Knowing how to open a bank account in Mexico is generally on the “to-do list” of new expats who choose this country as their new home. Expats open local bank accounts for several reasons, such as making convenient domestic transactions and bill payments, avoiding ATM withdrawal fees with some foreign cards and transferring money from overseas for their needs in Mexico.
Opening a bank account is generally straightforward with the right documents, depending on your visa. We have put together some tips to help you open and operate a bank account in Mexico.
Type of Accounts
There are several accounts you can choose from based on your personal requirements. Here are a few examples:
“Sight deposit accounts” allow you to withdraw money as you wish. The account requirements may include holding a minimum balance.
“Notice deposit accounts” require you to hold the money for a specific term. The interest rates are typically higher on notice deposit accounts versus sight deposit accounts.
Checking accounts are offered by retail banks in Mexico. You may be required to make routine deposits and face a limit on the number of free ATM withdrawals per month, among other criteria.
Other types of bank accounts include payroll accounts for employees to receive wages, investment accounts and offshore accounts.
Opening a Bank Account in Mexico
Opening a bank account might be easier for permanent residents than for temporary residents. While opening a bank account as a tourist will not be possible with most banks, you may find some banks with more lenient requirements.
Here are a few steps to follow when opening a Mexican bank account:
Find the Bank and Account That Suits You
Compare the different banks and accounts that serve your local community. Here are a few things to look for when researching a bank account:
- Minimum deposit requirements
- Withdrawal limits including the number of free withdrawals, if applicable.
- Bank charges
- Interest rates
- Number of ATMs you can use for free, and the availability of ATMs in convenient locations to you.
- Ease of operating the account online and through mobile banking.
- Customer service
- Check the reviews of the banks you are considering.
Gather the Required Documents
Ask the bank in advance what documents are required. Generally, you will need the following:
- Residency card (or tourist card/FMM)
- Proof of address in Mexico such as a utility bill less than three months old.
- A Mexican tax ID or a foreign tax ID/Social Security number
- Proof of address from your home country (if you are a tourist)
- An email and a mobile phone number
If you are renting your home, you will not have your name on utility bills. The utility bills will be accepted, but you also can take your rental agreement, just in case.
To open a bank account for a company, check with the bank on what extra documents you may need.
Visit the Bank
As a foreigner, you will usually need to visit a bank branch to open an account. Generally, the banks are open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays, and some banks have limited business hours on Saturdays.
Do not forget to bring the initial deposit for the account, according to the bank’s requirements.
Most banks can accommodate English speakers, but the paperwork is generally in Spanish. If they do not offer English translations, you should ask a Spanish-speaking friend to help you.
The bank may take up to a few days to open your account.
Some expats wish to have accounts with international banks or banks with a presence in their home countries. Certain international banks may also allow you to open an account in Mexico ahead of your arrival.
Get Internet and Mobile Banking
Visiting bank branches can be time consuming and you may experience long lines, especially with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic-related safety guidelines. Internet and mobile banking are convenient ways to handle your account.
However, you may need the bank’s assistance to set up online and mobile banking. For example, from personal experience, Intercam Banco’s online banking requires a code generated from the bank’s mobile app to log in, make transactions, etc. Having the bank guide you through the process will be helpful.
Digital Alternatives to Traditional Banks
Many FinTech companies worldwide are providing digital financial services without physical establishments. They are referred to as Neobanks. According to a May 2021 article in Legal Paradox, Mexico is leading the FinTech scene in Latin America. The article mentions 15 digital accounts currently available in Mexico.
There are other popular digital accounts from companies based outside of Mexico that offer financial services, including fund transfers and multi-currency accounts.
The digital account-opening process is usually fast once you upload any required documents for verifications.
If you wish to open such an account, make sure to compare the service providers, check customer reviews and understand the reliability of the organization and service. Additionally, check other factors such as competitive fees and ease of use.
Even some traditional banks now offer digital account options.
Ways to Keep Your Banking Information Safe
Expats may have safety concerns, especially around money and financial dealings in Mexico. Here are a few tips to keep your banking information safe:
- Always cover the number pad when using an ATM or entering your PIN to pay bills with a bank card.
- Avoid using ATMs at night or in isolated places.
- Carry only the bank cards you need. Having several cards in a wallet, for example, can lead to fraud and inconvenience, if the wallet is lost.
- Avoid using public Wi-Fi for banking activities.
- Be wary of who you share your bank details with. Scammers are becoming increasingly advanced, so make sure to share information only with legitimate parties.
- Destroy any unwanted old financial records.
On a related note, do not carry around large amounts of cash, and try to use credit cards instead of debit cards to make payments at establishments. Follow general safety tips as you would in your home country.
If you lose a bank card, report it to the bank immediately.
Other Tips to Remember
- Understand your tax residency status and in which countries you need to declare your bank accounts and their earnings. Consider getting professional financial and tax advice as required to avoid any penalties or other complications in the future.
- When transferring money between accounts in different countries, compare transfer methods for competitive exchange rates and fees.
- Update your new account details with any changes or money sources as required.
- Be careful with your personal information, in general, to avoid identity theft and other issues.