Can a Canadian living in Canada get a European bank account?
October 6, 2008 8:57 AM   Subscribe

How do I get a foreign bank account?

I'm asking this for a friend who says:

How do I go about getting a foreign bank account? I prefer Irish, though any Euro country will do. I am a Canadian living in Vancouver, BC.
posted by Felicity Rilke to Work & Money (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
How much money do you have and are you willing to travel? I suggest you pick a country with a liberal banking policy (Andorra and Switzerland spring to mind) and go there to set up an account. I do believe they won't take you seriously for less than $250,000.
posted by parmanparman at 9:15 AM on October 6, 2008

There's some good advice in this previous thread.

Your friend would probably want to look into the tax considerations of each possible country, as well as any alternatives to having a foreign bank account that also might work depending on their situation.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:17 AM on October 6, 2008

england is going to be rather tough now for you as you will have to prove residency, which you can't. you would need a gas bill or something like that. many europeans countries are now cracking down and enforcing money laundering laws. switzerland and liechtenstein may still be options.

at the end of the day this is a question of (a) how much do you have and (b) how much are you willing to spend.
posted by krautland at 9:37 AM on October 6, 2008

Your friend presumably wants an Irish bank account because the Irish government has just guaranteed all Irish bank accounts - with no cap on deposits. If you believe that the Irish government could actually cover all of those deposits, than you can't really find anywhere safer to keep your money right now.

Ireland was the first European nation to declare itself officially in a recession, and France only just followed. The Irish government guarantee was intended to halt any inclination on a run on the banks here, to bolster the domestic economy, and slow external divestment. It was not intended to turn Ireland into the Grand Cayman of Europe. Or, indeed, of Canada.

Accordingly, to open an Irish bank account in Ireland, normal people need photo ID, proof of residence and a utility bill in their name. However, were your friend to open an account at Allied Irish Bank or another Irish bank in Jersey, he would be covered by the Irish guarantee. Jersey is an offshore banking haven and it is comparatively easy to open an account there.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:38 AM on October 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

Before opening an account in Jersey (per DarlingBri) you may want to look at current Canadian laws regarding offshore bank accounts.
posted by lowlife at 9:47 AM on October 6, 2008

I'm an Irish native and have had an awful time trying to open new accounts in Ireland over the last few years. Bank employees at home aren't as, um, proactive as you would be used to in North America. I've had a couple tell me (as I stood, passport in hand, at the teller counter in Dublin) that since the bogus offshore account stuff they don't want to deal with the hassle of non-standard residency issues.

So I can't advise re tax laws etc but do suggest that you call a specific branch and find an advocate there to help you out and push the paperwork through.
posted by jamesonandwater at 10:17 AM on October 6, 2008

Your main concerns are going to be with Canadian tax law etc. If you just want to hold euros, most canadian banks (TD for sure) offer little-advertised euro bank accounts to consumers. Outside of that you're going to have to look into one of the banking havens, such as Luxembourg or (maybe?) the isle of mann.
posted by cmyr at 11:13 AM on October 6, 2008

If your friend has a large sum of money, he/she can call HSBC. They have special reps that help you open an HSBC bank account in almost any country, no matter where you live. I'd guess that the minimum account size for one of these accounts is $25,000 to $50,000.

I posted this in the other thread as well, but if your friend physically comes to France with lots of documentation (proof of residence, utility bills, passport, etc), then he/she can open an account with most of the larger French banks, but will have to keep a minimum amount of money in the account that is untouchable while the account is open (for BNP Paribas, it is 8,000€).
posted by helios at 3:18 PM on October 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

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