How to open a bank account in Russia?

You can go to a branch with a passport, a written application, and conclude a bank account agreement. They can ask you about your tax identification number (TIN). And they can ask about your individual insurance account number (SNILS). This helps the bank to identify if you change the passport.

Russia has a huge banking network with large and international banking operations. Availability of ATMs is very easy here. Russia has a robust economy and outstanding English-speaking schools. And Russians are friendly toward outsiders. Being foreigners we often wonder how to open a bank account in Russia.

The Russian population is 142 million. It has a large number of foreigners and they are in the cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg. With the vibrant and cultural life, many foreigners have fallen in love with this life. One of the first things you’ll need to do if you’re planning a move to Russia is open a local bank account.

How to open a bank account in Russia?

You have to go to the branch with a passport, a written application, and conclude a bank account agreement. They can ask you about your tax identification number (TIN). And they can ask about your individual insurance account number (SNILS). This helps the bank to identify if you change the passport. You can even open an account from your home in any of the following ways:

  • If you are a client of the bank then you can open the account with the help of a personal account or mobile application.
  • With the help of biometrics through the Unified Remote Identification System.
  • With the help of the marketplace. An online platform to choose a financial product and conclude the agreement.

It is not mandatory to immediately deposit money to a current or savings account. They can remain open on zero balance for a long time. If you do not deposit the money within two years the bank has the right to close the account.

In most cases, Russian employers will create a payment account with a bank. This bank handles the company’s money for each new employee. This is often a non-negotiable component of your job contract. The company will deposit into the specified account without your knowledge. Some companies transfer to an account of your choice. So you can deposit to a bank different from the one they use. If you desire, you can move your profits from one account to another.

In Russia, there are hundreds of banks. So you’ll have to decide which ones give the greatest service, value for money, and convenience.

You can choose a large or multi-national bank, so you’ll be able to access your money quicker. And you can choose the bank account that best suits your needs. You can compare preferential rates on banking products like credit cards or mortgages. Or compare the cost of sending money locally and internationally.

What documents do I need to open a bank account?

Different kinds of accounts are available in Russian banks. For accounts with no credit, you can apply only with passport as a proof of identification. If you wish to open a bank account with other services you need to submit the following documents:

  • Photo ID (a passport)
  • Valid resident permit
  • Proof of address in Russia (a recent utility bill is acceptable)
  • For some accounts, you may need a reference letter from your employer.

Types of bank accounts in Russia

A person can open many types of bank accounts in Russia each one has its function and the list is as follows:

Current account

A current account allows you to not only keep the money but also to pay for purchases & services. It allows making transfers to people and organizations. When you take a loan, the bank opens a current account for you and you can deposit money to pay off the debt.

Deposit account

A deposit account is for opening a bank account. This can be in rubles as well as in foreign currency – often in dollars or euros. A deposit account doesn’t allow:

  • paying for purchases,
  • withdrawing money from ATMs,
  • or transfers to other people.

In some cases, you can transfer the accrued interest, or a part of it, from the deposit to the current account. To withdraw all the money, the deposit account has to be close, and in that case, interest is usually lost. All the above should be clear in your account agreement.

Savings account

This is a hybrid of a current and a deposit account. Banks do charge interest on the money in this account. They are generally larger than the current account. In some cases, they exceed the interest on the deposit. As per the rule, you cannot pay for purchases from saving accounts. You must transfer your money to the current account. Some banks allow paying for certain services such as utilities, taxes, and fines. You can do this payment through your application or internet banking.

Impersonal metal accounts (OMS)

This account is suitable for those investing in gold, silver, platinum, or palladium. There is no need to focus on weight, you can deposit even a few grams of precious metal in the account. As per the rule, you can close a metal account any time, when the price of metal rises. Interest isn’t paid on them. Income from the metal account is subject to income tax. If the account is open for more than 3 years you are exempt from paying tax.

What international banks are in Russia?

There are six large international banks in Russia

  • Sberbank (state-owned)
  • VTB
  • Gazprombank.
  • VTB24.
  • Bank Otkritie Financial Corporation.
  • Bank of Moscow.

 

Can a foreigner open a bank account in Russia?

Yes, It’s possible to open a bank account in Russia as a non-resident. The procedure is simple. And there are accounts in foreign currency with other services. These are specific for foreigners.

How can a foreigner open a bank account?

Foreign citizens can open bank accounts in Russia. The currency will be rubles, euros, or dollars based on the following documents:

  • An application form issued by the bank
  • A valid passport
  • A valid resident permit
  • Proof of residential address

With huge banking operations, it’s worth checking your home branches there. If it exists it’s very easy to transfer to a local bank. Even as a non-resident you can open a bank account in Russia. The procedure is simple as well as quick. Many foreign currency accounts are for foreigners here. Banking with multi-national banks gives the assurance of easy access to your money. Choose the bank account that suits your needs.


The cover image is somewhere in Sochi, Russia. Photo by Igor Starkov on Unsplash