Check out our comprehensive guide to the best UK bank accounts for kids and teens, including digital alternatives and savings accounts too.
Thinking of moving to Romania from the UK? The expat community in Romania has proven to be super welcoming, and more and more people are making the choice to move there each year.
Whether you’d like to live in dynamic Bucharest or beautiful Sibiu, you’re going to need to find a way to manage your money.
Having a local bank account could be a good idea, but how easy is it to open one in Romania? And can you do it from the UK before your move?
Read on to find out. We’ve put together a helpful guide covering things like the documents needed to open a Romanian bank account, banking fees and the main banks you can choose from there.
We’ll also look into alternatives to a bank account, such as the Wise account from the money services provider Wise, which allows you to manage your money in Romania and all over the world.
There are no restrictions preventing foreign citizens from opening a bank account in Romania. Although it depends on the bank and the account, you may not even need to be a resident there. For some accounts, you might need to have a Romania-issued ID in order to apply.¹
If you’re not a resident, the process is likely to involve at least one visit in person to the bank. You’ll need to book an appointment, then go in with your documents and details.
So if you’re not living in Romania yet, you’ll need to schedule in a trip over there to apply for your account and verify your identity in person.
It may be possible to open a bank account in Romania while you’re still in the UK, but you might find it difficult - and it largely depends on the bank. In the case of major banks such as Group Societe Generale (BRD), you must be a Romanian citizen with a unique tax reference in order to apply remotely.²
So unless you can find a bank that accepts remote applications, you may have to wait until you’ve moved over to Romania to get your new account open.
Yes, many banks in Romania are now offering online accounts, and welcome online applications. The only drawback is that you’ll need to be a Romanian citizen or have Romania-issued ID documents, along with a unique tax reference. This pretty much rules out UK citizens who haven’t yet moved over to Romania.
But if you are settled in Romania, you’ll find the process of opening an account online pretty easy. You’ll fill in an online form, upload your documents and in some cases, have a short video call with an operative from the bank.¹ And that’s it - your new account will be opened.
There are a range of documents that you may need to open a bank account as a foreigner:³
- A valid passport
- Proof of address such as a recent utility bill
- Proof of income or employment, such as an employment contract or payslips
- Information about the source of funds you plan to deposit
- Tax identification number (TIN)
- A reference letter from your current bank
You may also need an initial deposit.
Remember though that the requirements can vary from bank to bank. So it’s worth getting in touch with the bank in advance to check what documents you’ll need.
Banks in Romania typically offer three main types of account.
These are current accounts for everyday banking, savings accounts and current account packages.
The latter is usually a bundle consisting of a current account and debit card, along with other financial services and features.
On top of personal accounts, banks in Romania also offer a variety of business accounts.
|📚 Read more: How to do business in Romania - Guide for the UK
There are a number of banks for personal banking customers in Romania. Three of the biggest are Banca Comerciala Romana (BCR), Group Societe Generale (BRD) and Banca Transilvania.
Let’s take a look at each of these in turn, including what they have to offer for new arrivals.
BCR is one of the biggest retail banks in Romania and is part of the Erste Group.
You can open an online George account (in Euros or Romanian lei) for a low to zero fee (if you meet certain conditions).⁴ Then choose from Standard, Gold or Premium options. Gold and Premium options have added benefits such as travel insurance and airport business lounge access.
BCR also offers a selection of young persons and student current accounts, credit cards, savings accounts and insurance products. The bank supports you with 24/7 customer service through telephone and web chat, and you can schedule a visit to a branch.
BRD is a bank with a long history in Romania, and is now part of the French financial group Société Générale.
It offers a good range of products, including current and savings accounts with many debit and credit card options. You can pay bills and transfer money quickly, wherever you are using the YOU BRD mobile app.
BRD has tailored account packages for students, salaried employees and retirees. Simply answer a series of questions about your lifestyle and banking preferences on the BRD website to get the account that meets your needs.
One of the largest banks in Romania, Banca Transilvania provides customers with a range of current accounts, savings and investment products, loans and mortgages.
Banca Transilvania has a specific pathway on their website for international customers looking to open an account with them. This makes the process nice and easy, as it's a dedicated service and all online, with a short video call.
The BT account is a zero-fee, online-only account.¹ With it you get both a physical and digital card (which you can use with BT Pay, Apple Pay or Google Pay) and BT ATMs are free to use.
As well as banks, there are also digital neobanks and money service providers operating in Romania, and they’re becoming increasingly popular. The available options include:
|📚 Read more: Best digital banks in the UK
So, how much will it cost you to open and use a bank account in Romania? Let’s take a look at some of the main fees you need to know about.
Some bank accounts in Romania come with an account maintenance fee. But the good news is that this can be waived if you meet certain conditions.
For example, with the George account at Banca Comerciala Romana (BCR), there’s a monthly fee of 8 lei a month. But if you pay in at least 1,000 lei every month and make a minimum of 1 transaction through the George app or George card, this fee is waived.⁴
Other accounts such as the Banca Transilvania Online Account are free of monthly maintenance fees with no strings attached.¹
Romanian banks don’t tend to charge for direct debits and one-off payments, although it depends on the bank.
At BRD for example, you get unlimited cash withdrawals at BRD ATMs, along with unlimited payments and direct debits.⁵ There may be some charges depending on what account or package you have, however.
With most Romanian banks, you will usually pay a fee for international or foreign currency payments.
Depending on the bank, you may also be charged fees for:
- Overseas card purchases and cash withdrawals
- 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.
A bank account isn’t the only way to manage your finances 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 in British pounds and Romanian leus) and get a Wise card to spend internationally at the mid-market exchange rate.
Yes, online banking is the norm in Romania, so you should have access to a full range of digital and in-app banking services.
You can use your UK card in Romania, but it’s really important to watch out for the fees.
UK banks tend to charge foreign transaction fees whenever you spend in a different country or 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 Romania. Use your own bank’s ATM and it’s usually free, but there may be charges for using an ATM owned by another bank or operator.
After reading this guide, you should be all clued up on how to open a bank account in Romania as a Brit.
It’s a little frustrating that you won’t necessarily be able to do it from the UK. But once you’ve moved over to Romania, you should find it reasonably straightforward to open an account online.
- Banca Transilvania - Cont Online
- BRD - Card de Zi cu Zi
- Satchel.eu - How to open a bank account in Romania
- BCR - Cont Online George
- BRD - Tariffs and commissions guide for Individuals
Sources last checked on date: 25-Sep-2023
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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