The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has firmly established itself as a business hub and Dubai remains one of the most prominent cities to lead from the front. With the increase of new opportunities, the number of investors in the region is increasing drastically. This influx of business has not only been helpful for the investors but also for people who are seeking jobs.
However, it does not matter if you are an investor, employer, or employee, you will most definitely require a bank account in Dubai if you are to conduct any sort of business or provide your service in any capacity.
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Overview of Banks in UAE
The UAE Central Bank is the primary regulatory body and they keep the financial checks and balances in the region. There are a total of 23 local and 26 foreign banks in the UAE, where the top 5 ranked banks account for 60% of the sector’s assets. There are four different types of banks in the UAE which are as follows:
- Commercial Banks
- Industrial Banks
- Merchant Banks
- Islamic Banks
Bank Account Types in UAE
There are basically two types of bank categories that you can apply for in Dubai.
- Personal Accounts
- Corporate Accounts
To open a bank account, there are two types based on your visa status and where you live. Depending on that, your bank account opening process will differ.
1) Personal Account for UAE Residents
If you are living in the UAE then the simplest and the most straightforward bank opening process is for the residents. The only requirement for personal residential account opening is that you must have original identification and it will take up to 1 to 3 days for the application to process.
For salaried people, it is better to contact your Human Resource (HR) and ask them which banks they work with and it is a better idea to also open your account in the same bank. This process will help your salary show up in your account much faster as other banks can take up to 1 or 2 days.
The documents required for the personal bank account opening are as following:
- Your original passport along with a copy of it
- A copy of your visa page, for verification that you are indeed a UAE resident
- A salary certificate, which will be obtained from HR or the relevant department at your workplace
Note: Some banks require the Emirates ID along with its copy. However, if you don’t have one then you can simply apply for it and give them a copy of your Emirates ID application because the process actually takes a long time.
2) Personal Account for Non-UAE Residents
The process for opening bank accounts as a non-UAE resident can be slightly tricky as it requires extra verifications. However, the task is not impossible as the banks have a simple process for it as well. It is important to note that UAE complies with FATCA and CRS, which means that if you open your bank account in the UAE then your information will be automatically shared with the relevant authorities in your home country for tax-related purposes.
The majority of the people inquiring about non-UAE resident bank opening, they are really only asking about Dubai because Dubai is the home to the majority of Free Trade Zones (FTZ); this makes Dubai the most attractive place for non-UAE entrepreneurs and investors for conducting their businesses.
Depending on the bank you choose to open your account in, the restrictions and limitations will drastically vary. For instance, non-UAE residents are not allowed to open checking account (or current account). Some banks impose the restriction of not giving checkbooks whereas others have restrictions on minimum and maximum rules for account balances.
Since UAE banks have IBANs, this means that you can easily make transactions and receive payments from across Europe. However, to enjoy the benefits of having an account in the UAE as a non-resident, it will require an in-person visit to the bank for biometric verification and document submission.
Here is the basic documentation which will be required from you if you are to open a bank account as a non-UAE resident:
- Applicant’s presence is mandatory in the UAE
- Original passport along with its copy
- Utility bill as address proof
- Your CV which contains personal background and professional experience
- Bank statement from your account in the home country of the last six months
These types of accounts normally take up to 2 weeks to open as there are a number of verifications the banks are required to make. Furthermore, it is important to note that any income you receive in this account, you will have to disclose it in your home country and pay taxes on it.
3) Corporate Account for UAE Companies
UAE has slowly transformed itself as a business hub that offers a safe environment for all entrepreneurs and potential business investors. This transformation has helped the image of UAE and attracted a lot of business, which was previously not being capitalized on. The government has intervened and imposed some things on the banks which has driven up the business as well such as hassle-free financial transactions and so on.
The process for corporate account opening for UAE companies is extremely hassle-free. Here is a list of all the UAE companies which are eligible to open their bank accounts:
- UAE offshore companies
- Free Zone companies
- Mainland businesses
The documents required to ensure a corporate account registration for the local companies are as following:
- Trade license of the company
- Copies of Memorandum of Association (MOA) and Articles of Association (AOA)
- Share certificate confirmation and its copy
- Copy of Incorporation Certificate
- UAE passport copy of all shareholders which has the entry stamps present
- Emirates ID of the shareholders who have UAE residency
- Copy of visa pages for all the shareholders who have UAE residency
- List of prospective clients or existing clients, this essentially means suppliers and buyers
- Last 6-months bank statements copies of the shareholders
- To show proof of address, copies of utility bills are required from shareholders as well
- Legal documentation and bank statements copies are also required of the company or the firm
Some other requirements include the CVs of the shareholders which showcase their previous business ventures, place of employment. In addition to that, another important document is the expected annual turnover and initial deposit to the newly opened account.
In order for the banks to open a corporate account, they require at least 2 weeks which can also take up to 2 months for verification of the submitted documents. The banks normally open the accounts for Mainland and Free Zone companies as opposed to the UAE offshore companies.
4) Corporate Account for Non-UAE Companies
The companies which are registered outside of the UAE can also open up their bank accounts within the region. However, this type of bank account opening is the most complicated when compared to the rest. It is important to note that since the process is tedious, the acceptance rate for this type of bank accounts is also very low. However, here is everything you need to know in order to increase your chances.
There are 5 corporate documents that are mandatory to be submitted, which include:
- Good Standing Certificate
- Incumbency Certificate
- Memorandum of Association
- Registration Certificate
- License, if available
It is important to understand that banks are typically not willing to open these types of accounts as they fall in the category of “high risk”, which means they are overly cautious when it comes to the verification process. This is the reason why there is no real deadline for the processing of the application. If you absolutely require a UAE bank account then it is a better decision to set up a UAE entity and register the bank account under that company instead of the foreign company.
Bank Account Charges in Dubai
The UAE banking sector was imposed certain restrictions and standardized fees that banks around the country can charge the customers. This circular was released by UAE Central Bank back in 2011. The list is as follows:
|Account Opening Fees
|Dh3000 (Maximum Limit)
|Monthly Minimum Balance Penalty
|New Cheque Book
|Dh25 (First One Comes Free)
|Standing Order Setup
|Dh50 (Maximum Limit)
|Standing Order Payment Dishonoured
|Manager’s Cheque Issue Fees
|Account Balance Letter
|No Liability Certificate
|Bounced Cheque Fee
|Dh100 (Free if written to yourself)
Service Following the Bank Account Opening
After your bank account opening has been successfully processed, you can expect the following services depending on the type of your account:
- Savings or Current account in Dirhams
- Good interest rates
- Some banks offer 0.25% pa on balances
- International ATM or Debit Cards (Depending on your account type)
- Access to your account 24/7, through ATM or through the bank helpline
- Access to the branch, your account, ATM, and bill payment facilities
- International money transactions (Depending on your account type)
Banks Available in UAE for Account Opening
Although there are a number of banks where you can open your account but here is Rizmona’s pick! These accounts are the best when it comes to doing business with them, they provide the best customer service along with ease of doing business.
Emirates NBD is one of the largest banking groups in the Middle East region. The headquarter is located in Dubai and the bank employs over 9,000 employees. The Emirates NBD currently has 221 branches, 1,023 ATMs, and SDMs around the globe. The bank operates through different segments, which include:
- Retail Banking and Wealth Management
- Wholesale Banking
- Islamic Banking
- International Banking
- Information Technology and Operations
Account to the financial reports, the bank’s total assets amounted to US$121 billion and net profit reached US$1.97 billion by the year 2016.
Since Emirates NBD is a globally established bank, they have strict requirements for compliance. If you want to open an account at Emirates NBD then a physical office space is required along with maintaining a high balance in the account.
Established in 1968, First Abu Dhabi Bank is one of the largest lenders among the banks in the UAE. It is officially the big bank of the Abu Dhabi government which is present across 19 different countries. The headquarter of FAB is located in Abu Dhabi and the bank provides the following services corporate, retail, private, investment, and Islamic Banking.
There are a total of 10,850 staff members. The bank reported total assets of US$114 billion and posted a net profit of US$1.44 billion by 2016.
When it comes to the account opening in FAB, the process can be tedious and it can take a lot of time to open the account. Moreover, the bank typically requires you to maintain a high balance as well.
The Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank was founded in 1985 and since then, the bank has expanded into various sectors which include retail, commercial, Islamic banking, and other financial services. The main segments through which the bank operates are as following:
- Consumer Banking
- Wholesale Banking
- Treasury Banking
- Property Management
The Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank employs over 17,000 employees and its headquarter is based in Abu Dhabi. As of 2016, the total assets of the bank were US$70 billion and the net profit was US$1.13 billion.
The Dubai Islamic Bank came into existence in 1975 and it has its headquarter in Dubai. The bank has its branches across the globe and has a 1.7 million user customer base. In UAE alone, Dubai Islamic Bank has over 90 branches. The bank mainly operates through the following segments:
- Consumer Banking
- Corporate Banking
- Real Estate Development
There are other business segments the bank operates through as well. By 2016, the bank reported total assets of US$47 billion and posted a net profit of US$1.12 billion. Learn more about opening an account in Dubai Islamic Bank
The Mashreq Bank is one of the oldest banks in the UAE region, which was established in 1967. The headquarters of the bank are located in Dubai as they primarily offer their services to the majority of the Free Zones in Dubai. The bank is a Joint Stock Company and is an associated company of the HSBC Group. The Mashreq Bank provides the following services:
- Commercial Banking
- Investment Banking
- Islamic Banking
- Brokerage Services
- Asset Management
Unlike most banks, Mashreq Bank has kept its expansion very limited and focused entirely on providing premium services to its customers and clients. The bank has 45 domestic branches and 20 international ones, which include in Egypt, Quwain, Qatar, and Bahrain. There are currently over 4,000 staff members employed at the bank. As of 2016, the bank’s total assets were $33 billion dollars and net profit was $531 million dollars.
Founded in 1982, the Union National Bank has established itself as a global brand that has 76 branches around the world. It provides commercial and investment banking services to salaried, self-employed, and high-net-worth individuals. United National Bank also caters to different business entities in the UAE region as well. The headquarters of this bank is located in Abu Dhabi. The United National Bank operates through International and Financial institute divisions and Treasury and Investments division. The total worth of the company, in 2016, was summed up to be $28 billion dollars in assets and posted a net profit of $430 million dollars.
The headquarters of Commercial Bank is located in Dubai, as the name of the bank suggests. This bank was founded in 1969 and it offers corporate banking, commercial banking, personal banking, Islamic banking, and supports services. Moreover, the importance of this bank can be defined by the fact that it is the 35th largest bank in the Persian Gulf region. The 2016 financial data shows that the bank’s total assets were $17 billion dollars and net profit was $273 million dollars.
RAK Bank is the bank of the Ras Al Khaimah government which was established in 1976. In the UAE, this bank is also known as the National Bank of Ras Al Khaimah (P.J.S.C). RAK Bank provides retail and commercial banking services in the UAE region to small and medium businesses, which can be good for young entrepreneurs. The business operates through five different segments which comprise of:
- Retail Banking
- Wholesale Banking
- Business Banking
- Insurance Business
The RAK Bank has 38 branches and has over 700,000 customers across the globe. According to the financial data available in 2016, the total assets of the bank amounted to US$11 billion and net profit reached US$180 million.
Factors Related to Bank Account Opening
This in-depth guide was to help you understand how businesses open their bank account in UAE and which are some of the most famous banks where a majority of the business transactions occur. However, if you are still confused about some things then Rizmona has compiled a list of simple questions and information which need to be figured out prior to the bank account opening process.
The following factors need to be determined in order for you to successfully open your business bank account:
- What is the nature of your business?
- Which place will the business be conducted?
- What are the nationality and the background of the shareholders?
- Who will the company take onboard as clients?
- What are the names of the companies that are already on board?
- What is the source of the wealth of the business owners?
- What are the profits and turnover expectations o the company?
- Where will the business be physically located?
Once all of that is cleared and you have the required documentation then you can finally progress towards hopefully opening up your business account in your desired bank account.
The bank account opening process can of course be tedious and difficult which is why at Riz & Mona, we offer our premium services to our clients and help them guide through the process. We have expert teams available to follow up on your demands and ensuring that we provide you with the results. So, contact us and acquire our banking services today