So, why would you want to know how to open a bank account in Turkey as a foreigner?
Well firstly, having a bank account has become one of the necessities to meet the demands of modern life.
Secondly, when it comes to managing our financials, opening a bank account has become an essential part of our daily life regardless of our location or profession in the world. Whether you are a student, an employee, or a tourist, having a bank account in Turkey opens the door to many advantages due to the services and benefits it offers.
Thirdly, when you are a foreigner in Turkey, you will have some concerns regarding any foreign regulations that you might be unaware of and the language barrier that can prove to be a problem when dealing with these formalities.
So, If you are looking to purchase property in Turkey or move to Turkey, we strongly recommend you open a bank account in Turkey. And this guide for foreigners should cover any of your initial questions and/or concerns.
Some advantages of having a Bank Account in Turkey include:
- Enables you to pay and receive due fees such as study installments or rent.
- Paying household bills such as water, gas, electricity, and internet.
- Transferring money smoothly within the country as well as outside of it.
- Grants you access to online shopping and the use of e-commerce websites.
- Conducting currency exchange.
- Provides access and ability to conduct all main bank services through smartphone applications from the comfort of your home and at any time without having to personally visit your bank.
- Facilitates easy payment of due tax. (As in order to acquire a residence permit, you will be required to get a tax identification number, application to the tax office to pay Turkish tax as you will be dealing with Turkish lira, not your foreign currency.)
Turkey has a total of 53 banks, 34 of which operate as deposit banks, 13 are development and investment banks, 3 are state-owned and 9 are private banks. There are also many international banks offering different types of services satisfying different ethics and religious doctrines. Whether you have a property in Turkey or not, having a bank account in Turkey can only work to your advantage.
So how do you know which one to go for and which ones are best for foreign investors and expats?
It’s a good idea to ask around to get an idea of other people’s experiences with different banks. You might be drawn to some internationally recognized banks such as HSBC because it’s a familiar name, for example, but you won’t be able to access your UK accounts via a Turkish branch.
Some banks are private, including Garanti, YapıKredi, Akbank and Denizbank, while others such as Halkbank, Ziraat and Vakıfbank are state-owned.
The top 15 largest and most popular Turkish banks include:
- Ziraat Bank
- Garanti Bank
- Yapi Kredi Bank
- QNB Finansbank
- TEB Turk Ekonomi Bankasi
- Turkish Bank
- Kuveyt Turk Bankasi
All the above banks are linked to their websites and you will find that most Turkish bank websites offer English translation, Kuveyt Turk even offers Arabic translation as well. Their mobile applications will offer the same and most ATM services here in Turkey do have multiple choices of languages for their clients. You can also find out more details about these banks at pdf.co
What types of Bank Accounts are available in Turkey?
1. A Current Account
A current account is a non-term account, characterized by the ability to deposit, transfer and withdraw available funds at any time. It doesn’t result in any profit or debt.
Turkish current accounts offer the following services:
- Money transfer.
- Checkbook Transactions.
- Repayment of loans and credit cards.
- Direct debit payments.
- Paying for shopping in person in stores and supermarkets.
- Paying bills, taxes, medical insurance, and social security.
- Foreign currency transactions and precious metals.
- Installment payments (transfer of deferred funds) such as buying real estate in installments and paying the construction company their agreed monthly amount.
- Forex trading orders and gold.
Important note: You can’t pay foreign currency cheques into a Turkish bank account.
2. Credit Card Account
Current account debit cards are unfortunately not accepted when shopping and making payments online, for this reason, you have to get a Credit Card Account that works similarly to a current account but usually only used to pay for anything online. It is known as a credit card account in Turkey but it does not carry the same understanding of a standard credit card that we are used to in the west. The money is not on loan to you, you have to open this account with the minimum amount of 1000 TL and then keep topping up this account accordingly.
3. Gold Savings Account
This type of account is indefinite and provides an opportunity to evaluate savings in the form of gold.
- This account can be used for saving without the risk of deflating your currency value.
- Offers you the opportunity of buying or selling gold at any time.
- The minimum transaction is usually 0.01 grams.
- Retains gold stored by 995/1000 purity.
- A certificate is given in return for the saved gold (at the banks where real gold buying and selling is available, such as Kuveyt Turk Bank).
- With gold that is in a current gold account, you can issue gold checks and convert the gold through Bank transfer.
- You can also withdraw gold in grams from the branches of Kuveyt Turk Bank, as an example.
4. Participatory Account
A participatory account works in line with the principles of interest-free Islamic banking. It’s a type of account that allows the distribution of returns – within the scope of the profit and loss partnership between the account holder and the bank operating under the participatory system. Funds collected from participating accounts are used to finance halal trade, industry, and services sectors. The most important point in this system is not to set the rate of the return initially, but at the end of the term. Because the Islamic banking system cannot make money through interest, they rely on ties to tangible assets, such as real estate and equity, charging rent’ instead of interest.
How to open a Turkish bank account?
To open a Turkish bank account as a foreigner, you will need the following documents:
- Your passport
- Tax ID number
- A utility bill
The utility bill can be either from Turkey or your home country. It has to be within the last 3 months and have your name spelt clearly and correctly on it.
In some areas, banks require foreigners to have a valid residence permit before they are allowed to open an account. This is more common in cities such as here in Istanbul, and also with some state bank branches, so it’s worth checking during your research.
If you don’t already have a tax number, you can refer to our article on How To Get A Tax ID Number In Turkey As A Foreign National 2021
Is my money safe in Turkey?
The Turkish government has put measures in place to protect customers’ money in the event of a financial collapse. At each bank, each person is covered for up to 100,000 Turkish lira.
So, if you have accounts at three banks and all of them collapse, 300,000 TL of your money is safe. If you have one joint account, each of you is covered for 100,000 TL, so 200,000 TL of your money is safe. If you have three accounts at the same bank in one name, only 100,000 TL in total is safe. (Of course, this assumes you have that much in your account; you are only entitled to the amount you have.)
Can I withdraw money from my foreign bank account in Turkey?
Yes, you can. However, Always withdraw in Turkish Lira to ensure that you get the mid-market rate. If you attempt to withdraw in another currency, the ATM will most likely give you an inflated exchange rate using Dynamic Currency Conversion. This means you’ll be paying extra fees unnecessarily.
How much money can I bring to Turkey?
There is no limit to the amount of foreign and Turkish currency that can be brought into Turkey, however, no more than $5000 US dollars worth of Turkish Lira can be taken out of the country.
What are the best money transfer options?
A question asked by many expats is which option is best to transfer money from their home country into Turkey. While some arrange to have pensions paid directly into their Turkish account, for instance, others prefer to move it themselves.
Online services offer a convenient, easy way to move money at low cost. As an example, TransferWise offers an exchange rate comparable to the banks and charges a very reasonable fee, while XE offers free transfers at a slightly lower exchange rate. (You will need to check with your Turkish bank for any charges when the money is received in your account.)
Some people use credit or debit cards from their home country to withdraw foreign currency and then swap it for lira at the change offices. However, fewer ATMs are offering free withdrawals making this a more expensive option.
Important note: Consider currency fluctuations if you plan to transfer a large sum of money to Turkey, particularly if you might need to change it back again, it’s often a bonus when needing it for spending in the country however, you can lose out a lot if you need to exchange it back.
Can I manage my Turkish bank account from abroad?
Banks in Turkey will not accept telephone instructions, so if you plan to spend large periods of time out of the country, internet banking will be vital to managing your account, etc.
People have different reasons for choosing a particular bank. They might want the reassurance of English-speaking staff in their local branch, and perhaps the number and locations of ATMs is something to consider. For example, there will be more availability in main cities such as Istanbul, Antalya, and Alanya than there will be in the outskirt villages and towns of these main cities.
As mentioned before, most banks have an English language version of their website or smartphone app, but not all do – so that might be something to check first if you need online banking.
To summarize, opening a bank account in Turkey as a Foreigner is relatively easy and, while there are certain rules that apply to foreigners, there are also many benefits to be had.
I hope this post has been useful to you, if so please do like and share and if you should have any more questions please don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments section below.
Lastly, If you’re ready to make the move to Turkey, we’d love to help you find your dream home in Istanbul. Whatever your needs, we will be there for you, just get in touch.