March 16, 2024

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Opening A Bank Account in Chile: Guide 2024

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Opening A Bank Account in Chile: Guide 2024

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Opening a bank account in Chile can be a practical and beneficial step for both residents and non-residents alike. In 2021, the percentage of Chileans with an account at a bank or other financial institution rose to nearly 87%, marking an increase from 74% in 2017. 

Whether you are a foreigner relocating to Chile, an expatriate, a student, or a business owner looking to operate in the country, having a local bank account offers several advantages.

Firstly, it provides a convenient way to manage your finances, receive payments, and make transactions in the local currency, Chilean pesos (CLP). This can be particularly useful for day-to-day expenses, paying bills, and conducting business operations. Additionally, having a local bank account can facilitate smoother interactions with local authorities as well as help establish a financial footprint in Chile.

The banking system in Chile is known for its stability and sophistication. The country's financial sector is regulated by the Comisión Para El Mercado Financier (CMF), which ensures compliance with international standards and best practices. Chile has a well-developed infrastructure of both domestic and international banks, offering a wide range of services to cater to different needs and preferences.

Chilean banks provide various types of accounts, including savings accounts, checking accounts, and specialized accounts for businesses. They also offer a range of financial products and services, such as credit cards, loans, investment options, and insurance products. Many banks in Chile have embraced technological advancements, providing online and mobile banking platforms for convenient access to account information and transactions.

In this context, understanding the process and requirements for opening a bank account in Chile is essential. This may involve providing identification documents, proof of residency, and, in some cases, demonstrating a source of income. 

Overall, having a bank account in Chile can enhance your financial flexibility and integration into the local economy, making it a valuable asset for individuals and businesses alike. Moreover, for individuals with long-term residency, particularly those holding an investor visa, maintaining a local bank account may be a requisite.

Best Banks in Chile for Foreigners

According to the Banker's top bank in Chile ranking, Banco Santander Chile is the country's largest bank by Tier 1 capital, followed by Banco de Chile, Banco de Credito e Inversiones, BancoEstado and Banco Itau Chile. As of December 2022, Chile had 1,603 bank branches, a decrease from 1,734 in 2021 and 1,900 in 2020. The most foreigner-friendly banks in Chile are:

Bank Additional Information
Scotiabank Chile 7th largest bank in Chile
A partnership with Bank of America allows customers to use their debit card with no transaction fees
Bank of America and Scotiabank customers also avoid ATM operator fees
Member of the Global ATM Alliance, potentially reducing international ATM fees
Offers basic checking and savings accounts
Provides overdraft protection and lines of credit
Santander Chile The largest bank in Chile by deposits
A subsidiary of Santander Group, recognized in Europe
Offers basic checking and savings accounts
Allows customers to accumulate airline miles for certain types of transactions
Banco Estado Named one of the safest banks in Latin America
Lower ATM fees compared to many other banks in Chile
Allows withdrawals of over 550,000 pesos for an approximate fee of 4,000 pesos
Offers basic savings and checking accounts
Some accounts have no annual maintenance fees
Provides an overdraft protection and line of credit for emergencies

As an expat in Chile, it's recommended that you consider utilizing an international branch or partner of your home bank to facilitate smoother banking experiences. Prior to your departure, inform your bank about your travel plans and ensure you have both debit and credit cards at your disposal to avoid any potential issues.

Requirements for Opening a Bank Account in Chile

Opening a bank account in Chile as a foreigner typically involves providing certain documents and meeting specific requirements. The general requirements are as outlined below:

1. Residency Status

Some banks may require proof of your legal residency status in Chile. This could include a visa, residence permit, or other relevant documentation. You need to check with the specific bank to understand their requirements and ensure a smooth application process.

2. Valid Passport

A valid passport is usually a basic requirement for identification purposes. Ensure that your passport has sufficient validity ( at least 1 year) remaining before embarking on any international travel or official transactions.

3. Temporary Identification Card (RUN)

Foreigners staying in Chile for an extended period may need to obtain a Temporary Identification Card (RUN - Rol Único Nacional). This is a unique identification number assigned to residents and is often required for banking purposes.

4. Proof of Address

Some banks may ask for proof of your address in Chile. This could be a utility bill or rental agreement in your name. Make sure the document is recent and displays your current address to meet the bank's verification requirements.

5. Proof of Income

Banks may require proof of income, such as a work contract or payslips. This is to ensure that you have a source of funds to cover your expenses and transactions. Providing clear and up-to-date documentation can facilitate a smoother approval process for various financial services.

6. Reference Letter

Some banks may request a reference letter from your employer or a personal reference. This is to establish your credibility and financial stability. The letter should include relevant details about your character, financial responsibility, and any other information that may support your application.

7. Tax Identification Number (RUT)

You may need to obtain a Tax Identification Number (RUT - Rol Único Tributario) from the Chilean Tax Service (SII), which is essential for various financial transactions in Chile. You have to initiate the RUT application process early, as it can take some time to complete, and having a valid RUT is crucial for complying with tax regulations and conducting financial activities in the country.

8. Bank-Specific Forms

Each bank may have its own set of application forms that you need to fill out. These forms typically collect personal information and details about your financial situation. Carefully review and complete these forms accurately, as any discrepancies or missing information may delay the processing of your application.

9. Minimum Deposit

Some banks may require an initial deposit to open the account. The amount varies between banks. The required initial deposit can vary significantly, beginning at USD 50 for personal accounts and USD 1,000 for corporate accounts.

10. In-Person Visit

In many cases, you may need to visit the bank in person to complete the account opening process. This is to verify your identity and provide any additional information required. You should check with the specific bank beforehand to schedule an appointment and ensure you have all necessary documents for a seamless experience.

Can I Open a Bank Account in Chile as a Non-Resident?

Yes, you can open a bank account in Chile as a non-resident only with a stock brokerage. It is crucial to be aware that certain banks might have specific criteria regarding the type of visa or residency status needed to open an account, especially for non-citizens. They may also require applicants to be physically present for the Know Your Customer (KYC) procedure.

Can I Open a Bank Account in Chile Online?

No, you generally cannot open a bank account in Chile online. You have to personally appear at a branch, present the required documentation, and respond to a series of compliance-related inquiries. However, some banks may offer limited online account opening options, so it is worth checking with specific banks for their latest procedures.

Can I Open a Bank Account in Chile From the USA?

No, you cannot open a bank account in Chile from the USA. In most cases, a physical visit is required. Typically, banks will not facilitate the opening of an account for an expatriate unless they have been residents for at least 2 years. If you meet these eligibility criteria, you will be required to provide a Chilean ID card as well as your tax identification number, referred to as your "Rol Unico Tributario" (RUT).

How to Open a Bank Account in Chile: Step-by-Step Process

The following are the steps involved in opening a bank account in Chile: 

Step 1: Choose Your Bank

Commence the process by researching and selecting a bank in Chile that fits your financial needs. Confirm that the chosen bank aligns with your preferences and provides the services you require.

Step 2: Gather Required Documents

Before initiating the account opening, ensure you have all necessary documents, such as your passport, Chilean visa or residence permit, proof of address, and proof of income or employment, as specified by the selected bank.

Step 3: Visit the Bank in Person

Arrange a visit to the bank's branch for a personal meeting. Most banks mandate this face-to-face interaction. Be prepared for an interview or consultation with a bank representative, and submit the necessary documents for a thorough review.

Step 4: Select an Account Type

Discuss your financial objectives with the bank representative to determine the most suitable account type, whether it's a savings account, checking account, or currency account.

Step 5: Review and Sign Documents

Carefully review all provided documents, including the account agreement and terms and conditions. If everything is satisfactory, sign the required paperwork to proceed with the account opening.

Step 6: Receive Your Account Details

Upon successfully opening the account, you will receive vital details such as your account number and any associated cards (debit or credit).

Step 7: Opt for Online Banking (If Available)

Consider setting up online access if the bank offers online banking services for convenient account management.

Step 8: Learn YourAccount Fees and Policies

Familiarize yourself with any associated fees, such as monthly maintenance fees, transaction fees, and minimum balance requirements.

Step 9: Make Initial Deposit and Manage Your Account

If the bank requires an initial deposit, make the required funds available to activate your account. Keep track of your account's activity and follow all fees and policies to ensure its smooth operation.

4 Tips for Opening a Bank Account in Chile from Golden Harbors

Establishing a bank account in Chile, whether you are a resident or a foreigner, can be a straightforward process if you adhere to the correct steps. Based on our insights, here are 4 tips to assist you in navigating the process of opening a bank account in Chile:

  1. Select the Appropriate Bank

Explore and select a bank that aligns with your requirements and is recognized for its foreign-friendly services. Much like in Colombia, prominent Chilean banks such as Banco de Chile and Santander Chile are known for their openness to international clients, especially those looking to initiate business activities in Chile. Take into account factors such as branch accessibility, available services, and associated account fees.

  1. Comprehend Account Options

Chile provides a variety of bank accounts, including savings accounts, checking accounts, and currency accounts. Engage with the bank staff to discuss your financial needs and objectives, enabling you to choose the account type that best suits your requirements. Ensure a clear understanding of associated fees, encompassing monthly maintenance fees, transaction charges, and any minimum balance prerequisites.

  1. Address Language Barriers

Although many bank employees in Chile may have some proficiency in English, it is advisable to possess at least a basic understanding of Spanish or enlist the assistance of a Spanish-speaking professional. This facilitates a smoother account opening process and enhances your ability to manage finances effectively and communicate with the bank in the future.

  1. Seek Legal Guidance

When establishing a bank account in Chile, especially as a foreigner, it is prudent to seek legal advice or consult with a knowledgeable professional familiar with local regulations. The Golden Harbors team can offer specific insights into legal requirements, necessary documentation, and any unique considerations pertinent to your situation. This ensures compliance with relevant laws and regulations, contributing to a seamless and successful experience when opening a bank account in Chile.

Chile

Residence Benefits

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Fast application processing

3-4 months

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Global mobility and freedom

international business expansion, entry into the South American market, and setting up a company in Chile allow you to get a residence permit through a business for the whole family

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Access to quality healthcare & education

Residents have access to Chile's healthcare system, which is one of the best in Latin America. Additionally, there are opportunities for quality education, both for the permit holder and their dependents

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Global mobility and freedom

a residence permit is issued with the rights to work, do business and study in Chile

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An opportunity to live in Chile

no residence limits

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Global mobility and freedom

option to purchase commercial and residential real estate with an annual return of up to 5%

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The clear path to citizenship

residents can apply for Chilean citizenship if they have been in Chile for 5 years

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Global mobility and freedom

there is no need to renounce your previous citizenship when obtaining a Chilean passport

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Residence for the whole family

family members (spouse, financially dependent parents, and children) can apply for a residence permit together with the main applicant

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Global mobility and freedom

Chile has a favorable tax regime, with low taxes and generous incentives for foreign investors

Chile

Residence Permit

Processing Time and Terms

Enter your estimated application start date for the Chilean Residence Permit and receive a clear timetable for each step

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Sign a service agreement with Golden Harbors, pay the initial service and due diligence fees, and fill out application forms

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Prepare the necessary documentation for your chosen residency category

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Arrive in Santiago and apply for a temporary residence permit. Submit all the documents to the Chilean Immigration Department (Departamento de Extranjería)

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Government due diligence check, application review, and final approval

30

Get your Residence Permit card, rent an apartment, and register your presence at the Local Police Station.

There are Always Options to EXPAND YOUR BOUNDARIES! Let's Discuss Yours

Every client is unique

Every case requires an individual approach and solution. Our years of experience in the industry allow us to provide both.

We will answer all your questions and provide detailed information about the available second passport and residency programs to help you make the right choice.

Victoria

Lead Attorney at Golden Harbors

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Victoria

Lead Attorney at Golden Harbors