How and when to open a bank account in Dubai

Opening up a bank account in Dubai is relatively easy, even if you don’t currently have a job lined up yet.

You can opt to set up a bank account before you arrive or after you’ve arrived and got your residence visa and ID card sorted.

Usually, to open a bank account you’ll need your original passport and a copy and a letter of no-objection from your company or sponsor although some banks have become more relaxed now and will allow you to do it all online, digitally with just your Emirates ID card.

Almost every non-salary transfer bank account will require you to maintain a minimum balance and failing to do so will incur a small monthly fee but some banks will waive this for a period of time.

You can visit some great banks and view your options from your cheap hotel in Dubai.

Bank Account Before Arrival

At the moment the only option to set up a bank account before arrival is through HSBC.  A HSBC account before you land will give you some assistance in getting your Emirates ID, perform internal checks and then give you a complimentary Meet and Great service at the airport where you’ll also be given a SIM card with 30 flexible minutes, 500MB of data and a free upgrade to a permanent package.

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Bank Accounts Once in Dubai

Ideally, you want to try and find a bank that is local to you as you may often need to go down to the branch and you’re going to want to find the closest ATM to you and consider banking with them.

You’ll have to pay a fee, usually, to withdraw money from an ATM that doesn’t belong to your bank.

You should also research heavily any minimum balance requirements of your chosen bank account.  If you fall below this balance at any point over the month, you will be charged the maintenance fee.

Some of the National Banks in the UAE are

  • Emirates NBD (National bank of Dubai)
  • NBAD (National bank of Abu Dhabi)
  • ADCB (Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank)
  • FGB (First Gulf Bank)
  • Dubai Islamic Bank
  • ADIB (Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank)
  • RAK Bank (National bank of Ras Al-Khaimah)
  • Bank of Sharjah (National bank of Sharjah)
  • Sharjah Islamic Bank
  • National Bank of Fujairah (National bank of Fujairah)

Digital Banks

Digital Banks are a new thing in Dubai and currently you have two options, Commercial Bank of Dubai’s CBD Now and Emirates NBD’s Liv account.

With a digital bank, you have no branches to turn to but you can easily set up an account in minutes from your smart phone.  With Emirates NBD’s Liv account, you simply download the app, scan your Emirates ID with your phone’s built-in camera and then within a few days your Liv card will be delivered to your door.  It’s very, very easy but it’s quite a limited account with no current capabilities for international transfers or access to a credit card.

I believe the process is just as easy with CBD Now and CBD Now are actually offering a credit card, providing you are opening up a salary account with them.

So, there are some great options for banking in Dubai.