How to open a bank account in Belgium?
Do you intend to study or work in the land of chips, waffles and beers for at least 6 months? So be aware that opening an account with a local bank is a step that will make your life there much easier. Discover now all the information you need to keep in mind to open a bank account in Belgium and choose the best bank for your reality.
- Countryaah: See population statistics by city and age about the country of Belgium, including density, growth rates, pyramid, etc.
Why open a bank account in Belgium?
The Belgian banking landscape has changed considerably (and positively) since 2008. Today, the banking environment in the country is considered stable and opening a bank account there has the following advantages:
Opening a bank account in Belgium has the following advantages:
- Bank accounts for non-residents are offered by most banks
- Bank account management is not linked to the branch with which the account was opened. This means that the client has the flexibility to go to any branch to carry out any operation
- It is possible to open a bank account in Belgium even if you are banned in your home country
What types of bank accounts do banks offer in Belgium?
Standard accounts are essentially the same as in Brazil. For simplicity, there are:
- Current accounts (“zichtrekening”)
- Savings accounts (“spaarrekening”)
Access to overdraft is authorized right after opening the account, but proof of income is required, such as an employment contract, recent payrolls or a good credit history obtained through monthly transfers from an employer or a company. The values vary between 600 euros and 2500 euros and this amount is granted for a period of 3 months. It is worth remembering, however, that interest rates for overdraft are at least 10%.
A peculiarity of Belgian banks is that they do not offer checks.
What credit cards are available?
The cards offered by banks in Belgium are debit cards, that is, with a systematic consultation of the account balance before validation. Thus, if the account does not have sufficient funds, the transaction cannot take place.
The most used card flags are Maestro, Bancontact, Mister Cash and Cirrus. An advantage is that it is possible to obtain two cards from the beginning of the account, which can be very useful in case of loss. There is also the possibility to obtain credit cards, but this is subject to certain conditions.
How to open a bank account in Belgium?
Opening a bank account in Belgium is a relatively simple procedure. It is necessary to provide the following documents:
- Application form for opening a bank account, duly completed and signed
- Proof of address, such as a domestic account.
The procedure varies depending on the bank. Some allow their customers to open bank accounts online; others allow non-residents to pre-open their online account before traveling to the country, and there are still banks that ask customers to perform all procedures at a physical branch.
When the account is open, the customer can usually wait up to two weeks to receive their cards, PINs and other passwords to manage the account over the Internet.
Is a minimum deposit required to open an account?
In principle, Belgian banks do not charge a minimum deposit for opening regular accounts.
How much do maintenance fees cost?
Costs vary from bank to bank and depend on the services you subscribe to. They may be non-existent in some cases, provided that you leave a permanent reserve on the account. For example, Belgian Post Bank financial services offer a free bank account if the average monthly balance on the account is 500 euros. The ING bank has a similar pricing policy with the ING Lion Account.
Generally, annual fees vary between 40 and 70 euros for most Belgian banks, especially for customers who do not manage their online accounts. It is recommended not to choose to send bank statements by mail (common practice in Belgium), as this may generate additional costs.
What are the best banks?
Due to the large presence of expatriates in Belgium, it is common to find banks with international resources and foreign language services (usually English). Belgium’s largest banks are Belfius, BNP Paribas Fortis, ING Bank and KBC Bank.
In addition to its local banks, Belgium also has several international banks. Some examples are Banca Monte Paschi, BBVA, ING, Rabobank and Santander.
To help you decide which is best for you, check out some basic information about the main Belgian banks.
Headquartered in Brussels and owned by the state, the bank offers more than 800 branches and 3000 ATMs.
- A series of current accounts with monthly fees ranging from 1 euro (basic account) to 17 euro for a platinum account
- MasterCard credit cards for a monthly fee of 1 euro.
- Special MasterCard for 6.50 euros per month with travel insurance and travel cancellation benefits.
BNP Paribas Fortis
BNP Paribas Fortis has 789 branches and 3819 ATMs. The main advantages are:
- Investment and savings services.
- Free checking account for young people between 18 and 27 years old, with personalized bank card, rechargeable prepaid card, Visa card in the first year and access to savings applications.
- Couples packages that offer three checking accounts for two people, together with the classic Visa credit card, for a monthly fee of 3 euros.
ING Bank Belgium
It has a commercial policy that aims to recruit customers not resident in Belgium. The ING Non-Resident Department in Brussels offers multilingual service and multi-currency accounts. You can contact them by email to prepare for opening the account in advance. It offers all retail and commercial banking services and has more than 670 branches in Belgium.
- Free online checking account.
- The classic checking account has an annual fee of 30 euros, with 12 free debit transactions per year.
- Free account for young people under 18.
- Visa or MasterCard credit cards.
Belgian Post Office
It offers much lower rates than other banks and the opening hours of physical branches are longer.
Banks opening hours
The largest banks have at least one branch in each city. In most cases, the opening hours are from 9 am to 4 pm / 4:30 pm from Monday to Friday. Some banks also open on Saturdays. In small towns, agencies usually close at lunchtime, between 1 pm and 2 pm.