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Opening a Bank Account in Bahrain

Most banks in Bahrain offer Islamic-oriented instruments as international Muslims prefer Islamic banks in Bahrain and other branches of the international banks offer conventional banking services.

Opening a business bank account for your new business doesn’t just serve to legitimize your business idea and make your business legal but also acts as a vital consideration for your taxes. Having a bank account allows you to easily keep track of expenses, manage employee pay, convey finances to investors, receive and deposit payment, and plan the corporate budget more accurately.

Bahrain is known as the financial center of Middle East for serving as a home to more than 55 wholesale banks. Most of these banks offer Islamic-oriented instruments as international Muslims prefer Islamic banks in Bahrain and other branches of the international banks offer conventional banking services.

Types of Bank Accounts in Bahrain

1. Current Account

People are generally suspicious about cheques hence cash payment is preferred in Bahrain. Although utility companies and other major service providers accept personal cheques for regular payments, these are most unlikely to be accepted by local retailers, as they carry no guarantee of payment, even though issuing a cheque without the necessary funds in your account is a criminal offence in the region. Most current accounts are therefore not cheque accounts, although these are also available. The services offered in the local banks of Bahrain include cheque clearance, debit and credit card repayments etc. Make sure you never overdraw your bank account, if this happens and it concerns a small amount, the bank might authorize the payment or the bank will only pay the amount which is on your bank account. Either way, you will be charged a substantial fee and they will question you about the incident.

2. Savings and Deposit Account

Any retail bank in Bahrain offers savings and deposit services. The advantage of opening this type of account is you can remove the money from bank anytime you want. In most cases you receive monthly statements with all transactions made. Some banks offer cash cards to withdraw money from ATM's, a credit card and a cheque book, but this depends on the type of account. There are banks who add interest to your account monthly while some offer on weekly basis when the deposit is large. In general, most banks offer higher levels of interest when the deposit amount increases. In some cases, banks issue cheque books but they can charge maintenance charges and limit the number of cheques you can write out.

How to Open a Bank Account in Bahrain?

Anyone holding a valid residence visa can open a bank account in Bahrain. You must also have an authorizing letter from your employer specifying your salary. To open a bank account in Bahrain, an expat must follow strict rules. Most banks will want to see copies of your passport and rental lease. Banks will issue their customers credit and debit cards and international cards which will work at many ATMS but there will be an added surcharge. Remember that most places will only accept cash.

There are many international banks in Bahrain including Citibank, HSBC, and Standard Chartered. They have many branches in the city of Bahrain and other popular areas. The local banks are also popular in Bahrain. Few of them are Al Ahli United Bank, Bank of Bahrain and Kuwait, and National Bank of Bahrain. The local and international banks in Bahrain offer standard savings and current accounts with many investment options. Most of these banks also offer internet services and some form of tele-banking.  If you maintain a minimum deposit of BD50 in your account, no charges are faced unless a particular type of service is used which is chargeable. A higher minimum deposit will sometimes assure you of a higher status account. This enables you to jump queues and have a more personal service.

The process of opening a bank account in for an expat Bahrain is quite stringent and requires a lot of paper. To make the process easy, one can hire a professional consultant who has in-depth knowledge of the do’s and don’ts while opening a bank account in Bahrain. Expected average time for opening a corporate bank account in Bahrain is 4-5 weeks. Most of the banks in Bahrain require you to submit the necessary documents and often have a personal meeting in order to pre-approve a bank account for an expat. Expats looking to open a bank account in Bahrain must appear at the prospective bank in person, and in possession of the following documents:

  • Copy of passport and visa pages
  • Two passport size photos
  • Residency/work permit and copies
  • Copy of lease/tenancy agreement, to prove residential address in Bahrain
  • A No Objection Certificate (NOC), or a Letter of No Objection, from the Bahraini employer, stating the expected monthly salary deposits they will make into the account [it is often much easier for an expat to open an account at the same bank as their employer]
  • In addition, it is highly recommended (though not necessary) to supply recent bank statements, and a letter of reference from the expat’s bank in their country of origin

Once you submit these documents to the bank, a bank account of your preference is opened. A minimum balance has to be deposited in the bank while opening the account according to the type of account to choose to open.

Business Setup Worldwide for Bank Account Services in Bahrain

We at Business Setup Worldwide can help you open a bank account in Bahrain. Our advisors take care of the entire bank opening process right from helping you select the bank account to collecting all the necessary documents and submitting the same to the bank of your choice. Our commitment to professionalism, business-oriented experience across various domains, proactive learning in the ever-changing global environment, and the ability to conceive innovative strategies and provide comprehensive support in executing such strategies distinguish Business Setup Worldwide provides you the competitive edge to scale your company. If you are thinking of opening a corporate bank account in Bahrain, do contact us – we’d be glad to assist!