How to open a bank account in Ireland
If you’re planning a move to Ireland, or even if you’re just a frequent visitor there, you may be wondering about the best way to get an Irish bank account to hold, spend and receive euros.
You’ll have a couple of different options, depending on your personal preferences and residency. If you’re already a legal resident of Ireland it’s easy enough to open an account with a traditional bank – but for non-residents there are fewer options, and the verification steps and opening processes can be complex.
This guide covers everything you need to know – including introducing a couple of alternatives – Wise and Revolut – which offer euro accounts which you can open from the US before you travel to Ireland.
What documents do I need?
In most countries you’ll need to provide documents for verification before you can get an account. Ireland is no different, although exactly what’s required can vary based on your residency and the specific bank you choose.
Here’s what’s commonly needed for an Irish bank account if you’re a resident in Ireland:
- Proof of your identity – like a passport or driving license
- Proof of your Irish address
If you’re not a resident in Ireland and want to open a non-resident account, you’ll find traditional banks which offer this option. However, in this case you may be asked for:
- Copies of 2 photo ID documents, certified by a solicitor or police officer
- Proof of address, certified by a solicitor or police officer
Any documents which aren’t in English will usually need to be translated – and you may be asked to visit a branch in person to get your account opened.
Save the paperwork with alternative solutions like Wise or Revolut
Not yet in Ireland – or just arrived and don’t have all your paperwork yet? It’s possible to open a non-resident account with an Irish bank – but not necessarily easy.
That’s where alternative providers like Wise and Revolut can help. Open an online multi-currency account using your US proof of address, to get options to hold, exchange, send and spend euros, and a linked debit card for easy spending and withdrawals.
With some providers you’ll also get local EUR account details you can use to pay and get paid in euros. More on this later.
How to open a bank account in Ireland
Different banks have their own account opening processes, which can include online and in app applications. However, there may be eligibility criteria which apply – meaning you can’t necessarily open your Irish bank account online. With Bank of Ireland as an example, you can only open a personal current account online if you’ve been a resident in Ireland for 2 years already.
If your chosen bank doesn’t allow online applications you’ll need to make an appointment to visit a branch to open your account. Or, choose a specialist service which offers online accounts with an in-app onboarding process – we’ll look at 2 popular options later.
Can I open a bank account in Ireland before arrival?
While non-resident account opening is possible, you’ll often find you need to physically visit a branch to open your account. That means waiting until you arrive in Ireland is inevitable.
One exception is if you’re already living in an EU country. Some providers like N26 – which we’ll cover later – may accept a local European proof of address from one of their other supported countries.
If you’re still in the US you may have more flexibility with providers like Wise and Revolut. You’ll find multi-currency accounts which can hold and exchange USD and EUR alongside a range of other currencies, and which can be opened with a local US proof of address for convenience.
Which account is best in Ireland for foreigners?
Let’s take a look at a few examples, covering financial technology companies Wise and Revolut, European digital bank N26, and Bank of Ireland for a local Irish option with a branch network.
|Service||Wise||Revolut||N26||Bank of Ireland|
|Currencies covered||50+ currencies including USD, GBP and EUR||25 currencies||EUR||EUR|
|Open an account online||Yes||Yes||Yes||Only for people who have been resident in Ireland for 2 years|
|Opening fee||No fee||No fee||No fee||No fee|
|Fall below fee||No fee||No fee||No fee||No fee|
|Maintenance fee||No fee||Up to 19.99 USD/month||Up to 16.90 EUR/month||6 EUR/month for a personal current account|
|International transfers||Low fee, varies by currency||Fee varies by currency and payment value||SEPA transfers in euros only – other international transfers are available through Wise, with a low fee which varies by currency|
Standard SEPA payments are free, instant payments cost 0.99 EUR
Incoming SWIFT payments are available – 12.5 EUR + 0.1% of transfer fee for payments over 150 EUR
|Standard credit transfers in euros are free|
Standard international transfers – 0.2%, minimum 12.5 EUR
Urgent international transfers – 0.2%, minimum 12.5 EUR + 25 EUR
If you’re already in Ireland you may be able to open an account with a traditional Irish bank, or a digital bank which operates in the EU. However, alternatives like Wise and Revolut may be a better bet if you’re not an Irish resident and don’t plan to visit any time soon. With providers like these you can open an account which can hold and manage euro payments from home in the US, so you’re able to send and receive euro payments whenever you need to.
If you’re looking for a convenient way to manage your money across EUR, USD and any of around 50 other currencies a Wise account can help. Wise accounts can be opened and managed online or in app, and come with local EUR account details. That makes it easy to get paid in euros – plus you can spend with your linked debit card and send payments to 80+ countries whenever you need to.
Wise uses the mid-market exchange rate with no markup and no hidden fees. Whenever you need to send an overseas payment, spend with your Wise card in a foreign currency, or switch from one currency to another within Wise you’ll get the rate you see on Google, with a low fee from 0.41% which is clearly shown.
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 a safe provider which is overseen by global bodies around the world.
Revolut calls itself a financial super app, and has both accounts with no monthly fee, and options which come with fixed maintenance costs but extra features. Revolut accounts opened in the US can hold 25 currencies, and even customers with the free account can get some fee free currency conversion and a linked debit card for withdrawals and spending.
If you choose to upgrade to a fee paying tier you’ll unlock extra fee free transactions, a higher amount of fee free currency exchange, and perks like airport lounge access and some travel insurance.
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, the UK 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.
N26 offers accounts to people with an Irish proof of address, or anyone who is resident in one of the 20+ supported countries.
N26 is a licensed bank, with a full European banking license. That means they offer a full suite of banking services and products like loans and mortgages – but they don’t have a branch network. Instead you’ll open and manage your account online and in an app – which can be more convenient than relying on in branch services.
Account types: Free account option which comes with a virtual card only, or upgrade to a paid account plan for a physical card and a range of other perks. Paid plans cost up to 16.90 EUR/month.
Eligibility: Available to residents with addresses in 20+ European countries. Limits on the numbers of accounts offered may apply, based on your location. At the time of writing, residents in Ireland can open an account without limitation.
Is it safe? Yes. N26 is a digital bank which holds a full European banking license.
Bank of Ireland
Bank of Ireland has a full range of financial products and services, including accounts you can open as a non-resident. However, the verification steps to open an account as a non-resident can be tricky – you’ll need 2 proofs of ID, and a proof of address, which must all be certified and translated if not in English. Online account opening isn’t available to customers who are not residents – so you’ll then have to take your paperwork to a branch to get your account set up.
Account types: Full range of personal current accounts
Eligibility: Bank of Ireland account products include some you can apply for as a non-resident, subject to additional verification steps
Is it safe? Yes. Bank of Ireland is a safe and trusted provider
What are the costs
The fees associated with operating a bank account in Europe can be quite different to what you’re used to at home. That makes it especially important to look carefully at the terms and conditions for your account, so you don’t get caught out by any surprise charges.
Look out especially for:
- Monthly maintenance fees – or fall below fees
- Cash deposit fees
- ATM fees
- International payment fees
- Foreign transaction fees when spending or withdrawing with your card
- Overdraft fees
- Checking charges
- Credit card costs including cash advances and interest
- Account dormancy or early closure fees
Tips for transferring money
Moving money in Europe can be confusing, with different charges for euro payments in the SEPA area compared to regular international wires. Costs may also vary depending on how quickly you need your payment to arrive – so make sure you;ve read through your options carefully before you confirm your transfer.
Here are a few tips to keep costs down if you’re transferring money internationally:
- Compare the bank’s exchange rate against the rate you find on Google 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
- Choose a specialist provider instead of your bank – you might get a better rate and lower overall fees
Opening a bank account as a long term Irish resident is pretty easy. However, if you’ve not been in the country for long you may find your options more limited.
Irish banks do often allow non-residents to open accounts – but the verification process can be time consuming, and may mean you need to spend time sitting in a bank next time you visit Ireland instead of enjoying your trip.
Instead of relying on traditional banks, you might prefer an alternative provider like Wise or Revolut, to open a euro account from the US, using your regular ID and address information from home. Accounts offer multi-currency features, and easy ways to send, receive, spend and exchange across euros, dollars and more.
FAQs on Opening a Bank Account in Ireland
Can I open an Irish bank account online?
Irish banks do offer online account opening, but there may be further eligibility criteria which mean you need to be a long term Irish resident to use this feature. Check out your preferred bank’s policy – or take a look at companies like Wise and Revolut which have euro accounts with a fully digital onboarding process.
Can I open a bank account in Ireland before landing?
If you’re already resident in another EU country, opening an account in Ireland before you move can be relatively easy. However, for most other people, this is pretty tricky to do. Instead you may find it easier to open a multi-currency account which can be used to hold, exchange, send and spend euros, from a specialist provider like Wise or Revolut.
Can a foreigner open an account in Ireland?
It’s easy to open an Irish bank account if you’re already in Ireland. However, traditional Irish banks may not let you open an account online, making this hard to do before you arrive. Instead, take a look at alternative providers like Wise and Revolut, which can help you open a euro account from the US.
How much do I need to open a bank account in Ireland?
For traditional banks, you’ll normally find there’s no opening fee, but a maintenance fee may apply which you pay monthly. You’ll also pay transaction charges based on the way you use your account.