How to open a bank account in Ireland

Gabriela Peratello
31.05.22
7 minute read

From lively pubs to beautiful scenery, lots of culture and busy friendly cities, life in Ireland truly has lots of advantages.

As a bonus, opening a bank account in Ireland is relatively straightforward, which is one less thing to worry about while you plan your move. Read on to find out what you need to do.

We’ll also touch base on Wise as an alternative to traditional banks. A smart alternative, as you can open a EUR account even before even leaving the US.

Learn more about Wise

📑 Table of Contents

What to look for when opening a bank account in Ireland

There are plenty of banks to choose from including local, regional and global brands you’re probably familiar with already. Picking the right one for you will depend on your personal requirements and preferences.

We’ll cover some of the biggest banks in the country a little later to help you choose. When you’re looking at accounts remember to read the terms and conditions carefully, looking at account maintenance and transaction fees, and when they’re charged, as well as all the available features.

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What do I need to open a bank account in Ireland?

You can open a bank account in Ireland if you’re living there, and some banks will also offer non-resident accounts if you’re looking for a way to manage your money in euros from elsewhere.

It’s generally very easy to open a bank account in Ireland if you’re from within the EU or EEA — if you’re opening an account in Ireland as an American you’ll probably have to take a couple of extra verification steps to prove your identity and residence details. Here’s what you need to know.

Which documents will I need to open a bank account in Ireland?

You’ll need two documents to open an Irish bank account: a photo ID and a proof of address. Your passport, driving license or national identity card (if you’re an EU citizen) are all valid forms of photo ID.

Proof of address documents can include:

  • A recent utility bill (less than 6 months old);
  • A recent bank statement (less than 6 months old);
  • Correspondence from a government department or authority.

If you don’t have any of these documents you can open a non-resident bank account instead. Many banks will accept a utility bill, bank statement or government correspondence with your home country address.

However, some banks will require non-residents to provide two proof of address documents instead of one. You may also be asked to provide a character reference and access to your financial history in your home country.

Is opening a bank account in Ireland without proof of address possible?

It’s not normally possible to open a bank account in Ireland without a valid proof of address. That’s because of local and global legislation to prevent money laundering, and part of the way banks keep customers and their money safe.

The key situation in which exceptions may be made is if someone is applying for a bank account as a refugee or asylum seeker. In this case, banks may accept other documents, but this will take a longer time to arrange.

How to open a bank account in Ireland: step by step

If you’re a long term resident of Ireland or hold a passport from the EU or EEA you may be able to open your Irish bank account digitally.

However, to open a bank account in Ireland as a foreigner you’ll often need to call into a branch to complete your application and show your paperwork.


The exact process will vary from bank to bank, but the basic steps are quite similar:

Step 1. Choose the right bank and account product for your needs

Step 2. Visit the bank’s website to make an appointment to visit a branch and open your account

Step 3. Download the application forms and fill them out

Step 4. Call into the branch to complete your application and show your proof of identity and address

Step 5. Pay in cash or make a transfer to cover the account’s minimum opening deposit

Step 6. You’ll receive your bank card and checkbook in the post at your registered address within a few days


Can I open a bank account online in Ireland?

It’s possible to open a bank account online in Ireland — but it’s much easier to do if you’re a resident of Ireland and hold a European passport.

Different banks have different policies on this — AIB for example, offers online and digital account opening mainly for Irish residents who hold an EEA passport, while Bank of Ireland offers this service for most people who have been ordinarily resident in Ireland for at least 2 years.

If you’re new to the country you may find it harder to open a regular account online.

Non-resident accounts can usually be opened online — but for these you’ll often need to have your documents certified, and you’ll usually need to provide additional information and paperwork to get started.

If you can’t pull together the documents needed — or if you just want an easier way to get a euro account for day to day use — you might be better off with an international account from a specialist provider, like Wise. But, more on that in a moment.

How to open a bank account online in Ireland

Opening an Irish bank account online follows a similar pattern to getting your account set up in a branch. Here’s what you’ll usually need to do:

Step 1. Find the right bank and account product for your needs

Step 2. Check you’re eligible for online account opening

Step 3. Gather the required documents — if you’re applying as a non-resident these may need to be certified or translated

Step 4. Head to the bank’s website or mobile app to complete your application

Step 5. Upload images of your required documents

Step 6. You’ll get a notification once your account is open, so you can deposit funds

Step 7. Your bank card and checkbook will arrive in the post within a few days

Forget traditional banks, get a EUR account before leaving the US with Wise

Opening a bank account (whether in person or online) can be a very time consuming process — especially in a new country.

Cut your time short with the Wise account.

With Wise you can hold over 50 currencies to send money to Ireland and spend like a local. You can also get bank details to receive payments in 10 different currencies and save up to 6x compared to US banks when moving money internationally.

Don’t worry about maintenance and card fees, keep and manage your money wherever you are.

Get a Wise account

💡 If you're a business owner or freelancer, then you should also consider opening a business account to keep your finances seperate. With Wise Business, you can easily open a business account online, and manage your finances at home and internationally.

What are the most popular banks in Ireland?

There are dozens of retail banks in Ireland, all offering broadly similar products. However, the three biggest banks in the country are Bank of Ireland, Allied Irish Banks and Ulster Bank. Let’s have a look at what they each have to offer.

Bank of Ireland

Bank of Ireland is the oldest and largest bank in Ireland. It also has the largest branch and ATM network in the country.

You can apply for a personal account online if you’ve lived in Ireland for at least 2 years, making this one of the best current account options for foreigners in Ireland. You’ll get a Visa debit contactless card, online banking and an overdraft facility as standard.

You can also apply for a student account and business banking facilities. Student accounts don’t have a maintenance fee, and many transaction types have the charges waived, too.

Bank of Ireland’s business banking facilities include a contactless Visa debit card, overdraft facilities and the support of a business advisor, which is really helpful if you’re just starting your business.

Allied Irish Banks (AIB)

AIB’s Personal Current Account has a 4.50 EUR quarterly maintenance fee. You’ll also get a Visa debit card with which you can get cashback at selected retailers.

If you don’t have an EEA passport you can only apply for an account in a branch — digital account opening isn’t an option.

If you’re a full-time university student, you can apply for a Student Plus Account. This comes with a number of perks, including no maintenance fees and an interest-free overdraft of up to 1,500 EUR.

AIB’s business banking facilities are particularly good if you’re just starting your business. Besides a dedicated business current account, you can get a whole business startup package.

This includes a current account, a business startup loan and support in the form of online tools, business document templates and a business advisory service.

Ulster Bank

Ulster Bank no longer offers accounts to personal customers living in the Republic of Ireland.

However, if you’re an existing account holder, or looking to open a business account, you may still be able to access services — contact the bank directly to check.

Irish bank accounts: costs and fees

Most Irish banks charge a number of fees including a monthly or quarterly maintenance fee.

In addition, Visa debit cards are subject to government stamp duty, and your bank may also charge for ATM withdrawals and deposits, for debit card transactions (including contactless transactions) and, incredibly, even for over the counter transactions with one of your bank’s tellers.

Finally, don’t forget about international money transfer fees. When you send money abroad, you can be hit with fees both from your Irish bank and from your home country’s bank. Plus, chances are you’ll get an unfavorable exchange rate.

Maintenance feeInternational transfer FeeForeign transaction fees
Bank of Ireland¹6 EUR/month for current account

0.50 EUR for payments to the UK or EEA

5 EUR for other standard online payments²

2% — maximum of 11.43 EUR
AIB³4.50 EUR/quarter for current accountNo fee for euro payments, 15 EUR for other standard online payments⁴1.75% — maximum of 11 EUR
WiseNo feeLow, transparent fees based on the destination countryNo fee

Opening a bank account in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland is part of the UK, which means that UK banking rules, not Irish rules, apply. This makes opening a bank account in Northern Ireland a bit more difficult than opening a bank account in Ireland.

Northern Ireland’s largest banks are the Bank of Ireland⁵, AIB (called First Trust Bank⁶ in Northern Ireland) and Ulster Bank⁷. The main difference is that, as in the rest of the UK, a basic bank account is free to open and use. Your Visa debit card will also be free, as Irish government stamp duty on bank cards doesn’t apply in Northern Ireland.

You also need to keep in mind that, unlike the rest of Ireland, the currency in Northern Ireland is not the Euro, but the British Pound.

Thankfully, you won’t be charged a fee when you withdraw Euro in the rest of Ireland, provided you use one of your bank’s ATM machines. However, you will be charged a non-Sterling transaction fee if you use an ATM outside of Ireland or the UK.


Sources:

  1. Bank of Ireland fees
  2. Bank of Ireland international fees
  3. AIB fees
  4. AIB international fees
  5. Bank of Ireland
  6. First Trust Bank
  7. Ulster Bank

Sources checked on 05.31.2022


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 TransferWise 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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