How to Open a Thai Bank Account: A Foreigner’s Guide — Satang.info

Blog

How to Open a Thai Bank Account: A Foreigner’s Guide

What's the best way to open a Thai bank account as a foreigner? It depends on whether you have a tourist visa or are a long-term resident.

A greater number of foreigners live in Thailand than anywhere else in Southeast Asia. Naturally then, there’s a strong demand for opening bank accounts here. Yet the rules have always been unclear.

I’ve successfully opened nearly a dozen Thai bank accounts during the past 10 years. The exact circumstances were always a bit different, although I’ve received an account in Thailand while holding everything from a tourist visa, to a student visa, to an investment visa.

Because of this, I do feel qualified to write a guide about opening a Thai bank account from the perspective of a foreigner.

Your experience will depend on who you are. And I went through the process as a permanent resident, tourist, university student, along with everything in between.

The process doesn’t work the same as it did in 2008 — certainly if you’re opening a Thai account on a tourist visa. Getting an account on a 30-day visa is still possible, but not anywhere near as simple as before.

You might find other guides online that specifically say “(insert branch name) will let foreigners open an account!”. I’m not doing that for several reasons.

First off, banks in Thailand don’t offer blanket policies on non-resident account opening. Your ability depends on which branch you visit and the employee’s mood at the time.

A staff member at the head office would probably give you a completely different answer than a branch in Bang Na.

Secondly, staff at Thai banks are constantly changing or rotating. I could give you the name of a branch where opening an account as a foreigner was easy eight months ago. But the same friendly employee likely doesn’t work there anymore.

Don’t worry though: keep reading and you’ll learn all the information you need about opening a Thai bank account as a foreigner.

How to Open a Thai Bank Account: A Foreigner’s Guide

Can Foreigners Open a Bank Account in Thailand?

“Yes” is the short answer. With that said, your available options will vary based on whether you have a long-term visa or not.

Make sure you bring a passport and a minimum deposit since you will definitely need those. Depending on your which bank you’re visiting, you may also require anything from a long-term visa, to a referral letter from an existing customer, to a letter from your embassy.

I should note that, like in most of emerging Asia, your experiences might differ based on the specific bank branch you visit.

Employees have a large amount of discretion regarding what paperwork they want, how easy they’ll make the process, or even if they’ll let you open a Thai bank account at all.

Therefore, if you visit a bank and things don’t work out for you, then simply try another branch. Remember to be polite with staff as well. Banking in Thailand is often frustrating, yet becoming mad will probably end up wasting your time.

How to Open a Thai Bank Account: A Foreigner’s Guide

What Are The Best Banks in Thailand?

Not every bank in Thailand is equal. Some are frequently crowded with customers. Others are highly bureaucratic if you’re a foreigner. And a few of them lack customer service standards.

We’ll start off with Thailand’s biggest banks. Conveniently, they’re also the easiest ones to open an account with if you’re a foreigner. Each of them will allow non-resident account opening. As mentioned before though, your experiences will vary depending on the exact branch.

Depending on what metric you’re using (number of staff, annual profit, AUM, etc.), the “biggest bank in Thailand” is one of three.

Bangkok Bank (BBL) is my favorite locally-based bank in Thailand. Not only are branches and ATMs plentiful, but you will find English-capable staff at most locations. Their online banking is better than many local banks and friendly to foreigners who don’t read Thai.

Worth noting is that Bangkok Bank has offices in New York and other major cities around the world. In fact, they easily boast the largest international presence out of all local Thai banks. You may find them useful if you’re expecting transfers from the US, China, or elsewhere.

Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) is yet another top choice. As the nation’s first bank and still among the biggest, they compete with Bangkok Bank and KBank for Thailand’s largest ATM network. You shouldn’t ever have problems finding an SCB location.

While I’m personally biased toward Bangkok Bank because of their international presence, SCB does enjoy lots of the same advantages. Lines are shorter compared with other top Thai banks and customer service standards are above average.

Kasikornbank (KBank) is a third major bank worth considering if you’re a foreigner. However, there’s one major downside: KBank is widely known as an everyman’s company.

How to Open a Thai Bank Account: A Foreigner’s Guide

Their Thai name means “farmer’s bank”, practically everyone uses an account with them, and they don’t require a minimum deposit. Thus, despite KBank’s large presence, you’ll usually find longer lines at branches and ATMs alike.

Rounding out Thailand’s top five biggest banks are Bank of Ayudhya (Krungsri) and Krung Thai Bank (KTB). Unfortunately, their ATMs and branches aren’t readily available compared with the three listed above. And they’re often packed with customers.

Of course, there are dozens of smaller local banks in Thailand. Each of them have advantages (lower interest rates, niche services, etc.) if you’re a Thai citizen. But if you’re a foreigner, then dealing with them is rarely easier than a larger bank.

Besides local banks, Thailand hosts several large multinational banks. US-based Citibank, Singapore’s UOB, and CIMB from Malaysia are the most prominent ones. Getting an account at any of them is hard if you’re a non-resident in Thailand.

I find that international transfers and regional banking across Southeast Asia is way easier at foreign banks in Thailand though. Consider opening such an account if you hold a long-term visa or are doing business throughout the ASEAN region.

Otherwise, my advice to anyone on short-stay Thai visa is: go to your nearest branch of either Bangkok Bank or SCB. If they’re difficult with you, then try another branch. Repeat until you’ve successfully opened a bank account in Thailand!

Author: Reid Kirchenbauer

Guides, Interesting

You may like these posts

Gambling in Thailand — Underground Thai Lottery

Gambling in Thailand is for the most part illegal. Outside of the official Thai lottery, gambling on the outcome of events such as Muay Thai, football and cock-fighting are all il… Read more

Cock Fighting in Thailand — Thai Fighting Cocks

Cock fighting in Thailand is legal and very popular in many areas, particularly in the rural North/North East. On the other hand gambling is illegal in Thailand, save for the nati… Read more

5 Best Day Trips from Bangkok

One great perk about Bangkok is that a couple-hour car ride takes you to a completely different scenery and vibes. So even if you are time-strapped but want to explore more than t… Read more

American, Thai wife held in Pattaya drug bust

Police find nearly 1kg of crystal meth and pistol in Bang Lamung condo of couple Chon Buri police chief Nanthachart Supamongkol said officers had arrested Bart Helmus, 39, and S… Read more

Thailand bans street liquor ‘yadong’ after toad venom deaths

After a particularly funky variant made with toad’s venom was blamed for two fatalities in Chonburi , the Excise Department on Friday said all yadong street stalls are illegal and… Read more

Norwegian man Stein Arne Jensen, dies in South Pattaya condo fire

Police and forensic investigators rushed to the scene where firefighters were attempting to put out the blaze that reportedly started in room 3/319 A6 on 9th floor. Both water hos… Read more

When is the best time to visit Thailand?

Before planning your next trip, one of the things you may need to consider is the weather. The weather is one of the crucial deciders on how your trip may pan out. For instance, e… Read more

One man dies, three in coma, ten injured after drinking Yadong

One man has died and over a dozen injured, some seriously, after drinking herbal alcohol, also known as yadong, mixed with poisonous toad blood in Samet yesterday. Samet Police … Read more

Tourists warned about thieving monkeys in Khao Yai National Park

Thai Residents reports that with the current cooler weather coinciding with high season in the national park, the increase in visitors also brings more monkeys and they don’t just… Read more