Banking in Ireland

Having an Irish bank account makes it much easier to send and receive funds and make transactions in Ireland, and means you won’t have to deal with the charges a UK bank might levy for having to send the money overseas.

It will also enable you to set up direct debits to pay for various utility bills, solicitors’ and agents’ fees, taxes and more.

AIB and Bank of Ireland are your best bets depending on your location – especially if you’re located more rurally as they have the strongest network of branches and ATMs across the country.

As in the UK, charges and tariffs can vary significantly from bank to bank, but free banking is a rarity in Ireland.

Choosing a bank

There are a number of considerations to bear in mind before making your choice, including:

  • Size of network – Most banks charge commission for using ATMs that are not a part of their own network, so make sure the bank has a good distribution of branches and cash points. If you choose a small regional bank which only has a few local branches, it could be costly when you try to access your money from elsewhere in the country. Regional banks may also charge more for international transfers.
  • Location – Don’t just choose the closest branch to home as it may not have an ATM and, in more remote places, branches may have extremely limited opening hours.
  • Telephone and internet banking – Nearly every bank in Ireland now provides these services, although some are better than others.
  • Charges and free services – Consider the kinds of transactions you’re likely to make and how much each bank charges for them. For example, some banks charge a fee for banker’s cheques and transfers; others may charge commission. Fees may not be applicable on deposits above €3,000-€4,000, although this depends on the terms and conditions of your particular bank.

Resident and non-resident accounts

According to Irish law, you must meet at least one of the following criteria in order to be considered a resident:

  • You live in Ireland at least 183 days per year
  • You have a spouse and/or children under 18 who are permanent residents in Ireland

Irish banks offer accounts tailored to residents and non-residents. Residents will usually have access to a wider range of products and tend to get better interest rates and lower commissions and charges. Residents must prove their status by presenting the bank with their residence identity certificate/card, which contains details of their PPS and home address. They must also submit an annual tax return.

Non-residents are not liable for capital gains tax or submitting tax returns, but they do need to provide a PPS number when opening an account.

Opening a bank account

There are several different types of bank account available, but the main ones you’ll be considering are:

  • Current account – for everyday banking activities. As in the UK, little or no interest is paid on accounts in credit
  • Savings account – these offer a limited number of banking services and may not allow instant access to funds, although balances attract higher interest rates
  • Deposit account – these offer higher interest rates than savings accounts, but don’t provide access to day-to-day banking services

To open a bank account in Ireland, applicants must be aged 18 or over and present the following documentation at a bank branch:

  • Photo ID – typically a passport or national identity card from the country of origin (for each applicant if opening a joint account)
  • Proof of occupation or status – for example an employment contract, payslip, pension or disability payment confirmation, student card, letter from an accountant or lawyer
  • A confirmation of address that’s no more than three months old – for example a utility bill or driving licence
  • Residents also need to produce their PPS card/certificate

Currency exchange

Fluctuating currency markets, along with poor exchange rates and unnecessary fees from your bank, mean that you could lose thousands of pounds when transferring money to Ireland to pay for a property. Using a foreign exchange specialist (sometimes referred to as an ‘FX provider’ or ‘currency broker’) means getting a better exchange rate, and usually paying a lot less in fees and hidden charges.

For example, if you’re thinking of buying a property in Ireland and have £250,000 to spend, transferring the funds through your bank would see you receive €277,500 (that’s at the average bank’s exchange rate, minus a £25 transfer fee). However, with Currencies Direct, you’d receive €287,125 for the same transfer – giving you an extra €9,625 simply by eliminating transfer fees and achieving a better exchange rate).*

A leading foreign exchange specialist will offer a better exchange rate than a highstreet bank, won’t charge transfers fees and can offer a wider choice of services tailored to suit your specific requirements.

Using a currency broker has long term benefits too. There may be times when you need to transfer more funds to Ireland, to pay for major purchases, cover your regular living costs, or just to boost your domestic bank balance. A currency provider can automate and streamline these transfers for you, saving you both time and money.

Read more in the next section about how the right exchange rates and transfer options can help you save money, budget effectively and make moving to Ireland that much simpler.

We’ll also cover how to keep up-to-date with the latest market news so you can make an informed decision about the best time to make your transfer.

* Fees and exchange rate data for banks taken from the International Money Transfer Index™ (IMTI™). Rate taken January 2017.

Continue to section 7: Managing your currency transfers in Ireland

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