How to open a bank account in Turkey
If you’re moving to Turkey you’ll need a simple way to manage your money and make payments in Turkish lira (TRY) while you’re there. Opening a bank account – ideally ahead of your move – is the obvious option. But it may not be as easy as you’d hope if you haven’t yet managed to get all your Turkish paperwork in order.
Instead of opening an account with a regular Turkish bank, one option is to use an alternative like Wise and Revolut – which offer multi-currency accounts which you can open from the US before you travel to Turkey. These can make it easier to manage across different currencies when you’re in the process of moving home – or even if you just travel regularly.
Read on for more about how to open a bank account in Turkey – and how alternative solutions can help if you can’t yet open an account with a Turkish bank.
What documents do I need?
The documents you need to apply for a Turkish bank account will depend on the bank you choose, and which type of account you want to open. Some Turkish banks offer expat banking services which may be easier to use than regular account products, as you’ll be assigned English speaking support if you need it. However, you’ll still need to be a Turkish resident and have a full set of documents.
Here’s what’s needed for an expat account with İşbank as an example:
- Proof of your identity – like a passport or residence permit
- Your Tax identification number
- Proof of your Turkish address
Alternatively you may choose a regular Turkish bank account if you’re a local resident. In this case the documents needed can include the above, and in some cases a Turkish ID card – at least if you want the easiest online opening process available.
Save the paperwork with alternative solutions like Wise or Revolut
It’s pretty standard to need to visit a bank in Turkey to open your account. Which can be tricky if you’re not yet a legal resident there with a Turkish tax ID to hand.
Alternative providers like Wise and Revolut can help. You can open an account online or in the provider’s app with your US proof of address, and start to hold, spend, send and exchange dozens of currencies including TRY.
You’ll also get a linked debit card for easy spending and withdrawals, and in some cases, local TRY account details you can use to get paid in lira with no fee. More on this later.
How to open a bank account in Turkey
You’re likely to find you have to visit a branch to open your Turkish bank account, unless you have a Turkish ID and a full suite of documents. In this case, providers like ING may allow you to apply online and confirm your account via a video call with a member of the bank’s staff.
If that doesn’t work for you, the easiest thing to do may be to choose a specialist service like Wise or Revolut which offer online accounts which can hold and exchange Turkish lira with a fully in-app onboarding process.
Can I open a bank account in Turkey before arrival?
It’s normal to need to visit a branch in Turkey to open your bank account, unless you happen to have a full set of Turkish issued ID documents.
If you’re still in the US you may find it easier to open an account to hold TRY and other currencies with providers like Wise and Revolut.
Which account is best in Turkey for foreigners?
The right account for your needs will depend on your personal preferences and situation – to help you decide we’ll look at a few examples, covering financial technology companies Wise and Revolut, plus İşbank and ING as more traditional banks in Turkey.
|Currencies covered||50+ currencies including USD, GBP, EUR and TRY||25 currencies including USD, EUR and TRY||TRY||TRY|
|Open an account online||Yes||Yes||No||With an eligible Turkish ID|
|Opening fee||No fee||No fee||Not specified||No fee|
|Fall below fee||No fee||No fee||Not specified||No fee|
|Maintenance fee||No fee||Up to 19.99 USD/month||Not specified||No fee|
|International transfers||Low fee, varies by currency||Fee varies by currency and payment value||Online SWIFT payments – 0.3%, from 320 TRY to 3,500 TRY|
In branch SWIFT payments to 4,500 TRY – 430 TRY fee
Higher value payments in branch, 0.6%, minimum 650 TRY
Incoming SWIFT payments 115 TRY
|Online payments – 150 TRY|
In branch payments – 0.5%, from 350 TRY to 1500 TRY
Incoming payments – 0.4%, from 150 TYRy to 1000 TRY
US citizens who are in Turkey and have local proof of ID and address shouldn’t struggle to open an account with a Turkish bank, although it may be easier to opt for an expat banking service if you need translation help. Otherwise – if you’re still in the US and looking to open an account prior to traveling to Turkey – you might find you’re better off with a multi-currency account which covers USD and TRY plus other major currencies, from a provider like Wise or Revolut.
Open a Wise account online or in the Wise app to hold TRY with USD, among a selection of about 50 supported currencies. Importantly, you can open your Wise account from the US, and still get TRY account details to make it easy – and free – to get paid in lira.
Wise account holders can also apply for a linked debit card to spend in 170+ countries, with the mid-market exchange rate any time you need to switch from one currency to another. That means you get the Google rate when you send a payment, spend with your card, or change from one currency to another in your Wise account.
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 accounts support holding and exchange of around 25 currencies – including USD and TRY. You can get a standard account without monthly fees or upgrade to a paid account tier which comes with more benefits. All accounts have some no-fee currency conversion and a linked debit card.
Revolut higher tier accounts can be especially handy if you travel a lot and want extra benefits like airport lounge access and some insurance.
Account types: Revolut Standart plans are available without monthly fees 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.
İşbank offers expat banking services with designated branches available for people who need to have a foreign language service. You can complete a contact form online to ask for details of the branches closest to you which offer the service you need, in a language that suits your needs. Accounts need to be opened in person at a İşbank branch. There’s not a lot of information available online covering the account types available for expat clients, so you’ll need to talk to an İşbank representative to understand more.
Account types: Accounts are available through the İşbank expat banking service – request more details online.
Eligibility: Available for expats living in Turkey.
Is it safe? Yes. İşbank is one of the oldest and largest banks in Turkey, and is safe to use.
ING is an international banking brand which covers Turkey and a selection of other countries, with accounts , loans, insurance and other financial services. There are current accounts designed for day to day use, as well as deposit accounts for savings. Whether or not you can open an ING account will depend on your residency and personal situation. Online account opening is available for some Turkish ID holders, but you may need to confirm your eligibility for an account in a branch to get started.
Account types: Range of accounts and services, including a current account which can be opened online by Turkish ID card holders
Eligibility: It’s fairly easy to open an account if you have a new Turkish ID card, but if you don’t you’ll need to visit a branch to understand your options
Is it safe? Yes. ING is a Dutch multinational financial services provider which is trusted and safe to use
What are the costs
The costs of banking in Turkey are fairly regulated – but different banks and products still have their own fees which you’ll need to know about. In particular, you may find different fees if you choose an expat bank account rather than one available to any Turkish resident.
Before you start using your account read the fee schedule in details, paying attention 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
- Credit card costs including cash advances and interest
Tips for transferring money
Sending and receiving money internationally can be pretty costly – with fees including a transfer fee, exchange rate markup and third party fees. In Turkey you’ll also usually find a receive fee when someone else sends you a payment from overseas, which may mean you get less than expected.
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
Turkey has a good range of local, regional and international banking brands, including some which operate specific expat services with English speaking relationship managers. How easy – or difficult – it is to open an account with a traditional Turkish bank will depend on the bank you select and what documents you’re able to provide for verification.
For an easier way to open an account to hold, spend and exchange TYR, check out alternative providers like Wise or Revolut. You’ll be able to open an account with a US ID and address information, to access multi-currency features, and easy ways to send, receive, spend and exchange TRY – even before you go to Turkey.
FAQs on Opening a Bank Account in Turkey
Can I open a Turkish bank account online?
Some banks in Turkey – like ING – do offer online account opening, via a video call. However, there may be eligibility criteria which make this service tricky to access if you’re not already a Turkish resident with all your legal paperwork handy. You can check out online providers like Wise and Revolut, they offer multi-currency accounts with TRY details. You can also use their linked debit cards to shop in TRY when you are in Turkey without paying high currency conversion fees.
Can I open a bank account in Turkey before landing?
You’re likely to struggle to open a Turkish bank account before you have a local address in Turkey, and a Turkish tax number. If you want to get a TRY account set up before you move, check out online specialists like Wise and Revolut instead. You can open an account to hold, receive, send and spend lira, using your US identification and proof of address.
Can a foreigner open an account in Turkey?
It’s possible to open an account with a traditional Turkish bank as long as you have all the paperwork needed – usually including a local address and tax number. If you don’t have these documents to hand, a better bet is to open an account which can hold TRY with an online specialist like Wise or Revolut.
How much do I need to open a bank account in Turkey?
The fees for banking in Turkey can vary widely depending on the bank and the account type you select. Compare a few to get the best deal – or look for an online provider which may have cheaper overall costs and a more intuitive service.