If you’re planning on staying in Thailand in the long term, a bank account with a Thai bank is likely to come in handy. A Thai bank account will be essential if you plan on working or doing business in the country.
The good news is that it’s fairly easy for foreigners to open a Thai bank account, provided they have the appropriate documents. Here’s a look at what it takes for foreigners to open a bank account in Thailand.
Why Open a Thai Bank Account?
The chances are that you already have an account with a bank in your country. So some people might be wondering why they need a Thai account. Below are just a few reasons why.
- Accepting Payments
You must have a bank account to receive your salary if you’re employed in Thailand. A bank account is also essential if you want to open a business – you can’t start a new company without one.
If you have an international bank account, then you are likely to face international processing fees to receive or make a payment to a Thai account. Opening a Thai bank account will help to eliminate many transaction fees altogether.
Sometimes it’s just much easier to have a Thai bank account. For example, having a Thai account will make it easier for other people in the country to pay you, helping to make doing business as seamless as possible. Some foreigners will even open accounts with different banks for even more convenience.
Thai banks offer a range of products that foreigners will find useful. Such products include insurance to help ensure you’re covered should something happen. They also include savings accounts and other features that help make banking easier.
Which Bank Should I Choose?
Thailand has a modern banking system that offers most people pretty much all you could need. However, different banks have different policies and products, meaning one might be preferable over the others.
Here’s a brief look at some of the leading Thai banks and why you should use them.
- Bangkok Bank
Bangkok Bank is Thailand’s largest banks, with branches located throughout the country and with some branches overseas. Bangkok Bank is one of the friendliest banks to deal with, particularly for foreigners, helping make it one of the most popular choices. The bank also makes it easy to transfer money overseas and offers a good exchange rate.
- CIMB Bank
Thailand’s 10th largest bank, CIMB is based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. CIMB bank helps make it easy for foreigners to open an account and offers a selection of insurance policies ideal for ex-pats.
Citibank, based in New York, United States, is the largest foreign bank in Thailand. Citibank customers get to enjoy benefits like frequent flyer miles with Thai Airways and fee-free withdrawals from their ATM network, including overseas.
- Kasikorn Bank
Kasikorn Bank is Thailand’s fourth largest bank and one of the most popular among foreigners. The bank makes it easy for non-Thais to open an account and offers convenient mobile banking and easy international money transfers.
- Krung Thai Bank
Krung Thai bank is the second largest bank in Thailand, and little documentation is usually needed to open an account.
- Krungsri Bank (Bank of Ayudhya)
Krungsri bank is Thailand’s fifth largest bank. They offer easy international money transfers and superb digital banking services.
- Siam Commercial Bank
Siam Commercial Bank is the second largest bank in Thailand. The bank offers easy account opening, comprehensive insurance policies, and branches can be found throughout the country.
Which Documents Do I Need?
Of course, you will need to provide the appropriate documentation to open a bank account anywhere in the world, and Thailand is no exception.
A passport is the one document that every branch of every bank will expect. Forget about trying to open a bank account in Thailand without one as a foreigner. Your passport must also be valid, while you must also have a valid visa to stay in Thailand.
- Work Permit (depending on the branch manager)
Some branches will request to see a work permit before agreeing to open a bank account. A foreigner must have suitable employment with a Thai employer to qualify got a work permit.
- Proof of Residence (depending on the branch manager)
Some banks will expect to see proof of residence to open an account for you. Proof of residence can mean anything from a utility bill showing your name and address to the yellow Tabien Bahn, which is an official Thai residence document for foreigners.
Trying Different Branches
Those documents listed above as “depending on branch manager” are those that specific bank branches might expect and others might not. Individual bank managers and other bank staff tend to have their own interpretations regarding documents meaning you can get a different response from different branches of the same bank.
As such, you may need to spend some time going from branch to branch to try your luck. And no matter which branch you want to try, you should take as much documentation as you can. Be prepared to do some walking because it could take several branches before you have any success.
It can be a good idea to try the bank branches in one of the large shopping malls because there are numerous branches under the same cool roof, while there are also restaurants for refuelling should it become a long day. You can also try looking at the ex-pat forums for information on which branches are more likely to open an account for you.
Opening a bank account in Thailand is no different to opening an account anywhere in the world. Thailand also has several modern banks to choose from, helping you get the services and products that you need.
Remember that requirements can change from bank to bank, and you might be rejected several times before you have success. However, keep on going, and you will likely find a suitable branch before long.
Get in touch with the team at Thai Visa Expert if you have any other questions about living in Thailand.