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Banking

Jamaica - Banking



Opening a bank account in Jamaica is relatively straightforward but as always, there are a number of regulations which will need to be adhered to. Opening an account should not take long if you have all the documentation required.

To open both a current and a savings account there is a minimum deposit required. With some banks this can be as much as several thousand dollars, so it is worth shopping around to find out which banks offer the better deal. Account holders will have to produce several documents that prove their identification including passport, driver’s licence and either a voter’s ID document or a copy of a relevant visa. As an expat your passport will have to be notarised. You will also be asked to provide several references. As an expat, one of these will have to be your employer and another is from a Justice of the Peace. You will also be asked to provide bank references from your current bank, so copies of statements will also come in handy.

When you get to the bank you will have to complete some of their documentation. This includes an application form for the bank account, an account agreement and a signature card. Again, this will vary from bank to bank and you should always enquire in advance as to which documentation you will need. The application form will request some of your personal details, your marital status, employer’s details and tax numbers. You will also be asked to provide proof of your address, so a copy of your tenancy agreement or a utility bill will be useful.

Current accounts are used for day to day transactions and deposits and withdrawals can be made by cash, cheque and bank transfers. Bills can also be paid by direct debits and standing orders. Most banks have telephone and online banking facilities to allow you to carry out transactions outside working hours. Money can be withdrawn at ATM machines around the clock although some local banks may charge if you wish to use the machines linked to other banks. There are few restrictions on using other branches of your bank for transactions, but for those involving large sums of money you will need to have some form of identification with you and it is suggested that you stick to your own branch for those.

Savings accounts come in several forms but for expats especially, there may be a requirement to make large initial deposits. However, the interest rates on the savings accounts are usually very good, particularly if you choose one of the international banks. Fixed term savings are very popular, as these offer a slightly better interest rate although they do limit access to the funds in the account.

Several banks in the area will allow customers to open accounts in foreign currencies, and you may find that using one of these requires a lower initial deposit than with other accounts. An account in a foreign currency is ideal for those who will be receiving regular payments from another country, such as retired expats who are on a pension. Other currencies are generally limited to USD, GBP and Euros, although some banks will allow accounts in other currencies.

There are both local and international banks and although there may be more charges incurred if using a local bank, there is very little difference in the operating procedures between the two. International banks are ideal for those who will have a lot of foreign transactions or those who intend to do some travelling after moving to Jamaica. International banks such as HSBC and Citibank have a presence in the country although there are several local banks to choose from. Most banks will be able to advise customers on other financial services such as pensions and investments, though if you are at a rural branch, it may be necessary to make an appointment with an advisor at a larger branch.

Bank opening hours are the same as working hours; so many branches will be open after 8 am and close between 4.30 and 5 pm. However, it is common for rural branches to have shorter opening hours or close at lunchtimes so it will depend upon the level of demand in the area that you are living in.




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