Opening Your First Bank Account in Ireland
by Pawel Zosik
There are several banks operating in Ireland that offer day-to-day banking services. You can choose from one of the following institutions:
- Permanent TSB
- Ulster Bank
- Bank of Ireland
What documents are required to open an account?
To open a bank account in Ireland you will need to provide Proof of Identification and Proof of address. Providing a suitable Proof of Identification is not a problem. A Proof of Identification can be a Passport, Driving License, or an EU National identify Card. Obtaining an acceptable Proof of Address, on the other hand, can be a challenge. Banks are very strict regarding Proof of address.
To comply with money laundering legislation Irish financial institutions have strict rules about what is and what isn’t an acceptable proof of address. For instance, a PPS Letter from the Department of Social Affairs is no longer considered a valid Proof of Address. People who have lived in Ireland for a while remember that this hasn’t always been the case. In fact, most Dublin veterans I know used their PPS Letters as a means to open a bank account.
Another form of Proof of Address that may not be sufficient for the bank is a tenancy agreement or a note from the landlord. A document signed by your landlord confirming when you started living at a certain address is sufficient Proof of Address when you are applying for a PPS number. However, the same document may be rejected by the bank.
How to satisfy the Proof of address requirement?
There are several types of documents that financial institutions in Ireland seem to like when it comes to proving where you live. To prove to the bank that you have a permanent address in Ireland you can provide:
- Utility bills (electricity, gas, or landline telephone bill)
- Correspondence from the Irish Revenue Office
- Correspondence from regulated financial institutions (Insurance companies, bank statements, credit card providers)
Newcomers to Dublin will almost always have difficulty providing utility bills and correspondence from financial institutions. If you are new to Dublin, your first accommodation most likely will be a form of shared accommodation. This means that your household bills will be in somebody else’s name when you move in. You can ask to get your name added to the bill. However, you will then need to wait for the first actual bill to arrive. That can take up to two months (electricity or gas is usually charged every two months). In the beginning you also cannot show any correspondence from a financial institution because your first financial institution is probably the bank where you are trying to open your account.
Tax Credits Certificate works best as a Proof of address
You can get a Tax Credits Certificate from the Irish Revenue Office when you are legally employed in Ireland. You can probably see a problem here: Do I need to get a job before I can open a bank account? Unfortunately the answer in many cases is yes.
To request a Tax Credits Certificate you will need to
- Create a self-service account through Revenue.ie website.
- Wait for the Revenue PIN to arrive in post.
- Log in to your Revenue account and register your work.
- Request a tax credit certificate.
- Usually after about two working days you will be able to print your Tax Credits Certificate directly from the website
Other possible ways to open a bank account
Students may be able to open a bank account on the basis of a letter provided by their school. However, this seems to be an informal rule followed only by some banks and it doesn’t apply to all the schools. I think that it is possible that some schools have made direct arrangements with one bank promising to send all their students to that particular bank. Whether it is ethical or not, this may be your quickest way to get a bank account.
In the same way, employees may be able to open an account on the basis of a letter issued by their employer. The condition here seems to be that your employer has to have an account in the same bank you wish to open your account. I would like to stress again that this is another informal rule and it may not work for all the banks.
When you are good to go
With your Proof of Identity and Proof of Address ready you can finally go to the bank. But first, most branches, especially in busy areas, require that you make an appointment to open an account. However, appointment is not necessary to open an account in AIB branch on Grafton Street.
It takes up to five working days for the bank to review your application, create your account and send you your debit card. Luckily opening your first account probably will be your most difficult experience with a bank. Once you become a customer you will find out that Irish banks operate very efficiently.