How to Open a Bank Account in Belgium: A Full Guide 2023
Belgium has a sophisticated financial service industry so you won’t struggle to open a Belgian bank account if you live there or travel in the region often. You’ll have a couple of different choices depending on your preferences, from traditional banks which have a broad physical branch network, to online neobanks in Belgium and beyond, and fintech services which may have more flexible account options and lower fees.
What documents do I need?
To open an account with a Belgian bank you’ll need to prove your identity and your address, which usually means having a residential address in Belgium or in another supported country. Banks might ask you to show your documents in person, or upload them for an online application.
Generally you’ll need to provide:
Proof of ID
Proof of address in a supported country - this may be Belgium only, or may include other EU or EEA countries for example
Proof of legal residency if you’re living in Belgium
Newer digital banks may have slightly more flexible application services, but you’ll still need to be a resident of Belgium or another supported country. Since Brexit, some providers like N26 have stopped allowing UK residents to open accounts to hold EUR - so you’ll need to double check the latest terms and conditions for banks you’re interested in to see if you’re eligible based on your residency.
Save the paperwork with alternative solutions like Wise or Revolut
Some digital specialist services have fully online account opening processes, with flexible account services once you’re set up. Good options include Wise and Revolut which have multi-currency accounts you can use to hold, exchange, send and spend dozens of different currencies - handy if you’re living internationally.
Set up your Wise or Revolut account before you travel to Belgium, using your normal UK proof of identity and address - or wait until you’re settled in Belgium and use your details for there. In both cases you’ll get a flexible multi-currency account, and with Wise you’ll also have local bank details for GBP and EUR - plus several other major currencies.
How to open a bank account in Belgium as a foreigner
Different banks in Belgium have different account opening processes, with some still requiring a personal visit to a branch, and some offering an online account opening. If you have to visit a bank branch you’ll usually be able to find someone who can help you set up your account using English if you need it. For online applications the process is normally intuitive and can be done with your smartphone.
What do I need to know before opening a bank account in Belgium?
To open a bank account in Belgium you’ll usually need to be a local resident with a visa. For some providers, you’ll need to have a local address in either Belgium or a supported country - which can often include other countries in the EU or EEA. However, since the UK left the EU, UK addresses may not be supported any more by some providers.
Opening a bank account in Belgium is very easy if you have the right paperwork in place, and can often be done online or with just your phone. Compare a few options, including non-bank services from providers like Wise and Revolut to find the one that’s most convenient for you.
Can I open a bank account in Belgium only with my passport?
You can not usually open a Belgian bank account with just a passport. You’ll be asked to provide a local residential address, and in many cases you’ll be asked to show proof of address such as a utility bill or rental agreement in your name. This is a legal requirement to verify customers and make sure accounts are kept secure.
Can I open a bank account in Belgium before arrival?
You’ll have a limited choice if you want a Belgian bank account from a traditional bank and need to get it opened before you arrive in the country. While some providers are relatively flexible, you’ll almost always need a local address in Belgium or another country the bank operates in, to have your card delivered to and for verification.
If you need an online account application process, and can’t get what you’re after from a traditional bank, online specialist services like Wise and Revolut can help. Just apply using your normal UK documents and get access to an account that can hold and handle EUR before you move.
Which account is best in Belgium for foreigners?
While there are many local, regional and international banks to choose from in Belgium, we’ve focused on banks which operate online as these can often give the most flexibility to foreigners who need to onboard remotely and want to hold and exchange several currencies. Here are a few of our top picks, and a side by side comparison to show how they match up. We’ve looked at both banks and specialist non-bank alternatives to show the differences.
|Service||Wise||Revolut||N26||ING (online current account)|
40+ currencies supported for holding including EUR, GBP, USD and AUD
Local bank details available for EUR along with 9 other currencies
Spend and withdraw in 170+ countries
30+ currencies including EUR, GBP, USD and AUD
|Non-resident accounts available||Yes||Yes||Yes - but only for residents in a supported country within the EEA||No|
|Maintenance fee||Free||Up to £12.99/month||Up to 16.90 EUR/month||1.90 EUR/month|
|International transfers||Low fee, varies by currency||Fee varies by currency and payment value||Low fee, varies by currency||Log into ING online banking to learn about fees and exchange rates|
Wise Accounts can hold 40+ currencies, and come with local bank details for EUR and 8 other currencies including GBP. Order a linked international debit card to spend in 150+ countries, with currency exchange that uses the mid-market rate.
There are no ongoing fees with a Wise Account - you just pay for the services you need. Manage your money from the Wise app on the move, wherever in the world you happen to be.
Account types: Both personal and business customers can open a Wise multi-currency account with no minimum balance or monthly fees to pay. You just pay a low, transparent fee for the services you use.
Eligibility: Wise offers accounts to customers in the UK and a broad range of countries - simply use your UK proof of address to get your account open
Is it safe? Yes. Wise is registered with the FCA in the UK and a range of other global bodies in the other countries it trades in.
How to open an account with Wise
To open a Wise account:
Download the Wise app or open the Wise desktop site
Click Sign up and create an account with your email, Facebook, Google or Apple ID
Follow the prompts to enter the details needed
Upload a snap of your ID and address documents
Once your account has been verified you’re good to go
Go to Wise
Revolut accounts can be opened before you move to Belgium - or you can wait until you arrive and have a local address if you’d rather. The account terms and fees may vary based on where you live when you apply though, so do check out the options before you decide. Revolut accounts offer 30+ currencies including EUR, and linked payment cards. You’ll be able to convert currencies up to your plan limits for free, making this a good account for people living abroad or travelling often.
Account types: Standard account plans are free or you can upgrade to a paid UK plan for up to £12.99/month.
Eligibility: Available to customers with addresses in the UK, the EEA, Australia, Singapore, Switzerland, Japan, and the US.
Is it safe? Revolut is registered with the FCA in the UK, and other authorities around the world
How to open an account with Revolut
To open an account with Revolut:
Download the Revolut app
Enter your phone number and set a PIN - you’ll get a verification message from Revolut
Use the verification code to access the app and enter the details needed to create your account
Upload the required documents for verification
You can deposit funds and use your account once verified
N26 describes itself as the mobile bank, and offers digital accounts to personal and business customers in supported European countries. You need a local address in a supported country - like Belgium - before you can get started, but the account opening process is then fairly straightforward. Accounts range from free plans to fee paying tiers which have more features and perks for users.
Account types: Online personal and business accounts
Eligibility: Accounts are available for residents of various countries across Europe, although UK addresses are no longer supported
Is it safe? Yes. N26 a mobile bank with a full banking license
How to open an account with N26
To open an account with N26:
Confirm your email address on the N26 website
Download the N26 app
Upload documents showing your ID and address
Your card will arrive by post, and your account will be ready to use after verification
Dutch bank ING has online accounts you can open with your Belgian address, to hold EUR and get a linked payment card for easy spending. You’ll be managing your money online and through the ING app which can be convenient, and current accounts come with various ‘packs’ including some free transactions, so you can choose which services you need, and which you want to pay for.
Account types: Range of accounts including online basic current accounts
Eligibility: Personal accounts are available for anyone over 18 with a valid email address and Belgian address
Is it safe? ING is a European banking group which is fully licensed and regulated - it’s safe to use
How to open an account with ING
To open an account with ING:
Pick the account pack you’re interested in and click Apply Now
Register with your personal details
Upload documents showing your ID and Belgian address
Your account will be ready to use after verification
What is a bank account in Belgium needed for?
Use your Belgian bank account to hold euros and make convenient payments in Belgium and elsewhere in the EUR area. You’ll be able to receive payments from others in euros without needing to change back to pounds, which can also cut costs overall.
Generally, euro bank accounts are handy for people who live and work in the EU or EEA, anyone shopping online with retailers which charge in euros, and travellers.
Benefits of opening a bank account in Belgium
Having a Belgian bank account can mean it’s easier to spend and send euro payments - EUR transfers in the SEPA area are usually cheap or free, and can be fast too. You’ll also get the following benefits:
Cut out foreign transaction fees in EUR countries
Diversify your savings or investment by holding in euros
Send and receive payments to others in Europe easily without needing to pay conversion fees
Can I open a bank account online
You can open a Belgian bank account fairly easily online as long as you have all the paperwork needed - usually including a local Belgian proof of address, and proof of legal residency. In some cases an address from another EU or EEA country is also accepted.
If you don’t have a Belgian proof of address document you can still create a EUR account online with alternative specialist services like Wise and Revolut, using a UK ID and address document.
How long does it take to open a bank account in Belgium
Applying for a Belgian bank account online will only take you a few minutes as long as you have all the paperwork needed. Your account will then be verified - which can be fast or instant, and your payment card will be sent on to you in the post.
What are the types of bank accounts in Belgium
Belgium has a large financial sector with lots of banks and account products. Banks include options with a physical branch network and several popular neobanks which operate digitally only. Account services on offer vary pretty widely but generally include current accounts, multi-currency accounts, saving products and accounts for specific customers, such as students and teens.
How much does it cost to open a bank account in Belgium?
The costs associated with Belgian bank accounts can vary widely. While many banks have accounts which have low monthly fees - or fees which can be waived fairly easily by holding a minimum balance - there are also account plans with some quite steep monthly costs. Compare a few to see which suits you - and don’t forget to look at transaction charges as well. The costs of operating your account can creep up fast if you’re subject to high fees for ATM use, payments and cross border services for example.
Is it possible to open a fee-free account in Belgium?
It’s common to find account maintenance fees for even fairly basic online accounts in Belgium. However, these often come with ways to have charges waived by holding a fixed minimum deposit amount. You may also find that account packages offer some fee free transactions as part of the fee you pay, which can still make this a worthwhile choice. Other transaction fees are likely to apply for more specialist services like sending payments abroad.
Tips for sending money between the UK and Belgium
If you’re new to Belgium you may still need to send and receive payments from the UK. This can be relatively expensive - especially compared to payments in euros made in the SEPA area which are often free or very cheap.
Whenever you’re sending money to a different currency, there are a few key costs to know about - here are some tops to help you get the best available deal when transferring money:
Check the banks exchange rates for extra fees hidden there
Sending payments online is usually far cheaper than transacting in a branch
Third party fees may be deducted as the payment is processed, and can mean your recipient gets less than you expect
Online multi-currency accounts can be completely free to open, with better exchange rates and lower fees for international transfers compared to banks
Opening a bank account in Belgium is pretty straightforward compared to many more bureaucratic markets. However, you’ll still have to do some research to find the right account for your needs, and to make sure you don’t end up paying more than necessary to manage your money day to day.
Use this guide to start you off, and compare Belgian bank accounts against neobanks from newer providers, and fintech solutions like Wise and Revolut, to see which works best for you.
Yes. You can open a bank account in Belgium with a regular bank, a neobank or choose a non-bank alternative from a specialist digital provider.
There’s not usually an account opening fee - but you may find you have to pay monthly maintenance charges for your Belgian bank account. Compare a few options to make sure you’re getting an account which balances cost and convenience for you.
Some traditional Belgian banks offer online account opening processes, while others ask you to visit a branch. Digital providers and neobanks usually offer fully online or in-app onboarding and verification which can be fast and efficient.
Whether or not you can open a bank account in Belgium before you move there will depend on your residence details. It’s not always possible to open a bank account without a local address in a supported country (usually EU or EEA). Instead, you could choose to open an account with a specialist non-bank alternative like Wise or Revolut which will accept your UK ID and proof of address.
Apply for a bank account online using your Belgian proof of address and your normal UK ID document. Some banks ask you to apply through their website, but it’s also common to be able to get your account set up through the bank’s app. If you don’t have a local Belgian address you can also get a non-bank EUR account from a service like Wise or Revolut, online and in-app.