If you’ve moved to Mexico for work, to study, or simply to explore the country for a while, you’ll need a bank account you can use for day to day spending. Opening a local account can make it easier to sort out essentials like a cell phone or internet service, and cut your costs, too.
This guide covers all you need to know about opening a bank account in Mexico, including the documents you’ll need and the banks and online providers you can choose from.
How can I open a bank account in Mexico?
If you have decided to get yourself a local account in Mexico, you’ll first need to do some research online to find the right bank and account product for your needs. Opening an account may require you to visit a branch, to present your documents and hand over an initial opening deposit. However, some banks such as BBVA do offer digital accounts which can be opened online or using your cell phone. We’ll talk a little more about how to get an account set up in Mexico a little later.
If you’re visiting a branch in person to open your account, it’s worth checking in advance what paperwork to bring along, and avoiding the busy times of day. In many banks you’ll need to take a ticket and wait your turn for attention, rather than making a fixed appointment in advance. Make sure your chosen branch has English speaking staff, or take along a translator if your Spanish isn’t up to scratch.
What documents do I need?
To open a bank account in Mexico you will have to provide some paperwork.
For example, if you’re a foreigner looking to open a basic payroll account with HSBC in Mexico, you can expect to need:
- Valid passport
- Proof of residence, such as a utility bill, dated within the last 3 months
- Additional proof of legal status, such as your FM2 visa or residence card
Each bank will have their own requirements, so it’s important to check this before you head out to open your account. For example, while the basic account from HSBC does not ask for an opening deposit, this is a common requirement. Some accounts also ask for personal references, which must be provided by individuals from outside your household.
How long does it take to open a bank account?
The length of time you need to wait to use your account will depend on the bank and account type you choose. If you visit a branch to get started, you might have to wait a day or two to get your debit card, for example. However, if you choose a digital account from a provider like BBVA, or the SuperDigital account from Santander you may be able to use it right away.
These accounts can be opened online, and you may even be able to make cardless withdrawals using your cell phone, with no need to wait for your debit card to be delivered.
Can I open an account online?
To open many of the accounts offered by Mexico’s largest banks you’ll need to go to a branch and complete documentation. However, there are a few specialist accounts which can be opened online, such as the SuperDigital account from Santander. It’s worth noting that these digital accounts may not have the same functionality as some of the regular accounts on offer, so you will want to check the features thoroughly before you choose one.
Another option is to get a digital account before you travel to Mexico, such as the multi-currency account from TransferWise. This account lets you hold over 50 currencies, including pesos, and send and receive payments all over the world. You’ll get many of the features of a regular account, such as a linked debit card, and can access your money on the move with the TransferWise app.
A digital multi-currency account like this is especially useful if you don’t have the right bills in your name to provide proof of residence in Mexico. You’ll usually be able to open your account using your passport as proof of identity, and with no need to visit a bank branch in person.
Banks in Mexico
Many of the largest banks operating in Mexico are global brands which have branches around the world. If you’re looking to open a peso account, it’s worth checking if your regular bank has a presence in Mexico. If it does, it might make the process of getting your account open easier.
Let’s take a look at some of the biggest banks in Mexico:
- Banamex (partially present in Europe, North America, Middle East, Africa, Asia/Australia, Latin America)
- BBVA Bancomer (present in the United States and Spain)
- Banorte (present in the United States)
- Bank of America (present in Europe, North America, Latin America, Middle East, Africa and Asia/Australia)
- HSBC (present in Europe, North America, Asia/Australia, North Africa & Middle East)
- ING Bank (present in Europe, the United States, Argentina/Brazil/Mexico, Asia/Australia)
- Santander (present in Europe, North America, Asia/Australia & Latin America)
- Scotiabank (present in Europe, North America, Asia/Australia & Latin America)
Looking for the best bank in Mexico?
Choosing the right bank and account product for you will require some research. There are many different options, and the features and fees associated with accounts vary widely. Take some time to think about how you intend to use the account, to make sure you get the best one for your needs. Here are some pointers to consider:
- Does your chosen bank have branches close to your home, school or work?
- What are the bank’s opening hours?
- If your Spanish is lacking, are English speaking staff available to help you?
- How many ATMs can you use for free withdrawals, and are they convenient for you to access?
- What is the opening deposit, and are there any ongoing fees to pay?
- How much does your bank charge for transactions you’ll make frequently, such as international payments or wire transfers?
- Is the online banking service comprehensive and easy to use?
Good tips to know
Ready to get your account opened? Here are a few final tips to make sure everything goes smoothly.
- Most banks open Monday to Friday, from 9am to 4pm, although some branches will also open on a Saturday morning
- You may be charged tax on large cash deposits, but bank transfers and checks are not taxed
- There may be a fee to use another bank’s ATM for a withdrawal, so make sure your chosen bank has ATMs in convenient locations for you
- Check which documents your bank accepts as proof of address – usually a home telephone, water or electricity bill is required, but cell phone or TV bills are not acceptable
- If you’re in Mexico as a short term student or business traveller, you may need additional documentation to open your account. Check the details with your chosen bank
Having a local bank account can help you settle into life in Mexico, and cut your costs. Do a little research to find the right account for your needs, and don’t forget to consider a full range of options, including getting a multi-currency account before you travel, to manage your money no matter where you are.