How to open a bank account in Mexico as a foreigner

The benefit of enjoying a high standard of living at a fairly low cost is, without a doubt, one of the main reasons why many people choose to settle in Mexico. This popular destination as well as its proximity to the United States and Canada is an additional benefit.

New immigration laws have made it possible for foreigners to open a bank account in Mexico, as long as they meet certain criteria. This applies to both residents and tourists. Mexican banks offer accounts in Mexican pesos or U.S. dollars. There are significant differences between account services and fees, so compare prices before making a decision.

Here are some guidelines and tips to help you open a bank account in this country.

Banks where to open a bank account in Mexico

Mexico has more than 30 national and international financial institutions, offering a wide range of services including current accounts, savings accounts, investment accounts, direct debit / direct debit services, different types of loans, overdraft facilities, mortgages, debit cards and credit cards. Local facilities also often have facilities for people to pay their taxes and utility bills. Although many of the banks do not have specific services for foreigners, some of them specialize in serving the needs of expatriates. Almost all of them are accessible online and through mobile applications.

Below is a list of some of the most popular financial institutions in Mexico.

Banco Nacional de México or Banco De México
Tel: +52 55 5237 2000
URL: www.banxico.org.mx/indexEn.html

BanCoppel
Tel: 1 800 1226 7735; 1 866 254 3790 (from USA and Canada)
URL: www.bancoppel.com/main/index.html

BBVA Bancomer
Tel: 1 800 226 2663
URL: www.bancomer.com/index.jsp

Banamex (also known as Citi Banamex)
Tel: 1 800 021 2345; 1 800 226 2639 (from USA and Canada)
URL: www.banamex.com

Banorte
Telephone: 1 800 226 6783
URL: www.banorte.com

Bank of America
Tel: +52 55 5201 3200
URL: www.bankofamerica.com.mx

HSBC
Tel: +52 55 5721 3390
URL: www.hsbc.com.mx

ING Bank
Tel: +52 55 5258 2129
URL: www.ingwb.com/network-offices/americas/mexico

Santander (commonly known as Banco Santander)
Tel: +52 55 5521 1709; 1 800 501 0000
URL: www.santander.com.mx

Scotia Bank
Tel: +52 55 5728 1900; 1 800 704 5900
URL: www.scotiabank.com.mx

Most websites are in Spanish, but can be translated into your local language using your Internet browser.

Most foreigners choose to bank with organizations that have English-speaking staff or complementary translation services. Very often, foreigners prefer to open their accounts at institutions that have a certain presence in their home countries, either in the form of a branch or affiliation with a local bank. Some contact their local bank in their country to verify which institutions in Mexico are easier to transact with, depending on their requirements. It is best to opt for a bank that has branches and ATMs that can be easily accessed from your home or workplace.

Types of Bank Accounts Available in Mexico

To open a bank account in Mexico you will need a valid ID such as your passport or driver’s license and proof of address. Dollar denominated accounts are only available to U.S. and Canadian citizens or corporations. To open a corporate account you will need all the articles of your constitution and a power of attorney.

You can choose from a wide range of accounts, depending on your requirements, preferences and eligibility. These can generally be classified into the following groups.

Wage Accounts: Almost all employees in Mexico have a basic account called a Payroll Account in which their salaries are directly credited. You will be issued a debit card or ATM card to facilitate access to your money. Banks do not charge fees or commissions for these accounts. The facilities provided to you will also be fairly basic.

Checking accounts: All institutes with retail banking operations can open a basic current account for a foreign resident. With this type of account, you will be asked to maintain a minimum balance. If your account balance is less than this deposit amount, a monetary penalty will be applied. Bank charges may vary, depending on the facilities you choose. Banks often allow only a limited number of free cash withdrawals. Be prepared to pay a fee if you exceed the number of transactions allowed at ATMs. All foreign residents have the option of opening a checking account in pesos or U.S. dollars.

The pesos account is offered to customers of all nationalities. The advantage of this account is that it allows you to earn and manage your finances in the local currency. The minimum opening deposit is not very high; it can vary between 10,000 Pesos (US $ 535; £ 415; € 474) and 20,000 Pesos (US $ 1,070; £ 830; € 948).

Citizens of the U.S. and Canada have the option to operate a checking account in U.S. dollars. However, interest rates are not very attractive and the minimum deposit to keep will vary, depending on the facilities you choose.

Deposit Accounts: Banks in Mexico offer two types of deposit accounts. The first is a “demand deposit account,” in which you are allowed to withdraw your money without notice. You will receive an ATM card or a debit card, which can be used at ATMs and at various points of sale around the world. There is a fee to maintain this account, but that can be avoided by maintaining a minimum balance. Interest rates are usually minimal.

The second type of deposit account requires you to keep your savings for a minimum period of time before you can begin making any withdrawals. The notice period can be between a month and a year. The interest on “notice deposit accounts” is much higher. Rates increase with the notice period.

Investment accounts: Large players in the banking sector often have the option of “market accounts”, which allows the holder to buy and sell shares directly on international markets. The minimum deposit for these accounts is generally 5,000 pesos (US $ 267; £ 207; € 237).

Certificate of deposit: This option offers you the best return on your investments and, at the same time, your money is safe in the issuing bank. Therefore, the minimum deposit to maintain is considerably high. However, please note that you can only trade this account in the local currency.

Premium Accounts: Loyal customers generally have the option of keeping their money in special accounts, with additional benefits such as insurance, interest payments and money-back services. There is a monthly fee for these accounts and the eligibility criteria are also quite strict. You are unlikely to qualify for such an account if you are new to the country or if you are looking for an agreement to meet your short-term needs.

There are differences in fees and charges for each of these accounts. Therefore, it is essential that you explore all available options before deciding what type of account you want to open.

Account opening procedure in Mexico

The fastest way to open and operate your account is to visit the nearest branch of the institution you choose and meet with a representative. This will allow you to check all your options and seek clarification on any doubts you may have. You can also pick up the forms that need to be filled out and get a checklist of the documents you will need to submit. However, it may take more than an hour for you to be seen by someone, depending on the day and time of your visit.

Documentation requirements may vary somewhat from bank to bank, but in most cases, for a standard account you will be asked to provide it:

  • Proof of identity, such as a valid passport or driver’s license (issued in your home country).
  • Proof of immigration status (for residents) or copies of the business visa.
  • Proof of address such as a utility bill or rental agreement.
  • Minimum deposit amount.

To open a bank account for a business establishment, you will be asked to present your company’s constitution and other relevant documents.

how and why to open a US dollar account in mexico

We are all so accustomed to American dollars being accepted in Baja that we forget it is a FOREIGN CURRENCY in Mexico! Imagine entering a restaurant in the United States and trying to pay the bill with pesos! We enter banks in Mexico assuming we should be able to negotiate dollars the same way we do pesos. It doesn’t work that way. If you remember that the U.S. dollar is a foreign currency in Mexico, it will help you a lot to understand the restrictions that are imposed on U.S. dollar accounts.

ADVANTAGES of opening an account:

  • It allows you to keep your money in USD, a traditionally more stable currency.
  • Your bank will offer you a much more favorable exchange rate than local shops or restaurants.

THE CONTRAS of opening an account:

  • A minimum balance of approximately $300 to $1000 is required or a monthly fee will be charged.
  • U.S. citizens must formally declare their foreign bank account in their taxes through the FBAR form.

REQUIREMENTS FOR OPENING A BANK ACCOUNT IN MEXICO

Although you may find these banks in Canada or the United States, they are not interconnected. Some may offer reduced fees for international bank transfers, although you are transferring money from your HSBC account in Mexico to your HSBC account in Canada. The following is a summary of your different requirements and offers as of September 2017.

HSBC / SCOTIABANK / SANTENDER / BANCOMER

Valid passport
Current Immigration Visa
Recent utility bill in your name. Accepted are water, CFE, Telmex. If you are renting and the bill is in the landlord’s name, take the original rental agreement with you.

NOTES:

SANTENDER does not require your Immigration Visa but will ask you for 2 personal references with telephone numbers in Mexico.

HSBC also requires an active peso account in Mexico that is more than 6 months old in any recognized Mexican banking institution.

Only SANTENDER and BANCOMER will open a U.S. dollar account on the spot. SCOTIABANK may take up to 72 hours to approve the account and HSBC will take between 15 business days and 3 months.

TIPS FOR THE INTERIOR:

For a smooth process, make sure your name on your utility bill matches the format of your name on your passport. If you are submitting the rental agreement because the utility bill is in the owner’s name, you can also bring a copy of your IFE if you are Mexican or passport if you are American or Canadian.
If this is a joint account with your spouse, pay attention to who they put as “HOLDER”, or owner of the account, as only that person will be approved for most of the activity in the account.

MINIMUM AMOUNT REQUIRED TO OPEN AN ACCOUNT

Banks do not normally accept U.S. dollars in cash to open an account. Come prepared with a check or be ready to initiate a wire transfer. If it is a U.S. or Canadian check, it may take several days or even up to 3 weeks for the funds to become available. The amount required to open the account varies from bank to bank:

HSBC: $500 USD. If the account falls below that, you will be charged between $20 and $30 per month.

SCOTIABANK: $1000 USD. There is a monthly service charge of $35 USD, and if the account falls below the minimum balance of $1000, you will be charged an additional charge of $20 per month.

BANCOMER: $300 USD for a debit card account only and $600 USD for a debit account + checking account. If any type of account falls below the initial balance, you will be charged $15 per month.

SANTANDER: $1000 USD. If the account falls below that, you will be charged $20 per month.

ONLINE BANKING

HSBC / SANTANDER / BANCOMER: These 3 banks do not charge an additional fee for access to online banking. The restrictions are much stricter on dollar transfers than on peso transfers. Most banks only allow you to transfer dollars to another dollar account within the same bank. So, if you need to pay someone in dollars at a different bank, you will usually have to write a check.

SCOTIABANK: Scotiabank does not offer online banking for U.S. dollar accounts.

ATM WITHDRAWALS

Only HSBC offers ATM withdrawals in Los Cabos on any of these machines:

San José – the HSBC branch ATM at Plaza Las Velas (behind La Comer)
Cabo – the Walmart ATM

BRANCH RETREATS

This is where banks vary the most!

HSBC: Up to the equivalent of 70,000 pesos per day. Bring your Immigration Visa along with your Passport and debit card.

ESCOTIABANCO: Up to the equivalent of $500,000 pesos per day. Bring your debit card and passport.

BANCOMER: Up to the equivalent of 8,000 pesos a day. Bring your debit card and passport.

SANTANDER: Santander does not dispense dollars in its offices. You can move your dollars through online transfers or checks.

INTERNATIONAL WIRE TRANSFERS

Online: Both SANTANDER and BANCOMER offer online wire transfers right when you open your account. Your fees range from $35 to $40 USD to send. A separate fee applies to receive when you receive a draft. HSBC offers this feature after a 6 month waiting period for $40 USD.

SCOTIABANK only allows international wire transfers to be handled directly at the bank branch.

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