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How to open a bank account in Dubai?

How to open a bank account in Dubai?
February 12, 2024

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United Arab Emirates has a prosperous and flourishing economy. So, more and more foreign nationals are aiming for investing money in the UAE market. Both expatriates and Emirati nationals want to open a bank account in Dubai to make this activity seamless in 2024.

It is true, whether they want to setup their companies, or are exploring investment opportunities. As a business hub on a strategic location, UAE possesses superior infrastructure. Therefore, the endless support of the UAE government is drawing people to invest money to make a fortune.

You can register a bank account in Dubai for personal purposes. Moreover, you need it for your company operating locally and conducting international business. Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE) requires a mandatory personal presence for opening a bank account in Dubai.

Opening a bank account in Dubai for non residents

Can non residents open a bank account in Dubai or UAE?

Generally, non residents of the UAE can not open a current account in Dubai, without incorporating a company. However, some banks in the UAE allow foreigners with non residency to open savings accounts. Normally, they can’t get cheque books and credit cards, but can withdraw money with debit cards.

Opening a bank account in Dubai for non-residents
Opening a bank account in Dubai for non-residents

Necessity of opening a bank account in Dubai

Why is opening a bank account in Dubai necessary?

Banks in the UAE offer great advantages in comparison to international banks outside of the country. Thus, opening a bank account in Dubai is very beneficial. The advantages include relaxation on provision of documents, excellent quality of service, and a progressive remote account management via e-banking.

It applies to both classifications of bank accounts — personal and corporate/business. All banks in the UAE have to follow the in-person presence criteria for prospective banking clients. So, in this article we are focusing on the mechanism of opening a bank account in Dubai.

UAE has over 20 national banks, of which Emirates NBD, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Mashreq bank are the most popular. Also, 28 foreign banks are operating in the UAE such as BNP Paribas, CitiBank, Standard Chartered, Barclays Bank, etc. 7 financial institutions also hold licenses from CBUAE, and have special status with UAE Banks Federation.

Kinds of bank accounts in the UAE

What are types of bank accounts in the UAE?

There are two kinds of bank accounts in Dubai that UAE nationals and expats can choose from.

Now, we take a look on both of these classifications of bank accounts.

Personal bank account

If you are not a resident of UAE, you can open a private/personal bank account. But there are certain limitations on the choice of banks as well as the features they offer. Nevertheless, many popular banks in the UAE offer individual bank accounts.

So, this limitation is not really a big concern for the majority of the foreign nationals in the UAE. As, they don’t have to maintain permanent residency in Dubai. However, most banks allow expat residents in the UAE to open only savings account, and not a current account.

Expatriate residents in the UAE are given a credit card to withdraw money. But they are not eligible to obtain a cheque book. Also, expats are in the UAE are bound to keep minimum and/or maximum balance in their bank accounts.

Business/corporate account

If you need a bank account for your business purposes, you need to open a corporate/company account. Then, you have two main options to select from. Either, you can form an offshore company in the UAE and create an account for it.

Or you can establish a free zone onshore company in the UAE and create its corporate account. Thus, as a foreign investor, you can possess 100% ownership in both types of companies. Let’s have a look at the differences here.

  • UAE offshore company account – It is less costly, but is a little difficult to open. Also, it has higher requirements on minimum account balance. However, the company account is subject to strict official compliance regulations.
  • UAE onshore company account – It is more costlier to register but gives you the option to obtain personal UAE residency visa. Accordingly, it gives your account a UAE-resident status along with relevant benefits. For example, simpler regulations, minimum account balance, greater choice of banks, etc.

Benefits of opening a business bank account

Which are the benefits of opening a business bank account?

As you open a bank account in Dubai for your business, you get these advantages.

  • Less-restrictive banking choices
  • Zero taxation on both personal and corporate income
  • Effortless transfer of funds
  • Availability of asset management
  • Mobile and online banking
  • Indulgent international access
  • Flexible investment period
  • Dedicated regional manager
  • High level of secrecy

Requirements for personal bank accounts in the UAE

What are requirements for personal bank account in the UAE?

Here are the regulations for opening a bank account in Dubai for expat residents for personal use.

  • Passport copy with UAE entry page
  • Personal profile of the applicant with CV (Curriculum Vitae) on your professional and business experience)
  • Latest utility bill of the residence on your name in your native country
  • Original bank reference letter of applicant from his/her personal or company bank account in country of origin or anywhere in the world (requirement varies bank to bank)
  • Original latest 6 months personal bank statement from applicant’s country of origin or anywhere in the world
  • If applicant have only corporate account then latest 6 month bank statement (and also provide the legal documents from the company validating his ownership or share in the company)
  • Information on the source of incoming funds
  • Most banks in UAE require a minimum monthly average balance for opening a personal account
  • The requirement varies from bank to bank

Requisites for business/corporate accounts in the UAE

Which are requisites for business/corporate account in the UAE?

These are the obligations for opening a bank account in Dubai for business/corporate purposes.

  • Standard personal documents on company shareholders
  • Company Memorandum of Association (MOA) and Articles of Association (AOA)
  • Certificate of Incorporation / License – depending on the company type
  • Corporate structure and ownership documents
  • Information on the business experience of the company owners
  • Description on the planned activities of company
  • Information and documents on source of funds which will be invested into company

Process to open a corporate bank account in Dubai

How to open a corporate bank account in Dubai?

Here is the step-by-step process to open a bank account in Dubai for company usage.

Next, we look upon the steps of this procedure.

Get your trade license

A trade name is the identity of your business. It is necessary to obtain a business license in the UAE to start a business in Dubai. Likewise, it is a pre-requisite to open a corporate bank account there. Without a trade license, you can’t open a bank account in Dubai, particularly a business account.

Acquire the essential documents

The next critical step is to ensure that your paperwork is in line with the requirements of the bank. The documents requirement by a bank in Dubai can vary slightly from one bank to another. However, the gist of the documents necessary for opening a corporate bank account is quite similar.

  • Bank account opening form from the bank of your choice
  • Declaration from the board of directors authorizing the opening of corporate bank account, and the signatories approving its opening
  • A copy of a valid business license issued by the DED (Dubai Department of Economic Development)
  • Photocopies of valid passports of all the business partners and shareholders
  • A photocopy of share certificates
  • Photocopies of the Memorandum of Association (MOA) and Articles of Association (AOA)

Sometimes, you have to provide a few additional documents. For instance, invoices, utility bills, reference letters, company’s business plan, letters of recommendation from the business partners, etc. So, this information concerning your business activity helps in highlighting your company’s scope.

Choose the bank

Once your paperwork is complete, find a bank that suits the requirements of your business. Analyze the eligibility criteria and your income while selecting the bank. Some of the banks which give corporate account facility are Emirates NBD, Mashreq Bank, Dubai Islamic, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank.

Submit the application

Visit your chosen bank to have a one on one meeting with your banking advisor. Remove all your doubts and queries regarding opening a corporate bank account in the UAE. Once, you file your account opening application, the bank will review your request.

The bank will inform you through an email about the approval or rejection of your application. Upon approval, you are the proud owner of your very own business account in the UAE. In case of application rejection, you can remove the objections and re-submit the application.

Opening offshore bank account for foreign companies in Dubai

Can foreign companies open offshore account in Dubai?

Yes, the companies who are outside of Dubai can easily open an offshore bank account in Dubai. The financial stability of United Arab Emirates is due to its thriving banking sector. Many foreign companies want to tap into the growing economic potential of the UAE.

UAE banks are well-known for providing a high-level of banking services with exemplary customer support. Also, they put much effort in compliance with modern reporting requirements. However, you have to meet certain conditions before you can open an overseas bank account in Dubai.

Owners or shareholders of onshore or offshore companies can open corporate accounts for conducting banking transactions. Whether, they are residents or non-residents, then they have the option to open a private bank account. UAE’s financial institutions don’t place much restrictions on offshore banking, and provide several rewards.

  • Banks in Dubai ensure complete privacy of the information of the clients.
  • Offshore bank accounts in Dubai provide great ease in conducting international business.
  • Avail complete tax exemption, as Dubai offers zero tax charges for offshore companies.
  • Overseas bank accounts deliver access to facilities by foreign banks, that are not available locally.
  • Foreign companies with branches in Dubai can also obtain tax optimization.

Requirements to open an offshore bank account in Dubai

Which are requirements to open an offshore account in Dubai?

The process of opening an offshore bank account in Dubai varies from bank to bank. Because, each bank has its own policies and requirements that you have to cater to. This is the procedure of creation of offshore accounts for entrepreneurs forming a new business in Dubai.

  • Presence of company shareholders in the application process is necessary for the creation of an offshore account. If this is not possible, the client can visit the bank’s foreign branch in another country for personal identity confirmation. Otherwise, a representative of a bank can meet a client in his/her native country as well.
  • Banks in Dubai require submission of the company license. You have to submit shareholders’ passport copies with the stamp of entry in the UAE. Also, you have to submit copy of main pages of the MD’s passport, in case he/she is not a shareholder.
  • Some banks may need additional documents like shareholder’s CV, existing contracts, reference letter from business partners, and business plan. They may seek Memorandum of Association (MoA), Articles of Association (AoA), and the disclosure of the source of funds. Requirements of some banks include company structure tree diagram on the company letterhead, and certificate of good standing.
  • If you open offshore account in a shareholder’s company name, then notarize the shareholding company’s documents by court and MOFA.
  • Banks have “know your customer” policy to identify individual creating an account, and if necessary to identify beneficial owner. UAE’s central bank requires banks to perform the clients’ due diligence for offshore accounts. So, banks further collect information regarding client’s primary business area, the total number of deposits, revenues, main suppliers, customers, etc. After all, banks have to adhere to strict international rules and regulations to identify money of criminal origin.
  • Submit the complete bank account opening application form with necessary documents. Usually, the process of opening a bank account takes from a few days to three weeks. However, for offshore accounts, it may take more time due to bank’s financial reporting compliance, and management approval.
  • Remember, the banking fees are competitive and interest rates are high in the UAE. Bank account holders have the option to utilize online banking. It is beneficial for those who cannot go to the bank for every single transaction.
Requirements to open an offshore bank account in Dubai
Requirements to open an offshore bank account in Dubai

KYC regulations of the UAE banks

What are the KYC regulations of the UAE banks?

UAE’s Central Bank regulates all banks in the UAE to meet international standards. CBUAE has set in place a Know Your Customer (KYC) policy as a regular practice to fight money laundering. Also, KYC implementation is vital to fulfill counter terrorism financing protocols of FATF, EU, OFCD, and other financial regulators.

Banks in the UAE ask you certain screening questions. They do so before as well as after opening your personal or corporate account. Furthermore, they comment on your financial transactions for better taxing and reporting compliance.

Besides, the UAE does all that to maintain its reputation for ease of doing business. These regulations have some significant monetary impact. Nonetheless, there is no additional tax imposition because of these changes.

Conclusion

The procedure to open a bank account in Dubai can become complex and time-consuming. So, you have to get all information beforehand in to avoid delays and any ambiguities. Feel free to talk with business consultants to help you in this process.

KWS Middle East provides complete guidance for bank account opening to its clients. Also, it is on top of the assistance for your business setup in Dubai. For more information, contact our business representatives now.

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