The first draft of this post appeared 6 years ago, after my frustrating experience of trying to open a bank account in Thailand.
I was tired of extortionate withdrawal fees when using my home bank cards, not to mention problems with ATMs not accepting my card(s) at critical moments – such as on nights out on the town.
I tried at least five different branches of different bank brands before I had success.
What struck me were the differing requirements from branch-to-branch, and the fact that few bank staff knew the rules that were listed on the company website.
When I did cite the requirements stated on the website, I was told that “things had changed”, or “the manager said…”
So I knew I had to write a post on this, because I figured others must be struggling too.
It's now almost 2018, and since writing the first version of that post, hundreds of people have left their experiences of opening bank accounts in Thailand, making this post a solid resource for others wanting to do the same.
I still bank with Bangkok Bank, and have a B1ST debit card with access to Bualang online banking. Online banking was set up for me at the ATM by a member of staff.
The ATM card was issued on the spot, for a 300 Baht fee, and I've had to replace it once due to wear and tear.
I now regularly transfer money to my Thai account via Transferwise (read this post after this one), which means I avoid the bank sending and receiving charges, and currency conversion fees.
It feels so good to beat the banks!
How You Can Open a Thai Bank Account
Things are a hell of a lot easier in Thailand when you have a Thai ATM card and an account to transfer money into.
But despite the visa you have, be it a retirement visa, work permit or Non O visa based on marriage, opening an account can be a nightmare.
Indeed, I've heard from people on tourist visas who've had less hassle opening an account that someone on a long-stay visa who is married to a Thai national.
So before you trudge around town and get frustrated as hell, read this post and see which bank is most likely to work best for your situation.
What I've done is documented my experiences with the various banks, and provided their requirements below.
In addition, I have also added a ‘reader experiences' section to each bank, providing information from other readers who've generously reported back in the comments section.
Since starting this post many moons ago, it seems that the overwhelming consensus is that Bangkok Bank is the most friendly bank when it comes to opening accounts for foreigners. The easiest, however, may very well be K-Bank, depending on the branch.
It would be great if you can let me know what bank account you have and on what terms you acquired it.
This will save other readers time and hassle, and help them find the most “farang-friendly” branches, so to speak. I will then add the information to the list below.
Let's get started.
1. Kasikorn Bank (K-Bank)
Individuals who have base in foreign countries:
- Work permit or education-based visa (seems these are not required at every branch, though)
Reader update (2016): Steve opened an account at Central World branch with a passport and a Non-Immigrant O visa based on marriage to a Thai. No condo ownership and no Work Permit required.
Reader update (2017): Simon opened an account with an education visa copy of his passport. He was issued a debit card on the spot.
2. UOB Bank
Individual Non-Resident Account:
- A copy of passport
- A copy of work permit (seems this is not always required, depends on the branch)
- 50,000 Baht deposit
- Phone number
Reader update (2017): Dany opened an account with a passport, phone number, proof of address and 50 000 baht. He got a bank card on the spot.
- Passport and Work Permit
- Or a minimum 1-year apartment contract
- As of 2017, it seems a work permit is required to open an account. would be good to hear from anyone who has a more recent experience.
Non-Resident accounts are for:
- Branches or representative offices of Thai corporations established in countries outside Thailand.
- Tourists and other overseas visitors.
- Foreigners temporarily working in Thailand.
- Foreign government agencies, including embassies, consulates, or specialized UN agencies such as ESCAP, FAO, UNICEF, etc.
- International organizations or institutions located in Thailand, but established by the government of the country to which such organizations belong.
Note: The implication is that any non-resident can open an account.
Reader update (2016): Scott opened a savings account at the Tesco Lotus Fortune Town branch, with nothing but a passport and money to open the account. He had previously tried at the Central Rama 9 branch and failed.
5. Bangkok Bank
- Passport and one other official identification document: for example, a reference letter from your embassy, your home bank or a person acceptable to the bank.
- You will also need to provide evidence of your address in Thailand as well as your regular address in your home country.
- UPDATE: Bangkok Bank is now asking for a certified letter from your Embassy. This letter must state that you have presented your passport to the Embassy, and that it is indeed your passport. Depending on the Embassy cost will be between 1150-1750 Baht)
If you have a work permit, are a permanent resident, or hold a long-stay visa, you can apply for a wider range of services such as a cheque account, internet banking and online international funds transfer services.
I opened my account with my passport, Non Immigrant O visa and my driver's licence. This got me internet banking too. This was done at the Exchange Tower branch in Asoke, Bangkok. The rule regarding a letter from the embassy was not in place when I opened my account.
Reader update (2017): Tim opened a deposit account with an ATM card, with only his passport and UK drivers licence. No Visa. He went to a branch in Khon Kaen.
Reader update (2017): James opened an account at the Paragon branch. He took a copy of their requirements web page as evidence, showed his passport, and a letter proving his pension earnings. His Thai partner vouched for him with her ID card, which showed the address they live at.
Reader update (2017): Robin went to Jungceylon branch at Patong. He got an account with a passport, and a notorised letter from his Embassy and address details.
Reader update (2017): Zero opened a Be1st bank account at the central branch in Silom with his passport and a letter from his embassy – on a 60-day tourist visa.
6. Bank of Ayudhya (Krungsri)
At least one or more of the following:
- Work permit
- Condominium Lease Agreement (at least 1 year)
- Thai Driver’s License
- House Registration Documents (proving you live in a particular house)
- A Thai wife’s ID card and Marriage Certificate
Reader update (2017): Joe opened a bank account with just his passport on Sukhumvit Road (near Robinsons, between Nana and Asoke BTS stations). He showed his Non-Immigrant O-A visa (retirement visa). He got a debit card. He used his girlfriend's address, but they did not require evidence of this. The visa card cost him 350 Baht.
- Citizen ID card or passport (for foreigner)
- Savings account book or Current account number
- The applicant must be aged 15 or over.
- The applicant must own an individual savings and/or current account or a joint account that authorizes either owner to withdraw cash or a merchant account with single account owner.
- Other terms and conditions are as specified by the Bank.
Reader update (2016): Theo opened an account using his friend as guarantor. Only his passport was needed and his friend's contact details, address, etc.
- For foreigners: Passport, alien certificate, work permit issued or endorsed by any credible organization or visa which is valid for at least 3 months.
- For international students: Passport and student certificate issued by school/college.
Reader update (2016): John was able to open a savings passbook account in Chumphon. He used his passport and Non-Immigrant O visa.
Reader update (2017): JP opened a savings account at Krung Thai on his Non O marriage visa, and also one at the SCB branch in Kalasin, which only required his passport and a deposit.
How to Transfer Money to Your Account & Avoid Fees
Once you have opened your Thai bank account, you'll want to start transferring money into it from your home country.
Unfortunately this can be a costly process, especially if you are transferring money every few months, or even more frequently.
Your home bank (the sending bank) will change you a fee of between $10-20, and the receiving bank will charge you around $10. in addition, you will be charged a currency conversion fee.
So on $1,000 or £1,000, you could be looking at $50 or more in fees. That's extortion!
The good news is that you can avoid all these fees using a great service that I've used for two years now.
Leave your Thai banking experiences in the comments section to help others!
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