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Opening a Thai bank account offers several benefits but foreigners often find themselves having a difficult time opening one or are unsure of what they need to be eligible for an account. We’ve provided the required documents to open a Thai bank account and a list of banks that are the easiest to open an account with minimal documentation.
As a foreigner, there are two major categories you can fall into when opening a Thai bank account:
1. You have a work permit (obtainable with a non-immigrant B visa)
2. You do not have a work permit
Expats with Work Permits
If you fall into the first group, you are eligible to open a Thai bank account at most banks. In many cases, a passport and work permit will suffice in opening a savings account. However, check with each individual bank for any additional required documentation (i.e., proof of resident status, certificate of residency, etc.)
Walk in, grab a number from the number generator near the entrance, and wait to be called on. It’ll take an hour or less to set up an account. The bank official will make photocopies of your documents and have you sign a few forms. Don’t forget important contact information, such as your address and phone number, too.
Additional fees will vary for each bank, including yearly fees, replacement ATM card fees, account cancellation fees, and ATM withdrawal fees. Interest earned per year will also vary, if offered at all.
Expats Without Work Permits
Most people fall into the second group. This includes expats possessing a non-immigrant Thai visa, including retirement, education, dependent, or a short-term Thai tourist visa.
Never fear! Banks that do not need a work permit to open an account include:
- Bangkok Bank
- Kasikorn Bank
- TMB Bank
- UOB Bank
In most cases, these banks want to see your passport and either a second form of identification or that you are currently residing in Thailand under a lease.
Bring the Following to Open a Thai Bank Account (Savings):
Minimum Deposit at Bangkok Bank: 500 baht
Minimum Deposit at Kasikorn Bank: 500 baht
Minimum Deposit at TMB Bank: 500 baht
Minimum Deposit at UOB Bank: 50,000 baht (yes, four zeros)
NOTE: We’ve heard wildly varying experiences from people trying to open a Thai bank account without a work permit. It may take more than one attempt because the bank staff may ask for a work permit even when it’s not required. We recommend speaking with bank staff that speaks English well and show them the official rules from the bank in question (linked to above). Keep in mind this is Thailand!
The Benefits of Opening a Thai Bank Account
No ATM Withdraw Fees
No more 150 or 180 baht charges!
No Conversion Rate Fees
No more loss due to 3% conversion rates, whether from an ATM withdrawal or from currency exchange.
Access to Thai Debit Card
Issued as a Visa, a Thai debit card opens up opportunities for cashless transactions and online purchases. Keep in mind that cards branded with “Electronic Use Only” are limited to in-store purchases.
Transfer Funds In and Out of Thailand
Have means to transfer funds from your home country that are accessible in Thailand.
Our Experience Opening a Thai Bank Account
We first tried applying for a joint bank account at Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) at the Central Airport Plaza Mall in Chiang Mai. I was eligible to open a bank account under my name with a passport and a work permit. However, to open a joint account that included Chris’s name, the bank wanted a Residency Certificate (i.e., proof that we are living long-term in Thailand).
We didn’t have one on hand, and since it takes ten business days to get one in Chiang Mai, we made a second attempt at opening a joint account at the Kasikorn Bank a few floors up in the same mall.
Upon entering the bank we were asked if we had a work permit (yes, even though Kasikorn doesn’t need it), but we were never asked to show proof of it during the application process. We also did not have on hand a lease agreement or utility bill to prove we were living in Thailand. Instead, we simply wrote down our address and they accepted it.
It took about 45 minute to set up the account and to register two ATM cards that we received immediately. They cost an extra 500 baht each.
Do you plan on opening a Thai bank account? If you’ve done so or have tried, how was your experience?