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How To Open a Bank Account in Turkey Online (Even Without Proof of Residency)

Byron Mühlberg, writer at Monito.com
Jan 11, 2022
Affiliate disclosure

An eclectic blend of East and West best known for its sweet treats, bustling bazaars, and millennia worth of human history, Turkey isn't just a much-loved destination among holidaymakers, but it's also popular among expats too.

However, moving to Turkey can be a challenge, and opening a bank account in the country is high on the agenda for many new arrivals due to its necessity for daily life and business. This guide explores how to open an online bank account in Turkey for locals, expats, and newcomers alike — regardless of residence status.

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Here are our recommendations in short:

  • Without proof of residence: Wise Account, which gives you bank details in Turkey (and nine other countries) as well as a debit card to spend in 50+ currencies. You can open an account before arriving in Turkey, although you'll need to verify your address before receiving your debit card.
  • With proof of residence: İşbank, which charges comparatively good fees and offers service in English and Turkish.

Overview of Banking in Turkey

Turkey has a large and developed financial sector that's dominated by both state-owned deposit banks such as Ziraat Bank and VakıfBank, as well as private deposit banks such as İşbank and Yapı Kredi. (The term 'deposit bank' is used in Turkey to refer to retail banks which allow clients to deposit funds into accounts such as savings, checking, or money market accounts.)

According to the Turkish Banks Association (TBB), the organisation of which all Turkish banks are members, as of January 2022, there were a total of 50 banks in Turkey — 36 of which were foreign banks.

Despite its resilience, the financial sector in Turkey has faced turmoil in the past decades. Since 2000, it has battled soaring inflation, high interest rates, bank runs, and financial instability — the ripples of which are being felt right up until the present day, where interest rates are artificially being held down despite high inflation rates. What this means for you as a bank accountholder in Turkey is that you should be aware of fluctuations you may not be used to if you come from North America or Europe, for example, where both price inflation and the cost of borrowing have historically been fairly stable in recent decades.

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Pro tip: See the real-time exchange rate between the Turkish lira and the Euro (or any other currency, for that matter) here, where you can keep an eye on fluctuations and find the best money transfer providers by setting up a smart email alert.

Types of Turkish Bank Accounts

Turkish banks offer world-class financial services, and generally speaking, you should have no trouble accessing the banking services you're used to from your home country.

However, largely due to the macroeconomic environment in Turkey, there are indeed a few peculiarities in certain Turkish bank accounts which set them apart from those around the world.

The types of bank accounts most relevant to expats are as follows:

  • Current Account ('Mevduat Hesabı'): Synonymous with checking or current accounts in most English-speaking countries, these accounts are used to process cashless payments and are geared toward everyday use. It's likely the only account you'll need as an expat.
  • Time Deposit Account ('Vadeli Hesap'): This account bears interest on Turkish lira or foreign currency deposits over a fixed-term period and historically offers higher interest rates than most other account types.
  • Gold Account ('Altın Hesabı'): Something of a mix between a savings and current account, these gold-denominated accounts are offered by some (though not all) Turkish banks. Deposits are backed by physical gold and the buying and selling of precious metals is allowed. These accounts even offer most types of transactional services too (e.g. withdrawals, bank transfers, etc.)

While a current account is the account you'll probably rely on most, in practice, however, you'll generally be required to open a time deposit account at a Turkish bank, which will then automatically come with an associated current account.

Just like in most countries, opening a bank account or a banking package in Turkey (e.g. a current account combined with a savings account and other services) will always come with a debit card and, in some cases, a credit card too for an additional fee. Debit cards (known as a banka kartı in Turkish) can be used in Turkey for cashless payments and ATM withdrawals. Credit cards (kredi kartı in Turkish), on the other hand, can be used for online payments and come with a monthly credit limit as well as rewards and exclusive bonuses.

Debit cards typically can be used for free withdrawals from most ATMs across Turkey, although cash withdrawals outside of the country usually come with high fees (sometimes as high as 4% per transaction). See Monito's guide to saving money while using ATMs abroad to learn more.

What Do I Need To Open a Turkish Bank Account?

The documents you'll need to give to your bank in order to open an account can differ from bank to bank. In most cases, however, you'll probably need to present the following:

  • A valid identification (i.e. passport or residence permit);
  • Proof of Turkish residence (e.g. utility bill, rental contract, etc.);
  • Tax ID Number or Foreigner’s ID Number;
  • A completed application form.

Note that proof of residence is generally only required if you're opening a bank account in Turkey as a foreigner who lives in the country. If you live abroad and want to open a bank account in Turkey (e.g. for real estate investments), then the tax ID number will generally suffice.

Option 1 — Deposit Banks

Darafsh (CC BY-SA 3.0, modified)

All in all, expats in Turkey tend to have a very easy time opening a bank account, and so long as you have a Tax ID Number or a Foreigner’s ID Number (which mean you're employed or otherwise allowed to live in Turkey), most banks won't turn away your business. These days, while it's still very common in Turkey to open a bank account by appointment, online applications are becoming increasingly the norm.

Perhaps the biggest perk about opening a bank account in Turkey as a foreigner is the fact that most major Turkish banks offer services in English — from internet banking right through to customer support. Another perk is that, by law, bank accounts incur ₺0 in monthly fees. Furthermore, Turkish banks usually also make it easy to open a foreign currency bank account as well as a range of other modern and international-focused financial services, including SWIFT transfers and credit cards.

Is proof of residence required to open an account at a Turkish deposit bank? Yes and no. While most bank accounts in Turkey (especially those denominated in Turkish lira) require proof of residence, foreign currency accounts don't. What's more, the larger the amount you're planning to deposit, the more chance the bank will accept your application (even for a Turkish lira account).

Let's take a look at some of the offerings relevant to expats among Turkish banks:

İşbank

Turkey's oldest and largest private bank, İşbank has a reputation for its expat-friendly services and is widely available in English. However, due to the current monetary climate in Turkey, customers opening a current account will need to open a time deposit account alongside it (something which happens automatically when you set up your account). The following account is the standard:

  • Lira time deposit account: This is the standard fixed-term interest-bearing account that comes tied to a regular current account for everyday spending. With it, you'll be able to fix your deposit terms to any period between one month and 1,096 days and set up Regular Savings Orders to move money into your current account.

In addition, you can also open a time deposit account in a foreign currency of your choice, as well as gold-backed accounts. You can calculate income on time deposit accounts in the Turkish lira, foreign currency, and gold using İşbank's deposit income calculator.

Ziraat Bank

Arguably Turkey's best-known bank, Ziraat Bank is a state-owned banking giant which also offers services in English. It offers the following account that we think is particularly interesting to foreigners:

  • Turkish Lira Current Account: A standard, everyday checking account that comes with a bank card, internet banking, and overdraft facilities.

VakıfBank

VakıfBank is Turkey's second-largest bank and offers an extensive network of branches and ATMs around the country. VakıfBank has services geared toward expats (including English customer support and multi-currency facilities), and current accounts will need to be opened alongside a term deposit or investment account.

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Pros of Deposit Banks

  • Wide range of financial services (e.g. overdraft, investments, credit card, etc.)
  • Mostly available in English.

Cons of Deposit Banks

  • All require proof of residence (unless depositing a very large sum or opening a non-TRY account).
  • Costly fees on most services.

Option 2 — Digital-Only Banks

Scott Graham on Unsplash

Turkey is hot on the heels of Europe and North America in encouraging growth in its online-only banking sector. These banks, which have exploded in the EU especially in recent years, are fully-fledged banks offering all or most of the usual banking services; the main difference being that they don't operate out of branches, and banking services are online instead.

The Turkish government aims to prepare the regulatory landscape to encourage online-only banks in the coming years — a hopeful sign for the industry in the country. However, as of 2022, there is currently only one digital-only bank in the country:

Enpara.com

Enpara.com is Turkey's first online-only bank. It provides low-cost banking services via internet and mobile platforms at significantly lower costs than the traditional deposit banks we explored above.

Like the traditional banks, Enpara.com offers term accounts (in Turkish lira, US dollar, or Euros), savings accounts, and gold current accounts to users alongside a fee-free debit card, and low-cost domestic and international bank transfers.

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Pros of Online-Only Banks

  • Low costs for most services.
  • Seamless interface on web and mobile.

Cons of Online-Only Banks

  • Only provides core banking services (e.g. current account, card, etc.).
  • No bank branches.

Option 3 — Multinationals

Håkan Dahlström (CC BY 2.0, modified)

Turkey is home to a large number of big-name foreign multinational banks, including Deutsche Bank, Citibank, HSBC, ING, ICBC, Société Générale, JPMorgan Chase, and more than two dozen others. However, most of these banks offer only corporate and investment services, with only the following offering extensive services to retail customers too:

HSBC

A British banking giant, HSBC is one of the largest banks in the world with more than 40 million customers across dozens of countries. In Turkey, HSBC is headquartered in Istanbul and offers the following account (which requires proof of residence to apply):

  • Modern Account: An interest-bearing current account package available in Turkish liras, British pounds, US dollars, or Euros that supports cash withdrawals, direct debits, and standing order payments in a day-to-day transactional capacity.

HSBC also separately offers time deposit, gold deposit, and multi-currency accounts.

ING Bank

Since 2007, Dutch bank ING has maintained a substantial presence in Turkey, where it serves both retail and corporate clients. The major account offering relevant to expats is the following:

  • Current Account: A standard current account that comes with a credit card and everyday transactional functionality. The account comes with no monthly fees, but the credit card costs a once-off ₺160.
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Pros of Multinationals

  • Widely available in English.
  • Wide range of financial services (e.g. overdraft, investments, credit card, etc.)
  • Large and trusted banks with global reputations.

Cons of Multinationals

  • All require proof of residence (unless depositing a very large sum or opening a non-TRY account).
  • Costly fees on most services.

Option 4 — Wise Multi-Currency Account

Wise

In our opinion, the best option for opening a bank account in Turkey as a non-resident is Wise's Multi-Currency Account. Alongside its accompanying virtual or physical Visa debit card, Wise allows users to pay and be paid like a local in Turkey and in countries across the globe.

Fortunately, after opening your account online, you'll only be required to verify your identity through their interface and you won't need to show proof of residence in Turkey to signup and obtain the Visa debit card (although you will need to show proof of residence in the EU/EEA, US, Singapore, Japan, Australia, or New Zealand to sign up). Here's what Wise has to say about opening an account without proof of residence in the UK, although the same applies in other countries: "You can then choose to either supply proof of address from a standard list of documents, or to send in a selfie, in which you’re holding your proof of ID. This can be a great alternative if you’re still waiting to move to the UK or haven’t yet got bills and other paperwork registered in your name."

Even if you reside in Turkey, you'll still be eligible to apply — it's only the physical debit card that you won't be able to receive. However, you will still receive a virtual Visa card which can be used in much the same way through Google Pay or Apple Pay.

Regardless of whether you have a virtual or physical card, once you're signed up for Wise, you'll be able to take advantage of the following unique features:

  • Local bank details in Turkey, the US, the Eurozone, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Romania, Canada, and Hungary.
  • Hold, exchange, and top-up up to 56 currencies.
  • A multi-currency Visa debit card that's handy for paying in foreign currencies without hidden fees.
  • Access to Wise's powerful international money transfer service right from your account balance.

To get a sense of how useful Wise can be for expats, let's say that you've just moved from Germany to Turkey and you'd like to spend in liras before you've got your proof of residence sorted out. With the Wise Multi-Currency Account, you'll be able to:

  1. Send Euros from your bank account to your Wise Turkish lira account;
  2. Convert to liras at a low fee (e.g. if you add ₺10,000 and pay in Euros, the total fee will be around 0.58% or €3.71*);
  3. Pay with your Wise debit card, make or receive SEPA (and SWIFT) payments, and set up direct debits.

You'll also have a dedicated set of Turkish bank details to share with friends, colleagues, or even your employer. This comes in the form of a Turkish IBAN, which can be used to send and receive money within Turkey in the same way as an ordinary Turkish bank. The one limitation, however, is that you won't be able to receive international SWIFT payments using this IBAN account.

* Conversion made on 6/1/2022

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Pros of Wise

  • Low-cost, handy multi-currency account and card.
  • No proof of residence is required in Turkey.
  • Cheap money transfers to and from the Turkish lira.

Cons of Wise

  • Doesn't offer overdraft, and you won’t earn interest on any in-credit balances.
  • Incoming SWIFT payments not supported.

Which Bank Is Best in Turkey for Foreigners?

The best bank in Turkey for foreigners and non-residents will depend on your needs and preferences and other factors such as whether or not you speak Turkish or whether or — perhaps most importantly — whether not you have proof of residence in the country. To get a better picture of how the different options we've explored compare, take a look at the table below, which gives a snapshot comparison of the relevant account offerings at Ziraat Bank, ING, Wise, and Enpara.com:

Bank

Ziraat Bank

Enpara.com

ING

Wise

Provider

Bank

Bank

Bank

Neobank

Account

TRY Current Account (↗)

Term deposit account (↗)

Current Account (↗)

Multi-Currency Account (↗)

Card Type

Visa/Mastercard/Troy debit¹

Mastercard debit¹

Mastercard credit

Visa/Mastercard debit

Language(s)

English, Turkish

Turkish

English, Turkish

English, Turkish and 14 others

Currencies

TRY

TRY, USD, EUR²

TRY

TRY and 50+ others

Monthly Fee

₺0.00

₺0.00

₺0.00

₺0.00

Residence Required?

Ideal For

Those looking for a fully-fledged bank account with multiple services.

Turkish residents looking for a low-cost banking solution.

English-speaking Turkish residents looking for an everyday curent account.

New arrivals in Turkey looking to spend and withdraw cash before acquiring a local bank account.

Try Ziraat BankTry EnparaTry INGTry Wise

Last updated: 7/1/2022
¹ Credit card upon request.
² USD and EUR for term deposit account only.

How To Send Money to a Turkish Bank Account

If you're moving in from abroad, one thing you'll need to consider is how to transfer your funds into your new Turkish bank account. (This process can be especially costly if you're depositing money from a currency other than liras.) To deposit money into your new Turkish lira account from your home currency before you move, you'll need to go to your online banking and choose between one of two options:

  • Sending a wire transfer through your bank directly;
  • Sending a bank transfer via a money transfer specialist.

In general, we don't recommend using your bank to transfer money internationally, as the fees can be exorbitant and the waiting times can be lengthy. This is mainly because banks wire funds over the SWIFT network, which adds many timely and expensive steps to the money transfer process.

Instead, if the amount you'd like to send to Turkey is in the order of several hundred or thousand US dollars or equivalent, then we recommend you use a money transfer specialist service (Wise is generally the cheapest to Turkey from countries such as Germany, the US, and the UK.) To compare which services are cheapest for your transfer amount and home country to Turkey, run a search on Monito's real-time comparison engine below.

On the other hand, if you're moving large amounts of money from your home currency to your new bank account in Turkey, (i.e. anything upwards of $30,000 or equivalent), then services such as Wise may not be your cheapest bet. Instead, we recommend exploring your options among the foreign exchange brokers that support transfers from your country to Turkey. These services specialise in negotiating favourable exchange rates on your behalf and are the most cost-effective option for transferring large sums of money (such as life savings or liquid investments) across borders.

To find out which service will offer you the best deal in real-time, run a search on our comparison engine below:

Send Money Cheaply to Turkey

Frequently Asked Questions About Opening a Bank Account in Turkey

Non-Resident Bank Accounts in Turkey 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:

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