Whether you are new to the country, or are simply looking for more banking options, setting up a bank account can be a process that requires a lot of attention to detail. The options are endless when it comes to setting up a savings or current account, with most banks offering services and options based on your specific financial needs.
Here is a breakdown of all you need to know to set up a bank account in the UAE.
Savings or current: which should you choose?
Savings accounts are suitable if you do not need to regularly access your account for day-to-day transactions. It offers monthly interest and low to no minimum balance requirements.
While current accounts offer no interest on the maintained balance, they do offer cheque book facilities, which can be important for transactions like paying your rent or making big purchases.
Banks in the UAE offer a wide range of account options, which largely fall under the following categories:
1. Basic – low or no minimum balance requirement and basic services like ATM card.
2. Salary account – This is the account to which an employee’s salary gets transferred electronically, in line with the UAE’s Wage Protection System.
3. Premium account – apart from the most basic accounts, most banks have an array of options for consumer banking. Depending on your needs and usage requirements, you can select accounts which offer better interest rates, free credit cards, foreign currency accounts, fixed or flexible deposits, higher daily withdrawal limits etc.
4. Islamic banking – Many banks also offer Shariah-compliant options for consumers. Commercial Bank of Dubai's Islamic banking department clarifies that Islamic banking operates on the principle of profit and loss sharing and the bank becomes more of a partner, investor, buyer or seller. According to its website: "What's more, Islamic banks have no provision to charge any extra money from the defaulters. In fact, only a nominal amount is levied by way of compensation and this money is donated to charity. On the other hand, rebates may be given for early settlement at the Bank's discretion."
Which bank should I choose?
The UAE has around 20 national banks, and even more international banks, that have branches across the country. Speak to at least a handful of banks or visit their websites to find out about the best offers and services, before making your decision. Not only do you need to consider whether the bank is offering online and mobile phone banking with your account opening, many banks also offer exciting giveaways that might swing the decision in their favour.
Here is a list of all the national banks in the UAE:
- Emirates NBD Bank P.J.S.C - 600 540000
- Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank P.J.S.C - 02 610 0600
- First Abu Dhabi Bank P.J.S.C - 600525500
- Dubai Islamic Bank P.J.S.C - 04 609 2222
- Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank P.J.S.C - 600 50 2030
- Arab Bank for Investment & Foreign Trade (Al Masraf) - 600 529999
- Commercial Bank of Dubai P.J.S.C - 600 575 556
- Emirates Islamic Bank P.J.S.C. - 600 599995
- Mashreq Bank P.S.C. – 04 424 4444
- Sharjah Islamic Bank P.J.S.C. – 06 59 99 999
- Bank of Sharjah PSC - 06 5694411
- United Arab Bank P.J.S.C - 800 474
- National Bank of R.A.K P.J.S.C (RAKBANK) - 04 2130000
- Commercial Bank International PLC – 600 544440
- National Bank of Fujairah PSC – 800 623
- National Bank of U.A.Q PSC - 04 314 8888
- Noor Bank P.J.S.C - 600 500 607
- Al Hilal Bank P.J.S.C - 600 522 229
- Ajman Bank P.J.S.C – 800 22
- Invest Bank – 04 321 3131
- National Bank of Bahrain – 02 690 2222
- Rafidain Bank – 02 633 5882
- Arab Bank PLC – 04 445 0000
- Banque Misr – 04 271 5175
- El Nilein Islamic Bank - 02 626 9995
- National Bank of Oman S.A.O.G. - 04 304 9400
- Bank of Baroda – 04 313 6600
- Janata Bank Limited – 06 5687032
- HSBC Bank Middle East Limited - 600 554722
- Arab African International Bank - 04 373 6666
- Al Khaliji (France) S. A. - 04 416 1100
- Habib Bank Ltd. – 04 302 9111
- Habib Bank A.G Zurich – 04 373 5200
- Standard Chartered Bank - 600 5222 88
- CitiBank N.A. – 04 311 4000
- Bank Saderat Iran – 04 311 1187
- Bank Meli Iran – 04 201 5100
- Blom Bank France - 04 222 4812
- United Bank Ltd. Dubai - 600 533335
- Doha Bank – 04 321 4333
- Samba Financial Group – 800 20777
Salary account – Wage Protection System
In 2016, a decree by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) mandated that salaries of employees be transferred to their bank accounts under the Wages Protection System (WPS). When you get a new job offer, your company will ask you for your bank account details for this reason. Any unpaid salaries or delays can be reported to MoHRE.
What documents do I need?
Along with filling in a detailed account opening form, you will need to present:
- Your original passport plus a copy
- A copy of your visa page proving you are a resident of the UAE
- Emirates ID
- Some banks might require a no objection certificate from your sponsor
- A salary certificate for salary-transfer accounts.
- In the absence of a salary certificate, any proof of income may be obtained:
- Appointment Letter / Contract Copy.
- Pay slip (less than three-month-old).
- Most recent statement of account where your salary is being transferred.
Speak to your company’s HR department for the NOC, salary certificate, pay slip or appointment letter. If you are sponsored by your father or husband, an NOC from them would be sufficient.
In case you are opening a second bank account in the UAE, you can get bank statements as proof of funds from the bank where you have your first account. Many banks now also offer bank statements via online banking.
Can I do this process online?
Many banks are now offering the opportunity for customers to upload the necessary documents online. Once you complete the process online, you will receive a reference number and be able to access your account as soon as the application is approved.
How long does it take?
Banks can take anywhere from a few hours to two working days to process the account opening. Once the account is opened, many banks also deliver your ATM card and cheque book through a courier right to your doorstep (for a cost in some cases).