Most banks in the country provide a number of financial services ranging from daily banking to complex wealth management and leasing and factoring services. The largest and best banks are usually subsidiaries and affiliates of Scandinavian banking groups. However, some banks are Estonian-owned or have their owners based in other countries. The four largest banks within the territory are Swedbank, SEB, Luminor, and LHV. Students studying in any accredited institution in the country require financial services and these can only be accessed by opening a bank account. A student without a Temporary Residence Permit is not allowed to open an Estonian bank account for free. The opening fees range from 100 to 200 euros, but it depends on the bank and one’s citizenship. Paying a fee is a result of the anti-money laundering laws and restrictions against opening bank accounts for non-residents.
Opening an account
For those in the country on a D-visa and who do not have a TRP yet, open an account with either of the following online banks or financial service providers: N26, Revolut, or Wise. Most of them give free accounts with no monthly charges as well as a European IBAN which allows one to receive and send bank transfers in the nation. Those with TRP and EU citizens registered as residents here can open an account in Estonia without any major issues. Traditional banks operating within this country have bank cards and offer benefits aimed at students and youths. An Estonian bank account is called a pangakonto, and it comes with an International Bank Account Number (IBAN), used to transfer money for free to other countries in the Single Euro Payment Area (SEPA) including all European countries, even those outside of the European Union (EU). Traditional banks often charge from €100 to €400 to process applications. Aside from that, they charge for monthly account maintenance and withdrawing cash at non-network ATMs. It is recommended to look for a bank that issues a generally accepted debit card like Mastercard or Visa.
The state is among the most expat-friendly countries, and it is easy to own an account. A person needs to be at least 18 years old, in possession of a valid passport, and able to provide evidence of their relationship to the country, such as an admission letter for a new student, to create an account at any bank in this country. A foreign bank account can be opened by a non-resident individual, although doing so will be quite expensive.
Required documents to submit
One needs to provide the following documents to open a bank account in any bank within the country:
- A copy of a Passport or EU national ID card
- Proof of address or Estonian e-residency
- Proof of connection to Estonia such as a school enrollment certificate, etc.
Most banking services and support are available in English and Russian, foreign students have nothing to worry about.
Opening an account online
As one of the most technologically advanced countries with an impressive banking system, accessing it can be a bit tricky. People with an Estonian passport, ID card, or residence permit can open an account online or via a bank’s app. When asked to verify one’s identity, use Smart-ID, Mobile-ID, or an ID card reader. Since a student already resides here, he or she can just do the entire process in person. It takes up to two weeks for a bank to approve an application. Opening an account with a traditional bank can be a bit time-consuming, and costly. A much easier, faster, and cheaper way is to open an account using a mobile bank.