One of the things I looked into during my last visit to the Philippines was the procedure needed to secure a bank account for a foreigner. I had read online that it could be quite difficult, depending upon the bank and your circumstances, and would almost assuredly require on ACR-I card.

Well, my experience was somewhat different than what I had read. Are you surprised? Let me tell you about it.

I had done my research in terms of local banks for the Davao region and had decided that I wanted to go with one of the larger, more established banks. I wanted one that had both Peso and Dollar accounts, online banking, and a good selection of branches and ATMs. I also wanted one that was finically sound, possibly with some foreigner ownership.

I had actually looked into this last year when I visited, and I had come to the conclusion that BDO (Banco De Oro) would meet my needs. It could also be a benefit that my asawa had an account there. Possibly easier to set up, but definitely more convenient for us. I was told at the time that I would in fact be able to open accounts there, even after relaying my current situation, which was not living there nor holding an ACR-I card.

This time I went in to find out exactly what the requirements were to get both the Peso and Dollar Savings accounts established. It was much simpler than I had expected.

Requirements to set up BDO accounts:

  • Valid passport with photo copy
  • Two 2 x 2 passport photos
  • P5000 to establish the Peso Savings account
  • $200 USD to establish the US Dollar Savings account
  • Application for both accounts

I believe I also had to fill out some extra paperwork for the ATM Debit Card that I requested to use with the Peso Savings Accounts. The application required all the normal personal information, including a local address. I was asked about the ACR-I and explained that I did not have one. They requested that once I did, that I bring it in to be recorded with my account.

The ATM Debit card took about 10 days to receive, and I had to go back to the bank to pick it up. It was another 24 hours or so until I could use it. I tried a couple of different scenarios with it, using it at a restaurant and also at another bank’s ATM. It worked as you would expect. I was charged an additional P11 to use it at the ONB ATM.

The online set up was a little more confusing. I think it would have been much smoother if I would have waited to try until I got my ATM Debit card. As it was I filled out the information online and brought the print out to the bank when I picked up my ATM Debit card. This was then sent to Manila to process. It took another 10 days or so to be approved. If I had waited for the card, the approval can be done online or at the ATM, I forget if it’s either or both.

Anyway I am online now. At first I just had the Peso Savings set up, but it was easy to add the Dollar Savings once my account was established. As online banking goes, it seems a little clumsy to me, but it works. I can check balances, transfer funds, etc.

I now have an account I can wire money to, if I want to do so before I finally move. I also won’t have to wait to establish the accounts or for my card. That will make things quite a bit easier, too.

The key points are:

    I did not need an ACR-I card to set up and use my accounts.

    I am not currently living in the Philippines.

    I was not asked for any unusual requirements or paperwork, it was basically the same as setting up an account here.

I’m not suggesting that doing as I have done is the best solution for everyone. Not at all, but I did want to point out that, at least with BDO, it is not nearly as hard to get an account for a foreigner in the Philippines as many have suggested. As always YMMV (that term MUST have it’s origins in the Philippines).

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