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How to Set Up a Bank Account in the Philippines

The banking system in the Philippines encompasses a wide variety of institutions, including large international banks, national banks, thrift banks, and rural banks, all of which are licensed by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (Philippine Central Bank). Major banks offer a wide range of services, including internet, ATM, and cellphone banking.

Deposits are insured by the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation (PDIC). As of June, 2016, the maximum insurance coverage is P500,000 per depositor per bank, regardless of the number of accounts a depositor has in the same bank.

Who can open a bank account in the Philippines?

Anyone can open a bank account in the Philippines. In the past, non-residents, including those holding a temporary visitor’s visa, couldonly open a foreign currency deposit account, or a peso account funded by foreign currency deposits converted to peso. But this rule has recentlybeen amended to include more funding sources for a non-resident’s peso account, including:

  • Peso income from services rendered, or from salaries, allowances and other benefits

  • Peso proceeds from the sale of qualified property

  • Peso funds of foreign students enrolled for at least one semester in the Philippines

  • Peso funds of non-resident Filipinos

  • Peso proceeds from the onshore sale of PSE-listed equities

What are the requirements for opening a bank account in the Philippines?

You need to personally be at the bank to open an account. The requirements may vary per bank, so it’s best to inquire or check the bank’s website ahead of time. Most banks, however, ask for the following:

  • A valid ID, with your photo and clear information. The ID could be your passport, driver’s license,major credit card, or any other legallyissued ID. Note that while the central bank has reduced the number of required ID’s from two to one, many banks still ask for two ID’s.

Foreign nationals living in the Philippines are often required to present their Alien Certificate of Registration (ACR) I-Card, as well as their passport. If you don’t have an ACR I-Card, you may present your Immigrant Certification of Registration (ICR) or any other identification instead, but you might be asked to meet with the bank manager before the account can be approved.

  • Two ID pictures (usually 1×1 or passport size).

  • Proof of address, such as a utility bill or residential lease contract.

  • Bank reference from the country where you’re a citizen or a permanent resident. You may submit a written certification from the reference bank, or the Philippine bank may get in touch directly with the reference bank. If you have not been referred to the Philippine bank by its employee or client, you might need to wait until the reference process is completed before your account can be opened.

  • A minimum initial deposit, which varies by bank.

In which bank should you open an account?

It’s best to stay with any of the large, national banks, like the Philippine National Bank or the Bank of the Philippine Islands, as well as international banks like Citibank and HSBC. Thrift or rural banks typically offer limited services, and could be at risk of closing down with little notice.

International banks make it easier to transfer money to your home country, as well as to perform a transaction anywhere in the world. Often, however, they require large average balances—something you typically won’t have to deal with in a national bank.

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