How to open a bank account in Dubai as an American

Gabriela Peratello

If you’ve just landed in Dubai and are planning on an extended stay, you’re probably making plans to open a foreign bank account.

As Dubai is a major business hub with a large and established expat community from all around the world, you’ll have lots of financial institutions to choose from.

Read this guide to learn more about opening a bank account in Dubai with a local bank or an international banking brand with a presence in the UAE.

move-and-manage

Can foreigners open a Dubai bank account from abroad?

Some Dubai banks do offer the option to open an account online or through an app. However, you’ll probably need some local credentials to do this - such as a UAE phone number, or an Emirates ID. That can mean that in practice, this may not be possible from abroad if you’re not yet a Dubai resident.

To open a bank account anywhere in the UAE as a non-resident or new arrival, you’ll usually be required to sign your application and other documents in front of a bank officer. Typically, this means you’ll need to be physically present when you open your account.

That being said, if you decide to bank with a larger international financial institution that operates in Dubai like HSBC® or Citibank®, it’s worth asking if you can open an account overseas from your local branch.

Another option is that, in some cases, you can also employ a financial advisor who will act as your representative in Dubai, which may allow you to open an account remotely.

Can a US citizen open a Dubai bank account as a non-resident?

Whether or not you’re able to open a non-resident account in Dubai will depend on the bank you pick, and the specific account.

There are some local banks which have non-resident accounts - and you’ll usually also have the option of opening an international account with a major banking group like HSBC.

Be aware that some accounts aimed at expat non-residents are tailored to high net worth individuals, which means hefty deposit requirements and fees, and a focus on wealth management.

What documents will you need to open an account in Dubai?

To start, you’ll need a few documents (and a few extra copies of each) on hand. When you go to meet with your banker to open your account, you should have:

  • Your passport

  • A copy of your visa

  • A document showing your employer’s name and the amount of your salary (your HR department should be able to provide you with one)

  • An Emirates ID card, or a copy of the application you submit to get one

  • A recent utility payment receipt or signed rental contract to confirm your address

Whether you’ll need some or all of the above depends on what type of account you’re opening, whether you’re a resident or non-resident, and what bank you’re opening an account with.

If you have access to all of the listed documents, bring them. If you’re still not sure what you need or whether you’re qualified to open an account, double check with your preferred bank before you head out.

It’s helpful to know that some banks let you open a resident account on the strength of your submitted application for your Emirates ID. However, you’ll still need to return to the bank in a fixed period, to show your ID once it arrives, or risk losing service.

What are some of the best banks in Dubai?

There are plenty of major international banks that operate in the UAE, any of which could be a good choice if you’re moving to Dubai. Plus, many local banks offer great services at competitive rates, and have been well reviewed by expats and locals alike.

Here’s a list of some of the popular banks in Dubai, to help you choose where to open your local bank account.

Emirates NBD®

Emirates NBD (National Bank of Dubai)¹ has a growing network of ATMs and bank branches in Dubai.

Options include day to day and saving accounts, and banking packages which can be an attractive option if you’ll be transacting frequently. You can also get credit, debit, prepaid and commercial cards, loans for a variety of purposes and more.

Dubai Islamic Bank®

Dubai Islamic Bank² has been in business since back in 1975, and is now known for offering a highly personalized service and offers current and savings account services, cards, home and auto loans and more. It’s been voted the best Islamic bank in the UAE, and is also frequently in the top rankings of regional banks, too.

If you’ve been in Dubai for a while, you might know that Dubai Islamic Bank also integrated Noor Bank in 2020, boosting its size and offering.

HSBC®

HSBC³ is a huge global banking brand, so it’s not surprising that in Dubai you can get a full service offering.

Options include savings accounts, day to day accounts, premium banking packages, credit and debit cards, loans and mortgages, wealth management and investment services, and non-resident banking which is tailored to people who may require a UAE bank account for convenience.

Standard Chartered®

Standard Chartered⁴ in Dubai has current accounts, including Shariah compliant accounts, and several types of savings accounts - again including Shariah compliant options if you prefer.

You can also get a credit card, borrow, invest or insure through Standard Chartered, meaning you can get more or less all the financial services you might need under one roof.

How to apply for a Dubai bank account?

All in all, the process for opening a bank account in Dubai isn’t much different from the process of opening one in the US.

You’ll need to gather as many of the documents listed as you have access to and head into your local branch - or apply online if you’re eligible.

Typically you can have your bank account up and running in a few hours if you’re a resident in Dubai.

Non-residents applying for savings accounts may take a bit longer to have their applications processed and, as a result, may not gain access to their bank account right away.

As you would when making any major financial decision, make sure to thoroughly read all of the account and fee documents before signing.

Dubai banking fees and charges

There are many types of fees that are common to banks internationally. Banks all over the world are known to charge account servicing fees, overdraft fees, statement fees, foreign transaction charges and inactivity fees among others.

Banks in the UAE are no exception.

Minimum balance fees

In Dubai, many expats have noted the importance of thoroughly understanding your bank’s minimum balance policy. Not only do the minimums in Dubai tend to be quite high, but the fees that are incurred when you dip under it can be quite large.

Routine transfer fees

It’s also a good idea to check whether setting up routine transfers, like your Internet bill or rent, incurs a fee.

If you’re setting up automatic payments, it’s even more important to keep an eye on your minimum balance as insufficient funds fees can be high.

The payments themselves are typically free, however some banks will charge you a fee every time you perform an electronic transfer. If you’re planning to set up a lot of bills on auto-payment, it’s worth making sure your bank is not going to charge you.

ATM fees

In order to avoid bank fees at ATMs, it’s important to visit your chosen bank’s ATM or an ATM group that your bank is affiliated with.

Foreign transfer fees

If you’re transferring money overseas or receiving it from a foreign bank account, there are almost always additional fees charged by your sending bank and several intermediary banks, as well.

Though many of those fees are fixed, sending a single transfer, especially if it’s a smaller amount, can get quite costly.


Before you choose the best bank and account for your needs, do some thorough research into the features and fees you can expect. This guide should be enough to kick start your journey - good luck opening your new bank account in Dubai!


Sources:

  1. Emirates NBD (National Bank of Dubai)
  2. Dubai Islamic Bank
  3. HSBC
  4. Standard Chartered Bank

Sources checked on 10.19.2023


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.

Money without borders

Find out more

Tips, news and updates for your location