Expats moving to Cyprus will feel welcome right away by the warm and inviting culture. While development has been slow, the cost of living is lower in Cyprus than most Mediterranean regions. Before you truly settle in, you’ll need a bank account. Here’s everything you need to know to set up your finances.
Opening a bank account in Cyprus is fairly hassle-free. The exact documents you’ll need to open up a bank account depend on the bank in question, but they’ll generally all need:
- Proof of identity, such as a passport
- Proof of local residency, such as utility bills
- A reference letter from your prior bank saying your credit is in good standing
A variety of bank accounts are available, from current/checking accounts to foreign currency accounts to student accounts. You can compare fees, withdrawal limits, and other stipulations before you make a choice.
You can begin the process of opening a bank account in Cyprus even before you arrive. Any Cypriot or foreign bank should allow you to get the ball rolling online. Your signature is required, so you might need to wait until you’re in-country to complete the account setup. The Bank of Cyprus has a branch in London, so if you’re UK-based you can open your account at home.
Each bank will have a different policy, so it helps to speak to your home bank before leaving. You should also call your anticipated local branch to see what they can do. A customer relations representative will advise you on which papers to prepare and how to move the process along.
A variety of banks in Cyprus offer online banking. Check for details at your particular bank’s website. Outside of opening hours, use your bank’s website to check your account balance, transfer money from checking to savings, or change your personal details. More complex transactions will probably require an in-person visit.
Foreigners in Cyprus are lucky to be supported by expat assistance at most banks. You’ll find English-speaking representatives who are trained to guide you through financing, account setup, loans and other transactions.
Cyprus is home to numerous international bank branches. Here are some of the most prevalent:
There’s also many local banks to choose from, such as the following institutions:
The largest bank in Cyprus.
Number of branches: 121 in Cyprus, 4 in the UK, 1 in Romania with representative offices in Greece, China, Ukraine and Russia
- Online banking
- Mobile, SMS and app banking access with enhanced security
- 18 to 25 new package
- 18 to 25 student package
- Visa Credit - Classic, Gold and Platinum
- Visa Direct - Classic, Gold and Platinum
- Visa Prepaid
- Wearablepay - a contacless Visa card inside a wearable device, so you don’t have to carry cash or cards with you
- Tagpay - you can add a tag onto your mobile phone to make contacless payments
Second-largest bank in Cyprus.
Number of branches: 68
- Payband wearable device that functions as a debit card and that you can wear on your wrist
- Current account - debit card with overdraft limit upon request, net banking
- My account 18 to 30
- Student Pack
- Net account - managed online, with a beneficial interest rate and a Net Card which is used at ATMs and in shops
- Student pack for 18 to 26 year olds - a current account with a free contactless card and a free PayBand wearable card, with no handling fees for withdrawals around the world and significant discounts at selected stores
- Credit cards - Visa and Visa Gold, MasterCard and MasterCard Platinum
- Contactless debit cards supported by SMS alerts, free cash withdrawals in selected ATMs throughout Cyprus, free travel insurance, free purchase protection
- Contactless Visa Gold credit card with low interest rates, free travel insurance, free purchase protection
- Free e-Statements and online banking access in both English and Russian
- Pay bills to third parties via online banking
Formerly known as Piraeus Bank.
- Savings accounts
- Notice Accounts - allows to save money and earn interest at the same time. The interest rates increase the more money you keep on the account and the longer it stays there
- Platinum Visa debit card - can link up to 4 current and 4 savings accounts
- Miles & More Visa card
- Youth Account - for anyone between 14 and 26 years of age, no annual fee and free cash withdrawals from any Visa ATM, instantly issued at any AstroBank branch, with 24 hour monitoring of card transactions for fraud detection
If you’re accustomed to quick service, you’re in for a surprise. Cyprus operates in the typical Mediterranean way, with business occurring at a relaxed pace. This pace extends to banking, so expect to wait longer than you might at home. Familiarise yourself with banking regulations through the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission and the Central Bank of Cyprus.
Banks are open in Cyprus from Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM to 1:30 PM. Online banking is accessible 24/7 to supplement these limited hours. ATMs are found in all towns and larger villages. In most cases they have an English option as well.
Without a student or youth account, expect to pay a small annual fee for maintaining a checking account or credit card. Normally these fees are around €10 per year. For premium or concierge services, fees can run up to €90 a year. If you overdraw, you’ll face penalties and potential interest charges.
ATM fees and service charges will also vary; in some smaller towns and villages, you might face up to €5 for withdrawals. If you’re using a foreign card in Cyprus, you might want to check which currency you should choose to be charged in when withdrawing money from an ATM.
You’ll find international money transferring services at most banks. Within the EU, some transfers are treated as domestic transactions, others are not. It’s difficult to navigate the variety of policies and exchange rates from bank to bank. While banks may advertise 0 fees, they are likely to mark up the exchange rate they offer when transferring your money, keeping the difference as profit.
To avoid sneaky exchange rates and hidden fees, use TransferWise. If you have a bank account in Cyprus or know someone who does, they’ll help you transfer your money there charging only a small transparent fee that’s stated upfront and using the mid-market exchange rate - the same one you’d find on Google. Before you convert you might want to compare rates using an online currency converter.
Should you be moving to Cyprus and want to transfer some money over before you get there, you can open a TransferWise borderless multi-currency account in up to 28 global currencies. It doesn’t cost anything to open the account or to maintain it, and you can keep an eye on all of your accounts and balances on one page as well as convert money between currencies with a single click whenever the rate is favorable.
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