April 15 2014
May a foreign citizen open a bank account in Thailand?
The answer is of course yes, or more accurately yes, but…
As a matter of fact the issue of the opening of a bank account by a foreign non-resident is one of the most confusing issues for foreigners in Thailand because there is a huge discreptancy between the theory and the practice.
If you are living and working in Thailand and even coming here as a tourist you will be, as explained above, in theory entitled to open and maintain a Thai Baht or a foreign currency account.
Note: If you have problem to open a bank account on your own, we can assist you with this matter. Just contact us through the contact form
The number and the type of documents that you will be requested to provide in order to get going will depend of your status.
In general there will be fewer documents to provide if you are working or living in Thailand permanently and more if you are only a tourist.
For example below are the documents requirements of Bangkok Bank:
Note: I’m using as a model Bangkok Bank documents requirements because they were the first I found on the net not to promote Bangkok Bank over other Thai banks.
Note: Other banks might have other requirements.
You are working in Thailand
|Passport and work permit||No other requirements|
You are living in Thailand permanently
|Passport, orcertificate of residence, or
alien certificate and house registration.
|No other requirements|
You are living in Thailand temporarily or you are a tourist,
|Passport and the following required documents:||A letter of recommendation from a person acceptable to Bangkok Bank (Bangkok Bank staff or customer of Bangkok Bank; a university teacher, a company director or senior executive). Letter of recommendation must be prepared on Bangkok Bank’s letter of recommendation form. To the Letter must be attached the person’s a certified true copy of identification document e.g. ID card or government official ID card; or|
|A letter of recommendation from a reputable organization located in Thailand such as an embassy or an international organization; or|
|A letter of recommendation from your bank abroad, acceptable to Bangkok Bank, sent to Bangkok Bank via SWIFT; or|
|Your driving license containing your photo|
Now, the bank documents requirements do not seems excessively complicated even if you are a tourist.
Note: Above are the documents requirements of Bangkok Bank. Other banks may have other requirements.
Is there a catch?
The catch is that theory is one thing and practice another.
I mean by this that many foreigners have seen their request for the opening of a bank account refused by one bank or another despite having provided all the documents required by said bank.
Even worth, there are major discrepancies in the foreign account opening practice not only:
(i) between banks themselves but also,
(ii) between a same bank branches, and
(iii) even sometimes within a branch depending which employees you are dealing with.
In other words, yes you can open a bank account, but it is like the “Quest for the Holy Grail” you might have to go through several trails (several bank or bank branches) before you fulfill your quest (open your bank account).
You only need to deposit 500 THB to open a Thai Baht Saving Account. To open a foreign currency account the minimum deposit will be between 5,000 to 10,000 USD and you will generally be requested to do the first deposit by wire transfer.
May you obtain a debit and/or credit card
Upon opening a bank THB saving account in Thailand you will immediately receive an ATM/ bank debit card allowing you to deposit and withdraw funds at the ATM.
Bank credit cards are in general only issued to foreign applicants that hold Non Immigrant Visas and work permits and have a history and proof of income.
Banks and/or card issuers will generally request that the applicant has been working between 3 to 6 months with the same employer before to apply for a credit card.
Note: This post is an excerpt of Rene Philippe Dubout next book: “How to Invest Safely Into Thailand” to be published in January 2010
About the Author:
The author Rene-Philippe DUBOUT is a lawyer since 1990 when he was admitted to Geneva bar (Switzerland). He practiced as a litigator there for 10 years until he moved to Thailand in 1999. In 2002 he founded with a group of Thai lawyers Rene Philippe & Partners Ltd a local law firm that specialized in Cross Borders Investments and Real Estate. He has been lecturing in several Thai Universities and a speaker to numerous conferences and seminars. He is the author of a must read book:”How to Purchase Real Estate Offshore Safely: The Case of Thailand”.
© Copyrights 2009 – Rene Philippe Dubout – This article may be reprinted if information about the author, the websites, and the URLs remain intact