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United Arab Emirates (UAE) - Banking

Opening a bank account in the UAE is an easy process for foreigners. Expats can hold personal accounts and even take out loans from UAE banks. There are many financial institutions that cater to expats in the UAE.

The Arab Dirham is the official currency of the United Arab Emirates. The Central Bank of the UAE controls the monetary policy of the country. Expats are not allowed to open current accounts except under special circumstances. However, they can open savings accounts and use these for financial transactions.

The UAE has over 50 established local and international banks. Barclays Bank, Citi Bank, and Standard Chartered have branches in the UAE. Lloyd TSB and HSBC also have branches here.

Local banks are quite reliable as well and provide expedient financial services. However, local banks are a bit stricter on expats seeking financial services from them. Have all the necessary documents ready when seeking credit or opening an account in the UAE. This will make opening an account with local banks faster.

Tips for opening a bank account in the UAE

Many expats prefer opening accounts at international banks they are familiar with. This makes it easier for them to make international transactions. However, it is also possible to open a local account.

It is important that you first research local banks in the UAE and the types of services they offer. Find out if the local bank has a good reputation and if you can withdraw money from it at any time. In addition, determine if the bank offers financial services like check books, personal loans, or international money transfers. Make sure you compare several bank accounts before settling for one. You can also get referrals for potential banks from expat friends.

If you are moving to the UAE for work, it is important that you establish payment terms with your employer in advance. This will make it easier for your employer to credit your existing bank account with money.

Foreigners are not allowed to open current accounts except under special circumstances. Local banks will only process a current account with the help of your employer. For the self-employed expat, a native UAE citizen may act as your referee.

It is advisable to make early arrangements about salary payments with your employer. The UAE employer can assist in processing a local current account on your behalf. Start the current account opening procedure several weeks in advance. Local UAE banks take their time to approve current accounts for expats.

You do not need many personal documents to open an account in the UAE. Most local banks will only ask for your passport, residency visa, and proof of address. Sometimes banks will request past bank statements or referral letters. Local banks also regard a driver's license as legal proof of identification.

Banking Procedure in the UAE

Arab Emirate Dirham is the official legal tender that can be obtained in banking halls and cash points. Most UAE banks also allow financial transactions in Dollars and Euros. Ask your local bank about the currencies they consider as legal tender. This will make it easier for you to conduct financial transactions while in the UAE.

All banks in the UAE open from Saturday to Thursday. The official banking hours are from 8am to 2pm. ATMs and other cash withdrawal points remain open for 24 hours. Most banks conduct their financial transactions in English.

Banking Fees

The Central Bank of the UAE regulates all fees levied by local banks to their clients. However, some transactions are dictated by organizations that are not under the control of the Central Bank. In such cases, the local bank will have their own rates, which often vary from bank to bank.

Ensure you are aware of all charges levied on any transaction you make, especially if you will be sending or receiving money into or out of the UAE. Local banks calculate all banking fees using the latest foreign exchange rates.

Loan application process in the UAE

Local banks do allow foreigners to apply for loans. An expat can apply for mortgage, car, and even salary advances from their local bank. UAE banks will process car loans faster than other loans.

To be eligible for a loan, an expat has to prove that they are either on salary or self-employed. Employed foreigners have to present their latest salary certificate or pay slip. They will also need to have been employed for at least 3 years before the loan application. Banks also request a personal bank statement from the applicant. This statement outlines all financial transactions made for a period of 6 months.

Expats running their own businesses are required to present a valid trade license to the bank. Local banks also ask for a business bank statement showing past business transactions, a 2-year audit report, and a business Memorandum of Association.

Every bank loan request requires a copy of the expat’s Emirates ID card. If an Emirate ID is not available, a copy of your passport will do. Some banks will also ask for a residency visa as proof of residency.

Expats should clear all debts and financial obligations while in the UAE. UAE financial laws are strict and mistakes like defaulting on a loan can land you in jail. Issuing bounced checks is also a crime that is punishable by imprisonment.

Only make a financial transaction that you are sure of paying off. Ensure you have money in your bank account before processing any car or house loan. Checks are often used for paying bills in the UAE. Make sure you have money ready in your account when issuing a post-dated check.

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