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You will probably want to open a bank account when moving to the Philippines. Here are 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 there. In fact, a bank account will help you receive your salary, or pension, and other transactions such as settling your bills, bank transfers, etc. But before proceeding, it is important to be aware of the banking system and related issues.

Banking system

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) monitors the country’s banking system. It is composed of universal and commercial banks, thrift banks, rural, and cooperative banks as well as non-banks with quasi-banking functions. 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 banknotes: 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1,000 pesos. Regarding the following sums, these are available in pesos and centavos, namely 1, 5 and 10 pesos and 5, 10, 25, and 50 centavos. Generally, there is no limit to the legal tender power (ie the power of a currency to be accepted as payment) of Philippine currency notes and coins. However, coins of 1, 5, and 10 pesos are legal tender up to 1,000 pesos while 1, 5, 10, and 25 centavos are legal tender up to 100 pesos.

Banking services

It is necessary that your bank has stable financials in order to keep its banking services for the foreseeable future. According to the BSP, the following are the top 10 banks with the biggest financial assets as of September 2017:

  • Banco de Oro (BDO Unibank, Inc.)
  • Metrobank (Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company)
  • Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI)
  • Landbank of the Philippines
  • Security Bank Corporation
  • Philippine National Bank (PNB)
  • Chinabank (China Banking Corporation)
  • Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP)
  • Union Bank of the Philippines (UBP)
  • Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC)

Several international banks also have branches in the country, namely:

  • Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited
  • Bangkok Bank Public Co. Ltd.
  • Bank of America, N.A.
  • Bank of China Limited-Manila Branch
  • Cathay United Bank Co., LTD. - Manila Branch
  • Citibank, N.A.
  • Deutsche Bank AG
  • First Commercial Bank, Ltd., Manila Branch
  • Hua Nan Commercial Bank, Ltd. - Manila Branch
  • Industrial Bank of Korea Manila Branch
  • ING Bank N.V.
  • JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A.
  • KEB Hana Bank - Manila Branch
  • Mega International Commercial Bank Co., Ltd.
  • Mizuho Bank, Ltd. - Manila Branch
  • MUFG Bank, Ltd.
  • Shinhan Bank - Manila Branch
  • Standard Chartered Bank
  • Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation-Manila Branch
  • The Hongkong & Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC)
  • United Overseas Bank Limited, Manila Branch

In general, banks provide not only the management of accounts and online payment of bills but also debit and credit cards. The use of debit and credit cards are quite widespread in major Philippine 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

Normally, your employer will take charge of opening a bank account for you. In case you need to do this on your own, you simply have to visit a branch of your preferred bank and present the following:

  • at least two valid photo-bearing IDs;
  • two copies of your most recent ID photo;
  • your Alien Certificate of Registration card (ACR I-card); and
  • a first deposit (amount to be confirmed with your bank).

As for corporate accounts, you will be asked for additional documents such as:

  • articles of incorporation;
  • certificate of registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC);
  • corporate by-laws; and
  • notarized board resolution authorizing the opening of an account with the named bank and the list of authorized signatories.

Additional documents might be required depending on the bank so make sure to visit the website or call a representative from your bank of choice in order to confirm.

 Useful link:

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas

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