It is possible for foreign nationals to open a bank account in rubles, dollars or euros at practically any Russian bank. For other currencies, customers need to enquire with the bank.
Many Russian employers usually open a salary account for every new employee at the bank handling the company’s finances. In such an instance, wages are transferred to the account at that bank, whether the employee wishes for this or not. It may be worth checking with an employer when starting a new job on whether there is any flexibility in this. Once a salary account has been opened at the company’s bank, the employee can then transfer earnings to the bank of their choice.
The most common option is a simple current account into which wages can be transferred. This needs to be explained to the bank as it may be assumed that the customer is also applying for a credit card, and the application may be turned down.
To open a current account an individual does not have to provide any bills or tax payment evidence. This significantly simplifies the process for new residents, the self-employed, freelance workers and unemployed spouses. A current account may also come with a savings book. The savings book is given on the day of application, while a credit or debit card may take up to ten days to arrive by post.
Savings accounts are also available for a higher rate of interest than current accounts.
Most banks issue either a Visa or a Maestro card. However, in Russia only Visa cards can be used for online transactions on overseas websites. Some banks, such as Sberbank, issue a Maestro card as the default option with a basic current account, unless a Visa card is specifically requested by the customer when opening the account.
The documents needed to open a bank account vary between banks and types of account. The simplest deposit accounts can be opened with only a passport (sometimes translated and notarised) and a valid visa. For other accounts, the documents needed may include:
Some banks may require a letter from an employer confirming employment of the applicant if the bank is not the one used for the company account.
As in other countries, a customer has to go to a bank every time they require a reference or a service specific to their account. Such information is kept on file at the branch where the account was opened and is not available at other branches. Opening the account at a branch that is conveniently located, such as close to either home or work, is therefore advisable.
If an application is being made on behalf of an account holder, a letter is required officially authorising the application in the name of the account holder.
For applications to open a company bank account by a representative of a business entity, the following documents are usually required:
It is possible for a foreign national to apply for an account with a Russian bank online from outside the country. Alfa Bank is one bank that provides this service. Additionally, foreign banks operating inside the country may be able to open an account for use in Russia.
However, an account holder would typically be required to sign the application documents and to provide a signature sample for verification in case of card loss. In this case a foreign resident must be registered at a Russian address and should be physically present at the bank.
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