How to Start an Account in Dubai Banks


Time for reading: 10 min

More and more often, business representatives and private investors select United Arab Emirates’ banks, primarily the ones from Dubai, to save and multiply their capitals. The reasons for this are evident: Dubai is one of not just the richest cities and leading tourist destinations of the world, but as well holds top and, what’s even more important, firm positions on the global real estate and finance market. Generally, the UAE is distinguished by powerful national economics, and they virtually don’t depend on international financial organizations. About fifty local and foreign banks (and their branch offices) function across the country. All of them receive funding mostly by way of deposits. All the while, the banking activity scheme in the Emirates is drastically different from the typical European system: the funds are being invested in reliable projects that provide a constant profit, while the received earnings are then divided between investors.

All of these advantages take on particular importance in the conditions of today’s global crisis when the economic and political environment of the world is extremely unstable and unpredictable. UAE’s financial sector’s popularity continues to grow on the background of the ever-increasing pressure on offshore jurisdictions and European and Asian countries from the side of the strongest countries in the world. Thereby, even Swiss and Singaporean banks are incapable to provide one-hundred-percent confidentiality of client accounts today due to the introduction of the CRS – Common Reporting Standard. The situation is different in the UAE, and particularly in Dubai.

Main advantages of the Emirates’ banking system:

  • Stability and reliability;
  • Client-centeredness and first-class service;
  • High fund liquidity supported by guarantees provided by the state;
  • Adequate requirements towards document suite necessary to start an account;
  • Possibility of remote control over the accounts through electronic banking;
  • Conditions for creation of multicurrency accounts;
  • Stable dirham exchange rate against the dollar since 1997.

Dubai is the most preferable option for starting a bank account in the UAE – it is the most evolved emirate and the largest financial center of the Middle East. Many banks function here, including the local ones as well as foreign branches. Its financial system has obvious advantages even compared to the country’s capital – Abu Dhabi. Dubai has reached the highest possible level of data confidentiality: data about clients’ bank accounts are not subject to disclosure. All financial organizations operating on the emirate’s territory are carefully selected at the licensing stage, thus ensuring their reliability. Ultimately, Dubai is a multi-national territory and is distinguished by high loyalty towards foreigners.

Both residents and those, who don’t have a residence permit or a resident visa, can start an account in a Dubai bank. In both cases, it is possible to open accounts for various purposes, private use, international business development, or a privately owned company that functions on the Emirates’ territory.

An important condition: regardless of account type, its future owner must be personally present in the bank. This is an obligatory condition in all the banking organizations of Dubai. It’s enough to come just for one day to meet a manager.

The process of application review and account creation can take from several days to 2-3 weeks.

Requirements of the Central Bank of the UAE towards Customers (KYC)

Central Bank of the UAE regulates the activity of all the financial organizations functioning on the country’s territory. In order to ensure compliance with the international standards and requirements, the Central Bank has developed a special policy known as KYC (Know Your Customer). In terms of this concept, UAE banks ask customers particular questions and comment on ongoing transactions both before and after the creation of a personal or corporate account.

If the bank considers an applicant suspicious, the former can refuse to start and maintain the account. Reasons for refusal can include:

  • Non-provision of documents that prove identity, professional activity, and work status of the applicant;
  • Blockage of the applicant’s accounts in another financial organization;
  • Multiple balance or turnover violations on the personal account or corporate account, respectively;
  • Refusal or inability to confirm where the funds were received from;
  • Presence of the applicant on the blacklist (for example, if they have built a political career or are an international criminal).

In order for the account to not be transferred into the inactive accounts list, it is necessary to use it at least once in six months.

Personal Bank Account in Dubai: Conditions of Starting One for Residents and Non-Residents

The procedure of starting a bank account for personal needs is simpler than for business objectives. At the same time, foreigners-residents have wider opportunities, than people without this status.

First of all, residents can create both a savings account and expense account (for example, for salary accounting purposes). Secondly, the bank provides applicants from this category both a debit card and a checkbook (this is a preferred way of paying for purchases in the UAE).

Recently, residents have obtained one more advantage. Two banks – Emirates NBD and Mashreq – provided them with a possibility of starting accounts through Liv and Neo mobile applications.

Regularly, in order to start a physical entity account, a resident has to provide:

  • Passport and its copy;
  • Resident visa copy;
  • Certificate of earnings from the employer company;
  • The latest bill for paying housing and communal services;
  • Some banks ask to provide a resident’s Emirates ID card.

Non-residents of the UAE also have the right to start both a private and corporate account in Dubai, but they have certain restrictions. This also concerns the selection of banking organizations and the services they provide.

Most banks allow non-residents to open an account with them, but only a deposit one. The creation of a current account for this client category is unavailable. For money extraction, banks provide a credit card, but one cannot get a checkbook without a resident visa. Besides, they introduce restrictions on the minimum and maximum amounts of money on the account. Regularly, the minimum balance is between $800 and $1,500.

In order to start a personal account, a non-resident has to provide the following things to a financial organization:

  • A passport and a copy of the page with a stamp signifying the entrance into the UAE territory;
  • A profile or resume – CV (Curriculum Vitae – brief information about the professional and entrepreneurial experience);
  • The latest bill for paying housing and communal services;
  • A reference letter (original) from the bank located in the native country of the applicant or in any other country of the world (different UAE banks may have different requirements);
  • A bank statement (original) regarding the applicant’s account condition for the last 6 months in their native country or in any other country of the world. If the applicant only has a corporate account, then they have to provide legal documents that prove their right of owning the company or its part along with the bank statement;
  • Information regarding the source of receiving money;
  • Most Dubai banks set a minimum monthly average sum that has to be present on the account. Its size may vary.

These requirements can slightly differ in different financial organizations.

It is necessary to personally be present in the bank only when starting the account (it’s enough to fly to the UAE on a tourist visa), but further on, all the operations can be conducted remotely, using a convenient, simple, and reliable internet banking system. All the possible questions can be easily solved by calling the bank’s managers by phone. It’s best to call from Sunday to Thursday since Friday and Saturday are weekends in the Emirates.

Starting a Corporate Account: Things You Need to Know

For the implementation of business objectives, it’s necessary to have a corporate account: the country’s laws forbid the use of personal accounts for entrepreneurial activity. There are two ways of obtaining a permit for its opening:

  1. To create an off-shore company in the United Arab Emirates;
  2. Create an on-shore company in the free economic zone of the UAE.

In both cases, organizations are going to be fully owned by a foreign country. But there are still going to be differences in the process of account creation.

An account for an off-shore company is a cheaper option, but it’s harder to start. Due to the fact that this is a non-residential account, the bank applies strict demands to its creation and further condition. In particular, this considers a larger minimum balance that has to always be present on the account.

Account registration for an on-shore company requires more resources but opens greater possibilities to its owner. First and foremost, this includes the receipt of a residential visa and resident status along with all the other accompanying advantages: a larger selection of banks and a low limit for the remaining balance.

The applicant has to provide their banking manager the following document suite:

  • Standard personal papers of the company’s stockholders;
  • Memorandum of association (MOA) and Articles of association (AOA);
  • Certificate of registration or license (in compliance with the type of the company);
  • Corporate structure and papers proving proprietary right;
  • Company plans – what is it going to do;
  • Information about company owners’ entrepreneurial experience;
  • Information about the sources of funds that are going to be invested in the company.

The process of corporate account creation normally takes from one week to one month.

Account Maintenance Prices

Starting an account in Dubai banks is regularly free, but its maintenance can be named free only notionally: each service has its own price. Payments are going to be charged for the use of other financial brands’ ATMs (averagely, $0.5 or AED 2), receipt release ($8 or AED 30), balance sheet ($14 or AED 50). If the average monthly sum on the account is less than the established limit, the owner will have to pay a fine of about AED 50 ($14). Internet banking averagely costs from $100 to $200 annually (AED 367-735). Termination of an account is also paid and costs about $27 or AED 100.

Termination of an Account in Banks of Dubai

The process takes about 5 days. Before closing an account, it is necessary to liquidate all debts, including loans, and request the bank’s confirmation about the absence of any remaining liabilities. The remaining funds can be personally taken by the owner from the bank or preliminarily transferred to another account.

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