Remote working was growing in popularity even before the lockdowns of 2020.
High-speed broadband and free video calling apps mean that anyone from graphic designers to web developers can work from virtually anywhere in the world.
Thailand’s lure of great weather, incredible cuisine and low cost of living make it an ideal destination for remote workers all year round. If you’re thinking of moving to the Land of Smiles, discover the best bank accounts for expats and foreigners in Thailand.
Why open a bank account in Thailand
If you’re lucky enough to be moving to Thailand, you should set up a Thai bank account as soon as you arrive. That’s because the cost of using your domestic bank account for everyday expenses soon adds up.
Banks make huge profits by charging you transaction, withdrawal and conversion fees when you spend your money overseas. Even worse, they often give you a bad exchange rate and then pocket the difference.
Opening a bank account in Thailand is an excellent way of acclimatising to Thai society and saving money in the process.
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How to open a Thai bank account
Banks in Thailand, such as Kasikorn Bank, Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) and Bangkok Bank, have different procedures for opening bank accounts for foreigners.
While some banks will require you to have a work visa from your Thai-based employer, others can set up an account for you with only a tourist or student visa. Several Thai banks even allow you to open a bank remotely, as long as you have the correct documents.
What documents do you need to open a Thai bank account?
To be eligible to get a bank account in Thailand, you’ll need to bring evidence of your visa and documents such as:
- A passport or photo ID.
- A Thai driving license.
- A rental agreement from a landlord in Thailand.
- A reference letter from a Thai university or embassy.
- A reference letter from a recognised Thai citizen or organisation.
|Top tip: Take every document you have with you. In certain cases, bank officials may reject some forms of identity at the branch and request a replacement.|
Types of Thai bank accounts for foreigners
Thai bank accounts available to foreigners tend to fall under one of the following main categories:
- Savings accounts.
- Current accounts.
- Foreign currency accounts (FCAs).
- Business accounts.
In Thailand, the process of opening current and business bank accounts is notoriously drawn-out and complicated.
However, setting up savings and foreign currency deposit accounts is more straightforward. If you’re new to Thailand, try opening one of these expat-friendly accounts initially.
Opening a saving account in Thailand
Savings accounts in Thailand work similarly to those in your home country. As well as your visa and supporting documents, you’ll need an initial deposit when opening a savings account. Usually, the minimum amount is around 500 Thai Bhat (roughly £12), but this can vary from bank to bank.
With typical savings accounts, you’ll receive a debit card allowing you to deposit and withdraw funds from your account at cashpoints (ATMs). You can also request a credit card; however, they are only usually given to those with a valid work permit or visa and proof of income.
Opening a foreign currency account in Thailand
FCAs are current accounts in currencies other than the home currency. You can set up an FCA with your home bank, if available, or with a bank in Thailand.
FCAs are ideal if you live in Thailand but work remotely for a company based elsewhere. For example, a company in the United States can transfer your salary in US dollars to your foreign currency account.
You’ll need a minimum deposit and a valid passport to open an FCA in Thailand. Other documentation may also be requested, such as an official letter of recommendation from your country’s embassy, employer or overseas bank.
Some banks in Thailand may also ask to see old payslips, loan documents or a bank statement from an existing bank account.
Need to send money to Thailand? Look no further than our guide on how to send money to Thailand. Discover top tips on sending remittances to Thailand.
What you need to know when opening a bank account in Thailand
Nothing beats local knowledge when in a foreign country. The same is true for banking practices overseas. Here are a few tips on what you should know about bank accounts in Thailand:
- Online banking
In-branch banking can often include long queues only to be told to complete your transaction online. Try choosing a bank account with website and app features as this will save you time and hassle.
- Out of province fees
You should open your bank account in the town or city you intend to settle down. That’s because banks in Thailand sometimes charge you an ‘out of province’ fee for using your bank card. The fee applies if you open your account in one province but move to another. So if you open an account in Phuket and move to Bangkok, you’ll be charged around 15 Thai Baht (around £0.40 p) whenever you withdraw money from your account.
Thai, and Asian culture in general, centres around respect and courtesy. When opening your bank account, saying please and thank you go a long way. Another unwritten rule in Thailand is to dress appropriately. If you attend an appointment when opening a bank account, treat it like a job interview and wear suitable clothing.