How to Open a Bank Account in Russia [After Sanctions]

Opening a Russian bank account is possible, whether you are a resident of Russia or not. You can start the process online from abroad but to finalize opening the account you need visit a local bank branch.

If you wish to move to the country, consider opening a bank account even if you are a non-resident. This is a guide on the necessary steps of opening a bank account in Russia.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Russian banks are sanctioned and barred from SWIFT. SWIFT is the messaging system banks use to facilitate money transfers around the world. Without a SWIFT, you can’t receive or send money to other banks. Visa, Mastercard, Amex, Discover, Diners Club have also suspended their services in Russia.

How to Open a Russian Bank Account

  • You can open a bank account in Russia even if you are a foreigner. Foreigners can open a Russian online bank account using international banks or Russian banks like Sberbank.
  • You can start the process of opening a bank account in Russia while abroad and complete it when you arrive in Russia. You will need to visit the bank in person to provide a signature specimen.
  • If you will be making international money transfers, it is best that you look for banks or services that support the service following the sanctions imposed on the country.

Documents Required to Open a Bank Account in Russia?

There are different types of accounts available in Russian banks. You will be required to provide the following documents while opening a bank account:

  • A passport
  • A valid residence permit
  • Proof of address in Russia
  • A reference from your employer

Open Bank Account Russia Non Resident

Customers of Russian banks such as Sberbank, Novikombank, VTB, Sovcombank, Otkritie Bank, and Promsvyazbank, will no longer be able to use their payment cards abroad or pay with apps such as Google Pay and Apple Pay.

It is possible to open Russian bank account for non resident. Non residents can open current accounts and savings accounts in Russia. You can open a Russian bank account for non resident in any of the major banks in Russia.

You can also get a debit card, but there are usage restrictions and high fees. Before making online purchases, get to know debit card charges. Also, confirm if your bank supports online purchases. The best bank for non residents in Russia is the Russian Standard Bank. The bank issues an American Express card that you can use for your online purchases.

When opening bank account as a non resident in Russia, consider international transfers also. If you will be making international transfers, you need to consider alternative banks outside Russia. It is because Russian banks are sanctioned and are very expensive as well.

International Banks in Russia

Many international banks have exited the Russia market or suspended their operations because of Western sanctions. International banks in Russia that have suspended their services or leaving the country include the following.

  • Bank of America Russia
  • UBS Russia
  • Deutsche Bank Russia
  • Morgan Stanley Russia
  • BNP Paribas Russia
  • Goldman Sachs Russia
  • Credit Agricole Russia
  • JPMorgan Russia

International Money Transfers

Many companies have suspended their money transfer services to Russia because of sanctions imposed on the country. If you want to send money to Russia, you need to confirm with the service you want to use if it still supports money transfer to Russia.

Money transfer companies that have temporarily suspended their services in Russia and to Russia include the following.

Can Foreigners Open Bank Account in Russia?

You can open a bank account in Russia if you are a foreigner. Previously, you could opt to use international banks. However, due to sanctions, you only option is national banks in Russia. Note that there are accounts designed to serve foreigners. However, you will need to visit the bank to provide your signature when opening the account. You can open a bank account in Russia if you are a:

  • Foreigner living in Russia
  • Foreigner moving to Russia
  • Foreigners doing business in Russia
  • Foreigners who travel to Russia frequently

Best Russian Bank for Foreigners

One of the best Russian banks for foreigners is Alfa Bank. Foreigners can open bank accounts online while abroad. Also, with Alfa Bank, they can make online transactions.

  • Raiffeisen Bank. This is a good bank for Russian foreigners. It is an international bank and its staff are trained to cater to the needs of expats.
  • Sberbank. This is another alternative bank for Russian foreigners. You can open a Russian online bank account with much ease.

Can I Open a Russian Bank Account Online?

If you are a foreigner, you can open Russian bank account online. However, not many banks offer this service. One of the banks you can use to open online bank Russia is Alfa Bank. You can also check with banks in your country that operate in Russia. This way, you can open bank account in Russia before moving to Russia. However, you still need to visit the bank in person to provide the signature specimen. If you are a foreigner you can start the process of opening a bank account in Russia before moving to Russia.

Is it possible to open a Russian bank account while abroad?

You can even start opening a bank account in Russia while abroad. However, you will still need to visit the bank to complete the process of opening an account where you will be required to provide a signature sample and activate the account. You can first fill the online application before visiting the bank.

The place where you will apply for the account is where your details will be held permanently. Making changes to the account in the future, you will need to visit the specific branch. Therefore, make sure that you choose a convenient branch location.

Russian Bank Account IBAN

Unlike in Europe where many banks have IBAN, it is a different case for Russian banks. IBAN does exist in Russia. Most Russian banks use BIC/SWIFT and not IBAN. Note that Russian banks are barred from SWIFT.

Best Banks in Russia

The following is a list of banks in Russia that have a vast network of ATMs and branches all over the country. The banks are either nationals or international. In case you are operating a global business, consider opening an account with an international bank. Also, ask if your bank has a branch in Russia before opening an account.


Sberbank is one of the largest banks in Russia and therefore you will not have a hard time finding its branch and ATMs. It has offices and ATMs in over 90 thousand locations. Some of the financial products they provide include debit cards, loans, insurance and investments. The bank has phone and internet services.


Rosbank is the most experienced financial institution in serving expats. You can visit the bank to get information about the best options available. The bank provides mobile banking accessible in English, French and Russian. It has many branches and ATMs conveniently located.


Raiffeisen is an international bank whose staffs are trained to serve expats. Some of the products they provide include accounts, cards, insurance and loans. They provide loans to students and businesses. They have international branches making the bank suitable for people doing international business. They have a network of ATMs and branches.


Gazprom has more than three million customers. The bank incorporates private banking to everyday banking. It provides debit card, credit card, loans, insurance and wealth management. The bank offers different packages of insurance.

Bank charges

Before opening an account with the above banks, visit their branches and ask about their charges. Some of the charges include; cash withdrawal fee, fees to keep the account open. Also, ask if there are charges for using a debit card while abroad.

There could be other charges for expats and international accounts. Expats could have more challenges while sending money to accounts that use different currencies. However, it is unusual since not all Russian banking payment cards can be used to transact web payments.

Cost of sending money to Russia

Many international money transfer services have suspended their services to Russia. Moreover, sending cash through the bank to Russia is very expensive. Banks have high costs to cover and still they want to retain a profit. They also charge high rates compared to the average market rates that bank users are charged while transferring currency from banks.

Note that there are international sanctions led by the US and the EU against many Russian individuals (and corporations). So it’s good to know what you’re getting into before doing business in Russia and this includes opening a Russian bank account.

Further reading

Vincent is a writer and researcher with an interest in finance, banking, startups, and remittance. He holds a Bachelors degree in Applied Statistics with computing. He founded Nexin Startups, an online platform offering startup advice to investors and entrepreneurs. Read more about us and our authors.