How to open a bank account in Russia as an American

Gabriela Peratello

Russia has a huge population, and established expat communities in major cities, where individuals have moved for work or study.

One of the first things you’ll need to do, if you’re planning a move to Russia, is open a local bank account. This guide walks through some basics of how to open a bank account in Russia, as well as a few large banks you might want to consider.


Can you open a bank account in Russia from abroad?

Although you may be able to start the process of opening a bank account in Russia from abroad, most banks will require you to visit a branch to show your supporting documents and provide a signature sample to activate your account.

One option which is supported by some large banks is for you to have a legal representative in Russia who has power of attorney, and can act on your behalf. This is one way to kickstart the application process before you arrive.

Once you have chosen your bank, you’ll be able to find out details of the relevant process. Whichever branch you apply to will be where your account details are held permanently. If you ever need to make changes to the account, you would need to visit that particular branch again, so choose a convenient location.

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

Whether or not you can open a non-resident bank account in Russia will depend on your personal situation and the specific bank you pick.

You may be able to open a specialist non-resident account with either an international bank based in Russia or one of the larger national banks. However, you would usually need to attend a bank branch in person to give a signature sample.

What documents do I need to open a bank account in Russia?

There are many different types of accounts available through Russian banks. You’ll need to double check the detailed requirements to open your preferred account with the bank you’ve selected.

However, in general, to open a bank account in Russia as an expat, you’ll be asked for the following:

  • Photo ID (your passport - notarized copies may also be needed)

  • Visa or work permit if applicable

  • Airport migration card

  • Proof of address in Russia

  • For some accounts you may need a reference from your employer

Popular Russian banks

Russia has a sophisticated banking network with an easy availability of ATMs. If you have the time and patience, opening a bank account in one of the larger cities should not be too difficult. Below is an overview of some of the major national banks in Russia, to start you on your search.


Sberbank¹ is Russia’s largest bank network, making it easy to find a branch. You can open an account, get a payment card or access other products like loans and investments.

Telephone, mobile and Internet banking are available. Some services also come with perks and a loyalty card.

Here’s what you can get from Sberbank in Russia:
  • Personal and business banking

  • Free local phone banking and support

  • Currency exchange and travel money


Rosbank² is well placed to offer services to international clients, and has dedicated information and support for expats.

You can make an appointment with an international client manager to find the right product for you. Mobile banking is offered in English as well as Russian.

Rosbank also offers:
  • Accounts for personal customers split into basic and premium tiers depending on need

  • Business and corporate banking services

  • 24/7 remote banking services online and by phone

  • Banking packages to allow you to pay a single fee for multiple services


Raiffeisen³ offers all you would expect from a large, international banking group. There are products to suit everyone, including a premium service specifically designed for international clients.

As their ATM and branch network cover the entire region, this is a good choice for those who plan to travel outside of Russia frequently.

Here’s what you can expect:
  • Accounts and cards for personal customers

  • SME and corporate banking for businesses

  • Premium and private services for high wealth individuals

  • Saving and investing products

  • Mortgages, loans and insurance

Russian banking fees and charges

When you open a bank account in Russia, it's important to read the terms and conditions carefully. Look especially at the banking fees and charges, which might be quite different to what is standard in your home country.

ATM fees

It’s normal to be charged a fee for withdrawing cash from an ATM operated by a different bank. When you choose the right bank for your specific needs it’s usually worth picking one which has ATMs in locations that are convenient for you - close to your work and home, for example - so you don’t need to go out of your way to make free ATM withdrawals.

Other common bank fees

Check also if there are regular charges levied to keep your account open or use a credit or debit card. Although usually relatively small, these account handling fees mount up over time.

Another unusual aspect of Russian banking is that not all payment cards can be used to make web payments to foreign firms. Check with your bank so you understand the functionality of the cards you’re issued.

International transfer fees

An additional challenge for expats is that fees can be particularly steep, if you need to move money between accounts which use different currencies. These can kick in when you send money from the US to Russia or visa versa. Compare your options and read all the fees carefully before you make payments.

At the time of writing, banking restrictions mean that some transfers out of Russia are restricted or limited, so you’ll also need to check the rules before you start to make international transfers, no matter which provider you select.

Before you open your bank account in Russia, use this guide to build a picture of what documents you’ll need and which specific institutions may suit your needs, and good luck getting everything organized.


  1. Sberbank
  2. Rosbank
  3. Raiffeisen

Sources checked on 10.19.2023

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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