Thinking of opening a bank account in Vietnam? Our comprehensive guide has you covered. Discover the step-by-step process, required documents, and important considerations when opening a bank account in Vietnam. Start your financial journey with confidence.
When considering or preparing to relocate to Vietnam, it is essential not to overlook the important task of setting up your banking services. This crucial step is frequently forgotten during the planning stages of the move.
Whether you're thinking of enjoying a new lifestyle or contemplating a retirement destination, one of the most up and coming destinations to settle is in Vietnam.
As Vietnam continues to grow, and is in comparison easier in many ways to live long term than Thailand, many are looking at Vietnam as their retirement destination.
It’s no easy decision and one that should not be taken lightly so careful preparation and consideration will go a long way in improving your quality of life in Vietnam. Either way, one of the first few things you should set up apart from your place of residence, is a bank account. It’s best to have a domestic bank account than spend money using your overseas bank cards and get charged fees.
This short guide will walk you through everything you need to know about opening a bank account in Vietnam.
How To Open a Vietnam Bank Account, Requirements, ATM Fees
For many travelers and expats, ATMs are easy to find; from big cities to smaller towns. As long as there is a small contingent of travelers or expats, international ATMs will be around the corner and for foreigners planning to move to Vietnam, opening your own bank account is a great step to save money from the currency exchange rate and ATM fees.
Vietnamese Dong (VND) is the currency in Vietnam, however, US Dollars, British Pound, and Australian Dollars are all pretty common in the tourism industry. When booking a tour and paying for your room, these major currencies can usually be used without any problem. Not so much though when dealing with locals and vendors.
Vietnamese Dong is one of the weakest currencies in the world. At this moment, US$1 is equivalent to about VND 23,000 (at the time of this posting). Many joke saying, "you only need $50 to be a millionaire in Vietnam". Vietnam's lowest bill is 200 VND which you rarely see and is sometimes hard to get rid of. Vietnam also decided to get rid of their coins, which is pretty nice, your pockets can be a lot lighter.
How To Open a Bank Account In Vietnam
Choose the bank
Submit your required documents and wait
Apply for online and mobile banking
Things You Should Know Before Opening a Bank Account in Vietnam
Here are some things that you need to know and remember before opening a bank account in Vietnam.
Can you just come to Vietnam and open a bank account?
Today, some banks are tightening the reins and even some may not let foreigners on a tourist visa or aspiring expat open a bank account easily. Some banks even completely say no to foreigners because they don’t want to deal with the paperwork. But luckily it's still fairly easy to at least get an account to use to take cash, make payments etc. This is usually a transfer account (a transfer account has no minimum deposit to open the account and deposits need to be made from abroad).
On occasions some arrive in Vietnam on a tourist visa and manage to open a savings account with banks like Vietcombank. If allowed, opening an account in local currency will require a deposit of around VND 3 million. I arrived on a multiple entry tourist visa and to open my transfer account I was only required to fill out a form, present my passport, and show the address of my apartment and make a LOT of signatures!
NOTE: The bank probably will open the account for you BUT depending on the type of account you are opening, you might not be able to deposit any cash into the newly opened account if it's a transfer account (as opposed to a savings account). As a foreigner you will have to transfer the funds into the transfer account from abroad.
Can You Send Money Out of Vietnam?
Yes and no. Of course, there's always a way to make things work. On the regulations fine print, only if you have a work permit and a local bank in Vietnam, where you receive your salary, can you send money out of Vietnam. And even with this, the amount can be limited per transaction.
However, there are some online services that you can use like Western Union or MoneyGram to transfer money to another bank account outside of Vietnam. For most this works without any trouble.
For a foreigner who works in Vietnam one way is to transfer by remittance. To transfer by remittance is either bank to bank, MoneyGram, or via Western Union, or transfer to your PayPal account. A declaration form needs to be fill-up for reasons why the transfer is made.
The price varies depending on the amount, the destination, the currency and the method you choose, but not much and you will be consulted by the bank officer to find what meets your requirements regarding time and costs.
One thing you need to do though is to show evidence to prove that amount of money is legal and belongs to you, so you have the right to put it in your account or directly transfer to any country you want to.
If money stays in your account already, then that´s legal income and you have your right to transfer that money. But, if you bring cash in, you'll need to show documents, such as if it came from your salary, and the bank will need to see your work permit papers, labor contract, or payroll slips. If the money came from your business, they'll need your passport, work permit paper, business license, financial reports and tax reports.
If you brought the money from your country, you'll show the custom papers; etc.. In all cases, you'll just prove your rights to the money.
There are some differences if the sender is Vietnamese. Vietnamese just need to show the legal purpose using money outside of Vietnam, such as tuition fees, living costs for students, family member support, hospital expenses, etc.. The best local bank for transferring money overseas is The Bank For Foreign Trade of Vietnam (Vietcombank).
These limitations stem from the country’s desire to keep its capital and control over its currency. This is why we see so many promotions on savings accounts that earn 7% to 8% per year in the country.
PayPal is also popular, however, you have to find a way to put the money in your PayPal before transferring it to another PayPal user. Note though that PayPal does not operate in VND., so anyone working from Vietnam would need to deal in USD.
And there's also alternative digital currencies like Bitcoin.
ATM Fees and Withdrawal Limits
Many ATM machines will only let you withdraw a maximum of 2 or 3 million VND ($85 - $130 USD). And if you use an foreign ATM card, the fees can be as high as $4 per transaction.
However, there are ATMs that will let you withdraw up to $400 (10 million VND) per transaction but they are rare.
Here is a list of banks I’ve found in DaLat and the withdrawal limits and some fees. Note your mileage may vary!!!
- Citibank ATM 8 mil, HSBC 5 mil
- MB Bank on Phan Dinh Phung Street will give 8 mil depending on the card. It is on the end of PDP street nearest Ba Thng Hai Street
- Vp bank. Free withdrawal up to 5 mil
- TPbank [purple] is normally 5 million and FREE ( no ATM fee)
- Vietinbank, Agribank, and BIDV mostly allow 5 mil withdrawals
- ACB Bank ATM dispenses max 3 mil VND
If you have a local bank ATM, most ATM withdrawals have no charge or as little as $.25 (6,000 VND).
Using Your Vietnam ATM Bankcard Outside of Vietnam
Your ATM bank card will work just like any other ATM card when outside of Vietnam. As long as you have one that has a Visa or MasterCard logo, it should work without a hassle. The ATM fee varies depending on your bank and the ATM you will be using.
Banking Hours In Vietnam
Banking hours in Vietnam are different depending on each bank. The common hours though are:
Monday to Friday from 8 AM to 11 AM then again from 1 PM to 5 PM
To make sure you go to a bank where the staff speaks English, check out those that are located where most expats are living.
So let’s get started with some commonly asked questions before you pick a banking partner:
Can I open a bank account as a non-resident of Vietnam?
Absolutely. As an incoming expat you are free to open a bank account within the country. But, like anywhere else, there’s a right way and wrong way to go about it. Making sure you complete the process correctly will save you plenty of headaches down the road.
What's the process? How long does it usually take?
Creating a bank account while living in Vietnam is a relatively simple process, compared to other countries that require a ton of red tape, waiting and legal action.
The process can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on the bank. Obviously the more proficient the account representative is and skilled in speaking a foreign language the easier the account opening process and the shorter the time spent.
Even though the formalities vary by different banks, overall it’s quite simple. Choose the bank where you want to open your account!
You’ll need to bring some documents with you to the bank of your choice when you go to apply.
Important Note: Since October 2019, Vietnamese law has become stricter regarding the opening of bank accounts for foreigners. The legislation tends to allow only expatriates working in Vietnam to open savings accounts. Thus, if you only have a Tourist Visa, you will get a transfer account and not be able to make cash deposits at the counter.
As per Circular 19/2016/TT-NHNN and 26/2017/TT-NHNN (effective from July 2019) issued by the State Bank of Vietnam, foreigners who are able to provide documents confirming their residential status in Vietnam for at least 12 months will be eligible to open bank accounts. The required list of documents are as follows:
1/ Valid Passport as per law, in an acceptable condition that is clearly readable and identifiable (picture and text) for verification; AND
2/ One of the following valid documents with at least 12 months validity*:
+ Vietnam visa, OR
+ Temporary resident card, OR
+ Permanent resident card
Documents Required To Open a Vietnam Bank Account
To open an account you should bring the following documents with you to the bank of your choice when you go to apply (note some banks might not require some).
- A passport
- Stamped visa that's good for three to six months
- Application form
- Minimum deposit depending on which bank you're dealing with. (Some banks might not allow any cash deposits for foreigners. In that case you’ll need to transfer the deposits from abroad.)
- Valid mailing address
- If you're an expat in the country on a work visa then you'll also want a copy of your work contract
The process itself can be done in an afternoon and most banks don't require extra fees to open a new account. Once approved and the account has been established, your bank will tell you when you can pick up your ATM bank card. Normally, it takes between 4-10 working days. There are also banks that will give you two bank cards that are both connected to one account; one Visa card and one MasterCard.
Can I open a bank account abroad? What about at least online?
Some banks in Vietnam allow you to create an account online, provided you have all of the correct documents. A big plus is that there are international banks like HSBC, Citibank and AZN that have a strong presence in major cities like Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. So, if you already have an account with these banks, you can link your existing account when you're all set up in Vietnam. Another option you can take is to create an account with these banks prior to leaving your home country so that the account is already set up with the international bank upon arrival.
What banking fees are involved?
Like banks around the world, Vietnam too has its fees that you should be aware of. These will vary by bank and service. Some of the most common fee types include:
Domestic Transfer Fees
These are a lucrative revenue generator and most banks will charge fees for inter bank transfers starting at 3,000 VND to 33,000 VND. But some banks do not charge any fees.
International Transfer Fees
When you're transferring money internationally between banks your bank will likely charge a fee or even tweak the exchange rate they're giving you. Make sure that you understand what the mid market rate is. This is the actual exchange rate and should be used to ensure that you're getting the best rate. Some vendors will also hide their extra fees by giving you an inflated exchange rate in their favor. If moving money regularly between your foreign and Vietnamese accounts, the smart move would be to use TransferWise to get the real exchange rate without any additional markup or extra transfer fees.
Specific conditions apply when transferring money to a foreign bank. You will need to produce official documents justifying the transaction, for example, the sale of property, transferal of a portion of your salary, or funding children's education abroad.
While you typically won't experience ATM fees when using your own bank’s ATMs, using a different bank’s ATM will come with a fee in Vietnam, which varies from bank to bank. When using foreign debit cards you’ll see fees ranging from VND 20,000 to as high as VND 55,000. Additionally, the total amount that you're able to withdraw at a time is relatively low, sometimes as low as VND 2,000,000 which means these ATM transaction fees can add up. You should also know that not all ATMs will tell you the exact fee for removing cash, and will only display a message letting you know there will be fees. It’s equally important to know the kind of exchange rates you should expect to ensure you’re getting the mid-market rate at the ATM.
This varies by bank, but depending on the minimum deposit or balance maintained with the bank, this fee may or may not be applicable. The fee can range from 5,000 VND to 200,000 VND.
Vietnam is currently in a large growth phase with more and more people hoping to get in on the ground floor of its economic rise. What that means for you is that services like opening a new account with a bank can be done without paying an upfront fee. However, it should be noted that sometimes a minimum balance must be maintained to keep the account. For example, Asia Commercial Bank (ACB) has a minimum of VND 100,000 to open an account and you’ll be charged VND 1,000 a day if the account is under that minimum value.
Most banks these days will not charge you for using Internet banking, however you could incur some fees from 10,000 VND upward with a select few.
Rates depicted below may not be accurate and are likely to change at the respective bank’s discretion.
Which bank should I choose?
All in all, the bank you choose should reflect the services you need most and their proximity to your work or home. While that choice will be different for everyone, some of the most popular banks in Vietnam include:
Vietnam Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Industry and Trade is a state-owned Vietnamese bank and the largest bank in Vietnam. Some perks for customers include:
- Trading in multiple currencies, including USD and EUR.
- Accounts can be used as collateral for loans at VietinBank.
- Account ownership is transferable.
- Deposits in VND are insured.
The Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam, or Vietcombank is a state-owned Vietnamese bank and the largest bank in Vietnam. It represents a wide network of branches and ATMs across the country. A very popular choice among Vietnamese residents, some benefits for customers include:
- Trading in multiple currencies, including USD and EUR
- Accounts can be used as collateral for loans at VietinBank
- Account ownership is transferable
- Deposits in VND are insured
- Credit and debit cards
- Online banking
- ATMs all over the country
Other local banks:
International Banks In Vietnam
If you think opening a bank account with HSBC, ANZ, or Citibank will be easier, well, you might be wrong. Most of these companies are a lot stricter. They require more documents and their fees can be higher. However, these companies hire staff who speak English well, meaning you will have an easier time talking with their employees. Some of the banks can even connect your bank from your home country.
There are many international banks in Vietnam. Some of them have a full operation in the country while others only place ATM machines from the north to the south following the areas of highest concentration of foreigners. Note each company charges different ATM fees and you can only withdraw VND and not your home currency or other currencies.
Note that you might find differences in the following information.
Citibank is a bank from the US which is operating all over the world. Here are the requirements to apply for a bank account:
- Minimum initial deposit of VND 2,000,000, USD 100, or the equivalent
The following documents are required for foreigners (resident/non-resident) and must be translated to Vietnamese and notarized:
- Valid visa
- Residence card
More info on their website HERE
HSBC is an international bank that was founded in Hong Kong but now operating worldwide. Popular for being a larger international bank, HSBC has a fairly ubiquitous presence in Vietnam. Customers at HSBC enjoy:
- Overdraft protection
- Global debit card
- Discounts from the HSBC Privilege Club
- Trading in multiple currencies including USD, EUR, GBP, AUD and more
- Online and phone banking
- 24/7 customer service hotline
Here are the requirements to open an HSBC bank account:
- Personal account opening form
- Duplicate copy of original ID card (for local Vietnamese) or Passport (for foreigners)
- Duplicate copy of valid visa to Vietnam (for foreigners)
- Duplicate copy of labor contract (for foreigners, if any)
- Address proof documents, apartment contract, bill statement on your name
- Individual aged 18 and above
- Minimum monthly average balance of VND 3,000,000
Find more information on HERE
ANZ offers customers some of the most favorable fees for withdrawals, but doesn’t have a lot of branch locations, especially compared to the non international banks. That being said, it’s still a popular bank in Vietnam thanks to perks like:
- Easy transactions
- Free checkbook
- Multiple currency accounts
- ANZ Smart Account option
If you're an expat in Vietnam and you're planning to use your existing bank account for the time being, or indefinitely to fund your account while in Vietnam, you may want to use TransferWise. TransferWise helps you avoid the ugly exchange rates and extra high cost transfer fees that many banks charge.
Timo is a new 'digital' bank that is less bureaucratic than other Vietnamese banks. Opening an account is really easy and the mobile banking app is very intuitive and has lots of useful features.
With Timo-Digital Banking you can:
- Transfer money In just a few taps
- Pay online secure, fast and easy
- Use online and withdraw cash at 16,000+ domestic ATMs Fee Free
- Transact without worrying about fees
See the complete fee schedule HERE
Criteria for Application
- Vietnamese or Foreigner
- Age: From 18 years old and above
The customer must have never signed up or used any products and services of VPBank or FECredit
Valid Passport as per law in an acceptable condition that is clearly readable and identifiable (picture and text) clearly for verification; AND
One of the following valid documents with at least 12 months validity*:
- Vietnam visa, OR
- Temporary resident card, OR
- Permanent resident card
*The above documents do not need to have 12 months remaining validity from the date of applying to join Timo.
**Certificate of Visa exemption is not admissible.
3 STEPS TO SIGN UP FOR A TIMO DEBIT CARD:
Step 1 Sign up online at timo.vn or via the Mobile app
Step 2 Follow the instructions to complete your registration and submit.
Step 3 Get your Debit card and a free coffee in under 30 minutes at a Timo Hangout
NOTE this important distinction. To get your card you need to pick it up from a “TIMO Hangout”. At the time of this posting “TIMO Hangouts” are only located in Ho Chi Minh, Ha Noi, Da Nang and Can Tho.
All in all, the bank you choose should reflect the services you need the most, how easy it is to sign up and what fees you will be charged. There are more than 43 banks in Vietnam, but the popular banks present in the major cities include HSBC, Citibank, Shinhan, VP Bank, Techcombank, VIB, Maritime bank, Vietcom bank, SacomBank, Vietin Bank, UOB, TP Bank and Timo.
The formalities are quite simple: choose the bank where you want to open your account and inquire about the specific requirements for an expat. These may vary according to the bank, but will typically include a valid passport and visa, possibly a minimum deposit amount, proof of address, and a copy of your work contract if applicable. Make an appointment online or simply visit one of the branches of the bank you choose.
Note that most banks will have English-speaking personnel to assist you. To make sure you go to a bank where the staff speaks English, check out those that are located where most expats are living.
Some expats in Vietnam prefer to open two bank accounts: one in foreign currency, in dollars or euros, and the other in Vietnamese dong (VND). Having a foreign currency account will facilitate your money transfers to a foreign bank. Some banks though will only allow you to open transfer accounts (this is what I have), to which you will not be able to make any cash deposits and require deposits and funding to come from abroad.
To open a bank account in foreign currency (foreign currency account), you usually need a minimum of 300 dollars or euros. With a foreign currency account it is recommended to keep a minimum amount in your account equal to about VND 100,000, otherwise, a sum of about VND 1000 per day will be deducted by some banks. Some banks may take a commission for withdrawals in foreign currencies. No commission is charged for withdrawals in VND.
NOTE: You likely will have to pay a tax credit if you close your bank account in less than a year.
I hope you found this banking in Vietnam article useful and have answered most of your questions. The smartest way to handle your money in your new country, hands down, is by having a secure bank account. Going to the bank with the correct documents on hand will make setting up your new account simple and stress free, and you’ll be enjoying financial freedom in the Asian nation in no time. Good luck opening your bank account in Vietnam!