BANKING IN VIETNAM:
how to open a bank account, requirements, ATM Fees
For many travellers, ATMs are easy to find; from big cities to smaller towns. As long as there is a backpacker trail, international ATMs will be around the corner. For foreigners planning to move to Vietnam, opening your own bank account is a great step to save money from the currency exchange rate and ATM fees.
Vietnamese Dong (VND) is the currency in Vietnam, however, US Dollars, British Pound, and Australian Dollars are all pretty common in the tourism industry. When booking a tour and paying for your room, these major currencies can be used without any problem.
Vietnamese Dong is one of the weakest currency in the world. At this moment, US$1 is equivalent to VND 22,000. Many newcomers will say, "you only need $50 to be a millionaire in Vietnam". Vietnam's lowest bill is 200 VND which is sometimes hard to get rid of. Vietnam also decided to get rid of their coins, which is pretty nice, your wallet can be a lot lighter.
INTERNATIONAL BANKS IN VIETNAM
There are many international banks in Vietnam. Some of them have a full operation in the country while others only place ATM machines from the north to the south following the backpacker trail. Each ATM charge different fees and you can only withdraw VND and not your home currency or other currencies.
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Citibank is a bank from the US which is operating all over the world. Here are the requirements to apply for bank account:
- Minimum initial deposit of VND 2,000,000, USD 100, or equivalent
Documents required for Vietnamese:
- Primary ID: National ID/Citizen ID/Passport
- Secondary ID: Home Registration Book or Driver's license.
The following documents are required for foreigners (resident/non-resident) and must be translated to Vietnamese and notarized:
- Valid visa
- Residence card
More info on their website
HSBC is an international bank that was founded in Hong Kong but now operating worldwide. Here are the requirements to open a bank account:
- Personal account opening form
- Duplicate copy of original ID card (for local Vietnamese) or Passport (for foreigners)
- Duplicate copy of valid visa to Vietnam (for foreigners)
- Duplicate copy of labour contract (for foreigners, if any)
- Address proof documents, apartment contract, bill statement on your name
- Individual aged 18 and above
- Minimum monthly average balance of VND 3,000,000
Find more information on here.
Requirements to open a savings account with Bangkok bank:
1. Foreigner with a work permit
- Work Permit
2. Foreigner without work permit
- A reference letter issued by one of the following institutes or organizations or required document
- Embassy located in Vietnam
- An overseas bank where the customer holds an account sent via SWIFT
- Trusted individuals such as a Bangkok Bank staff member or customer, director of a private company, permanent residence in Thailand, government or private educational institutes located in Vietnam trusted by the Bank
- Trusted companies, e.g., an employment letter from the company if the customer is in the process of applying for a work permit.
Notes: Contact addresses for both Vietnam and overseas must be provided (hotel and P.O. Box addresses are not acceptable).
3. Foreigner with permanent residence in Vietnam
- Passport, Certificate of Residence, or Alien Certificate
- House Registration document
More information to read here.
- Deutsche bank
- ANZ bank
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LOCAL VIETNAMESE BANKS
These local Vietnamese banks are listed based on their popularity. Almost all of them accepts international bank cards on their ATM machines as long as they are with VISA, MasterCard, JCB, Cirrus, Maestro, and UnionPay.
Vietcombank is a state-owned bank. The following are the requirements to open a savings bank with Vietcombank:
- Valid passport
- Passport ID
- Valid visa
- Residence permit
- Valid residence address
- Initial deposit cash
You can read more information here.
DIGITAL BANK IN VIETNAM
Timo is a new 'digital' bank that is less bureaucratic than other Vietnamese banks. Opening an account is really easy and the mobile banking app is very intuitive and has lots of useful features. Find more information here.
HOW TO OPEN A BANK ACCOUNT IN VIETNAM
A few years ago, there were only a few expats who are living in Vietnam. Opening a bank account was easy, the government didn't care a lot and banks don't have a lot of rules to follow. All you need was to show your passport, visa stamp, the address of wherever you are staying, and an opening cash deposit.
Since Vietnam gain more traction and started getting more expats to come, live, and most likely to teach here, opening a bank in Vietnam became more strict and regulated.
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Choose the bank
Obviously, your first task is to choose the bank you want. The requirements are different depending on which bank you will be applying to. International banks can be more strict than the local ones, while the good side of having an international bank is the big chance that their staff speaks English and that they have better services such as online banking and mobile banking.
Make a list of the banks you want and check their requirements online or much better is to go to their office and ask for the list of requirements. The common requirements are:
- Your passport and valid visa (present the original and make a photo copy)
- Your apartment contract showing your address
- Valid work permit or temporary residence permit
- Initial cash deposit, many banks have a minimum of $20 ($400.000 VND)
- Some banks will ask for your passport-sized photo
Submit your requirements and wait
Next step is to submit your requirements to the bank, once everything is ready, your bank will tell you when you can pick up your bank card. Normally, it takes between 4-10 working days. Some banks can get your bank card ready in just a few minutes.
There are also banks that will give you two bank cards that are both connected to one account; one Visa card and one MasterCard.
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Apply for online and mobile banking
The last step is to apply for mobile banking and online banking. Having access to this service will let you transfer money to another local bank or account. Depending on the bank, some of their online portals are both in Vietnam and English.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE OPENING A BANK ACCOUNT IN VIETNAM
Here are the things that you need to know and remember before opening a bank account in Vietnam. The rules have changed and have become a lot harder, if you are seeing yourself staying here for at least six months with a job, you may want to consider opening a bank account to avoid all the ATM fees.
You can't just come here and open a bank account
Today, not many bank companies let foreigners on a tourist visa or aspiring expat open a bank account easily. Some even completely say no to foreigners and the company wouldn't want to deal with the paperwork.
When I first arrive in Vietnam, I managed to open a savings account with Vietcombank on a tourist visa, I was only required to fill out a form, present my passport, give the cash deposit, and write the address of my hostel.
At that time, I was planning to work as an English teacher, therefore, I explained to the bank personnel that I will submit my work permit and job contract together with my apartment contract once its ready - that time, it was as easy as that.
International bank companies can be a pain
If you think opening a bank account with HSBC, ANZ, or Citibank would be ideal, well, you are wrong. These companies are a lot stricter. They require more documents and their fees can be higher. However, these companies hire staffs who speak well English, meaning you will have an easier time talking with their employees. Some of them can even connect your bank from your home country.
You can't send money out of Vietnam
This is true and wrong at the same time. Of course, there's always a way to make things work. Vietnam has so many expats, the community is massive, and when everyone is in the same situation, they find ways and share them.
On the fine print, unless you have a work permit and a local bank in Vietnam where you receive your salary, you can to send money out of Vietnam, however, the amount can be limited per transaction.
There is no money transfer in Vietnam apart from Western Union, with them, they will still ask for your work permit to prove that you work here.
However, there are some online services that you can use like TransferWise, where you pay using your bank card or bank account to transfer money to another bank account outside of Vietnam.
To some people, this work without any trouble, to some, they simply can't make it work. PayPal is also popular, however, you have to find a way to put the money on your PayPal before transferring it to another PayPal user, which is actually, quite pricey and you will more likely to lose money on transfer or service fee.
ATM fees and withdrawal limits
Many ATM machines will only let you withdraw a maximum of $150 (3 million VND). If you use an internal ATM card, the fee can be as high as $4 per transaction.
However, there are ATMs that will let you withdraw up to $400 (10 million VND) per transaction, they are rare but existing.
If you have a local bank, many ATMs are with no charge or will credit you for as little as $.25 (5.000 VND)
Using your bank card out of Vietnam
Your bank card will work just like any other ATM card when outside of Vietnam. As long as you have one that has a Visa or MasterCard logo, it should work without a hassle. The ATM fee varies depending on your bank and the ATM you will be using.
BANKING HOURS IN VIETNAM
Banking hours in Vietnam are different depending on each bank. The common hours are:
- Monday to Friday from 8 AM to 11 AM then again from 13 PM to 17 PM
To make sure you go to a bank where the staff speaks English, check out those that are located where most expats are living.
I hope you found this banking in Vietnam article useful and have answered most of your questions. Let us know in the comment section below if anything is unclear or if you have some information that we should add.