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A comprehensive guide to bank accounts in the UAE

The UAE is a popular destination for expats with a global reputation synonymous with wealth and finance, so opening a bank account there whether for personal needs or your business is typically straightforward.

In this guide we look at:

  • The types of bank accounts in the UAE

  • Opening a personal bank account in the UAE

  • UAE bank fees

  • Opening a business account in the UAE

  • How to close a UAE bank account the right way



There are four types of bank in the UAE that cater to the needs of both businesses and personal account holders:

  • Islamic banks - where banking is done in accordance with Islamic law.

  • Commercial Banks - often the branches of foreign banks offer standard banking services like savings accounts and loans.

  • Industrial Banks - provide loans to individuals and SMEs for development purposes, such as starting a business.

  • Investment banks - offer tailor-made banking and investment services.



Being in possession of a UAE residence visa means you can easily open a personal bank account in person there. For most banks in the UAE, new customers who have just moved to work in the UAE and have a UAE residence visa need to show:

  • your passport with your UAE residency visa (original and copy);

  • your Emirates ID card (original and copy);

  • documentation of residency in the UAE (this can be a rental agreement, utility bill, or letter of employment);

  • and either a salary letter from your employer, an original trade license if you are self-employed, or your spouse’s labor card/work ID (original and copy) if you are on their sponsorship.

One note on opening a bank account in the UAE: many banks require a minimum deposit to be maintained in your account and account holders may incur a fine if they drop below a minimum balance in their account.


What bank accounts can I open if I don’t have a UAE residence visa?

You can only open a savings account in a UAE bank if you don’t hold a residence visa. The majority of banks will issue an ATM card that allows you to withdraw money from your savings account.

Note, opening a savings account in the UAE will take longer without a residence visa.


What do I need to open a savings account without a UAE residence visa?

Until you get your residence visa, anyone new to the UAE can open a savings account there. For most banks in the UAE, the main documents needed are:

  • passport with the UAE entry stamp (original and copy);

  • passport photo;

  • completed savings account application form;

  • proof that your residency visa, or Emirate ID card, is being processed;

  • document stating your employer’s name and salary details;

  • letter of recommendation from previous bank;

  • letter of No Objection from either your sponsor or employer.

In order to comply fully with UAE law and the Ministry of Finance, the majority of the time you must be physically present in order for the bank to confirm your identity and to sign all documents in person. Check with the bank before you go, as there may be new processes in place during COVID-19




What are the typical fees associated with having a bank account in the UAE?

Fees to consider (and that differ between each bank in the UAE) are:

  • ATM fees

  • Monthly account fees for salaries below the bank’s monthly balance threshold.

  • Fees for International Money Transfers. Some banks can charge higher fees for electronic money transfers. With COVID-19 restrictions, doing transfers in branches might not be an option right now so ensure you are saving on all your most frequent transactions.

Check with your bank for details on their specific account fees.


Are there any other conditions to consider?

Many bank accounts in the UAE require a higher minimum deposit for non-residents - this is not the biggest surprise but the minimum amount required each month is often quite high and account holders are at risk of being fined by the Central Bank of the UAE for not maintaining this balance. If you are planning a move to the UAE, knowing the minimum deposit required could save you time and stress.


To open a business bank account in the UAE you must have:

  • passport (with residence visa) of the company’s shareholder representative

  • copy of the Emirates ID card of the shareholder representative

  • passport copy of a company director

  • information about the type of activities on the account

  • disclosure of the source of funds

  • existing contracts

  • reference letters from business partners

  • business plan

  • full set of certified company incorporation documents:

    • memorandum and articles

    • certificate of incorporation

    • shareholders registry

    • company extract (from the official company’s registry)

    • certificate of good standing



Maybe you are switching banks, moving to another country or leaving the UAE for good. Whatever the reason, closing your bank account in the UAE the right way can mean avoiding hidden fees on the account and leave you in good standing to open an account with other banks there.

Closing a bank account in the UAE is as easy as opening one.

Why should I close my bank account before I leave?

Bank accounts left open without any balance being maintained or account balances that drop below their minimum may be liable to incur fees. The Central Bank of the UAE can charge a small fixed penalty of each month if this minimum balance is not maintained. After time, this fee can accrue leading to a large fee balance to be paid for not meeting the minimum monthly deposit amounts on your account. It could make it more difficult to return to the UAE if your account has been reported to the authorities there.

How do I close my account the right way?

In light of COVID-19 restrictions, contact your bank to find out what the steps are to close your account now in case you can make an appointment or need to gather new documents or items in advance. Previously you could not close your bank accounts online however there might be new virtual options available.

Some banks may charge a small fee if you are closing your account so it is advisable to ask and be prepared so you are not leaving the UAE owing any fees.

  • Pay off loans: Ensure any balances or pending payments are covered and you pay off loans or credit cards in full.

  • Transfer funds: Complete a bank transfer to another AED currency account. You can also withdraw money in cash in person in the branch before you complete the closure request form.

  • Submit your request: Present your account closure form, a form of ID along with any banking material for your account for example cheque books or cards. Any card or cheque-books not returned will be deactivated in any case.

  • Request closure confirmation: ask your bank to confirm the closure (a text, email or a printed confirmation could be options)

In short, to close a bank account in the UAE the right way you should:

  • Clear any outstanding loans or balances in full.

  • Transfer out the full balance of your accounts

  • Contact your branch to find out how to complete an account closure request form in person or online and any possible fees that could be incurred.

What documents or items do I need to close my bank account?

The documents or items required to close your account may differ for each bank but the list typically includes:

  • A form of photo ID

  • ATM/Debit/Credit cards

  • Cheque books

Ask your bank about any updated requirements or new measures you need to take to close your bank account in the UAE due to COVID-19. If you have closed your account but maybe have forgotten that a standing order was instructed, it could mean you are flagged when trying to emigrate. Making sure you have settled all and any debts helps to avoid problems when leaving.



A clearance letter, also known as a ‘No Liability letter’ is a legal document issued by your bank stating that you have paid off and settled any outstanding dues, for example a loan or credit card agreement that you had with them.


When should I request a letter of No Liabilities?

Depending on the bank, receiving a letter of No Liabilities can take anywhere from 5-14 business days. Check this timeframe with your bank so that you can incorporate this time into your plans, particularly if you are leaving the country and wish to have the letter in your possession before you go.


This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from CurrencyFair Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.












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