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Can a non-Kenyan open a bank account?

I'll be in Kenya on a tourist visa for a few months from August.
As a tourist, can I open up a bank account and receive money from the US?

As a non-Kenyan I have a joint account with my Kenyan wife at Barclays, Hurlingham branch. We opened it when we were not married yet and I was legally on a tourist visa. So I suppose it should be possible even for a single person. You might want to call them.

Excellent, thanks for that. Do you remember the requirements for opening an account at the time? I'll make sure I contact them also.

Yes you can, but I am unsure whether you now need a PIN from Kenya Revenue Authority to open an account as a foreigner.

I have opened accounts with KCB and Chase Bank in the past.  You used to need someone who was already a customer to refer you, but now I believe that banks do a credit check.

Hmm that's too bad. The problem I have is my local bank won't allow me withdraw more than a certain amount per month (due to currency exchange laws in my country). So, I can only withdraw a certain amount via my ATM but in the event of an emergency, I may get stuck.

I just opened an account with DTB, all they needed was my passport and a local personal referral.

You can open an account even if you only have a tourist visa. But you need a reference person in Kenya. With that and your passport you should be ok. The reference person is not a guarantor, so no risk. Be careful which local bank you choose. Don't choose KCB in Nairobi if you rely on service and physically seeing them. I changed from KCB to Standard Chartered in Westlands and am now a very happy customer. You can avoid waiting queues by using online banking. Check banks' charges. If the banks have begun demanding a KRA pin, you can get that from Kenya Revenue Authority.

Hmm perhaps the rules have changed? Or Chase is not tourist friendly? I messaged Chase on FB yesterday and this is what they replied with "To open an account, work permit is mandatory if you are not a citizen."

I will check for you at my bank. However, are you sure you really need an account for six months if you are not 100% sure you will stay on after that time? Why not use your foreign visa card and put the money on mpesa? You will be charged for atm use of course but often you lose more on currency deviations and transfer charges by sending money from abroad.

Thanks Torewest. That would help a lot!

I actually want to eventually get citizenship there but for now, I can only stay for a maximum of 6 months (if I extend my 3 month visa) at a time so I will have to re-enter every 6 months.

So, eventually, I will have my employer deposit my salary into my Kenyan account (I work remotely, via the internet).

Ok, nice. It is possible that the bank asks for work permit to confirm hour address. If you don't have an employer in Kenya, you can bring proof of address in the shape of an electricity bill or tenants contract in your name, with a formal address. But you often need to be referred by a person who is already a customer in the bank and who confirms that he/she has known you for a year.

Sorry, Standard Chartered just told me there are new rules coz of terrorism. You need a residence permit at their bank. So I would recommend you open an account in another country and use a visa card at atms.

Ah, that's too bad. I'm limited by how much money I can withdraw with my debit card due to currency exchange laws in my country. I'll figure something out.

Thanks Torewest. That was really nice of you.

The M-Pesa idea is a good one though.  If you don't already know, this is a mobile banking platform operated by Safaricom.  You need a passport to register.  You can transfer cash into your account from your home bank account (at least you can from the UK).  You can use M-Pesa to pay for most goods and services, in Kenya.  There are also savings account options which pay up to 7% interest.  Its very handy and we use this more than we use our bank account.

Is Mpesa safe? I was thinking I'd open up two bank accounts. One with my savings (without a card) and the other for my months spendings (with a debit card) and only carry that one debit card around. That would be quite safe in the event I was robbed. But I hear robberies are less common now.

I usually receive my payments from my employer via Transferwise. I should look into the possibility of Transferwise working with Mpesa. That would actually work nicely. Thanks.

Oh yeah, MPesa is quite safe.

I am a non kenyan to......i now have a account with national bank.....i tried several other banks without succes......so maybe try there

What were the requirements for opening a bank account with them?

there i only needed a pin......its easy to get.......there was no bribe......usually that s the only way to get things done there..........before i opened the account at national bank i used barclays bank......there it was even more easy to open one

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