Expatriate banking: How to open a Nigerian bank account as an expat

Only CBN can direct us on old Naira notes — Banks

Nigeria is the biggest economy in Africa (by GDP) and the biggest country in Africa (by population). It is home to many multinational companies and a large expat community. Whether you are coming to work or a frequent visitor, having a local bank account may be essential, as it makes your life simpler and cheaper.

Nigerian banks have two categories of bank accounts for non-residents:

  • Diaspora banking or non-resident banking is for Nigerians resident outside Nigeria.
  • Expatriate account for foreigners resident in Nigeria. This encompasses a portfolio of products and services designed for African expatriates in Africa, Non-Africans in Africa and Africans outside Africa. Also with the African footprint of several Nigerian banks, Africans can be connected to their home country within the same banking network.
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Most banks do not require an opening balance or minimum operating balance. You can make instant cash transfers, including international cash transfers between your home country accounts and other parties. You also have access to other technology-driven features like USSD, mobile banking, internet banking and you will be issued bank cards (debit and prepaid cards by MasterCard, Visa etc.)

You also have access to competitive interest rates, access finance and mortgage, investing in treasury bills, fixed deposits and other money market products. Rates of return in Nigeria is much higher compared to the West. What you can do may differ from bank to bank.

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How to open a personal expatriate bank account

Opening the account is a straightforward process requiring standard know your customer (KYC) documents (as required by the Central Bank of Nigeria) as shown below:

  • International Passport with a Resident Permit, Work Permit or valid visa
  • Passport Photographs (one or two)
  • Proof of Address (Utility Bill Not Exceeding Last 2 Months/ Last 6 Months Bank Statement)
  • Proof of Source of Funds (Recent Pay Slip/ Work Id/ Letter of Reference from Current Bankers/ Business Registration Documents If Self Employed)
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Typically the account opening is done in person. This is to confirm your identity visually – that your first and the face in your ID documents match.

Simply approach the Customer Service desk of the bank and you will be provided with the required forms to fill and documentation to provide. This is also available (downloadable) from each bank’s website.

When all documentation has been submitted and verified, your account will be opened within a couple of business days, and you will be provided with your account details and access to online/mobile banking.

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