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Personal Finance

In order to manage your personal finance,  bank account is necessary if you are living and working in Ireland. It allows you to save money, to make financial transactions, to receive your pay etc.

Financial service providers offer many different accounts. For example, banks, credit unions, building societies and An Post all provide a range of accounts for personal finance. There are, generally, two categories of account: a current account and a deposit account.

  • A current account allows you to make day-to-day transactions (i.e., paying a bill, receiving your salary straight to the account, making transactions etc.). These are offered only by banks and building societies
  • A deposit account allows you to build up savings and you may earn interest on this money. These are offered by most financial services firms – banks, building societies and Credit Unions
Opening a bank account

When you open a current account you should be aware of the services that you can have. Also, be aware of the fees and charges associated with the account. When you open a deposit account you should know what percentage of your money you may earn in interest on your savings. You should also find out how you can access your money if you need it.

There are other ways of saving money other than using deposit accounts. The Financial Regulator’s Independent consumer guide to savings and investments provides information on saving for the short and long term.

Switching your account

You may want to change your account for any of the following reasons:

  • Your circumstances may have changed and you may have different needs from an account.
  • You may have found an account that offers you a better deal.
  • You may be unhappy with the level of service that your bank is providing.
  • You may be unhappy with the fees your bank is charging.

If any of the above situations apply you can choose to switch accounts.

The Financial Regulator undertakes surveys of costs in financial institutions and has published a PersonalCurrent Account Cost Survey. This may help you to establish if you can get a better deal from another financial service provider. If you do decide to change service providers, The Irish Bankers Federation has issued a IBF Code of Practice for Account Switching to guide banks and customers in the process to successfully transferaccounts. Under this Code your new bank should take no longer than ten days to set up your account. In addition, your new bank should take no longer than seven days to transfer all direct debits, standing orders etc. from your old account.

Rules

Before you open an account with a financial service provider, they are obliged to verify your identity and your address.

Under the law, the minimum requirements for opening an account are to establish a true name and date of birth for the applicant and to establish the applicant’s address. Most banks ask for a form of identification with a photograph on it (such as a passport or a driver’s licence) and proof of address (such as a utility bill addressed to the applicant). You cannot use the same document as proof of both your identity and your address These are minimum requirements and it is at the discretion of the bank to look for further information.

The following is a list of forms of identification that provide evidence of your name and date of birth:

  • Passport
  • Current Driving licence
  • Current identity card with a photograph from a known employer
  • Current Student identity card with a photograph issued by a known third level college
  • Identification card with photograph issued by an Garda Siochana
  • (Please note that a USIT or International Student Identity Card (ISIC) is not acceptable nor is a bus pass)

The following is a list of documents that provide evidence of your address:

  • Recent original utility (for example electricity, gas or telephone) bill in your name
  • Current Driving licence
  • Identification card with photograph issued by an Garda Siochana
  • Pension /benefit book issued by the Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs
  • Recent original bank statement issued in your name
  • Entry in the electoral register or a telephone or street directory
  • An Post savings or investment document in your name
  • Notice of Determination for Tax Credit from Revenue Commissioners
  • Current Balancing Statement from Revenue Commissioners
  • Current Household or Motor Insurance documents

If you do not have any of the above documents the bank or other financial institution can ensure your identity in other ways. Contact the bank or financial institution to find an acceptable alternative. The Financial Regulator has issued guidance notes for banks and financial institutions on what other forms of identification are acceptable.

For customers who do not normally reside in the Republic of Ireland, the bank or financial institution may ask for a reference from a bank in the home country of the applicant.

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