How a Foreigner Can Open a Bank Account in the Philippines

Setting up a bank account in the Philippines as a foreigner has become quite an onerous task. It used to be one simply walked it, provided some identification, some money and opened an account. Now, after the world seems to have been taken over by terrorism, tax cheats, and international drug cartels, banks around the world are becoming more careful about due diligence when it comes to a foreigner wanting to open an account.

Requirements are basically the same at any bank, however if you have been introduced previously to the manager or one of his or her assistants, things tend to go smoother. The Philippines is a country where personal relationships are extremely important when it comes to moving through the bureaucracy of business and government organizations.

Further, things tend to go smoother is you apply at a large international bank, especially one where you may presently have an account in your home country.

Below are listed the basic requirements for opening an account.

1. Two valid identification cards. These can be your passport, driver’s license, company identification card. You need to be sure you take photocopies of these documents to provide the bank for their files.

2. A copy of a billing statement of utilities and/or credit card. The bank wants a photocopy of this so they can validate your address in the Philippines.

3. Alien Certificate of Registration. This is documents which can be obtained

from the office of the Bureau of Immigration nearest your residence. The main office is in Manila, but sub offices exist pretty much in all major cities in the Philippines.

Whether opening a bank account or not, this registration is required by the Philippines government for all foreigners who plan to stay in the Philippines for 30 days or more. You will be fingerprinted and issued an ID card. The procedure is to file an application form, provide three 2″ X 2″ pictures, and submit what is called the E-series ACR form in triplicate. The ACR ID card also serves as the Emigration Clearance Certificate (ECC), Re-entry Permit (RP) and Special Return Certificate (SRC) of the holder.

Recognize that the ACR is NOT issued to those in the Philippines on a tourist status. In other words, if you are in the country on a tourist visa, a business visa, or even on Balikbayan status, you are not considered to be an alien for purpose of registration. The Balikbayan status is simply considered to be a special form of visitor’s visa. Either one needs to be in the country under the SSRV (special retirement program foreigners), a returning resident, or an immigrant. Foreigners married to a Philippine citizen qualify for a non-quota immigrant visa (called a 13(a) Visa. If your spouse is a USA citizen, the best way for them to revert to Philippine citizenship is to become a Dual Citizen (a special program passed by the Philippine government in 2003).

4. Initial deposit equal to the minimum balance required by the bank.

5. It is also a good idea to take a copy of your Marriage Certificate, if you are married to a Philippine citizen. Some banks also require a copy of that.

Now, having submitted these documents, be prepared for an interview and some background checking by the bank before the account is opened. This will take a week or two.