If you’re ready to start your long-term trip or life in the UAE, you’ll be full of questions, doubts and excitement. One thing you don’t want to leave to chance is setting up your bank account and ensuring access to money. In this article, we’ll explore how easy opening a bank account in Dubai from the UK is, and which bank will suit your needs.
The UAE has the most diversified economy in the Gulf Cooperation Council and the second-largest economy in the Arab world (after Saudi Arabia), and that brings a well-developed banking sector with it. Both Dubai and Abu Dhabi (the two largest cities in the country) are significant economic hubs, so regardless of where you choose to stay, there’ll be plenty of banking options to satisfy your needs. Whether you need a non-resident bank account in Dubai or something to support your life there longer-term, you won’t be disappointed.
Can I Open an Account From Abroad?
The UAE is quite a unique country, in that its citizens only make up around 15 per cent of the population. The majority of those living, working and banking in the UAE are expatriates, so the economy and banking systems are well set-up to cope with foreign workers opening bank accounts. It’s certainly worth doing if you can manage it, as you can arrive knowing that your money is safe and secure, and that you’ll have access to it from day one.
Opening an account from outside of the country will not be particularly easy, as many accounts require a signature in the presence of a bank officer. Alternatively, you can open an account remotely, by giving a financial advisor legal permission to act on your behalf. Not all banks will accept this solution, so call first to find out. A final option is to use an online bank account like Ally Bank, which offers access to your money wherever you are in the world (no access to a physical office is an obvious drawback).
Opening a Bank Account in Dubai for Non Residents and Residents
If you are staying or visiting the UAE and don’t intend to apply to be a resident, then you can still open a non-resident bank account in Dubai. The standard documentation requirements for opening an account are your passport, a letter from your employer, your UAE identification card, a copy of your visa and a local utility bill with your address.
If you have your residence permit, this will be a simple process, and you should walk out of the bank with your account ready to go. For non-residents, several of these documents are unobtainable, but given the number of expatriates living in the UAE, most banks are still able to open accounts for non-residents. The background and financial checks will likely take longer, but with a little patience, you’ll still have an account up and running before you know it.
Which Bank to Choose?
For long-term stays in the UAE, it’s worth thinking about using a national/local bank to have greater access and more control over what’s happening with your money.
These are some of the most popular banks in the UAE:
- Emirates National Bank of Dubai (Emirates NBD) – 250 ATMs and branches
- First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) – Over 100 ATMs and branches
- Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) – 11 ATMs and branches
- Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) – 10 ATMs and branches
- Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) – More than 700 ATMs and 80 branches across Dubai
You’ll also find some well-represented international banks in Dubai:
- HSBC – 67 ATMs and 10 branches
- Standard Chartered Bank – 14 ATMs and five branches
- Citibank – 48 ATMs and two branches
The Emirates NBD Standard Current Account offers a free debit and credit card, and you can open the account using any approved foreign currency. The account comes with an easy-to-use mobile application, and you can get pre-approved overdraft services too. If you want an account that can be more flexible to your needs, the FAB Personal Current Account could be a good fit. You’ll need to be a resident to apply, but you’ll gain access to a free MasterCard debit card and premium lounge access at certain airports.
For those seeking freedom to move their money, the ADCB Current Account is perfect, with free internal transfers, a mobile application and plenty of online banking options too. If cash is king for you, then the FGB Current Account will be appealing. Unlimited cash withdrawals and access to an impressive number of partner ATMs mean with FGB, you’ll be able to find cash quickly and easily.
If you want your bank to help you organise your life, the DIB Al Islami Current Account offers bill paying facilities for DEWA or SEWA (water and electricity) utilities, as well as a free chequebook.
The ADIB Current Account is another of the banks that’s ideal for people who want to have increased access. Their 700 ATMs and higher withdrawal limits combine with one of the easiest mobile applications to use in the UAE banking system.
While many of the ATMs around the country from your chosen bank will be free, one of the important charges to be aware of is around minimum balance requirements. The minimum balance for several of the above accounts is around 3,000 United Arab Dirham (AED) which equates to around £603. Allowing your account to dip below this amount can lead to hefty charges, so it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your account balance and understand your own bank’s charge system.
Opening a bank account in Dubai from the UK won’t be difficult as long as you have all the correct paperwork. The large non-Emirati population living in Dubai and Abu Dhabi mean banks are used to foreign nationals looking to open a non-resident bank account in Dubai. For residents, the process is even simpler and quicker. A more significant challenge will be to move all your belongings over and negotiate the airports, taxi and trains that will get you there. Instead, get in touch with 1st Move International, and let them use their expertise and experience to make your move stress-free and straightforward.
Are you moving to Dubai or the UAE in general? Did you know that the easiest and most hassle-free way to transport your belongings is by ship? At 1st Move International, we are experts in helping people move abroad. Simply ask for a quote or contact us here and let us take one more thing off your to-do list.