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Planning a move to Ghana for work, study or adventure? Known as the gateway to West Africa, the country is becoming a popular choice with expats from around the world.
From beautiful beaches to friendly people, Ghana has a lot to offer. And it helps that English is widely spoken. If you’re moving abroad, you’ll have a lot to do - including opening a local bank account.
But how easy is it to open a bank account in Ghana, and can you do it from the UK before your move?
To help you with your planning, we’ve put together a full guide covering everything you need to know. This includes the documents you’ll need, how to apply and some helpful info on banks in Ghana.
Don’t forget though that opening a local bank account isn’t the only option when moving abroad. We'll also show you a potentially cheaper way to manage your finances between countries, with the Wise account.
There are no restrictions preventing foreign citizens from opening a bank account in Ghana as a foreigner. You don’t necessarily have to be living there yet either, although it varies from bank to bank. For some banks in Ghana, you’ll need to make at least one visit in person to verify your identity.
All you’ll need to do is provide a short list of documents, and apply either in branch or online (depending on the bank’s procedures). We’ll cover the paperwork required in just a moment.
It is technically possible to open a bank account in Ghana while you’re still living in the UK. This could be useful if you’ve not yet moved, and are trying to get things organised before you do.
You’ll need to check with your preferred bank whether you can apply remotely. Some Ghanaian banks offer an online application process, while for others you’ll need to do at least part of the process in person at a branch.
Most banks require some proof of address, but they don’t always specify that this needs to be a residential address in Ghana. They may accept proof of your UK address, although you’ll need to check this in advance.
It is possible to open a Ghana bank account online, but it does depend on the bank.
An example of a bank which offers online account opening is Absa Bank Ghana.¹
|📚 Read more: The best UK bank accounts for travelling and travel insurance|
The paperwork requirements for opening a bank account in Ghana tend to vary from bank to bank.
However, you’ll usually be asked to provide the following:¹
- Proof of identity - such as your valid passport or your Ghana Card, which is the national identity card you’ll be issued with when granted residency in Ghana.
- Proof of address - such as a recent utility bill, tenancy agreement or bank statement.
- Proof of employment (if working in Ghana) - such as a recent payslip, employment contract letter or introductory letter.
- Your resident permit
- Your work permit (if applicable).
Banks in Ghana typically offer two main types of account, and these are pretty similar to the UK.
- Current accounts - these are everyday bank accounts designed for depositing your salary into and paying out your bills. They usually come with a debit card. There are some premium and packaged accounts available too, which offer additional services. Most come with monthly fees, which we’ll look at shortly.
- Savings accounts - these come in many forms, including instant access and fixed deposit accounts, plus dedicated accounts for children and young people.
Ghana’s banking system is made up of commercial, development, merchant and rural banks. The Bank of Ghana is the country’s central bank.
As an expat, you’ll have a decent amount of choice when it comes to what bank to use - especially as many banks offer their services in English.
Let’s take a look at a few of the main contenders:
Established in 1953, GCB is the largest bank in Ghana. It has a presence in every region of the country, with a network of over 185 branches and 340 ATMs.²
The bank offers a full range of banking services to both personal and business customers. This includes:⁵
- Current and savings accounts
- eProducts and cards
- Online banking
- GMoney payment app.
Being part of an international banking group, Standard Chartered Bank Ghana is a good choice for expats. It serves both personal and business customers, and has branches and ATMs in major cities across the country.⁶
For personal customers, the bank offers:⁶
- Current and savings accounts, plus foreign currency accounts
- Debit cards and credit cards
- Online and mobile banking.
The second-largest bank in Ghana, Ecobank has a network of around 65 branches and 248 ATMs³ throughout the country. It offers consumer, commercial and corporate/investment banking.
Its everyday banking products include:³
- Current accounts, savings accounts and e-Accounts
- Investment solutions
- Payment and transfer tools
- Online and mobile banking
Part of an African financial services group with a presence in 12 countries, Absa Bank offers a range of everyday banking services for personal customers. It also serves businesses, corporate and international clients.⁷
It’s a good choice for expats as it has a user-friendly website and a wide network of branches and ATMs. It also has a broad choice of affordable accounts and products, including:⁷
- Current accounts and savings accounts, plus foreign currency accounts
- Premier banking options
- Loans and cover
- Credit cards
- Online and mobile banking.
But, getting a local bank account isn’t the only way to manage your money in Ghana.
Consider checking out the Wise account which allows you to send, receive, and spend money in multiple currencies around the world. What’s more, all currency conversions are automatically done using the fair mid-market exchange rate.
So, how much will it cost you to open and run a bank account in Ghana? There are a few different fees to be aware of, which we’ll run through below.
You can usually expect there to be some sort of monthly or annual maintenance fee for having a Ghana bank account.
This varies between banks, but is likely to be around 20 GHS (around £1.39 GBP) a month for a standard current account.⁴
You may also pay a fee for your debit card, of around 12.50 GHS (around £0.87 GBP) a month.⁴
Banks in Ghana may also charge some fees for payments and withdrawals. To give you an idea, here are some examples of fees with Absa Bank Ghana:⁴
- ATM withdrawals at another bank - 10 GHS (approx. £0.69 GBP). It should be free to use your bank’s ATM to withdraw cash.
- International ATM withdrawals - foreign exchange charge of 5% + additional fees
- Local transfers - 12 GHS (approx. £0.83 GBP)
- International transfers - 25 USD + additional fees.
Depending on the bank, you may also be charged fees for:
- Bank services carried out in branches or service centres (it’s always recommended to carry out transactions online if you can)
- Credit cards - these usually have an annual fee
- Requesting a printed account statement.
Remember that a bank account isn’t the only way to manage your money in a different country. Many expats, international students and digital nomads use Wise instead.
Wise is a money services provider, offering a multi-currency account, international money transfer services and a debit card. Open a Wise account online and you can manage your money in multiple currencies, including Ghanaian cedi (GHS).
When sending money or converting currency, you’ll only pay a low, transparent fee while also getting the mid-market exchange rate every time. And, you can spend like a local in Ghana, and worldwide, with your Wise card.
Still have questions about bank accounts and money in Ghana? Take a look below for a little more information.
Yes, online banking is common in Ghana, so you should have access to a full range of digital and in-app banking services (depending on the bank you choose).
You can use your UK card in Ghana, but watch out for the fees. UK banks tend to charge foreign transaction fees whenever you spend in a different currency. And if you’re using a credit card, you’ll almost definitely be charged a fee for any cash-based transactions, such as withdrawing money from an ATM.
Yes, you can use your debit card to withdraw cash from ATMs in Ghana. It’s best to use an ATM operated by your bank, otherwise you could face fees. And if you’re using a UK-issued debit card, you’re also likely to face foreign transaction fees.
And that’s pretty much it - all the essential info you need on how to open a bank account in Ghana from the UK.
It’s pretty straightforward if you have the right documents, and you can even do it online. Good luck!
|📚 Read more: Online banks and alternative providers in the UK|
- Absa Bank Ghana - Current Account
- GCB Bank - About us
- Ecobank - Personal Banking - Countries
- Absa Bank Ghana - Tariff Guide
- GCB Bank - Homepage
- Standard Chartered Bank - Homepage
- Absa Bank Ghana - About us
Sources last checked on date: 31-Aug-2023
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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