Voluntary ACR Application / International Bank Account

I am a New Zealand citizen but work overseas on a 28/28 rotation and spend only a couple of weeks in the Philippines during each leave period. I am planning to eventually settle in the Philippines and I am currently trying to open an international bank account but each bank I visit says I need an ACR.

A frustrating 2 hours at the Bureau of Immigration determined that since I am only here for short periods, it is not possible (so they say) to voluntarily apply for an ACR for the purposes of opening a bank account.

Can anyone advise regarding their experience voluntarily applying for an ACR and/or recommend a helpful banking institution that doesn't require the ACR in order to open an international / foreign currency account?

Have you tried HSBC?  They have branches listed in and around Manila and one each in Cebu and Davao with access to your funds available through and Plus system ATM machine throughout the Philippines such as the ones used by Metrobank.

I have no personal experience with HSBC, though another expat stated he had opened an account with them while on a tourist Visa. He did not state whether or not he had and ACR-I card.

You might just drop them a line and ask.

Addendum to the previous response.

Seeing as how HSBC is an international bank with branches in New Zealand you may be able to start there. … :1,lf_ui:4

Thanks TeeJay.

Yes, I heard similar from an expat mate of mine so I did try with HSBC (Alabang) but the counter staff and their manager were insistent on the ACR requirement and even went on about FATCA and other US taxation forms, suggesting that I "discuss with my tax consultant".

As such I am pursuing with HSBC (Makati) and hope to hear from someone higher up the food chain who might have a better understanding of the rules concerning international accounts.

Also thought it worth asking the forum members to see if there were any avenues to pursue regarding issuance of ACR even on short-term visa.

A friend recently visited the Philippines for an extended period of time. Five days prior to the expiration of his 30 day tourist Visa he went to renew the Visa for and additional two months and was asked to apply for an ACR-I card, which he did. It was approved and he received the card in about 2 weeks, give or take a few days.

He submitted the application at a branch BI office in a Robinsons mall. 

After receiving his ACR-I and taking with him his proof of address and a utility bill from the condominium he was renting, he went to BDO to open an account. He was declined with the reason given being that he was on a tourist visa and they required a permanent resident visa to open the account.

If you have any luck opening an account, please share it with the rest of us.

Best wishes and good luck with HSBC.

@ Ekiptosom,

In mid July last year the BI issued a new I-Card that is color-coded with specific colors designated for 10 different visa types.  These types represent the following categories: Permanent Resident, Native Born Resident, Special Non-Immigrant, Worker, Treaty Trader, Probationary Resident, Voluntary Registrant, Student, Tourist, and Gratis.  I have been here in the PI for 3+ years (minus a visa run of 4 days back in June).  In all this time, my I-Card status has been as a "Tourist".

DO I have a local Bank account?  Yes - After visits to BDO, China Bank and BPI (all of which were ready to set up an account), I selected BPI for their numerous ATM locations that allow both withdrawal and deposits.  In each case I spoke directly with the branch managers and once they confirmed I had a current ACR or I-Card, there was no problem, my account was opened in my name only.  I also have a TIN and they were happy to see that but the law here requires the ACR or I-Card and does not state if it must be from a specific selection of one of the possible 10 types.  When I have an occasion to use BDO for Xoom transfers, 8 out of 10 of the people helping me do not want to accept my ACR as the only ID needed.  After they are schooled on their own laws and the managers agree with me, I only show the ACR card and refuse to show any other ID. 

One very important step that I took was to never, never keep the bulk of my financial assets in any bank in the PI (I try to keep just enough for routine banking, living necessities and limited emergency funds). Your assets will most likely be shared thru any bank here if you dump large amounts into your account. 

DO NOT allow any statements to be mailed to your home …never.  Make sure the bank understands that there is to be be zero mailed documents to your home address.  Since the deposit insurance in Philippine banks is limited to P500,000 pesos or about $10,800 keep a main national bank as your only options and stay away from Philippine rural banks.

FYI - for American Social Security retirees, their monthly retirement payments can be direct-deposited to a few selected Philippine banks.  However, to follow US law, all U.S. public pensions must be deposited to an account in the American's name only — not a joint account with the spouse.  You may want to consider these points also.

Best wishes


Yes you will need an ACR I-Card. And for you to avail an ACR I-Card you must extend your tourist visa for 3 months.


Best regards,

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We had the same problem before like you Sir. But luckily after we went different branch of banks we found one. I think it depends of Manager you will spoke and how they will consider you. They will ask only your purpose why you need to open a bank account here in the Philippines.

very interesting forum ! as a novice what is an ACR < I_card ?

Alien Certification Registration Identity card.

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