicants not resident in Cyprus)
- Proof of address - in Cyprus or your home country. For example, a recent utility bill. This should be as recent as possible, and no more than 6 months old.
Some banks may also ask for a reference from your bank in your home country, along with information on why you need the account and your expected income.
As you’d expect, the requirements are different for opening a business bank account in Cyprus. For this, you’ll need all the documentation relating to your business, such as company incorporation certificates and shareholders details.
Just before we move on to look at Cypriot banks, a quick word on the kinds of bank accounts available in Cyprus. They may be a little different than the account types you’re used to in the UK.
The main personal accounts you can open in Cyprus include:
- Deposit accounts - similar to a current account in the UK, these are for paying in your salary and carrying out everyday banking transactions
- Term deposits - these are fixed term accounts helping you earn more interest on your money, but you can still carry out everyday banking transactions. You might need a higher initial deposit to be eligible to open a term deposit account⁶.
- Savings accounts - these are accounts offering interest on your savings, just like savings accounts in the UK.
A variety of banks in Cyprus offer online banking, but you’ll need to check for details at your particular bank’s website.
Outside of opening hours, you can use your bank’s website to check your account balance, transfer money from deposit account to savings, or change your personal details. However, more complex transactions will probably require an in-person visit to a branch.
Let’s run through some of the main banks in Cyprus you can choose from as a new arrival in the country.
The biggest bank in the country, Bank of Cyprus has around 122 branches in the country⁷. You’ll find most in the cities, like Paphos, Larnaca and Nicosia. Like many banks in Cyprus, its branches close early at around 2-2.30pm.
Bank of Cyprus has an English version of its website, and a number of personal accounts to choose from. This includes instant access, fixed deposits and savings accounts.
One of the handiest if you prefer to bank digitally is its e-Instant account. You can open this account online with as little as €1, as long as you register with its 1bank service. The account offers a debit card, standing orders/direct debits and your salary credited to the account automatically³.
Alpha Bank is a Greek-owned bank with around 22 branches in Cyprus, with the most in Nicosia and the Limassol area⁸. It has an English version of its website.
You’ll have a choice of deposit (everyday), term deposit and foreign currency accounts at Alpha Bank.
If you’re looking for an instant access current account, the Alpha 100 accountcould be the right choice. It offers a debit card, free ATM withdrawals (at Alpha Bank ATMs in Cyprus), standing orders, online banking and the option to add an overdraft if needed⁹.
The only thing to note about Alpha Bank is that there doesn’t seem to be the option to apply for its accounts online. So, you may need to visit a local branch to enquire about opening an account.
Hellenic Bank is a Cypriot bank established in 1976, and which now has 82 retail branches spread across the country¹⁰.
It has a great expat-friendly version of its website, and a number of personal banking products available. This includes current and basic accounts, savings and deposit accounts, and borrowing options including credit cards and loans.
The Hellenic Bank Current Account is ideal for expats, offering everything you need for everyday transactions. This includes instant access to your money, a debit card, cheque book and 24/7 online banking. There’s also the option for an overdraft if you need it¹¹. You can apply for this account online, and the process looks to be pretty straightforward.
There’s also the option to open an account with a digital-only bank in Cyprus. These are also known as mobile banks or ‘neobanks’. They don’t have any physical branches but offer everyday bank accounts managed online or via a smartphone app.
In Cyprus, you can choose from the following among many others¹²:
Let’s take a look at the kinds of fees you can expect to pay when banking in Cyprus.
This is a monthly or quarterly fee for maintaining the account, and it can vary from bank to bank. For example, Hellenic Bank charges a maintenance fee of €2.90 a month¹³ for its current accounts, while Bank of Cyprus charges €5 a quarter¹⁴.
Unlike in the UK where domestic payments tend to be free, some Cypriot banks charge payment fees for both domestic and international transfers.
Again, this can vary from bank to bank. At Bank of Cyprus, there’s a fee of €4-€8 for online banking payments¹⁴ (depending on the amount) for transfers within Cyprus and the EU. If you want to make an international payment, you can expect to pay 0.15% per payment plus processing fees¹⁴.
Before opening an account, check whether your chosen bank charges for any of the following:
- ATM withdrawals at a non-network bank
- Currency exchange
- Receiving domestic and international payments.
Want to avoid those high bank fees for international payments? If you’ll need to send money between Cyprus and the UK, you could save a bundle with Wise.
Although not a bank, Wise is an e-money service provider that lets you send money worldwide for low transparent fees and the mid-market exchange rate with its multi-currency account. This is done at a fair rate without the mark-up that banks tend to add on top.
You can even receive money for free in a range of major currencies, and spend in EUR like a local with your own Wise debit card. This automatically converts currency at the mid-market rate whenever you spend, for only a tiny conversion fee (or it’s free if you already have the currency in your account).
This is the ideal option for covering your day-to-day expenses, and you can use the same card in 160 countries too.
Wise offers the perfect solution for expats, students and business owners living in Cyprus, or anywhere else in the world.
Sources used for this article:
Sources checked on 04-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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