Can a Tourist open a Filipino Bank Account

Can a Tourist open a Filipino Bank Account

Using the ATM with a European MasterCard is a costly affair. The max amount of withdrawal is 10,000 pesos per transaction and the withdrawal and intercharge fee is around 10 euro each time, add to that the exchange rate and the fact that each time you use your card the bank might consider blocking it due to ‘suspicious transactions’, one might wonder if there are easier ways to get to your money when living abroad.

But since I’m living int his country on a tourist visa, I wasn’t sure about that, and reading other foreigners experience about opening a bankaccount in the Philippines on message boards I wasn’t quite hopeful I could be successful in opening one myself.

So one day I found the courage to step into a BDO office one of the many banks available in the Philippines. After doing some research on costumer-experiences and overall prestige of banks in the Philippines I decided I wanted an account at BDO Unibank Inc, commonly known as BDO or Banco de Oro.

BDO Unibank, the largest bank in the Philippines. It belongs to the SM Group of Companies, one of the country’s largest conglomerates owned by tycoon Henry Sy. Their main competitors are BPI and Metrobank. Considering either one of these three large banks in the Philippines, I liked BDO besides their overall good performance, for their new slogan: We make it happen.

Let’s see if they could make it happen for me!

The friendly young lady at the counter told me that all I need to open a pesos online bank account is:

  • 2 different government approved ID’s with a signature clearly shown
  • 2 1×1 size passport photos

That’s all.

There are a lot of forms to fill out and to sign once the procedure of opening an internet banking account started:

  • Personal details
  • Signature card
  • Card Application Form for Local ATM Card or BDO MasterCard Debet Card
  • Terms Of Service (the actual contract with BDO)
  • Annex 1 Facta questionnaire for foreigners

The first four are simple, just fill them out, they are pretty standard bank forms that you will probably recognise from your local bank ‘back home’.

The Annex 1 Facta

The Annex 1 Facta is a special form that all foreigners have to fill out. Due to international agreements between the USA and the Philippines on money laundry and tax invasion.
For non USA citizens or those with no financial connections to the USA it is simple, you probably answer all the questions with ‘no’, sign it and you’re done. But when you have any (financial) connection with the United States and answer one of the questions with ‘yes’ you have to apply with more detailed information.

To be honest: I have no idea what the implications are when you have (financial) ties with the USA and no other answer was given than: Due to agreements between the USA and the Philippines. But I guess it is no more than it appears to be: making sure all finances and taxes for the USA are accounted for.

Make a deposit and wrap things up

After filling out all the forms and signing them you are to sit in front of a webcam to have your picture taken at 3,2,1,……smile! . Next you are¬†asked to make a minimum deposit of 2000 pesos. You receive a copy of the deposit slip and there it is: your account number. After 5 working days you can collect your ATM card.

Due to international money laundry rules and agreements there are strict rules on over the counter cash deposits. And because every country might have its’s own rules it is my advice to you to ask how much cash money you can deposit over which period.


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