If you want to maintain your deposits or savings as a foreigner in Israel, you’re probably having a lot of questions about their non-resident banking accounts.
As a non-resident, especially if it’s your first time working with Israeli banks, your options will be a bit restricted. So, if you’re planning on making a permanent move to the country, we suggest you wait until you get your residency to open up your bank account.
Still, if for any reason you need to open it right now, here are a couple of things you should know first.
Is opening a foreign account in Israeli banks even possible?
Yes, it is. Most banks offer special programs for non-residents and foreigners. Of course, to be eligible for one of these accounts, you’ll need to fit the bank’s specific set of standards. So, yes, depending on how well you fit these criteria, you’ll know whether you can open your account in Israel or not. Remember that different banks have different rules and standards. Just because you’re not eligible for an account in one Israeli bank, doesn’t mean you’re ineligible for the entire Israeli banking system! Make sure to check all of your options and don’t give up if you get your application rejected once or twice.
You’ll usually need to get there in person
Now, this might seem like a no-brainer, but preparing for your interview can be quite nerve-racking. While you don’t need to schedule a special appointment, getting everything authorized will take some time. So, make sure you plan your schedule ahead before you head out to the bank of your choice. You can always e-mail them for information like their working hours and the documentation they require you to bring.
Even though the official language is Hebrew, you don’t have to worry about communicational issues at all. Every bank that offers foreign and non-resident accounts will have a special representative that will guide you through the process. Overall, as long as you check their requirements ahead, you’ll be able to get your account opened relatively quickly.
Remember to choose your bank wisely
As you can probably expect, Israel has a wide range of options when it comes to its banking sector. Your choice will depend on your specific needs, goals, and requirements, so make sure to do enough research and consider all of your options before making the final call.
We suggest you read up on their non-resident programs on their websites, so you know whether it’s all worth your time or not. You can find a list of Israel’s major banks at israelbanks.co.il, if you’re interested in starting your research right now!
Overall, check how well established the bank is, and look at their offers carefully before making your choice. Whatever you do, don’t rush into your decision! The bank you’ll be leaving your assets with should be stable and transparent, before anything else.
As we mentioned before, opening a bank account takes some paperwork to be done. Most banks will provide you with precise info on everything you need to bring and get your account opened, so don’t hesitate to ask! Here’s what you’ll usually need to have:
- Your passport. The bank needs to identify you to be able to authorize your new bank account.
- If you’re from the United States, you’ll also need your Social Security Number
- The “Note of a Future Bank Account”- You can get this at the airport upon your arrival. The bank will stamp this to help you get registered with the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration.
- Cash to pay for the account-opening fee.
- If you’re considering opening a joint account, your partner should accompany you to your interview and provide the same documents listed above.
- Recent bank statements to establish a better credit with your new bank.
Overall, these should be your guidelines when preparing documents for your interview. Note that some banks might require additional documentation to be able to authorize your account. So, the best course of action is to inform yourself on their website before going there in person. In this way, you’ll avoid wasting your time by having to visit the bank multiple times (not to mention waiting in lines!).
Foreign currency accounts
If you’re looking to retain your money in its current currency, you can always open a foreign currency account at your Israeli bank. The process for opening these types of accounts is generally the same as opening any other type of account. You can always purchase shekels with your foreign currency at a small fee, or keep your assets locked to earn an interest rate.
There’s no state-funded bank insurance in Israel. However, The Bank of Israel (their central bank) does insure deposits to a degree. You can always ask your banker for further information on their insurance policies, but the best way to keep your deposits safe is to choose a stable bank in the first place.
If you’re a fan of e-banking, there’s no need to worry: Israeli banks are as modern as they can be! Almost every bank will offer online and e-banking services to make managing your finances simple and easy. However, the same can’t be said for their account-opening policies. Rarely any bank will let you open an account with them without any face-to-face contact beforehand.
With that being said, there are a couple of banks that do allow you to open your account online. Still, you’ll be put through the same rigorous background checks, and you won’t be able to avoid the interview (they’ll video call you).
The bottom line
Opening a bank account in Israel as a non-resident is perfectly possible. Of course, you’ll need to provide tons of documentation first. Besides that, the process can be quite time-consuming, which may be frustrating for some.
Still, getting your account opened can be quite beneficial, especially if you’re thinking about starting your life in the country. As long as you prepare ahead and choose the right bank, we’re certain you won’t have any problems opening your new account.