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Ireland - Banking
Ireland boasts eight major banks with the most popular being the Bank of Ireland, which has 320 branches countrywide. Allied Irish Bank, also known as AIB, is also one of the most widespread banks in Ireland with over 300 branches spread out across the country. AIB, Ulster Bank and National Irish Bank are collectively known as the Associated Banks because they offer a clearing system for all other banks in Ireland.
Irish banks offer a wide range of services specifically designed for expats. Nearly all banks offer current account facilities. These services are not only offered by banks but also building societies. Services such as savings accounts are offered by some banks, post offices, credit unions, and building societies. Anyone who wants to open an account with a bank in Ireland must provide a utility bill or other proof of residence in Ireland, passport, and details of their previous bank accounts. Banks in Ireland normally impose yearly or quarterly transaction charges and fees on current accounts.
Nearly all banks in Ireland including Bank of Ireland, Ulster Bank, AIB, National Irish Bank, and TSB offer telephone and internet banking services. All major banks in Ireland issue their clients with debit cards. ATMs are widely available throughout major towns, cities, and villages in Ireland except in rural areas.
The use of major credit cards as a means of payment is widely accepted in Ireland. However, not all establishments accept cards. Small enterprises may only take cash. Travelers’ checks and major currencies are accepted in Ireland. Anyone can exchange pounds Sterling without paying commission. Foreign exchange services are mainly available in post offices, banks, and bureaux de change.
There are many major UK and US banks operating in Ireland, including Barclays, HSBC, and Northern Rock. The major foreign-owned banks operating in Ireland offer similar services to Irish banks. Some of the foreign-owned banks operating in Ireland are bigger than local banks.
All major banks in Ireland offer standard accounts, student accounts, and joint accounts. The banks have a number of options including online banking, Visa debit cards, mobile apps, and contactless payments. Anyone can easily open a bank account in Ireland. You can apply in person, online, or over the phone. Other account options include personal current accounts, young saver current accounts, second level current accounts, third level current accounts, graduate current accounts, basic bank accounts, and golden years current accounts.
How to Open an Account
To open a bank account in Ireland, you will need provide a valid form of photo ID and a document to prove your address. Valid forms of photo ID include your passport, national identity card, or a driving license. To prove your address, the bank will need you to produce a utility bill which is less than 6 months old, a recent bank statement, and a correspondence from a government department.
The good thing about Ireland is that you can open a bank account even if you are a non-resident. Most banks will accept a bank statement, utility bill, or government correspondence with your home country’s address. Most banks will also ask you to provide a character reference and access to your financial history in your home country. The bank has to certify the copies of your photo ID and proof of address. The documents have to be signed and stamped by a chartered accountant, a practicing solicitor, an embassy official, a notary public, or a commissioner for oaths.
The person signing your documents must confirm the documents are true copies of the originals and note down their name, position, and contact details. They must also sign, date, and stamp the document. It is important to know that most banks in Ireland will insist on meeting you in person before acknowledging your application and opening your account.
Use of Debit and Credit Cards
Most people in Ireland use a combination of cash, debit and credit cards. The use of credit cards and debit cards is very common in Ireland. People who use debit and credit cards usually get the best exchange rates. The use of ATMs is also prevalent in Ireland because many banks in the country do not charge for using them.
Small stores that are not associated with banks may charge some fees for ATM transactions. However, many businesses in Ireland accept credit cards. It is important to have your bank phone numbers handy in case you encounter any problems.
An overdraft gives you a credit facility on your current account for temporary or occasional use. Overdrafts give you access to a certain amount of money when you need it. Most banks in Ireland allow their clients to apply for any amount that does not exceed their monthly income.
Banks in Ireland are quite flexible and do not have many restrictions for expats who want to open bank accounts with them. Opening a bank account in Ireland is not likely to be complicated.
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