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How to open a business bank account in Europe

If you’re based in the UK but doing business in Europe, setting up a European business bank account is a simple way to ensure that you’re able to transact within your country of choice. Each country’s banking system is different, and banks may offer different services depending on what type of company you run. Want to learn a little more? Here’s our comprehensive guide to opening a European business bank account.

What do I need to set up an account?

The type of bank account you’ll need will depend on whether your business is classified as a sole trader, a partnership, a not-for-profit company, or a limited liability company.

For example, if you’re running a limited liability company, many European banks will require you to deposit a certain amount of capital in a business account, which will enable you to register your company as a business entity in that country. Capital requirements will vary from country to country, and generally speaking, you won’t be able to access this deposit until your company has been registered formally by the local authorities. To find out more about registering your country overseas, see this detailed guide from Gov.co.uk.

The required documents for opening a European business bank account vary depending on the country you want to open a bank account in. Generally, you’ll be required to provide proof of identification and proof of residence, as well as other documents such as articles of incorporation. To find out specifically which documents you’ll need to bring, you should check with the bank. It’s also possible that the bank will require credit checks and references before you’re able to formally open the account.

Since the requirements of setting up a European business bank account vary so much between different countries, we’ve put together a quick overview of what you need to know about setting up a business bank account in a couple of different European countries:

Opening a business bank account in Ireland

The rules around opening a business bank account in Ireland with a foreign entity are complex, so you’ll need to discuss your situation with your chosen bank before progressing. The exact documents you’ll need to present depends on what type of account you choose, but you’ll probably need to produce most of the following documents:

  • Two forms of ID (including at least one photo ID)

  • Proof of business location

  • Valid bank mandate form

  • Certificate of Business Name

  • Signature samples (from everyone with authority to use the account)

  • Opening deposit

  • The Memorandum and Articles of Association, and Certificate of Incorporation (limited companies only)

  • Evidence of Partnership (partnerships only)

Opening a business bank account in Switzerland

Foreign entities can open corporate bank accounts in Switzerland. However, because banks are obligated to comply with 'Know Your Customer' regulations and ensure that your business’s funds are legitimate, pre-authorisation checks can be complex. Each bank has different standards regarding what documents you’ll need to open an account, but at the most basic level, you’ll need to provide proof of identity and full personal information about you and any other business owners. Banks may also ask you about further details regarding your business, including

  • Business registration details

  • How you are planning to use the account

  • Future plans for the business

  • Nature of the business

Opening a business bank account in Germany

Non-residents can open a business bank account in Germany, but due to the country’s rigid banking regulations, there are several important requirements that you’ll need to meet. Banks may also wish to check your credit history, which may be difficult if you do not have a history of business in the country. Required documents vary depending on the specifics of your company, but generally, you will need to prepare the following:

  • Explanation of the business’s shareholding structure

  • Certificate of company registration

  • Business plan

Opening a business bank account in Malta

To find out whether non-residents can open a business bank account in Malta, you should get in touch with the specific bank you’re interested in banking with. Generally, you’ll need to provide the following documents to open a Malta business bank account:

  • Details of shareholders, directors, and beneficial owners

  • Company documentation (registration, business plan, etc.)

  • Reference from present bank

Setting up a euro business account

If you would prefer to take a simpler approach to doing business with European countries, you may want to consider setting up a euro business account (sometimes referred to as a multi-currency business bank account) instead. Essentially, a euro business account enables you to hold euro currency balances and send payments internationally. It offers all the usual banking services and makes the process of trading with European countries much more convenient, which could make a euro business account a viable alternative to setting up a corporate account with an overseas bank.

Using an agent to open a European business bank account

Because the process of opening an overseas business bank account as a non-resident is relatively complex, it may be a good idea to hire an agent to handle the set-up process. There are many different in-country agents who can help you navigate the complex process of finding a suitable bank, ensuring that you’re able to do business in Europe simply and effectively.

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