How to open a bank account in Mexico from the US
If you’re moving to Mexico from the US – or even if you’re just a frequent visitor – having a Mexican bank account can make a lot of sense. Depending on the account type you have, you may be able to transact in MXN more easily and with lower overall costs, while managing your money in dollars, pesos and more.
Account options will vary depending on whether you’re a Mexican resident or not, but the good news is that there are plenty of different accounts from major Mexican banks, global financial institutions and online and digital providers. This guide walks through some top options from regular banks – and compares them to more flexible solutions, such as Wise or Revolut. More on that later.
What documents do I need?
Let’s start with the basics. Whenever you open a bank account in Mexico you’ll need to provide some documents to prove you’re eligible for the account, and so the bank or provider can comply with local and international regulations.
The documents you need to open a Mexican bank account may vary based on your personal situation, but in general you’ll need:
- Government issued photo ID, like a passport
- Proof of address, such as a utility bill in your name
- Proof of your legal residence in Mexico, like an FM2 form or temporary residence card
Save the paperwork with alternative solutions like Wise or Revolut
If you’re still in the US, and planning your move to Mexico, you may not have all the paperwork required by a Mexican bank. Proof of address in Mexico is particularly challenging – even for those who’ve already relocated. If you don’t yet have bills in your name and new Mexican address, an easier alternative may be to open a multi-currency account with an online provider like Wise or Revolut.
Get your account set up from the US before you move, using your local US proof of address and paperwork, to hold, send, spend and exchange multiple currencies including both USD and MXN.
Both Wise and Revolut offer free multi-currency accounts for individuals, with linked debit cards for easy spending and withdrawals, and a broad range of perks too. Create your account before you travel, online or in the provider’s app, so you can hit the ground running when you arrive in Mexico.
How to open a bank account in Mexico
It’s common to need to visit a bank branch to open your Mexican account. It’s also helpful to know that not all branches will have English speaking staff – so if your Spanish isn’t up to the job, you’ll want to take along a Spanish speaking friend to help out.
If you’re lucky enough to find a bank which will let you open a bank account online you may be able to get set up without needing to visit a branch in person – but bank websites and forms are typically all in Spanish, so once again you may need a translator if you’re not a Spanish speaker.
Whichever option you select, the basic process for opening a Mexican bank account will be similar:
- Choose the best bank and account for your needs
- Gather all the documents needed to open your account
- Apply for your account online or in a branch
- Show your paperwork for verification
- Pay your minimum opening deposit
- Once your account is approved you’ll be able to start transacting
Can I open a bank account in Mexico before arrival?
Opening a Mexican bank account before you have a local address is normally tricky to do. Most banks need you to come into a branch in person, and show documents proving both your residential address and your legal right to be in the country.
However, if getting your account set up in advance of arrival is important to you, you do have a couple of options:
- Look for international accounts with expat banking specialists
- Choose an online provider like Wise or Revolut to get set up before you leave the US
International bank accounts are available from most global banking brands, and usually aimed at high wealth expats looking to manage their money across borders.
Banks like HSBC may allow you to create an account in a US branch, and then transfer to a Mexican account on arrival – but there’s usually a fee to pay for this service, and expat accounts can also come with high minimum balance requirements.
Online providers tend to be more flexible with lower fees, and often no ongoing charges to worry about.
Which account is best in Mexico for foreigners?
While there are plenty of different account types to choose from, MXN accounts tend to fall into a few distinct categories:
- Multi-currency accounts from online providers which let you transact in MXN and a range of other currencies
- Traditional bank accounts from Mexican or international institutions – MXN denominated only
- Cross border accounts from Mexican banks which cover both USD and MXN for convenience
These different account types are designed to suit different customer needs, so picking the right one for you may simply be down to the sort of transactions you need to make.
Here’s a run through of some key considerations for accounts from some popular accounts covering all these different categories:
|Eligibility||Available to customers in many different regions||Legal residents of the EEA, Australia, Singapore, Switzerland, Japan, the UK and US||Legal residents in Mexico||Legal residents in Mexico|
|MXN and USD account options||Yes||Yes||MXN only||Yes|
|Open before you arrive in Mexico||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Opening fee||No fee||No fee||750 MXN minimum opening deposit||50 USD minimum opening deposit|
|Fall below fee||No fee||No fee||No fee (deposit your salary to avoid monthly charges)||15 USD|
|Maintenance fee||No fee||Varies by account tier, up to 16.99 USD/month||Around 55 MXN/month||Can be waived depending on your account balance|
|Online international money transfers||Low, transparent fees and the mid-market exchange rate||Costs vary by region – some account plans offer free international transfers and currency exchange||31 USD or currency equivalent + exchange rate markups||Costs vary by destination and payment type|
*Accounts profiled are the HSBC Cuenta Flexible Simple, and the BBVA Libreton Dolares – other account options also exist
Open a Wise account before you travel to Mexico, to hold and exchange 50+ currencies. You can also get a linked Wise debit card for easy spending and withdrawals, plus the option to send payments to 80+ countries, and get local bank details for up to 10 foreign currencies including USD.
Wise can help you cut costs with currency exchange which always uses the real mid-market exchange rate and low, transparent fees.
Account types: Depending on where you are in the world, you’ll be able to open personal and business accounts with no minimum balance or monthly fees. To learn more, check out Wise Fees.
Eligibility: Wise accounts are available to customers based in the US. Simply use your home proof of address to get your account open to hold and exchange USD, MXN and a range of 50+ other currencies.
Is Wise safe? Wise is registered with a broad range of global regulatory bodies, in all the regions where services are available.
Financial technology company Revolut offers accounts which can be operated online and through their app. All accounts can hold and handle 28 currencies, and some also come with options to budget, invest, save and exchange, plus Junior accounts for family members.
You’ll be able to choose from 3 different account plans if you’re in the US – from a free standard plan to the premium Metal option which has a 16.99 USD/month fee, with more free transactions and features on offer.
Account types: Standard account plans are free – paid plan fees go up to 16.99 USD/month
Eligibility: Available to customers with addresses in the UK, the EEA, Australia, Singapore, Switzerland, Japan, and the US.
Is Revolut safe? Revolut is registered with regulatory bodies wherever it trades, and is a trustworthy provider to choose.
HSBC has a huge range of MXN accounts which can be opened as long as you’ve got legal residence in Mexico plus a proof of address document. You’ll need to visit an HSBC branch to open your account – although there are HSBC accounts which can be opened online, these are only available to Mexican citizens.
We’ve highlighted the HSBC Cuenta Flexible Simple, which has a monthly fee of 55 MXN that can be waived if you deposit a salary to the account.
Account types: Different account options exist, from flexible low cost accounts to products which require higher minimum deposits but come with more features
Eligibility: You’ll need your passport, proof of address and proof of legal residency in Mexico to apply
Is it safe? Yes – HSBC is a huge global company which is regulated all around the world
BBVA is one of the largest banks in the region, with an impressive range of account options for people living in Mexico.
If you’re a cross border commuter or live in Mexico but still need to transact frequently in USD, the Libreton Dolares account may suit your needs. You can hold your funds in both USD and MXN, and spend in both easily. There’s a minimum 50 USD balance, with a call below fee of 15 USD if you don’t keep this in your account.
Account types: BBVA has a range of different MXN and foreign currency accounts, including several products aimed at cross border commuters which include access to both USD and MAX
Eligibility: For residents in Mexico only – as a US citizen you’ll need your passport, proof of address and proof of legal residence to apply
Is it safe? Yes. BBVA is Mexico’s largest bank and a popular choice among locals and expats alike
What are the costs?
Opening your account is usually free, but regular Mexican banks may need you to deposit a minimum amount when you apply. There may also be minimum balance requirements on an ongoing basis, with fall below fees if you don’t hold enough in your account.
Aside from this, there are transaction fees to consider which can vary significantly depending on the account type you choose. Look out for costs like:
- Maintenance fees
- Cheque fees
- Foreign transaction charges if you spend a currency you don’t hold in the account
- ATM withdrawal fees at home and abroad
- International payment fees
Tips for transferring money
When you’re living abroad, one of the most costly things involved in managing your money can be sending money internationally.
Traditional banks don’t always offer good value on cross border transactions, so comparing a few different providers can be a good way to save money on your overall costs.
Here are a few things to watch out for when sending money with your normal bank:
- Check the exchange rate being applied – compare it against the mid-market exchange rate you’ll find on Google. If it’s different it’s probably because a markup – an extra fee – has been added
- See if it’s cheaper to set up your payment online – this is often the most cost effective way to arrange a transfer
- Ask about third party fees, which can creep in when traditional banks process international transfers
Having a bank account you can use to transact in MXN is essential if you’re planning a move to Mexico, and can also cut your costs if you’re a frequent visitor. Traditional banks in Mexico tend to require a Mexican proof of address which can be tricky if you’re still planning your move or you’ve just arrived. Instead, take a look at online alternatives like Wise and Revolut, to open your account online or in-app before you leave the US, with access to both USD and MXN balances.
- Can a foreigner open an account in Mexico?
Yes. If you’re a foreigner with legal residence in Mexico you’ll be able to open an account easily at a traditional Mexican bank. If you don’t have a proof of address yet, look at online alternatives instead.
- How much do I need to open a bank account in Mexico?
Many banks require a minimum opening deposit to get your account up and running. If you’d rather not pay anything upfront, check out digital providers as a lower cost alternative.
- Can I open a Mexican bank account online?
You may struggle to open a bank account with a regular Mexican bank online. This service is typically reserved for Mexican citizens – and not available from all banks.
- Can I open a bank account in Mexico before landing?
Open an account with an online specialist provider which supports MXN balances, to be able to transact even before you arrive in Mexico.