Even as a foreigner, you can open a bank account in Belgium. It’s easy, whether you’re a resident, expat, student, or non-resident. You can choose from a variety of banks, including traditional banks and online banks. Traditional banks may require more paperwork, but online banks in Belgium are typically faster and easier to open. In this article, we’ll compare the different types of banks available, so you can choose the one that’s right for you.
Open a bank account in Belgium
- You can open a bank account in Belgium through their local offices or online, but most people will find it easier to open a Belgian bank account online via Monese or Wise. They also offer accounts bank accounts in Belgium for non residents, while they come with a Belgium-based IBAN account number.
- Among the original Belgium-based bank accounts, Hello Bank is an account many users will also like. Hello Bank claims to be the first digital bank in Europe. To open an account, you already have to be an official resident in Belgium.
Documents Needed to Open Bank Account in Belgium
The documents you need to open a bank account in Belgium vary depending on the bank and the type of account you want to open. However, the following documents are generally required:
- Valid passport or Identity Card (for EU citizen only).
- Proof of address in Belgium. This could be a utility bill, rental contract, or other official document that shows your name and address.
- Proof of income. This could be an employment contract, tax return, or other document that shows how much money you earn.
- Minimum deposit. The amount of the minimum deposit varies depending on the bank.
If you are a foreigner opening a bank account in Belgium, you may also need to provide additional documents, such as:
- Work permit or residence permit.
- Visa (if applicable).
- Proof of financial resources.
Some banks may also ask for additional documents, such as a reference letter from your previous bank or a copy of your employment contract.
Opening a Bank account in Belgium Online as a Foreigner
Opening a main bank account may involve a lot of paperwork, and most banks require you to visit the bank in person. Bank accounts at one of the online banks in Europe, on the other hand, are a lot easier to open remotely. Examples of banks where you can open a bank account online in Belgium include Bunq, Monese, Wise, N26 and Revolut. We have made reviews available for you about them all, so to help you choose.
Some of these accounts do not come with a Belgium based-IBAN code. However, this is not relevant as you can now use any European-based account number in Belgium, as if it is a local bank account.
Monese is a British and EU digital only bank, and therefore is also available in Belgium. It offers a free online bank account in Belgium with its basic plan. Even after BREXIT, it’s available for residents, expats and foreigners in Belgium. Monese offers a multicurrency digital bank with a Belgium IBAN and supports SEPA payments.
Monese is an ideal bank for you if you are looking for a Belgium-based IBAN and an easy-to-access bank account in Europe or in the UK, and if you are a traveler or a digital nomad. You can integrate your Monese current account with contactless payments like Google Pay and Apple Pay, as well as online wallets such as PayPal.
Your Monese account is not covered by the Belgian Deposit Guarantee Scheme (DGD). However, if Monese becomes insolvent, your money is safeguarded under the Belgian Law of 11 March 2018. This law is designed to protect money held in electronic money accounts like your Monese account.
Wise is a money service provider that provider free online accounts in Belgium for holding and converting foreign currencies, and sending low-cost international bank transfers. It also has Belgian IBANs.
Transferring funds across the border can become expensive. However, with Wise, you can transfer and receive funds at low competitive exchange rates at a small charge. It also comes with a full multicurrency account that you can use not only in Belgium, but also in all other European countries, as well as overseas. It even comes with GPB and US dollar account details, for if you are receiving money from the USA or UK.
Furthermore, it is good to know Wise comes with a Belgium-based account number. You can open your Belgian account free of charge. You only require an ID and a phone-number, and to deposit €20 to activate the account. The Wise account has limitations if you use cash. You can only 2 withdrawals, totaling 200 Euro, are free each month. Taking out more cash costs 50 cents per withdrawal plus 1.75%. Sending money to another European bank account comes with a little fee, but receiving money is free.
Like all virtual banks, Bunq, based in the Netherlands, solves many complications that you will have when trying to open a bank account at a main street bank. If you have the right documents (such as your passport) at hand, you can open a fully functional Bunq account online in a few minutes. Basic account costs 2.99 euros a month. It is possible to open a personal or business account.
It is good to know that all citizens of the EU and the EEA can open a Bunq account. An account gives you an International Bank Account Number (IBAN) that you can use in all EU/EEA countries. Non-EEA nationals but with an EU or EEA resident permit can also open an account, though fewer IDs will be accepted. The best option is to use your passport or residence permit. Bunq’s website and customer service is available in Dutch, French, English, Spanish, German, and Italian.
Revolut is an online bank that accepts residents or passport holders of the European Economic Area (EEA), Australia, Singapore, Switzerland, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Revolut offers a multi-currency account with 28 currencies, IBAN for personal accounts and business accounts, unlimited and disposable virtual debit cards, money transfer services, as well as investment options. As a crypto friendly bank in Belgium, Revolut allows you to buy, sell, and hold cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin.
Revolut comes with a Lithuanian-based IBAN account number that you can use in Belgium as any other Belgium-based bank account, thanks to new EU regulation. Revolut does have restrictions when it comes to using cash, as it charges fees for withdrawals above €200 per month or if withdrawing cash more than 5 times a month. These fees are different when applying for a premium account. One good thing to know is that the bank offers a Maestro card in Belgium, which is more widely accepted than Visa or Mastercard.
Revolut offers a Lithuanian IBAN, but this should not be a problem in general. However, if you plan to receive your salary, you should check with your employer. Some employers may not be willing to send money to a non-Belgian IBAN.
N26 is available to anyone who legally resides in Belgium or any other EU country. You’ll get an online account with a German or Spanish-based account number (IBAN). You can use this account number like any other Belgium-based number.
N26 only asks for a valid ID and any address based in Europe. The address is used to send your bank card and necessary mail. Since most communication is digital, it doesn’t have to be your fixed address. You do need a smartphone for the identification video call.
There is also a free N26 bank account, but there might be a waiting list. That’s because the German banking authorities (BaFin), where N26 headquarters is stationed, have limited their growth to 50k new customers per month. N26 paid bank accounts cost 4.90 Euro a month and up.
- Good to know: N26 operates with a full German banking license, and your bank account with a German IBAN is protected up to €100,000, according to EU directives.
- Check out our review: Open a Free Bank Account in N26 Supported Countries.
List of Best Belgian Banks for Foreigners
There are a number of traditional banks in Belgium that offer English-language bank account to expats in Belgium. Among the largest banks are Belfius, BNP Paribas, ING Bank and KBC Bank. Here is a list of the best banks for expats in Belgium.
1. Belfius Bank
Belfius Bank has its headquarters located in Brussels, and it is state owned. It has over 800 branches and 3000 ATMs.
It has a current account with a monthly fee of €1 for a basic account, while the charges for a platinum account are €17. They also offer MasterCard credits cards for €1 per month. While special account charges are €16.50 monthly inclusive of travel insurance in the package.
Belfius Bank is a good option, but appointments can take days or weeks, especially in Brussels. Consider visiting a branch office outside of Brussels.
2. BNP Paribas Fortis
BNP Paribas Fortis Bank is a popular choice for expats in Belgium because of its flexibility and its commitment to providing excellent customer service. The bank offers a variety of expat-specific services and products, such as international money transfers, multi-currency accounts, and credit cards with no foreign transaction fees. BNP also has a large network of branches and ATMs throughout Belgium, making it easy for expats to access their banking services. Its free current account called Hello4You is an attraction to many foreigners in Belgium.
You can use their Visa card by use of an app. They also offer apps or managing money and Visa classic credit at a cost for €3 per month. Sometimes, transfers take even more than a day, even to Belgian accounts.
If your residence isn’t fully sorted yet, BNP bank may also be able to help you out. The bank has a team of dedicated expat advisors who can provide assistance with a variety of tasks.
3. ING Bank Belgium
ING, a subsidiary of ING Group, is a popular bank among foreigners due to its “Expat Services.” It offers savings accounts, investment products, loans, and pension plans.
ING’s website states that customers can open a bank account before arrival. To determine if you qualify to open an account with a foreign ID before arrival, you must fill out a short questionnaire. Based on the information you provide, you will learn if you can complete your request online or if you need to make an appointment to visit an ING branch in person. The bank is known for making it difficult for expatriates to open an account if they do not subscribe to other services, such as home insurance.
Although it may be more difficult for US citizens to open a bank account in Belgium due to excessive US regulations, ING welcomes US citizens as customers.
ING has been increasing its fees every year for the past three to four years, which should be noted. Additionally, ING is not highly rated by expats in Belgium.
4. Hello Bank
Hello Bank was the first digital bank in Europe. It offers €0/month accounts and a variety of financial services, including investment, insurance, and loans. It also supports Google Pay, Apple Pay, Fitbit Pay, payconiq, and Garmin Pay, and provides a free bank card, app, and bank and website support.
5. Argenta Bank
Argenta Bank is a Belgian retail financial services group that offers banking, insurance, and investment products to individuals and families. You can open an Argenta bank account online or at any Argenta branch. The Argenta app is highly rated, but as of October 2023, it does not support QR code transactions. You can get a free Mastercard from Argenta, and their other tariffs are also generally lower than those of the big banks. Bank transfers are instant and free by default. If you have Argenta insurance and file a claim, the process is typically fairly fast.
Argenta Bank is a highly ethical bank, ranking among the best in terms of employee care and investment practices. It is committed to social responsibility and sustainability, and it does not invest in unethical companies such as those that produce weapons or contribute to climate change.
6. KBC Bank
KBC offers a variety of banking services for expats, including a current account, savings account, debit card, and online banking. The current account is free to open and maintain, and it comes with a debit card that can be used for contactless payments. It offers both free and premium plans. Expats can also use their KBC debit card to withdraw cash from ATMs worldwide.
KBC Bank has the most popular mobile payment app in Belgium, which integrates with several third-party services, including meal vouchers (maaltijdcheques), Google Pay, Apple Pay, Payconiq, and PayPal. It also includes spreadsheets to help you manage your spending and allows you to buy parking tickets, bus/train fare, and more.
In addition to its banking services, KBC also offers a range of insurance and investment products. The bank may try to sell you insurance or investments, but it is not required. Politely decline if you are not interested.
To make international transfers, you have to pay for an instant transfer, or wait 1-2 days.
Non-Resident Bank Accounts in Belgium
The majority of the European virtual banks and fintech, such as the ones listed above also offer bank accounts for non residents. They accept proof of residence in your home country. In case your home bank doesn’t have branches in Belgium, it may have a partnership with Belgian banks, which saves you the high cost of ATM charges.
For citizen of member states of the EU and EEA (this includes non EU countries such as Norway, Switzerland, and Turkey) it is generally easy to open a bank account in Belgium. This also applies when you are not an official resident of Belgium. Though, with some banks you may encounter some usage restrictions such as minimum deposits and limits in withdrawals. It is important to note that these are also one of the best banks in Belgium for expats.
The following documents are required to open a bank account in Belgium: Proof of identity (like a passport or identity card) & proof of residence in Belgium or a supported country (for example citizens of EU, EEA, UK, USA) if applying for a non-residence account.
Opening a Bank Account Remotely In Belgium
Most of the local Belgium banks will require you to visit a branch in person. After opening a bank account, you are issued a debit, or credit-card which is sent by mail. You will also have the option to collect it from the bank.
Some traditional banks allow you to open a bank account online before arriving in Belgium. The first step is sending an application request, and then they will send you all the forms that you need to fill out.
Sending money abroad from Belgium
As a foreigner, it’s likely that you’re going to transfer money internationally. Since the main street banks use high exchange rates and fees, it might be profitable to look at some online, or virtual banks.
Banks in Belgium use the SWIFT network to send money outside European countries. This holds a more significant cost, and may not be the cheapest method for sending money. Banks also charge fees above the mid-market rate. This makes the process expensive. The best option is to use a virtual bank account or to use Wise to transfer funds.
Bank Accounts in Belgium FAQs
Can I open a Belgium bank account online?
Yes, it's possible to open a Belgium bank account online. Some of the banks that allow you to open a Belgian account online include: Bunq, Monese, N26, and Revolut.
Can I open bank account in Belgium for non resident?
Definitely, you can open a bank account in Belgium as a non-resident. The requirements and process may vary depending on the bank, but most will require you to have a valid passport and proof of address. Some banks may also require you to have a Belgian residence permit or an economic link to the country. Many Belgian banks also accept a non-Belgian address. For some, just an email address is enough, plus valid ID.
Can I open a bank account in Belgium as an expat?
Yes, you can open a bank account in Belgium as an expat. The process and requirements may vary depending on the bank and your specific circumstances. Some of the banks that allow you to open a bank account in Belgium as an expat include: N26, KBC, ING, and BNP Paribas Fortis.
Which is the best bank in Belgium?
The best bank in Belgium depends on your individual needs and preferences. However, some of the most popular banks in Belgium include: The best bank in Belgium depends on your individual needs and preferences. However, some of the most popular banks in Belgium include: Revolut, Hello Bank, Monese, BNP Paribas Fortis, and ING Bank.