Moving to Poland? New to the country and not sure where to begin? Here's what to know about opening a bank account as an expat in Poland.
July 15, 2021 — 11 min read
As an expat in Poland, choosing the right bank for your international money management needs may seem tricky. So, we created this guide which contains all the key information you need to know about choosing the right bank in Poland and all you need to get started with your account.
If you’re already residing in Poland, opening a bank account can be very easy. Even if you’re yet to travel to Poland, some Polish banks allow non-residents to open bank accounts online from their home country.
Though you’re not legally required to open a local bank account in Poland as an expat in the country, having one can make it easier to make payments for some local services such as rents and utilities, and will give you a place to keep Polish Zloty.
If you choose any of the traditional banks in Poland, the process of opening an account is as easy as walking into any of their branches with the required documents.
However, most of the banks in Poland will request a PESEL number (Universal Electronic System for Registration of the Population), and proof of residency before opening an account for expats in the country.
You should also consider the processing and waiting time it takes for your application to be endorsed and for the account to be completely operational. Most often than not, the average wait time could be between five days and two weeks. That included the time required to deliver the credit/debit cards.
So, consider opening a bank account as soon as you can if you’re going to need some banking services right away in Poland. Because as any expat knows—once you move, you’ll have to start spending money on new expenses right away.
Opening a bank account is easier if you have an address in Poland. As mentioned earlier, some banks can allow you to open a bank account even if you’re a non-resident. In such cases, video verification may be required.
Another option is sending you some of the documents to sign via post. The postman may be authorized to verify your identity.
If you’re an expat in Poland still learning to speak Polish or even if you can’t speak it at all, keep in mind that many banks in Poland have English-speaking employees that can help with whatever you need.
Even if you contact the bank via phone, customer support center, or walk into a local branch, you’ll have access to English-speaking employees who can help with whatever you need.
Most banks often choose the documents to request from expats before approving bank account applications. Regardless of the bank you choose, the following are the key documents you may be asked to provide while opening a bank account in Poland:
Proof of identity (either a national I.D. card or a passport with your PESEL number)
Proof of address
Proof of income (such as recent payslips)
Phone number (this may be international)
You may be required to provide information indicating if you’re subject to Polish tax laws or not. If you intend to live in Poland for over 180 days in a calendar year, you’re required to pay taxes. These are some of the key things you’ll have to consider while opening a bank account in Poland.
Once you start considering available options, you’ll easily figure out that some banking services match your needs better than others. The following are the key things to consider before choosing any bank in Poland:
While many banks in Poland have employees that speak the English language, you shouldn’t conclude that every bank in the country has one. So, before choosing any bank in Poland, find out if they offer services in the English language.
You’ll find it easier to fill out the banking forms and other similar documents if they are offered in the English language. Also, access to other key communication channels in the English language is crucial. That includes mobile apps, customer support, and website content.
Several of the online, mobile, and international banks in Poland often have English-speaking employees who are always excited to help.
Some banks in Poland request low charges for international transfers. While others offer free withdrawal services worldwide as well as free ATM services. In addition, you may get credit cards and overdraft facilities as part of the perks of some banks.
Your best bet is to compare the services of various banks before making up your mind. If you’re going to need a lot of international transfers, choosing a bank that offers free or lower charges for such transfers might be a good option.
How easily can you access the banking services you need? Do you need a 24/7 banking service or just a few hours a day? If you need banking services that you can access anytime and anywhere in Poland, online and mobile banks are your best bet, though several other banks in the county also offer similar services.
Charges are most likely one of the key things you’ll have to consider before choosing any bank in Poland. Some of the services that are free in certain banks may require a fee in other banks. You’ll have to find out if the charges you’ll end up paying for a bank won’t be too high compared to the cost of similar services in other banks.
Each of the banks in Poland has its own ATM and you may find about 20,000 ATMs across the country. You’ll most likely pay an additional fee if you withdraw cash from another bank’s ATM.
Most banks offer prepaid cards to their customers once their accounts are opened. Some banks’ smartphone apps allow access to cinema halls and public transport as well as instant withdrawals without cards.
How can you manage your bank account conveniently as an expat in Poland? While some banks in Poland have several branches across the country, some only have a few branches. Even more, some banks offer their services online.
Before choosing any bank, find out how you’ll end up managing the account to figure out if it’s convenient for you or not. The following are the key methods of managing a bank account in Poland:
These are banking services that are often offered by traditional banks with several branches across the country. You can easily walk into any of the bank’s branches to request services such as filling out a form or for customer support.
However, many of these banks also have websites and mobile apps where you can access some services online. These banks offer some of the most convenient methods of managing your account as an expat in Poland.
Do you prefer banking in the comfort of your home or office? Or would you like to manage your bank account while you’re in transit anywhere across Poland? Then online banking may be your best option.
Online banking services mean having 100% access to your bank accounts from anywhere in the country via the internet. You can easily access any banking services you want conveniently without bothering to visit the physical location of any bank.
Some banks in Poland offer mobile banking services. These banks often have mobile apps that customers can download and install on smart devices like smartphones and tablets.
That means customers can use the bank’s services on the go similar to online banking. Mobile banking is one of the easiest methods of managing your account as an expat in Poland.
Which are the best banks in Poland for expats?
Poland is home to several top-quality banks offering various banking services. As an expat in the country, choosing just one bank may seem tricky considering that there are up to 600 banks in the country.
Here are the best banks for expats in Poland:
In terms of assets, PKO BP is rated as the largest bank in Poland. Also, in central and eastern Europe, PKO BP is rated as one of the leading financial groups. PKO BP provides private banking services to businesses and individuals including expats in Poland. PKO BP is rated as one of the best banks for expats in Poland.
Bank millennium offers various banking services to more than 1.6 million individual customers including expats in Poland. The bank also provides banking services to about 13,000 corporate customers.
Bank Millennium has more than 700 branches and uses state-of-the-art technologies for mobile, online, and phone banking. Bank Millennium is currently one of the best expat banks in Poland.
Santander Bank Polska is rated as the fourth-largest bank in Poland in terms of the branch network. The bank has a broad network that services about 3.5 million customers. Considering its broad network, Santander Bank Polska is one of the best expat banks in Poland.
mBank is rated as the sixth-largest universal banking group in Poland by asset and loans. This banking group offers several banks and financial solutions which include investment banking, wealth management, leasing, retail and corporate banking, insurance, corporate finance, and advisory services.
Getin Noble Bank offers retail and commercial banking services including asset management, investment banking, and private banking services. Rated as the twelfth-largest bank in Poland in terms of assets and 13th in terms of a number of branches, Getin Noble Bank, is one of the best expat banks in Poland.
In 2012, Alior Bank made history when it was listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange and was valued at PLN 2.1 billion. That was the highest offering in Poland’s stock Exchange history. The bank is currently the tenth-largest financial group in Poland. Alior Bank is currently one of the best expat banks in Poland.
Citi Handlowy is currently owned by Citigroup and is rated as one of the best expat banks in Poland. This bank is one of the oldest banks in Poland and Europe. Citi Handlowy is rated as the tenth-largest bank in Poland. The bank is also rated 18th based on the number of branches.
As soon as your bank account is up as an expat in Poland, you may want to send money from your old account to your new account so you have some funds for your new home. Transferring money to your home country for any reason via Xe will be a smooth process. The best part is you can open an Xe account right away to get started.
If you’d like to send some money back to your home country or anywhere other countries as an international transfer, will you get the best exchange rate for the transaction with your new bank? There’s no guarantee for that.
Are there any better options?
You can easily take advantage of Xe’s top-quality service. Xe allows users to send money to over 130 countries across the world and over 98 major currencies.
The exchange rates are competitive and the fees are minimal and clearly outlined to you before you confirm your transfer, making Xe a cost-effective way to send money overseas.
Our services are available around the clock 24/7 and 365 days a year. You don’t have to wait for the banks to be open or closed to have access to certain services. In fact, you can download the Xe mobile app or access the service on your personal computer or tablet.
Sounds like one of the services you need? Here’s how to get started:
Enter the currencies you’d like to exchange and the amount to get your quote.
Enter your recipient’s information name, address, bank name, bank account number, bank code, and BIC/SWIFT code. (If you’re transferring to your own account, select that option and put your own details in here.)
Choose your payment method and enter the required details (Xe allows you to use bank transfer, card payment, or direct debit).
Verify all the details to ensure that you’ve entered them correctly, and click on send to complete the transfer.