The United Arab Emirates continues to gain popularity as a stable jurisdiction favourable for structuring international business. Specifically, UAE companies are actively involved in the market of international corporate and banking services.
Next, we will discuss what is important to keep in mind for those wishing to open a bank account in the UAE, including categories of banks and types of accounts, banking compliance, and other nuances.
What You Need to Know About UAE Banks
- UAE banks include actual Emirati banks such as Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB), Ajman Bank, Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB), Emirates NBD, First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB), Mashreq, etc., and banks that are part of international financial groups, for example, Citibank, HSBC, Standard Chartered, etc. (the latter are currently closed to any individuals associated with the Russian Federation).
- Leading UAE banks are quite reliable, have high ratings from international rating agencies, and a stable forecast.
- UAE banks are not “offshore” and are focused on servicing residents of the Emirates. A mandatory condition for the applicant (account manager) is having a UAE resident visa.
- Opening accounts for non-residents is possible provided that substantial investments are made or large sums are deposited (from several million USD).
- In account servicing, the emphasis is on investment banking and private banking. A condition for operational (settlement) service is typically the purchase of an additional banking product for a certain amount (e.g., a deposit or investment portfolio). For corporate accounts, maintaining a minimum balance is required (on average from 50,000 USD).
- Emirates banks demonstrate a cautious (conservative) approach to accepting new clients, conducting full due diligence procedures.
- UAE banks thoroughly check the affiliation of potential clients to any sanction lists, including those imposed by the EU, USA, or the United Kingdom. The presence of the applicant in any sanction list excludes the possibility of opening an account.
Opening a Corporate Account in the UAE
As noted above, Emirates banks primarily focus on servicing residents, i.e., UAE companies and individuals with a UAE resident visa and Emirates ID card. Accordingly, the main body of clients opening corporate accounts are Emirati companies (local or registered in free zones).
Main documents required for opening a corporate account in the UAE:
- Company’s founding documents, commercial license;
- In most cases, a lease agreement for a real (physical) office for the company is requested;
- Passports, resident visas, and Emirates ID for all account managers;
- Proof of the account manager’s residence in the UAE (rental agreement, property certificate, or utility bills);
- Resume (CV) of the company’s founder (account manager);
- Bank statement for the last 6 months from the founder’s account as proof of income;
- Other documents proving the origin of the founder’s funds.
The table below shows the requirements and conditions of some leading UAE banks for opening a corporate account:
|Bank Name||Minimum Balance||Proof of Residence Address of the Founder in the UAE||Office Lease Agreement||Purchase of Other Banking Products to Open an Account||Account Currency||Account Opening Duration||Tariffs||Ratings|
|41000 USD||Not required.||Required.||Not required.||AED, USD||4 — 8 weeks||Mashreq Tariffs||Fitch A|
Moody’s Baa1 S&P A
First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB)
|68500 USD||Required.||Real office lease required (physically checked by the bank)||Not required.||AED, USD, EUR||2 — 4 months||FAB Tariffs||Fitch AA-|
|55000 USD||Required.||Required.||An investment product may be offered for 5 years (9000 USD per year)||AED, USD, EUR||2 — 4 months||Emirates NBD Tariffs||Fitch A+|
Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB)
|55000 — 68000 USD||Required.||Real office lease required (physically checked by the bank)||Not required.||AED, USD||2 — 4 months||DIB Tariffs||Fitch A|
|35000 USD||Required.||Real office lease required (physically checked by the bank).||Not required.||AED, USD||1 — 4 months||Emirates Islamic Tariffs||Fitch A+|
|Not required.||Required.||Required.||Not required.||AED, USD||5 — 7 working days (online)||WIO Tariffs||N/a|
Opening a Personal Account in the UAE
Opening a personal account at a UAE bank also requires a resident visa and is typically conditioned on purchasing an additional product from the bank.
The basic service package for a personal account usually includes current and savings accounts, a debit card with a requirement to maintain a minimum balance, online banking, international transfers, etc.
An expanded package of banking services may include services of a personal manager, through whom the client can quickly conduct necessary operations on the account, as well as other privileges.
To open a personal account in the UAE, the applicant will typically need:
- Resident visa and Emirates ID;
- Proof of residence in the UAE. Such proof can be a rental agreement registered with the municipality, a property deed, or utility bills in the applicant’s name;
- Statement from a personal/corporate account as proof of income for the last 6 months:
- a statement from a personal bank account (not from a sanctioned bank) if the source of income is a salary. The statement should reflect salary receipts. Some banks set minimum requirements for the size of the salary. Moreover, it is important that the statement is issued by a bank in the country of residence of the individual;
- or a statement from a corporate account (if the founder owns a company).
The type and cost of the additional banking product, the purchase of which is a condition for opening a personal account, are determined individually by the banks. This can be:
- a credit card;
- a deposit or non-reducible balance of a certain amount;
- an investment portfolio;
- an insurance product with regular payments.
UAE Resident Visa
As mentioned earlier, opening an account in UAE banks requires both a resident visa and an Emirates ID card.
The UAE resident visa is a residence permit in the UAE, issued for a period of 1 to 10 years. A foreign individual already in the Emirates on an entry permit, short-term or long-term tourist visa can obtain a resident visa. Children, parents, and close relatives of the applicant can also receive a resident visa simultaneously with the applicant.
There are several types of resident visas depending on how they are obtained:
- UAE Investor Visa.
- UAE Work Visa.
- UAE Property Owner Visa.
- UAE “Golden” Visa.
- Retirement Visa.
Legalization of Documents for the UAE
Since the UAE is not a participant in the Hague Apostille Convention of 1961, foreign documents intended for use in the UAE require legalization.
In the process of legalization, the document (its copy with notarized translation) is subject to consecutive certification by several authorities – first in the country of origin of the document, where the final link is the local consulate (consular department) of the UAE, and then in the UAE itself – by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the final issuance of the document. This procedure somewhat increases the cost and preparation time of the documents.
In the case of opening an account for a UAE company, legalization of its corporate documents is not required. Also, the passport and bank statement of the founder do not require legalization.
Note. Due to constant changes in regulation and banking regulations, the requirements of banks and the time frame for opening an account in the UAE may differ from those presented in this article. You can always request current information from our employees.