To prevent money laundering, Thailand has made opening a bank account without a local, permanent address and a permanent visa almost impossible in Thailand. but, since we’ve introduced almost three hundred clients to our local branch, they’ve gotten permission from Bangkok to allow them to continue. We must provide a Thai citizen to guarantee you and you must purchase the bank’s accident insurance. Neither is expensive: the guarantor costs 500 baht and the 12 month insurance policy premium varies depending upon which level of coverage you choose. In return, you get a laminated card good at any hospital in Thailand.
The regulations say, “In order to open an ordinary checking or savings account, Bank of Bangkok requires that I get a notarized letter from the US Embassy in Bangkok, stating that I’m a US citizen and that I reside in Thailand at a certain address. The Embassy requires an appointment and a $50.00 document fee, not including the cost of transportation to and from Bangkok, or a hotel and meals. And there’s no guarantee the bank will even accept it.” R. Butler.
Thailand Retirement Concierge clients, of course, do not have this problem, since we act as your guarantor.
This video shows just how infuriating it can be:
New money-laundering regulations require you to establish and prove permanent residence before you can open a Thai bank account. You can imagine the Catch-22 situation this creates: how can you pay the deposit on your new place if you don’t even have a bank account?, More at paydayloansmonster.
We’ve struggled with this since the regulations came into effect and now, with the help of our angelic bank manager, have created a completely legal process that allows Concierge clients to open their permanent account as soon as they arrive.
We go to the bank together and you’ll have your ATM card and bank book when you leave. Best of all, apart from signing a few more forms, it requires no effort on your part: we’ll be waiting with the completed forms as soon as you step off the plane. Here are some simple steps that will make opening your Thai bank account a breeze:
- Except for businesses, checking accounts are not generally used in Thailand. Thailand Bank Accounts are structured a little differently, like everything in Thailand so, when you ask to open an account the bank will open a savings account without even asking you. The administration of bank accounts and the security procedures are slightly different, too, so here’s a brief primer:
- When you go to the bank, take your passport, your permanent Thai address and Thai cellphone number
- Joint accounts are very difficult, so get the account in one name and then get two ATM cards. Trust me, this is the better option.
- You will have to pay for your new (chipped) ATM card. Cost is up to 1,000 baht, depending on the bank.
- Ask for online banking while you’re opening the account. The bank officer will usually not suggest this (don’t ask me why) which means you’ll have to go back again later if you don’t do it on the spot.
- Ask the bank officer to show you how to navigate your Thai online account. They’re set up differently from those at home but work quickly and well once you’ve mastered the interface
- The bank will give you a savings account passbook. Don’t make the mistake I made and throw it away or lose it. Passbooks are extremely important in Thailand and are used for all major withdrawals. So keep it in a safe place.
- Update your passbook regularly. It’s your legal proof of transactions and balances. There are Passbook Update Terminals alongside most ATM transaction machines at all bank branches. When you correctly insert your passbook they will read your account number from the barcode on its cover. Ask your bank officer to show you how to use it before you leave the bank. Then use it at least once a month, and after every significant deposit.
- When you get home, start setting up online bill payment accounts immediately, so you don’t forget how to use the interface. You can pay all your regular bills online. The easiest are your Internet and cable providers, and your cell phone provider. If you haven’t opened those accounts yet, remember to ask for their online billpay account name when you’re setting up the account. Otherwise, you may need to call their customer support line to get that information and enter it into your bill pay account. You’ll only need to do this once.
- I use (and strongly recommend) Bangkok Bank. This is a link to their online banking which, once you learn the interface, is a fast and convenient way to pay all your bills. As with all things to do with banking in Thailand, the trick is choosing a bank manager. My guy works miracles for me and for clients…
- If receiving payments from a US Government Agency: Download the “Direct Deposit Sign-up Form (SF1199A)” from http://www.socialsecurity.gov/online. Complete the form to sign up for Direct Deposit with your relevant US government agency and include information which are your name and physical address in Thailand; your bank account number and the name and address of your Bangkok Bank Branch in Thailand; 9-digit routing number 026008691 of Bangkok Bank New York Branch. Complete a “Direct Deposit Service Application” form, which you can pick up at any Bangkok Bank branch (except micro branches). You can also choose to fill out an SMS Remittance Alert Service Request Form to receive an SMS notification on your mobile phone when funds have been successfully transferred into your Bangkok Bank account.
Submit all forms to Bangkok Bank with the following supporting documents:
Identification Card/Government Official ID Card/Passport together with a customer identification document such as your Social Security Card, Annuitant ID Card etc.
A document from the relevant agency giving evidence of your right to receive the payments.
After verifying your documents, Bangkok Bank will submit your application to the government agency, asking them to approve your request to receive the funds via Direct Deposit.
After the request is approved by the US Government Agency, your payments will be electronically deposited directly into your Bangkok Bank account.
- International Fund Transfers for Americans: Bangkok Bank ACH (Automated Clearing House) transfers from the US via their NY branch will end April 1, 2019 and online US ACH domestic transfers will no longer function after that. Bangkok Bank says this will not affect existing Social Security or other federal government direct deposits. The Bank says that, after April, Americans should use an online banking facility called IAT (International ACH Transfers), though no one seems to know of any U.S. banks that currently provide consumers online access to IAT or any U.S. banks/CUs that have announced plans to support it for consumers. Stay tuned and we will let you know as soon as we know more on this. In the meantime, for transfers of $3K or less, Transferwise puts more baht into your Thai bank account when both exchange rate and fees are deducted. For larger amounts use an International Wire/SWIFT. Charles Schwab gives you free transfers of $1000 per day and has modest fees, $25, for wire transfers.
- The Bangkok Bank account must be one that is not accessible by ATM so you have the hassle of going into a Bangkok Bank branch each month (any branch is OK, not just your home branch) and presenting your passport in order to withdraw the funds and move them to another account with ATM/internet access. But, if you’re suddenly incapacitated, Bangkok Bank will visit your hospital bed and get your thumbprint to release the funds to pay hospital bills. If you’re more conscious, but still can’t make it to the hospital, they’ll give you whatever you request to pay rent, give your GF her allowance, etc. (They won’t do this if you can’t give consent, just pay the hospital bill without consent.) If you have your SS direct deposited to a U.S. account it can be a joint account, with internet access and often it’s very easy to move the money into Bangkok Bank using online ACH transfer. But, if you become incapacitated, no U.S. bank will release your funds unless a court-appointed guardian initiates the request and there is no easy way to set up a guardian for an incapacitated foreigner in Thailand. So, if you’re using the method of manually transferring money from the U.S. to Thailand, make sure you have the process documented so that someone could do it for you should you become incapacitated.
- If you are living in Thailand, the point of contact for more information or to ask questions about SSA benefits is the SSA Federal Benefits Unit (FBU) at the US Embassy in Manila, Philippines. You can contact the SSA through the following channels: Tel: (63 2) 301 2000 ext. 9 Website: http://ph.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen -services/social-security/. E-mail: FBU.firstname.lastname@example.org
- If receiving payments from a private organization. Request the “Authorization Agreement for Automatic Deposits (ACH Credits)” form or “Related Direct Deposit” form from the organization or the agency that will be making the payment to you. Complete the form to request the Direct Deposit service.
Open a savings account at any Bangkok Bank branch in Thailand. If you already have an account with Bangkok Bank, you can use your existing bank account for this service.
Request your home branch to issue a bank reference letter to certify your bank account details such as account type, account number, date of account opening and current balance to be provided to your agency.
Include your name and physical address in Thailand;,your bank account number and the name and address of your Bangkok Bank Branch in Thailand; and the 9-digit routing number 026008691 of Bangkok Bank New York Branch in your Direct Deposit Signup Form.
Indicate the Routing Number 026008691 of Bangkok Bank’s branch in New York and your account number with Bangkok Bank in Thailand on your “Authorization Agreement for Automatic Deposits (ACH Credits)” form or “Related Direct Deposit” form.
Submit the form with the required information such as your Identity Card or Social Security Card, or evidence of your right to receive the payments from the company, together with Bangkok Bank’s Reference Letter. Mail the signed form to the US company asking it to approve the request and initiate direct deposits into your account.
After the request to receive direct deposits is approved, your payments will be electronically deposited directly into your Bangkok Bank account.You can read it here.
Thailand Bank Accounts for Australians
- Look for a credit card (Mastercard) that doesn’t charge fees for overseas transactions or a percentage of the transaction and visit loans green for monthly deals
- Make sure you pay its balance off every month so you don’t pay interest.
- Only use it in reputable locations.
- You’ll find the exchange rates between Oz & THB comparable to those offered by the major banks in Thailand
- And better than the exchange rates of the banks offered in Oz.
- Incidentally, if your Australian ATM card has a Maestro or Cirrus logo it will work with Thai ATMs.
- But Visa cash advances attract a 3% surcharge
- For larger amounts T/T (telegraphic transfer bank to bank) is quicker but costs $35–$100.
- For larger amounts interbank is slower (overnight) but most economical at $20 per transfer, regardless of amount.
- If you instruct your bank to send Aussie dollars (rather than Thai Baht) you’ll get a better exchange rate.
- If you’re sending more than $10,000 you can negotiate a better exchange rate with your local branch manager – if you tell him 24 hours in advance.
- If you withdraw money from an ATM in Thailand, draw at least 25,000 Baht. Your fee ($7-10) remains the same.
And remember: since your ATM card might not work when you arrive (a common glitch) bring enough cash to tide you over for two months.