FAQs: Opening a bank account in Ireland

By Peter Dlhopolec / November 18, 2019
Frequently Asked Questions: Bank accounts in Ireland

Choosing the right bank may be a struggle no matter where you reside. The following 15+1 questions may, however, help you find the right bank in Ireland to have a bank account open.

Before you decide to open an account at a bank in this country, consider several things first:

  • What services you will use most often (bill payments, money transfers, contactless payments, etc.), 
  • How you will make your transactions (online, over the counter, mobile), 
  • How you want to deal with your future bank.  

And now, let’s go straight to the questions you may have already asked yourself:

1| Do I need to have a bank account in an Irish bank when living in Ireland?       

If you are planning on working in Ireland, it is a must to have an account open here.

2| Where to have a bank account open in Ireland?   

There are a number of banks at which you can open a bank account. It is important to check if a bank is authorised to offer financial services in Ireland, though. Visit the Central Bank of Ireland’s website to check if your preferred bank has been registered in Ireland. You can open a bank account at An Post, which is a state-owned provider of postal, retail and financial services, as well.

Some of the biggest banks in Ireland:  

  1. Bank of Ireland Group
  2. Allied Irish Banks (AIB)
  3. Ulster Bank Ireland
  4. Permanent TSB Group
  5. EBS
  6. KBC Bank

 3| What types of accounts can I get in Ireland?  

There are two main kinds of bank accounts to choose from:

DEPOSIT (SAVINGS) ACCOUNT

  • Allows you to build up savings and earn interest on the money saved. However, the interest received is subject to Deposit Interest Retention Tax (DIRT), which is charged at 35% on all interest payments for 2019;
  • Offered by credit unions and banks. You can also deposit your money through An Post.

CURRENT (CHECKING) ACCOUNT

  • Offered by An Post and banks;
  • Helps you manage day-to-day banking operations (pay bills, receive earnings, money transfers, card payments, ATM withdrawals, etc.);
  • Types: student, business, personal, and basic.

4| Why may a basic bank account be a good and easy choice? 

  • Free of charge for day-to-day banking in the first 12 months;
  • If you earn less than €19,240 a year, which is the national minimum wage in Ireland, you will not pay any maintenance or everyday transaction fees in the first five years;
  • Banks that provide the basic account: AIB, Bank of Ireland, EBS, Permanent TSB, KBC, Ulster Bank;
  • Eligibility: over 18 (or 16 for AIB), legal residence in the EU, no current account open in a bank in Ireland;
  • Compare basic current accounts here.

You may also go for free current accounts offered by mobile banks such as N26 and Revolut to avoid account management and transfer fees. These standard current accounts are free regardless of the time.

5| Which documents do I need when setting up a current account? Do they have to be certified? And why do I need a PPS Number?

Generally speaking, you are required to provide two documents: proof of identity and proof of your permanent address. You can find detailed information on selected banks below:

  1. Bank of Ireland Group
  • valid passport/ID (if you are an EU citizen)
  • 2 proofs of your address (a recent household bill or a statement from your bank or financial institution; no mobile phone bills)

You must get a solicitor or police officer to certify your passport/ID and household bill. If your household bill is not in English, you must get it translated by a company offering this service.

  1. Allied Irish Banks (AIB)  
  • proof of identity 
  • proof of address

You will need to provide the original of one photo ID and one proof of address. If you’re not a resident in Ireland, you will need to provide two proofs of address documents, issued to you at your home address within the past six months. Photocopies of documents are not acceptable.

  1. Ulster Bank Ireland    

Again, you need to submit your proof of identity and proof of address. This can be done online, by post, or in a branch. You must submit original documents or certified photocopies. Documentation that proves your address must be dated within the required date ranges. More information can be found here.

  1. Permanent TSB Group 
  • proof of identity 
  • proof of address

You are required to provide an original document for each proof at a local branch. If you send documents in, you must provide two original proofs of address and legible copies of two proofs of identity (or one certified copy of identity). Detailed information on what kinds of documentation you must submit can be found here.

  1. EBS 
  • original proof of identity (passport, driver’s licence, etc.)
  • original proof of your permanent address (a utility bill dated within the last six months)
  1. KBC Bank
  • 2 proofs of identity 
  • copy of two documents confirming your address

Documents regarding your address cannot be older than six months. If you apply in person, you need just one copy of each.

  1. An Post 

You must reside in Ireland and provide proof of your name and address. You can find more information about conditions here.      

Apart from the above-mentioned documents, you will also be asked to provide proof of your Personal Public Service (PPS) number for tax purposes. Bank of Ireland, however, told Babylon Radio that “ it would not be necessary to have a PPS number to apply for a student account”.

6| How long does it take to get a current account open? (including a debit card delivered to you) 

Opening a bank account does not take up much time nowadays. You can do it at a branch office (an appointment may be required) or online. Due to a verification process, you will have to wait several days to be fully able to use your account and debit card though. At Revolut, an online bank, you can open a bank account immediately via its app but still have to wait 9 days to get a debit card delivered to you.

Example: AIB gives you an opportunity to open a current account online via its app. Although you set up the account on the spot, you get to wait 3 days for a letter to be delivered to your postal address. In this way, a bank verifies your address and completes an application process. However, you still have to wait 3 days for a PIN to arrive and another 5 days for your card to be delivered, too.  

7| Do I have to pay maintenance fees?   

Yes, unless it is a basic account or you maintain a certain minimum credit balance in your account (e.g. Bank of Ireland requires a balance of at least €3,000). Quarterly maintenance fees range, but some banks may not charge you in other cases. You can compare day-to-day fees (ATM withdrawals, internet transactions, etc.) paid to banks in Ireland here.

Revolut as an online bank (not listed in the compare list above) may be a good institution to consider when it comes to maintenance fees as well.

8| Can I have a student bank account open in Ireland?

If you are a student studying at college or university in Ireland, you can get a student current account open. You just need to submit a proof of student status apart from the usual documents required for the opening of an account. Day-to-day banking is free in this case.

The following banks offer student accounts: Bank of Ireland, AIB, Ulster Bank, KBC Bank, and Permanent TSB Group.

While KBC, for instance, gives you €50 when you open the account there, Ulster Bank allows you to withdraw money from their cash machines without using your card.

9| Is it possible to get an account open remotely?   

Yet, it is. Bank of Ireland, AIB, An Post, KBC, as well as online banks N25 and Revolut, offer a possibility to get an account open either online or by phone.   

The whole post-online-application process, however, may take several working days to get your current account ready to go.

If you as a foreigner would like to apply for an account in Ulster Bank, you can do so only by visiting one of their branches or by phone (if you are a UK citizen).

10| Do banks use mobile apps? Which banks have launched Google Pay and Apple Pay? 

The banks that have their own apps: Bank of Ireland, AIB, Ulster Bank, KBC, EBS, Permanent TSB, N26, and Revolut.

Google Pay: AIB, Ulster Bank, KBC, N26, Revolut, Bunq, Perfect Card, and Monese.

Apple Pay: AIB, Ulster Bank, KBC, N26, Revolut, Bunq, Monese, and boon.by Wirecard.

11| Will banks charge me for contactless payment?   

Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank are the only banks in Ireland that will charge you €0.01 for contactless payment.

In Ireland, you can pay for anything up to the value of €30 without typing your PIN into a payment terminal provided you have a contactless symbol printed on your debit card.

12| Are there any charges banks will collect from me by law?

Yes, and banks will debit government charges to your account even if you qualify for free account transactions. The following charges will apply:

  • CHEQUES/DOMESTIC EURO BANK DRAFT: €0.50 Government Stamp Duty per cheque/draft;
  • DEBIT CARDS: Government Stamp Duty charged at a rate of €0.12 per ATM transaction. It only applies to ATM transactions carried out within Ireland, excluding Northern Ireland. This charge caps at €2.50 if you only use your debit card for ATM transactions and capped at €5 if you use your debit card for both purchases and ATM transactions. Government Stamp Duty charge on debit cards is applied in January, for the past year.
  • CREDIT CARDS: Government Stamp Duty of €30 charged annually per credit card account.

13| Will banks charge me for international (euro/non-euro) transactions and card usage abroad?

Yes, charges and fees of different rates may apply in this regard. It is cheaper to pay in the local currency, though.

The Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) created a standard process for transferring money to another account in Europe. You will need the IBAN and BIC of the account you are sending the money to. The money will be transferred by the next working day.

If you are transferring money to an account outside Europe, charges may be higher than in the case of SEPA transfers and it can take from two to four working days. Do not forget about foreign exchange rates.

  • Here is a list of banks in Ireland and links to more information on fees:
  1. AIB: card usage abroad (valid as of January 2019) & international transactions (valid as of March 2019)
  2. Bank of Ireland:  general fee information (valid as of 5 April 2019)
  3. Ulster Bank: debit card charges outside the SEPA Zone and within SEPA & international payments
  4. KBC: general fee information on current accounts (valid as of October 2018)
  5. N26: All N26 cards let you withdraw money at foreign ATMs. It’s free with Black and Metal and standard users have to pay 1,7% conversion fee.
  6. Revolut: personal fees
  7. EBS: fees and charges (valid as of October 2018)

14| Can I switch my account?   

If you are unhappy about high fees or a poor level of services provided by your bank, you can. You will find more information on banks’ websites or click here and follow the steps.  

15| Do banks in Ireland charge for over-the-counter transactions?   

Most of the banks in Ireland will not charge you for paper- and staff-assisted transactions in branches. You can always check current in-branch cashier transaction fees here.

The banks that will charge you are Bank of Ireland (€0.60), AIB (€0.39), and Ulster Bank (€0.80).

BONUS: Can Brexit affect my account or fees that I pay to my bank in Ireland?

The Central Bank regulates the five largest retail banks operating in Ireland. Therefore, experts forecast Brexit will not impact these services. However, UK financial services firms operating in Ireland will have to take some steps, e.g. their authorisation, to continue offering their services within the EU.

Besides, SEPA is the Single Euro Payments Area which enables payment transfers in the euro currency between accounts in SEPA countries. The UK Government committed to keeping its payment rules in line with SEPA after Brexit, which should therefore not affect transfers in the euro currency moving between accounts in the UK and accounts in the EU.

Nevertheless, customers should contact their bank if they have further questions.

About the author

Peter Dlhopolec

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