If you're planning to live abroad, you will certainly want some of your funds in a local bank for easy access.
While opening an account in a foreign country is never as easy as opening an account in your U.S. hometown, the Bahamas is very expat-friendly and opening up a bank account is no problem at all.
Below, we'll talk about what steps to take before setting up your foreign bank account.
Do Your Research
First, research the local banks and choose the one that best fits your financial needs and lifestyle preferences. Most banks have similar fees and services, but individual differences can make one a better choice than another. All of the banks have websites where you can print out account application forms, complete them, and send them to the bank by email or courier with the additional documentation required.
Some documents you will need include:
- letters of reference from personal and business contacts who have known you for two years or more;
- a letter of reference from a financial institution where you have had an account for at least two years;
- a utility bill dated no longer than 60 days ago that has your name and street address on it;
- notarized copies of your passport and driver's license.
Opening a bank account in the Bahamas requires a visit to the bank where you will be asked for an I.D. Your passport is the best form of identification. You will also need proof of address, which can be your rental agreement papers or a utility bill sent to your name and street address. Some banks require proof of income such as bank statements or pension payment statements. If you are living in the Bahamas for work, your employment contract will provide income proof.
Read the Fine Print
It's good to note that overdrafts are not usually honored for expats, but after you have been in the country for awhile and the bank knows you, you can apply for overdraft protection. You will receive checks and a debit card along with your account. Bills can be paid by automatic debits just as in the U.S. Most banks require a minimum opening balance and that you maintain a minimum balance. Most have an online banking platform.
ATMs are prevalent in the main towns and shopping areas. Most pay out in Bahamian dollars, but some offer a choice of Bahamian or U.S. dollars. ATMs are scarce on the outlying islands. Some U.S. banks, including Citibank, operate in the Bahamas. If you have a U.S. account in one of these banks, opening an account in your bank in the Bahamas can be done prior to your arrival. However, you will have to provide the same I.D., proof of address, and proof of income.
Know You're in Good Company
The Bahamas hosts innumerable expats. So, all of their banks are accustomed to meeting the banking needs of their foreign residents. The process is well defined and, given the appropriate documentation, the process can be one breezy step on your way to owning abroad.
Of course, before you open up a bank account here, you'll want to decide if living in the Bahamas makes sense for you and your family.
To test out the waters firsthand, we'd love to host you for an incredible weekend of adventure on a Discovery Stay!