How To Open a Bank Account in the Philippines While Abroad

Jul 14, 2023
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Whether you are an overseas Filipino worker (OFW), a foreigner planning to invest or retire in the Philippines, or simply someone seeking to establish financial ties in the country, this guide will help you understand the essential requirements, outline the process, and highlight considerations to successfully open a bank account in the Philippines while residing abroad.

We will also walk through the best ways to send your money from abroad, such as US dollars or British pounds, back to the Philippines. Learn why Remitly, WorldRemit, and Wise were among the cheapest ways to send your hard earned remittances to the Philippines in 2023.

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Remitly is the cheapest way in the world to send money to your bank account in the Philippines, according to Monito's data from July 2022 to July 2023. It's an especially excellent remittance partner if you are sending money from the US, the UK, Canada, the EU, Australia, and Singapore.

Choose the Right Bank Account in the Philippines

The Philippine banking system encompasses a diverse array of institutions licensed by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (Philippine Central Bank), including large international banks, national banks, thrift banks, and rural banks. Major banks in the Philippines provide a wide range of services such as internet banking, ATM access, and cellphone banking.

  1. Large international banks: These banks have a global presence and offer a wide range of financial services not only in the Philippines but also in multiple countries worldwide. Examples include Citibank and HSBC. They typically provide extensive banking services, investment opportunities, and specialized products for international customers.
  2. National banks: National banks operate within the Philippines and serve the domestic market. They are generally larger in scale and have a broader network of branches and ATMs across the country. National banks like the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) and the Philippine National Bank (PNB) offer various banking services, including personal and business accounts, loans, and investment options.
  3. Thrift banks: Thrift banks are smaller financial institutions that primarily focus on savings and loans. Thrift banks provide basic banking services, including savings accounts, time deposits, and consumer loans. They often cater to the needs of specific local communities.
  4. Rural banks: Rural banks operate in rural areas and typically offer basic banking services, loans for agricultural purposes, and support small-scale businesses in rural communities. These banks often contribute to the development of rural economies and help empower local individuals and businesses.

Major National Banks in the Philippines

For individuals residing overseas, here are a few established banks to consider:

  1. the Philippine National Bank (PNB);
  2. the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI);
  3. Banco de Oro (BDO);
  4. Metrobank.

These banks offer the convenience of overseas branches, desk offices in tie-up banks, and remit offices in your country of work, making it easier to open and manage accounts while abroad.

Can I Open a Bank Account in the Philippines?

Yes, it is possible to open a bank account in the Philippines while abroad without visiting a branch. Many national Philippine banks provide online application and verification processes for overseas Filipino applicants.

Foreigners can open bank accounts in the Philippines, but you will be limited if you are not classified as a resident. Banks will typically allow non-residents to only open foreign currency deposit accounts, or peso accounts funded by foreign currency that is converted to peso.

Legal residents, on the other hand, can open accounts available to Filipino citizens. Among these accounts include:

  • Savings accounts;
  • Checking accounts;
  • Time deposit accounts.

What Are the Requirements to Open a Bank Account in the Philippines?

While requirements to open a bank account in the Philippines will vary by bank, all banks will require a form of government-issued identification:

  1. Valid Identification: Acceptable forms of identification include your passport, driver's license, or any other legally issued photo ID. While the central bank has reduced the requirement from two IDs to one, it's worth noting that some banks may still request two IDs.
  2. Minimum Initial Deposit: While some banks waive this requirement, be prepared to make a minimum initial deposit.

If you are a foreigner with legal residence in the Philippines, then you will have to provide other required documents:

  1. Alien Certificate of Registration (ACR) I-Card: Provide your ACR along with your passport.
  2. Two ID Pictures: Prepare two ID pictures, usually in 1×1 or passport size.
  3. Proof of Address: Provide proof of address, which can be a utility bill or a residential lease contract.

How To Open a Bank Account in the Philippines While Abroad

  • Step 01

    Gather Your Documents

    First, you'll need to get your documents in order. As we saw above, to open an account with a big bank in the US, you'll generally need:

    1. Proof of identity
    2. Proof of address
    3. Minimum deposit
  • Step 02

    Make an Appointment

    If you are an overseas Filipino worker, some major banks will allow you to do this online while abroad. You may need to have a video call with a bank representative to verify your identity.

  • Step 03

    Open Your Account

    At the appointment, you'll be able to discuss your banking needs. Your eligibility will be checked, and your account will be opened.

  • Final step

    Fund Your Account

    Use Monito's comparison engine to find the cheapest way to send money from abroad to your bank account in the Philippines

Find the Best Way to Fund Your Bank Account in the Philippines

Once your account is approved and activated, you will need to fund it. Most banks offer various options for funding, such as SWIFT transfers, online transfers, or depositing money into the account at a local branch. However, bank methods often charge unreasonably high fees for international remittances and exchange rate margins up to 7% or more.

Instead, we recommend you to use an international money transfer company, which offer very low fixed fees and use strong exchange rates. We use extensive data from Monito to give you the top recommendations for remittances to the Philippines:


Based on July from 2022 to July 2023, Remitly was the cheapest way to send money in the world to the Philippines. Remitly waives fixed fees if you send over US $1,000 per transfer. Their exchange rates are very competitive as well, hovering around a 0.5% to 2% markup.

Remitly is an excellent choice for cash pick-ups to partners like M Lhuillier, Villarica, and more. They also send money directly to GCash. We recommend Remitly if you are funding your bank account from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, the European Union, Australia, and Singapore.


WorldRemit was the second best way to send money to the Philippines, according to our Monito data. It is often one of the best ways to send cash pickups to the Philippines and transfers to GCash as well.

WorldRemit is a competitive choice for those funding your bank accounts from the US, Japan, Malaysia, Switzerland, the EU, and South Africa.


Wise is one of the most famous international money transfer companies in the world. While it does not offer cash pick ups, it is a great choice for small to medium bank transfers to the Philippines, especially if you are sending from India. The main benefit of Wise is that it never charges a markup on the real mid-market exchange rate.

Wise was the third best way to send money to the Philippines, and is a good choice from India, Turkey, Brazil, and Japan.

Fees and exchange rates are subject to change over time, and depending on your location. To find out which service will offer you the best deal in real-time, run a search on our comparison engine below:

Find the best deal when sending money to the Philippines:

Recap: Best Way to Fund a Philippine Bank Account From Abroad

Here are the three best companies to send remittances to the Philippines, according to Monito data gather from July 2022 to July 2023:

  • Remitly: Best overall for bank transfers, cash pick-up, and transfers to GCash.
  • WorldRemit: Wide cash pick-up network, and especially good choice if sending from Japan.
  • Wise: Good for small to medium bank transfers, especially from India.

FAQ About Opening a Bank Account in the Philippines Overseas

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Bank Accounts in the Philippines vs Other Countries

Many countries allow non-residents to open a bank account within their legal jurisdictions, but exactly what kind of requirements non-residents face can differ drastically from country to country and even bank to bank. See the list below to get a better idea of this:


Which non-residents can open an account?

🇬🇧 United Kingdom

Parties with close ties, expats, immigrants, investors, students

🇮🇪 Ireland

Any interested party

🇩🇪 Germany

Parties with close ties

🇫🇷 France

Parties with close ties, investors, students

🇮🇹 Italy

Parties with close ties, Investors

🇨🇭 Switzerland

Investors only

🇪🇸 Spain

Parties with close ties, investors, students

🇵🇹 Portugal

Parties with close ties, investors, expats, students

🇳🇱 Netherlands

Parties with close ties, investors

🇩🇰 Denmark

Parties with close ties, investors

🇳🇴 Norway

Parties with close ties, investors

🇸🇪 Sweden

Parties with close ties, investors

🇦🇹 Austria

Parties with close ties, investors

🇬🇷 Greece

Parties with close ties, investors

🇭🇺 Hungary

Any interested party

🇱🇺 Luxembourg

Parties with close ties, investors

🇱🇮 Liechtenstein

Investors only

🇬🇮 Gibraltar

Investors only

🇮🇲 Isle of Man

Parties with close ties, investors, expats

🇯🇪 Jersey

Parties with close ties, investors, expats

Last updated: 14/07/2023

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