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Opening a bank account in the Philippines

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You will probably want to open a bank account when moving to the Philippines. Here is some information on related procedures.

Whether you are going to work or retire in the Philippines, you will probably want to open a bank account. In fact, a bank account will help you receive your salary, or pension, and even perform many transactions such as settling your bills, bank transfers, etc. But before proceeding, it is best to be aware of the banking system and related issues.

Banking system

Like most Asian, European and Western countries, the Philippines hosts many rural, national and international banks. You can choose any of them to open your bank account, both in local and foreign currency. However, local transactions are generally made in pesos. Therefore, you can exchange your foreign currency into the Philippine pesos (PHP - ₱) in banks, hotels and authorized money exchange agencies.

 Good to know:

The following amounts are available in bank notes: 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 pesos. As regards the following sums, these are available in pesos and centavos, namely 1, 5 and 10 pesos and 5, 10, 25 and 50 centavos.

Banking services

You are likely to find the following banks in the Philippines: The Bank of the Philippine Islands, the Philippine National Bank, or Metrobank which are national banks. Several international banks such as Citibank, Bank of America, Standard Chartered Bank and HSBC also have branches in the country. For instance, you will be able to make transfers more easily if you open an account in one of these branches.

In general, banks provide not only the management of accounts and online payment of bills but also debit and credit cards. The use of credit cards is quite widespread in major Philippines cities. However, in rural areas, most commercial and trade activities take place in cash. So if you are planning a trip in a rural region, make sure to have enough cash in your wallet.

Procedures

Once you have chosen the bank where you prefer to open your account, you simply have to visit one of its branches with your identity card or passport and a first deposit (amount to be confirmed with your bank). Some banks will request you to produce your Alien Certificate of Registration card (ACR I-card). You will also need a letter or a written statement issued by your bank in your home country, detailing your account. All these documents will be verified before being approved by the bank officer.

 Good to know:

In the Philippines, sponsoring someone for the opening of a bank account is a common practice. The foreign client, therefore, will not have to produce a letter issued by his bank in his home country. Otherwise, the account will not be opened before the client's references are verified with his home bank.

 Useful links:

Expat.com – Banks in the Philippines Forum 
Banks Philippines - List of banks in the Philippines www.banksphilippines.com

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