Opening a Thai bank account.

One of the tasks that everyone needs to tackle soon after arriving in the Kingdom is to set up a bank account. For many people it can be quite challenging, but with a little background knowledge and planning, it should be a simple and straightforward process.

Firstly, before visiting banks you need to ask yourself questions such as:

  • Do I need a Thai baht or a foreign currency account?
  • Do I need a personal account or a corporate account?
  • Will I require internet banking? Will I be undertaking many international fund transfers (and if so, to which countries?
  • Would a foreign bank or a Thai bank be most suitable for my needs? (noting here that some Thai banks have offices in other countries)
  • Will I need ready access to branch offices with English-speaking staff?
  • Are there any special banking facilities or services that I must have?
  • Is the interest rate provided on savings an important issue? (see here)

The answer to each of these and other relevant questions will then either push you towards certain banks and particular accounts and away from others.

Which banks operate in Thailand?

There are fifteen local commercial banks, two local retail banks, and fifteen foreign banks. The six largest Thai banks are (in order): Bangkok Bank, Siam Commercial Bank, Krungthai Bank, Kasikorn Bank, TMB Bank, and Bank of Ayudhya. For details please refer to this page for details.

Are Thai banks safe?

Yes they are, they are in generally very sound financial condition. The Thai government offers a conditional guarantee of depositors’ funds, details of which are available here.

What is required to open an account?

The nature of paperwork that you will be asked to submit will vary depending on the type of account, and the particular branch staff that you are dealing with. At one end of the spectrum, you will simply be asked for your passport and an address in Thailand. At the other end of the spectrum, well, the list can be quite long and include a work permit, company records and tax details, personal financial information, etc. Please see our step-by-step guide to private company registration, elsewhere in the Interactive Thailand website, for details concerning establishing a corporate account.

Finally, please consider the following general suggestions

Do not assume that Thai banks operate in the same manner as banks in your home country! To give an example, Thai banks still utilize paper passbooks and they do not routinely issue monthly statements. If a particular issue is critically important then check and verify using as many sources as possible before committing to a particular bank/branch/account type.

Do not accept at face-value information communicated to you by counter or call-centre staff. In many cases they will either not understand your question and/or not know the correct answer. It is common for different customers to receive conflicting answers to the same question, or for different branches of the same bank to have varying policies concerning the same matter.

Do not get angry with bank staff – the matter may well be outside their control and your temperament is quite likely to be counter-productive. Where possible simply relax, smile and move on to another member of staff, another branch, or even another bank.

If you have done your research, chosen wisely, and have realistic expectations then you should be well-pleased with the standard of banking services on offer in Thailand.

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About Acclime.

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