If you’re looking to start a business in Europe, getting a European business bank account should be a no-brainer.
As a general rule, you will be able to start a European business bank account even if you’re a non-resident. However, you may be required to be physically present at a high street bank with documentation, or face higher fees or service limitations compared to residents.
But there are alternatives. For a locally-orientated global account with direct IBANs, 30+ currencies, EU/UK/US and international payments, try out Silverbird.
This article at a glance
Opening a business bank account in Europe can be an arduous process. After all, the EU is notorious for slapping businesses with red tape. But as long as you can justify your reason for wanting to start a business bank account in the EU, you are free to do so. If you want to do business in Europe but don’t want to deal with bureaucracy and high costs, there are alternatives.
Who can start a European business bank account for non-residents?
Anyone can open a business bank account in Europe providing they have a good reason for doing so. The reason itself is important – it can make or break an application. Some suitable reasons include the following:
- Accepting payment from customers in Europe
- Growing your business operations in Europe
- Paying suppliers in Europe
- Requiring European payment processing
- Searching for a stable currency and banks
Although these reasons seem straightforward, most high street banks need you to substantiate your reason with supporting documentation, which can be in the form of the following:
- Signed contracts
- Proof of address
- Local utility bills
- Lease agreements
- Local company registration
- Tax ID numbers
What are some of the challenges to start a European business bank account for non-residents?
European business is laden with bureaucratic hurdles. Starting a business bank account is no different. Some challenges non-residents may face include:
- Stringent documentation requirements
- Physical presence for account opening
- Recurrent bank application denials
- Local tax identification requirements
- Requirements for local and regional ties
- Local contact number for verification and activation
- Provision of the wrong proof of address
- Exorbitant charges by service providers
High street banks impose strict regulations if you’re a non-resident. For instance, if you were to provide the wrong local tax identification number or the wrong address, your application could be immediately denied.
This is why selecting the right bank is so important.
How to choose a high street bank for international banking
When it comes to banking, major British banks (UK) like HSBC, Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group, and NatWest Group are a good place to start. They all have a solid local presence in the EU.
However, these big players have stringent requirements for new clients – especially non-residents and SMEs. Low-risk clients with long track records are preferred.
You’re also required to demonstrate that you have large enough finances to deposit large cash amounts, starting from £100,000 and that this capital will be bringing in lots of revenue from incurring fees. If your business profile fits this, chances are that you will be able to get a business account with one of the major 4 UK banks.
An advantage of having a business bank account with a tier-1 bank would be lower transaction fees on high transaction volumes, and you can always rely on their global expertise, reputation and security.
However, you can also consider other banks if your application with one of the major banks gets denied. These include Bank of America, Santander, Citibank, and Triodos Bank. These second-tier banks generally have requirements that are less challenging to fulfil, although they would still require you to have a high turnover of £50,000 and charge high monthly fees.
It sounds troublesome to open a business bank account as a non-resident. Are there alternatives?
Your options are no longer limited to traditional banking. Payment service providers generally cost less in account maintenance fees and require a smaller volume of transactions per month (10,000+). Consider the following payment service providers:
Revolut’s global business current account lets you hold, receive, and exchange over 30 currencies, and spend in more than 150 currencies at market rates. They also issue smart cards with physical and virtual company debit cards for your business needs.
However, Revolut for Business is currently only available to businesses registered and physically operating in the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland. There are issues. There is no physical bank, no staff to liaise with, a fixed 2% fee on all cash withdrawals, and limited fee-free payments.
If you're looking to open a business bank account without the hassle, Silverbird is the answer. Opening an account in the EU, UK or US as a non-resident is intuitive and stress-free with our online onboarding.
The onboarding process is as easy as 1, 2, 3.
1. Introduce yourself
Fill in your details and confirm your role in the company to preview what your Silverbird account would look like.
2. Describe your business
Answer some simple questions, such as who your customers are and where your company is based – so the account can be tailored to your needs.
3. Verify your identity and upload documents
Take a selfie and upload your supporting business documents with your smartphone. Your application will then be sent for review.
The first digital bank for international trade, Silverbird allows for large international transfers, world-beating FX rates, global business accounts, and local EU/UK bank details including IBAN. With a Silverbird global account, you’re not limited to only SWIFT international payments when sending money abroad.
Silverbird also provides local payment solutions in 20 countries to make business international transfers cheaper and more efficient. Ultimately, Silverbird has a bulletproof security solution, protecting 100% of your money by holding it at reputable UK and EU banks.
Previously known as TransferWise, a Wise Business account allows you to pay invoices in over 70 countries at a mid-market rate. Wise offers a banking alternative for you to get everything you require to send money abroad — an IBAN, a sort code, a routing number, and more.
You can also get a debit card for your business expenses in any currency.
|Revolut||Offers retail and business banking, investing, merchant services to crypto access
Provision of smart cards
|No physical bank or staff you can liaise with
2% fee on cash withdrawal
Limited fee-free payments.
|Silverbird||Easy onboarding without the need for paperwork
Technology-driven approach with a human touch
Accepts over 98% of international trade applicants
Protects 100% of your money
Most affordable online payment provider catering to international SMEs
|No credit or debit cards yet, but will be rolled out soon|
|Wise||Pay invoices in over 70 countries at mid-market rate
Offers what you need to bank abroad, including an IBAN, a sort code, routing number, and more
Debit card available
|For transferring large amounts, you might get a specialist foreign exchange provider with lower fees.
Recipients cannot get money as cash
Money can only be transferred to a mobile wallet or bank account
One-off fee of £16 to start receiving money
Wise card is not available in many countries
Opening a business bank account can be a breeze
Forget traditional banking.
At Silverbird, we challenge traditional banks to make international trade easier for SMEs. Today, 8 out of 10 SMEs looking to start exporting get rejected by banks.
Silverbird is NOT a bank. It's a financial technology company offering global SMEs a digital alternative to traditional banking. We deal with payment institutions, regulators, and trade finance organisations, so businesses that bank on Silverbird don't have to.
Start onboarding today.
Author: Melissa Yeo
Illustration: Kate Faldina