How to open a bank account in Europe as a non-resident

If you’re a frequent traveler, love to shop online with your favorite European stores, or are planning a relocation you might be wondering how best to get a bank account to hold and spend in major European currencies like euros (EUR) and British pounds (GBP).

While it’s possible to get a non-resident bank account for Europe, which covers several common currencies, it can be expensive and complex with a mainstream bank. Typically you’ll be sent to a bank’s expat or international banking division, which means high minimum balances and costly fees.

This guide  tells you all you need to know – and because traditional banks aren’t always the best option we’ll also introduce some more flexible solutions, such as Wise or Revolut. Let’s dive right in.

Learn more about WiseLearn more about Revolut

What documents do I need?

When you open a non-resident account for Europe with a traditional bank you’ll usually need to provide:

  • Proof of identity
  • Proof of address
  • Proof of income (for some account types)

If you’re already based in Europe, you’ll have a broad range of banks and account options to pick from. However, if you’re looking for a non-resident account from a traditional bank you may have a harder time.

Some banks – for example Barclays International – don’t offer expat bank accounts to US residents. Others have a very high minimum balance requirement or strict eligibility criteria. To open an HSBC international expat account, for example, you’ll need either an income of the equivalent of 100,000 GBP, or to hold at least the equivalent of 50,000 GBP in your HSBC account.

One alternative is to look at traditional banks within the EU which offer non-resident account options to hold EUR balances. We’ll run through the details for one option later – the Santander Spain non-resident account.

In most cases, though, the easier option is to ditch traditional banks entirely and look at specialist online services like Wise and Revolut which are often cheaper, easier and more flexible when it comes to non-resident accounts.

Learn more about WiseLearn more about Revolut

Save the paperwork with alternative solutions like Wise or Revolut

If you want an account to hold and exchange European currencies like euros and British pounds, but you’re not a resident of a European country, you may be better off with a modern online alternative like Wise or Revolut.

Providers like these offer multi-currency accounts  which can hold, send, spend and receive a range of European and world currencies, including EUR, GBP and USD.

You’ll be able to open your account with a US proof of identity and address, which means you can hold a balance in European currencies even as a non-resident. There’s also no restrictive eligibility requirements or minimum balance to worry about.

Set up your account online or via the provider’s app and complete the verification process digitally without even leaving your home.

Learn more about WiseLearn more about Revolut

How to open a bank account in Europe as a non-resident

If you want a flexible account you can use to hold European currencies, you’ll usually need to choose a modern online provider which offers multi-currency accounts, or turn to a global banking brand which has international and expat services for US residents.

If you’re using an online provider, getting your account set up is fairly straightforward and can be done online or in an app. However, if you’re looking for an account with an international banking organization like HSBC you’ll need to pull together a few more documents to support your application. You’ll usually still be able to open an account online – just be prepared to provide proof of income or funds to meet the eligibility rules.

Which non-resident account is best in Europe?

Let’s take a look at a few examples, covering financial technology companies Wise and Revolut, Santander which has non-resident EUR options, and more traditional global banks like HSBC:

ServiceWiseRevolutSantanderHSBC Expat
Currencies covered50+ currencies including USD, GBP and EUR25 currenciesEURCurrent accounts in GBP, USD and EUR

Savings accounts in 19 currencies

Open an account onlineYesYesNon-residents usually need to visit a branchYes
Opening feeNo feeNo feeNo fee – but you’ll need to get a certificate of non-residence in Spain, which may involve a feeMinimum balance: currency equivalent of 50,000 GBP (other eligibility criteria also apply)
Fall below feeNo feeNo feeNo feeEquivalent of 35 GBP/month
Maintenance feeNo feeUp to 19.99 USD/month16 EUR/monthWaived if minimum balance is maintained
International transfersLow fee, varies by currencyFee varies by currency and payment valueStandard online transfers are usually free

In branch transfers cost up to 0.7%, with a minimum of 6 EUR – 20 EUR

Exchange rate markup applies

Online transfers up to 4 GBP + third party charges + exchange rate markup

As a non-resident you’ll probably have to pick between digital providers offering multi-currency functionality which have accounts that are flexible if you travel, send, spend or receive in a range of currencies, or expat banking services from a global banking brand.

Expat accounts tend to be aimed at high wealth individuals, and may appeal if you want a more personal service or need to access a fuller suite of options including overdrafts, investments and credit.

Learn more about WiseLearn more about Revolut


Wise multi-currency accounts can be opened online or in the Wise app, to manage your money across major European currencies like EUR and GBP, as well as 50+ other currencies. To learn more about Wise, click here to read our full Wise review.

You can top up your account in USD and switch to the currency you need instantly – or have people send you payments from Europe using local bank details for EUR and GBP payments.

Wise currency exchange uses the mid-market exchange rate with no markup, which means you can save significantly compared to using your normal bank. You can also send payments to 80+ countries and spend using your Wise international debit card all over the world.

Account types: Wise personal multi-currency accounts are free to open, with no minimum balance or monthly fees to pay.

Eligibility: Available to non-residents using a proof of identity and address from your home country. Not all services and features are available in all locations – full details by location available on the Wise website.

Is it safe? Yes, Wise is safe. Wise is a safe provider which is overseen by global bodies around the world.

Learn more about Wise


Open your Revolut account using your US identity documents, to get an account with  multi-currency functionality, a linked debit card for spending and withdrawals, and extra perks like budgeting and saving tools.

Revolut has account plans with no monthly fees and an array of features including some fee free currency exchange. Or you can upgrade to a different account tier, where you’ll pay a monthly fee to get higher levels of fee free transactions and extra benefits. From the US, you’ll also be able to make fee free in-network ATM withdrawals, and up to 1,200 USD/month in out of network withdrawals with no extra costs.

Account types: Revolut plans are available for free or you can upgrade to a paid plan for up to 16.99 USD/month. Paid account plans have more features available.

Eligibility: Available to residents with addresses in the EEA, Australia, Singapore, Switzerland, Japan, and the US.

Is it safe? Revolut is authorized to trade in all the countries it serves, including being covered by the FCA in the UK. It also holds a European banking license for the EU.

Learn more about Revolut


Santander is a global banking brand which originated in Spain. As Spain has a large expat population who are non-residents but have vacation homes there, the Spanish market is generally well set up to offer non-resident accounts to people who need a way to hold and send payments in EUR.

If that sounds like you, check out the Non-resident Mundo Account, which has a 16 EUR monthly maintenance fee, but gives you access to a debit card and the option to pay in cash, by bank transfer or check. The major drawback here is that you’ll usually need to provide proof you don’t live in Spain full time, and you’ll need to visit the country to get set up – great if you love a vacation there, but not so convenient if you don’t have travel plans at the moment.

Account types: Accounts available for non-residents, denominated in euros only.

Eligibility: Try the Non-resident Mundo Account for a euro account from a traditional European bank

Is it safe? Yes. Santander is one of the biggest banks in the world and overseen by regulators in all the regions it trades in globally

HSBC Expat

HSBC Expat is the offshore, international division of global banking giant HSBC. HSBC has a long history of offering international banking services, with a focus on accounts for high wealth individuals.

You can open an HSBC Expat current accounts from the US which can be denominated in GBP, USD or EUR, with savings accounts available in 19 currencies. However, fairly high minimum balance requirements apply which can be a barrier. To qualify for an HSBC Expat account you’ll need to maintain a minimum balance of the equivalent of 50,000 GBP, or have an annual income of over 100,000 GBP or the equivalent.

Account types: Current accounts can hold GBP, EUR and USD, but savings accounts are available in 19 global currencies.

Eligibility: Accounts come with high income and minimum balance requirements.

Is it safe? HSBC is one of the largest banks globally, fully regulated in Europe and around the world.

What are the costs?

As we’ve seen, specialist providers like Wise and Revolut may offer accounts with low costs and no minimum deposit requirements, but the expat options available from traditional global banks usually need a hefty minimum deposit amount to get your account.

Depending on how you use your account you’ll also run into a range of transaction fees and monthly charges. Keep an eye out for the following costs when selecting the  European non-resident account for you:

  • Monthly maintenance fees – or fall below fees
  • International payment fees
  • Foreign transaction fees when spending or withdrawing with your card
  • Overdraft fees
  • Credit card costs including cash advances and interest
  • Checkbook and check cashing fees
  • Account dormancy or early closure fees

Learn more about WiseLearn more about Revolut

Tips for transferring money

Using your normal bank isn’t always the cheapest, fastest or most convenient option to send international payments. Instead, a specialist service may help you save money on both the fees and the exchange rate markups applied.

Here are some tips to avoid extra costs on international wire transfer fees:

  • Compare the exchange rate you’re offered against the mid-market exchange rate to see if a markup is being used
  • Check the fees for different transfer types – arranging your transfer online is usually cheaper than doing so in a bank branch
  • Ask about third party charges which can push up the overall costs significantly

Before you send money overseas, compare your own bank with a few specialist services to see if you can save.


European non-resident accounts with traditional banks tend to be aimed at high income individuals who want a personal service and don’t mind tying up a high minimum balance in their accounts. They can also be tricky to open, expensive and inflexible.

A specialist online service like Wise or Revolut may well be a better bet. Specialist alternatives will usually offer a better overall deal, including a more straightforward verification process, lower fees and better exchange rates. You also won’t need to worry about restrictive minimum balance requirements or proving your income to get your account set up.

Learn more about WiseLearn more about Revolut


  1. How do I open a European bank account?

If you’re a resident in Europe with a valid proof of address, opening a bank account is easy. If you’re non-resident you’ll usually need to choose between expat banking services from a large banking brand, or a specialist online alternative.

  1. How can I open a bank account in Europe without proof of address?

Open an account to hold and exchange major European currencies, with a specialist online service. You’ll be able to use the proof of address you have from the US, and can get your account all set up online or via an app.

  1. Can a non-resident open an account in Europe?

You can open a non-resident account in Europe with the expat division of a global banking branch. However, you may find it easier and cheaper to get an account with a specialist online provider instead.

  1. How much do I need to open a bank account in Europe?

Non-resident accounts from expat banking services will often have a minimum deposit requirement and high fall below fees if you can’t maintain the balance all the time. Compare a few providers, including specialist services, which can be far cheaper, to get the best deal for your needs.

  1. Can you open a bank account with a tourist visa in Europe?

In most cases you won’t be able to open a bank account with a regular bank in Europe with a tourist visa. You’ll need a local proof of address, plus a valid residence permit to show legal status. However, you can choose to open an online account with a specialist service instead, which can be much cheaper, easier and more convenient.

  1. Can I open a European bank account online?

Open your European non-resident account on your laptop or mobile device, with an international proof of address, by choosing a specialist online service. You can also get your account set up online via an expat banking brand, but this is likely to come with higher overall fees.

By Seyma Mektepli Updated December 15th, 2022