Benefits of a UAE bank account
International transactions with no foreign exchange control. UAE banks support the IBAN system — this means that their clients can freely get payments from Europe. Aside from that, in the UAE, there are no legal restrictions on withdrawing money abroad.
The high security of banks is confirmed by international credit rating agencies. Fitch sovereign rating for the UAE stands at AA- with a stable outlook, which is the third best result.
The Central Bank of the UAE stabilises the financial system: it does not issue new banking licences so that the volume of proposals meets the market’s needs.
Free account maintenance for accounts that meet the requirements on minimum balance or regular top-ups. In European banks, maintenance is generally paid.
Interest on deposits is higher than inflation — interest can be up to 2% with inflation less than 1%. The average annual inflation in the UAE over the past five years has been negative — in the range of -2 to 2%.
No income tax or withholding tax. Residents of the country are exempt from many taxes. For instance, they don’t pay taxes on capital gains, interest, dividends, royalties, luxury, inheritance, and gifts. To become a tax resident of the UAE, one must first obtain a residence visa.
Types of accounts and cards available in UAE banks
Depending on the bank and the type of account, the service is available to clients over 18 or 21 years old. It’s possible to open an account in UAE dirhams or foreign currencies: dollars, euros, and pounds. The dirham is pegged to the US dollar: $1 = AED 3.67.
There are two types of accounts in the UAE: current and savings. A current account will allow you to issue a chequebook. Savings accounts earn interest on the balance.
Non-residents can only open savings accounts.
|Available to||Citizens of the UAE and the Gulf states Arab states of the Persian Gulf: Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, and Saudi Arabia. |
Foreigners with a residence visa
|Citizens of the UAE and the Gulf states Arab states of the Persian Gulf: Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, and Saudi Arabia. |
Foreigners with a residence visa
Foreigners without residence visas
Common means of payment in the UAE
|✅ Can be issued||❌ Cannot be issued|
|Interest rate||❌ No interest||✅ 0.1—2% of interest annually|
|Number of transactions per month|
Number of auto payments, deposits, cash withdrawals from ATMs, and transactions
|✅ Unlimited||⚠ Can be limited|
|Overdraft||✅ Available||❌ Not available|
A chequebook is useful when renting real estate. Generally, the rental contracts in the UAE are signed for a year: the tenant writes checks for the entire period and indicates the payment date for each month or quarter, depending on the agreement.
Conditions of opening an account depend on specific banks and products. In some cases, potential clients need to prove a monthly income of at least AED 5,000 ($1,362) or have a different account in the same bank.
Account maintenance is usually free for accounts with a monthly balance or salary receipts higher than a minimum of AED 3,000—5,000 ($812—1,362). Otherwise, the maintenance fee is around AED 20—30 monthly.
It’s possible to issue an international debit or credit card for free. Cash withdrawals and purchases are usually limited from AED 10,000 to 100,000 per day ($2,724—272,400).
Requirements for opening a corporate account in the UAE
Businesses registered in the UAE, both local and international, can open corporate accounts.
The Arab Emirates has several free economic zones with special tax and customs regimes. Foreigners can do business here without the participation of a local partner. Non-resident companies can work only within the free zones or abroad. To resident companies, these restrictions do not apply.
Free zones offer several benefits to businesses, including VAT-free and customs duty-free regimes and exemption from corporate tax for 50 years after the company registration. Most of the free zones are located in Dubai.
Here is a list of documents one needs to provide to open a corporate account:
- Residence visas or Emirates IDs of all founders and the company's CEO.
- Constituent documents of the company: charter, memorandum of association, certificate of registration, and a licence.
- Confirmation of authority to open an account: a power of attorney or founders’ decision on appointing a director.
- Proof of legal address of the company.
- Company account statements or bank statements from the founders’ accounts for newly registered businesses.
Bank accounts for minors
For children under 18 years old, their fathers or male legal guardians can open bank accounts in the UAE. Mothers can open accounts for their children only with a power of attorney.
Parents can’t withdraw money from their child’s accounts. The account owner will have access to it once they turn 18. Some banks can issue debit cards for 15-year-olds.
Documents required to open a bank account in the UAE
|For residents||For non-residents|
|Passport with a residence visa in it||Passport|
Or a copy of the application for its issuance
|Bank statements from the country of residence|
For the last two months
|Proof of residential address|
Utility bills for the last 2—3 months, indicating the payer and address
|Written explanation of the purpose of opening an account|
Some banks request proof of income. It can be a statement from another bank, a salary certificate, or a tax credit certificate.
In practice, it’s challenging to open an account in the UAE for non-residents. Banks are cautious because of the anti-money laundering laws. In many cases, they can either refuse foreigners or set additional conditions. For instance, they can increase the minimum amount on the account or require to open an investment or deposit account for a few years in addition to the main one.
Bank account charges in the UAE
Fees and charges depend on the specific bank, account type and priority level of the account. High-priority clients who maintain an average monthly balance of AED 50,000 and more usually pay fewer fees for transactions, issuance of chequebooks, etc.
Here’s what the schedule of charges can look like for a medium-priority account with a monthly average balance of AED 5,000.
Charges and fees for a medium priority account on the example of Emirates NBD Bank
|Fee for non-maintenance of balance||AED 75 per month|
|Teller fees (cash deposit, cash withdrawals, internal fund transfer, cheque deposit)||3 transactions per month free; |
after that, AED 10 per transaction
|Cheque Book charge||The first cheque book (5 leaves) is free; after that, AED 25|
|Cheque returned charge||AED 200|
|Cash withdrawal in ATMs of other banks in the UAE||AED 2|
|Cash withdrawal outside UAE||1% with a minimum of AED 20|
Managing a bank account in the UAE
One can manage their finances while visiting their UAE bank’s offices in person or online.
Visiting a bank’s office in person may be more convenient for certain transactions than online. Some banks in the UAE provide their customers with easy access to service counters and offices by placing them in popular areas and complexes. Usually, an appointment is not needed.
Online and mobile banking is also available. Customers get round-the-clock access to their finances and can get a loan or another service without visiting the bank branch. Also, some banks provide mobile-only services and do not open physical offices.
Mobile banking in the UAE
Most UAE banks provide their customers convenient mobile banking through mobile apps and SMS. A customer can use these services to check the account’s balance, transfer money, pay bills, and apply for a new card or another service.
Some banks have gone further: they allow UAE residents to open accounts online. A customer downloads an app and scans their Emirates ID to do it. Then they can transfer some money to their new account and get a debit card with delivery.
Banking services in the UAE
Emirati banks provide their customers with a vast range of services, from opening a personal bank account for savings and transactions to loans.
International transactions are available for residents with bank accounts in the UAE. International money transfers can be made in a bank’s mobile app or online banking service. Also, transfers to some countries may be free of charge.
Credit cards are usually available to UAE residents with a monthly salary of AED 5,000 or more, depending on the bank and the card. Annual fees are usually from 0 to AED 2,000. Some banks provide cardholders additional benefits, such as cashback of up to 20%, reward points or air miles.
Loans are available for UAE residents and foreigners. Personal loans have relatively low interest rates: one can find an offer with a 2—6% rate. There are also requirements for the applicant’s income, and most banks require a processing fee of 1% of the loan amount.
Car loans and mortgages require down payments. When it comes to real estate for obtaining residency, it must be at least 50% of the property’s price and not less than the required investment amount. Interest rates are usually relatively low, around 2—4%.
Closing an account in a UAE bank
An owner must visit a branch and submit a request to close an account. In many banks, it’s possible no earlier than six months or one year after opening. The service will cost an average of AED 100 ($27).
Some banks, like First Abu Dhabi Bank, close inactive accounts with zero balance and are inactive for more than six months. Banks do so after notifying owners of the accounts.
Accounts with active loans cannot be closed until an alternate way of payment is arranged, or the loan is settled.
What banks work in the UAE
There are two types of national banks in the UAE — conventional and Islamic. Aside from that, international banks also work in the country.
Conventional national and international banks provide the usual banking services: deposits, loans, investment accounts, etc.
National Islamic banks work strictly adhering to the Sharia law. Principles of Islamic banking include:
- it’s forbidden to lend money at interest. Therefore, Islamic banks do not provide loans and or deposits at interest;
- it’s forbidden to speculate with securities — playing on the stock exchange is equal to gambling;
- it’s forbidden to invest in sinful things, such as tobacco, alcohol, producing non-Halal meat, or gambling.
Instead of consumer loans, Islamic banks issue interest-free loans and instead of providing business loans, they invest in businesses and become parties.
The Central Bank of the UAE issues licences and regulates the financial system — banks, investment funds, and insurance companies. To balance supply and demand, the Central Bank stopped issuing new licences and limited the number of branches for foreign banks to eight.
In the UAE, there are 13 conventional national banks and 28 international ones. The biggest by size and amount of branches are First Abu Dhabi Bank FAB, Emirates NBD, and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank ADCB.
Working hours depend on a specific branch. Banks are open from Monday to Saturday, with a short Friday. On Sundays, banks are closed. Branches open at 7 or 8 AM and work until noon, less often — until 7 or 9 PM. On Fridays, the opening hours are shortened or shifted to the afternoon.
UAE banks list
|National conventional banks|
|Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank
|adcb.com||Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank Building,Shk Zayed street.
PO Box: 939, Abu Dhabi
United Arab Emirates
Tel: +971 2 696 2222
|Arab Bank For Investment and Foreign Trade
|almasraf.ae||Abu Dhabi, Hamdan Bin Mohammed Street
Tel: +971 600 52 99 99
|Bank of Sharjah
|bankofsharjah.com||Bank of Sharjah Building Al Khan Street
PO Box: 1394, Sharjah
Tel: +971 6 569 4411
|Commercial Bank International
|cbiuae.com||Al Riqqa Street,
Tel: +971 4 503 9000
|Commercial Bank of Dubai
|cbd.ae||Al Ittihad Street,
PO Box 2668, Dubai
Tel: +971 4 211 2848
|emiratesnbd.com||Emirates NBD Bank
PO Box: 777, Deira Dubai
Tel: +971 600 54 0000
|First Abu Dhabi Bank
|investbank.ae||Al Zahra’s Street No.105, King Abdul Aziz Road, Al‑Qasimiya,
PO Box: 1885 Sharjah
Tel : +971 6 598 0555
|mashreqbank.com||Near Ramada Al Nahda street Sharjah, UAE
Tel: +971 4 424 4444
|National Bank of Fujairah
|National Bank of Umm Al Qaiwain
Umm Al Quwain
|nbq.ae||NBQ Building, King Faisal Street, Umm Al Qaiwain
Ras Al Khaimah
|rakbank.ae||RAK Operations Centre, Emirates Road,
Ras Al Khaimah,
Tel: 600 54 4049
|United Arab Bank
|uab.ae||Tel: +971 6 5075222|
|National Islamic banks|
|Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank
|adib.ae||Tel: +971 2 6100600|
|Al Hilal Bank
|alhilalbank.ae||Tel: +971 6 00522229|
|Dubai Islamic Bank
|Emirates Islamic Bank
|Sharjah Islamic Bank
|sib.ae||Al Khan Area, Near Al Qasba Canal, Sharjah Islamic Bank Tower
Tel: 06 5 999 999
|Al Ahli Bank of Kuwait
|AL Khaliji — France S.A
|Arab African International Bank
|Bank Melli Iran
|Bank of Baroda
|Bank of China
|Bank Saderat Iran
|BLOM Bank France
|BNP Paribas Head Office
|Credit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank
|Gulf International Bank
|Habib Bank AG Zurich
|Habib Bank Limited
|Industrial and Commercial Bank of China
|National Bank of Bahrain
|National Bank of Kuwait
|Samba Financial Group
|Standard Chartered Bank
|United Bank Limited
Best banks of the UAE
In 2021, Global Finance and Forbes published ratings of the best banks in the UAE regarding financial performance, marketing, user care, and response to the pandemic. Global Finance appreciated the focus on the global market and convenience for international clients, while Forbes highlighted the quality of service.
Best banks, according to the ratings
1st by the number of clients, 5th in assets, 5—6th in the number of branches
|Forbes||1. CBD — Commercial Bank Dubai|
7th in assets, 5—6th in the number of branches
2. ADCB — Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank
3d in assets, 3d in the number of branches
3. ENBD — Emirates NBD
2nd in assets, 1st in the number of branches
How to get a UAE residence visa to open a bank account
Investors can get a residence visa by real estate purchase. Its validity period depends on the amount of investment:
- 2-year visa with an investment of at least AED 750,000 ($204,000);
- 10-year visa with an investment of at least AED 2,000,000 ($545,000).
It takes around 2—3 months to get a residence visa. Close family members can be added to the application too. This applies to spouses and children — sons under 25 and daughters of any age.
Residence visa obtainment timeframe
The associated costs for obtaining a residence visa in the UAE for spouses with two children will be at least $229,000.
The UAE residence visa allows the opening of bank accounts and taking advantage of local medical insurance. Investors’ children can study at international schools.
If the investor decides to rent out the investment property, the income will be from 5 to 8%.
Frequently asked questions
A foreigner without a residence visa can open only a savings account — the Central Bank of the UAE establishes this rule. Current accounts are available only to residents and citizens.
Savings accounts earn interest on balance — up to 2%. However, on savings accounts, banks often limit the number of transactions per month.
Because of the anti-money laundering law, opening accounts for foreigners carries a high risk for banks; that’s why applications are often denied with no explanation.
A bank card can be issued for a current or a savings account. Foreigners with a residence visa can open both; non-residents can open only a savings account.
Residents can open an account remotely using the banking app or website. A non-resident will have to visit a branch, provide their passport, bank statements from the country of residence for the last 2 months, and utility bills for the last 2—3 months indicating the payer and address to confirm the place of residence. Aside from that, it’s required to thoroughly explain why a non-resident is getting an account in the UAE.
Generally, it’s free to open a bank account in the UAE. Some banks require proof of monthly income of AED 3,000—5,000. Account maintenance is usually free, provided the average monthly balance is more than the set minimum.
Debit cards can be issued for current or savings accounts. Foreign nationals with a resident visa can open a current account with no limit on transactions per month. Non-residents can get only savings accounts.
Global Finance and Forbes ranked banks in terms of reliability, convenience, and quality of service. According to Global Finance, the best bank is Mashreq — it’s the most popular in the country and fifth by assets.
According to Forbes rating, the best banks are Commercial Bank Dubai, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, and Emirates NBD.
Foreign nationals with a resident visa can open any type of bank account they want. Non-residents are limited in their options — they can open only a savings account.
Applications from non-residents can be denied with no explanation.
In the UAE, there are two types of national banks — conventional and Islamic. Aside from that, there are branches of international banks, but their work is limited.
According to Forbes, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank and Emirates NBD are the best ones and the biggest in assets
Residents of the UAE can open a bank account remotely using the banking application or website. A foreign national without a visa will have to visit the bank personally to open an account.
- for residents — passport with a resident visa and Emirates ID;
- non-residents — passport, bank statements from the country of residence for the last 2 months, utility bills for the last 2-3 months indicating the payer and address to confirm the place of residence, and a written explanation of the reasons the applicant wants to open the account.
In some cases, the bank can also require to confirm the income and explain the source of funds they’re going to transfer to the UAE account.
Generally, the required minimum average monthly balance or monthly top-ups on the account are AED 3,000—5,000 ($812—1,362). If this threshold is not met, the account maintenance will be paid — around AED 20—30.
Technically, yes. However, non-residents can often be denied in the account application because of the strict anti-money laundering laws.
A non-resident has to visit a branch of the chosen bank in person and provide the following documents:
- a passport;
- bank statements from the country of residence for the last 2 months;
- utility bills for the last 2—3 months indicating the payer and address to confirm the place of residence;
- a written explanation of the reasons the applicant wants to open the account.
Non-residents are required to visit a bank branch in person to open an account. Foreign nationals with resident visas can open accounts remotely using the banking app or website.