How to open a bank account in Vietnam: The Easy Way 2023

Claire Millard
Ileana Ionescu
Last updated
16 August 2023

If you’re moving to Vietnam, or if you’re planning an extended trip there, you may be wondering how to manage your money across British pounds and Vietnamese dong.

Foreign residents of Vietnam can open local bank accounts - but usually only if they have a visa or residence permit for 12 months or more. That might mean that getting an account arranged with a bank is tricky. However, there are other options available which will allow you to lower your currency conversion costs and still make the most of your stay in Vietnam.

This guide covers all you need to know about opening a bank account in Vietnam with a bank, and also how you can get set up with an alternative provider like Wise or Revolut, for an account which may be cheaper and more flexible.

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What documents do I need?

In most cases, to open a bank account in Vietnam you’ll need to hold a long term visa or residence permit. This wasn’t always the case, but changes in the law and in bank policies over the past few years has made it far harder to access financial services if you’re only in Vietnam for a short while.

If you’re eligible to open an account with a bank, you’ll need the following in most cases:

  • Completed personal account opening form

  • Copy of your passport

  • Copy of valid entrance visa to Vietnam

  • Copy of your employment contract if available

  • Minimum opening deposit amount

    If you’re not eligible to open an account with a regular bank there are other options - read on to learn more about how to get set up with a flexible multi-currency account with an alternative provider instead.

Save the paperwork with alternative solutions like Wise or Revolut

If you’re planning to be in Vietnam for under a year you’ll probably not be able to open a bank account at all - and even if you do hold a long term visa or residence permit, you can’t usually open a local bank account in advance of arrival. If you want to hit the ground running with a flexible multi-currency account you can open before you leave the UK, check out alternatives like Wise or Revolut.

Open an account using your local UK ID and proof of address documents, to get access to a multi-currency account to spend and make withdrawals in Vietnam as easily as you could at home. Depending on the provider you pick, you could also get local banking details to get paid from 30+ countries, and the option to hold and exchange VND alongside pounds and other currencies.

How to open a Vietnamese bank account as a foreigner

If you’re hoping to open a bank account with a bank in Vietnam you’ll almost always need to head to a branch to show your paperwork, make your minimum deposit and get your account set up. Even where banks advertise online opening options, the reality is that you can usually only start the application online before being required to attend a meeting in person.

Large branches of major banks in cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City do often offer an English speaking service, but you may need to make an appointment in advance. If this isn’t available with your preferred bank you’ll need to take along a translator if you’re unsure whether or not you’ll be able to manage the language on your own.

The basic steps to open a bank account in Vietnam are usually:

  • Research banks, including eligibility requirements, and pick an account

  • Gather all the required paperwork, which may include completed application forms and copies of your legal documents

  • Apply in branch - you may need to make an appointment in advance

  • Hand over your documents to complete the verification process

What do I need to know before opening a bank account in Vietnam?

The rules for opening a bank account in Vietnam are fairly strict, and you may find some banks won’t let you open an account as a foreigner unless you have a long term visa and proof of employment. You may also find there are controls or restrictions on what you can do with your account, including limits or extra requirements if you’re sending overseas payments. Before you try to open a bank account in Vietnam it’s a good idea to ask for recommendations of the banks which are close to you and which offer the best available service - an English speaking service, for example, is not necessarily available everywhere, so sticking with large bank branches in big cities may be your best bet.

Can I open a bank account in Vietnam only with my passport?

No. You can not open a bank account in Vietnam with only a passport. You’ll find you’re asked for a pretty comprehensive suite of documents to open your Vietnamese bank account, including your passport, visa, proof of employment if relevant and your local address.

Which account is best in Vietnam for foreigners?

The best bank account in Vietnam for foreigners really depends on your personal needs and preferences.

If you’re eligible for an account with a bank and don’t mind waiting until you arrive in the country, you could pick a large Vietnamese bank like Agribank, or a global brand like HSBC. Alternatively, specialist services like Wise and Revolut offer accounts you can open from the UK with low currency conversion costs and easy online and in-app services. Here’s how these options measure up side by side:

ServiceWiseRevolut HSBCAgribank
Currencies covered

50+ currencies, including VND, GBP, EUR, USD and AUD


Spend and withdraw in 170+ countries, including in VND

30+ currencies including GBP, EUR, USD and AUD


VND is not supported for holding

9 currencies: VND, USD, EUR, GBP, AUD, CAD, JPY, SGD and HKDVND and select foreign currencies
Non-resident accounts available YesYesNoNo
Open onlineYesYesStart the process online, complete in branchNo
Maintenance feeFreeUp to £12.99/monthMinimum balance amounts and  fall below fees applyMinimum balance amounts and  fall below fees apply
International transfersLow fee, varies by currencyFee varies by currency and payment valueContact the HSBC branch in person to checkContact the Agribank branch in person to check

Wise

Wise customers can open an account with their proof of local ID from the UK, to hold, spend and exchange VND alongside a broad range of 50+ other currencies. You’ll get local banking details to receive payments in GBP and from over 30 other countries fee free, and can order a linked card for withdrawals and spending. All Wise currency exchange uses the mid-market exchange rate and low fees from 0.41%.

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.

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Wise app and card with a bridge in the background

How to open an account with Wise

To open a Wise account:

  1. Download the Wise app or open the Wise desktop site

  2. Click Sign up and create an account with your email, Facebook, Google or Apple ID

  3. Follow the prompts to enter the details needed

  4. Upload a snap of your ID and address documents

  5. Once your account has been verified you’re good to go

    Revolut

While Revolut accounts can’t be used to hold VND you will be able to spend and withdraw in VND freely with your linked card, with fee free currency exchange up to your plan limits. That means this can be a good option if you’re planning on funding your stay in Vietnam from savings or income held in any of Revolut’s 30 major supported currencies.

Open your Revolut account online before you leave the UK, so you’re ready to hit the ground running when you get to Vietnam.

Account types: Standard account plans are free or you can upgrade to a paid 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 is a trustworthy provider to choose

revolut-card.jpeg

How to open an account with Revolut

To open an account with Revolut:

  1. Download the Revolut app

  2. Enter your phone number and set a PIN - you’ll get a verification message from Revolut

  3. Use the verification code to access the app and enter the details needed to create your account

  4. Upload the required documents for verification

  5. You can deposit funds and use your account once verified

    Go to Revolut

    HSBC Vietnam

HSBC has a fairly extensive presence in the major cities in Vietnam, and offers handy multi-currency accounts to eligible foreign clients. In some large branches you’ll be able to find English speaking staff, although you might have to make an advance appointment. You can start applying for your HSBC Vietnam account online but you’ll usually be required to visit a branch in person to complete the application.

Account types: Current account offered in a range of currencies, plus credit and debit cards and other banking services

Eligibility: Vietnam residents with a valid visa or permit for 12 months or more only

Is it safe? Yes - HSBC is a global banking brand which is well trusted around the world

How to open an account with HSBC Vietnam

  1. Choose the account type you need and check eligibility

  2. Gather the required paperwork

  3. Visit a branch to show your documents and open your account

    Agribank

Agribank is a popular Vietnamese bank which offers account services to foreigners who hold the right legal permission to reside in Vietnam. Accounts can hold VND and a selection of foreign currencies - although you’ll need to visit a branch in person to learn more about what foreign currencies are supported.

Agribank accounts have a minimum deposit amount, but there’s no account opening fee and it’s free to deposit cash at your local Agribank branch.

Account types: Range of account services, including VND and foreign currency interest bearing accounts

Eligibility: Vietnam residents with a valid visa or permit for 12 months or more only

Is it safe? Yes - Agribank is a popular Vietnamese bank which has a large presence in the country

How to open an account with Agribank

  1. Choose the account type you need and check eligibility

  2. Gather the required paperwork

  3. Visit a branch to show your documents and open your account

What is a bank account in Vietnam needed for?

If you’re moving to Vietnam to live, work or study, a bank account that can hold and spend VND makes a lot of sense. It could also be a helpful tool if you’re travelling to Vietnam and want convenient ways to spend and withdraw while there. Here are some of the ways you can use your VND account:

  • Hold and exchange between VND and GBP

  • Make VND transfers and payments to others

  • Spend with a VND denominated payment card

  • Access full banking services while you’re in Vietnam

Benefits of opening a bank account in Vietnam

A bank account in Vietnam can make it cheaper and more convenient if you live there or if you’re planning extended travel. Here are some key benefits of opening a bank account in Vietnam:

  • Get paid by others in VND

  • Hold a VND balance

  • Invest in Vietnamese dong

  • Cut the costs of currency exchange between pounds and dong

    Can I open a bank account in Vietnam before arrival?

You can’t usually open a bank account with a traditional Vietnamese bank before arrival. If you’re looking for an account you can open before leaving the UK, check out alternatives like Wise and Revolut instead.

How long does it take to open a bank account in Vietnam

You’ll need to visit a bank branch to open your Vietnamese bank account. If the bank staff are able to fully verify your account immediately, you may be able to get your account information instantly, with a new card arriving by post or available for collection, a little later. However, if the branch isn’t able to verify your account right away you’ll likely need to wait a few days before you can view your account information.

What are the types of bank accounts in Vietnam

Major Vietnamese banks all have a good selection of current and saving account products, as well as additional financial products like credit cards and loans. It’s common to find accounts can be held in a selection of currencies, particularly when it comes to saving accounts.

How much does it cost to open a bank account in Vietnam?

Banks in Vietnam are likely to have fee schedules which differ widely from what you’re used to in the UK - so it’s well worth checking out the details carefully before you get started. You’ll almost always find minimum deposit amounts, with fall below fees if you let your account balance drop too low, plus ATM withdrawal charges and high fees for international services.

If you’re receiving payments from the UK or getting paid in different currencies, you’ll probably find you’re better off with a specialist multi-currency account which offers better exchange rates than regular banks.

Is it possible to open a fee-free account in Vietnam?

Depending on your preferences and requirements you might find a Vietnamese bank account with no monthly fees, or with ways to have these costs waived. However, there are always transaction fees which may apply depending on how you use your account, for ATM withdrawals and card spending, to access international services and if you need an overdraft, for example.

What are the additional costs?

Banks in Vietnam are likely to have fee schedules which differ widely from what you’re used to in the UK - so it’s well worth checking out the details carefully before you get started. You’ll almost always find minimum deposit amounts, with fall below fees if you let your account balance drop too low, plus ATM withdrawal charges and high fees for international services.

If you’re receiving payments from the UK or getting paid in different currencies, you’ll probably find you’re better off with a specialist multi-currency account which can offer better exchange rates than regular banks.

Tips for sending money between the UK and Vietnam

Sending money overseas can be especially expensive as an expat or traveller, with high currency exchange costs, and hidden third party charges. Here are a few tips to drive down the overall costs of sending international payments, so you can do more with your money:

  • Bank exchange rates often include a markup - compare the exchange rate you’re offered against the rate you find on Google to check

  • Review the terms and conditions of your specific account to check if it’s cheaper to send your payment online - this is usually the case

  • Don’t forget that 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

Conclusion

You can open a regular bank account in Vietnam if you’re legally resident in the country with a visa or permit for 12 months or more. However, it’s not usually possible to open your account in advance of moving, which is not ideal if you want to get organised before you leave the UK.

As an alternative which can be cheaper and more flexible, check out online specialist services like Wise and Revolut which can offer multi-currency accounts with a linked card for international spending, and low cost currency exchange.

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FAQ

Can a foreigner open an account in Vietnam?

Foreigners who are resident in Vietnam and hold proper legal documents for a stay of at least 12 months can usually open a bank account with a traditional bank. Otherwise, check out online alternatives like Wise and Revolut.

How much do I need to open a bank account in Vietnam?

You won’t usually be charged a fee to open a bank account, but you will need a minimum deposit - Agribank asks for 50,000 VND when you open your account, for example.

Can I open a Vietnamese bank account online?

You can’t normally open a Vietnamese bank account online - check out alternative providers if you want to manage your money online or through an app, with an easy digital onboarding process.

Can I open a bank account in Vietnam before landing?

If it’s important to you to open your foreign currency account before you arrive, you’ll probably need to use a specialist - normal Vietnamese banks won’t allow you to open an account until you’re able to physically visit a bank branch with your documents.