How to open a bank account in Finland as an American

Gabriela Peratello

If you have decided to move to Finland, you’ve probably considered many of the major hurdles; how to get visas, where to work, and where to live. But have you considered how and where to bank?

If you’re ready to go, but not sure where to start, this guide will walk you through everything you need to know about opening a bank account in Finland. We’ll also touch on Wise, a non-bank provider with a multi-currency digital account you can open from the US and receive, hold, send, spend and exchange euros alongside USD and 40+ other currencies. More on that later.

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Can I open a bank account in Finland from abroad?

Usually you’ll need to visit a branch in person in order to open a bank account in Finland. Different banks have their own processes, and some do offer online account opening for Finnish citizens and residents.

However, to get started you’ll usually need a local address and an account with another major Finnish bank, making this no use if you’re hoping to open a first Finnish account in advance of moving.

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

You won’t usually be able to open a standard bank account in Finland as a non-resident. The main alternative is likely to be an account which is intended for expats, issued through the international arm of a global banking group.

However, this is likely to mean placing a high minimum deposit and paying fairly hefty transaction fees. Make some research to see if any international bank accounts which support holding and spending euros could suit your specific needs.

It’s also important to look at the details of the bank’s offering for US persons. Due to regulatory requirements, some Finnish banks can’t offer all their services to US citizens or people with US tax liabilities.

The options open vary depending on the bank you select, but it’s worth double checking before you try to open an account, just in case.

Which documents will you need to open a bank account in Finland?

Opening a bank account in Finland is super fast and easy, assuming you’re in the country in person. At the moment foreigners can not usually open Finnish bank accounts online.

If you’re in Finland and ready to get started, all you need to do is show up at the bank with your documents in hand. Almost all personnel at the bank will speak English, so there’s no need to bring a translator. You can make an appointment, though it’s not always necessary.

While the following list of identification documents will work in most banks (and it’s advised to bring as many of them as possible), it’s also a good idea to call your prospective bank in advance to make sure you bring everything you need the first time.

Some baseline documents include:
  • Passport

  • Other government-issued photo ID

  • Proof of your Finnish address (like a recent utility bill)

  • Finnish Personal ID number

  • Residence permit or proof of visa

If you arrive prepared, you could even be walking out with an active bank account in about an hour.

What are the best Finnish banks?

Finnish residents enjoy a range of local, Nordic and international banks to choose from. It’s always a good idea to research each bank and the features they offer to choose the best one for you, but some of the most popular include:

Nordea Bank®

Nordea Bank¹ is an extensive institution, with hundreds of branches and ATMs across Finland and Scandinavia as a whole.

Options and services include:
  • Accounts for savings and for day to day use

  • Credit and debit cards

  • Mobile and internet banking services

  • Loans and insurance products

OP Group®

Another large banking network is OP Financial Group². It’s worth noting that the online services are available in a selection of Scandinavian languages, but not English. The bank offers a breadth of locations and ATMS, as well as:

  • Day to day accounts

  • Savings accounts

  • Foreign currency accounts

  • Internet banking

  • Easy account transfers

Danske Bank®

With branches and ATMs spread across Finland, Danske Bank³ is one of the largest Finnish - and Nordic - banks. To open an account you’ll need to call the customer service team or visit a branch.

Some benefits account holders enjoy include:
  • Debit and credit cards

  • Financial services tailored to different life stages

  • eBanking

  • Mobile services

  • Telephone services

Aktia Savings Bank®

Aktia Savings Bank⁴ has a selection of account products for saving, investing and for day to day use. Online services are available in Finnish and Swedish, but not English.

Account holders at Aktia get:
  • Day to day and savings accounts

  • Debit cards

  • Credit cards

  • Online banking

  • Select discounts

Costs and fees of opening a bank account in Finland

As with banking anywhere, having an account will incur some regular fees. These vary bank to bank, but the following will give you an overview of charges.

ATM fees

If you’re using an ATM owned by the bank you have an account with, you’ll very rarely encounter any fees. That being said, some banks may charge a small fee if you go over a certain number of withdrawals per month.

If you’re using an ATM from a different bank, you’ll likely be charged, though some Nordic banks will reimburse you for your ATM fees. This changes bank to bank, and if it’s an important feature for you you’ll want to do some research before deciding where to open your account.

Other bank fees

Basic accounts typically only incur small maintenance fees, roughly €2 per month. However there will also be other charges to learn about, which can include costs for online banking, fees for getting and maintaining a debit card, and transaction charges when you actually use your account.

Some banks offer banking packages as an alternative, which give you a bundle of services for a single monthly fee.

International transfer fees

If you’re sending or receiving money internationally often, bear in mind that fees will apply, which can include a markup added onto the mid-market rate for your currency pair. Often payments in euros within the SEPA area can be cheap or free, but if you’re making a transfer to the US the costs can mount up.

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This guide should give you plenty to think about when it comes to choosing the right Finnish bank for your specific needs. Once you’ve picked your bank, opening an account is easy. Good luck getting started!


Sources:

  1. Nordea
  2. OP Group
  3. Danske Bank
  4. Aktia Savings Bank

Sources checked on 10.18.2023


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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.

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