How to open a bank account in Slovakia

TransferWise content team
09.27.18
7 minute read

With a strong economy and both culturally and historically rich landscape, it’s easy to see why many expats are making their way to this charming country. One of the major decisions every young professional, family or retiree moving to Slovakia needs to make is how to manage their finances in a foreign country best.

While many businesses are happy to accept credit and debit cards, local merchants and many small businesses are cash-only. Since ATM fees can add up quickly, the best way to be a financially savvy expat is to open a Slovakian bank account.
So, how do you do it?

This brief but informative guide will take you through all the specifics you need to know regarding opening a bank account in Slovakia.

Can I open a bank account as a non-resident of Slovakia?

Yes, though the documents you'll need varies from bank to bank. You certainly will need a valid passport or a National ID card and possibly address proof. Some banks won't open accounts for legal entities from third countries or with a power of attorney. You’ll want to reach out to the banks you are interested in and they’ll be able to advise what’s possible.

What's the process? How long does it usually take?

To open an account, you can either make an appointment or walk into the bank of your choosing. With some banks you can also open an account online. Be sure to have all necessary documentation with you when you go to open your account. It’s a good idea to call ahead, to get a list of all the documents you’ll need for a speedy accounting opening.

Once at the bank, show your documents to the banker and fill out an application form or questionnaire.

What documents are necessary for a foreigner to open a bank account?

The documentation required for a non-resident account will vary from bank to bank, so it's best to call in advance to ensure you bring all the documentation they require to your appointment. Documents banks will most often ask you to supply are:

  • Passport or national ID card
  • Proof of residence/your foreign resident card
  • Proof of address¹

Can I open a bank account abroad? What about at least online?

To open a bank account, you need to either visit a bank branch or fill out an application online. This will vary from bank to bank, so check beforehand what your options are. Most people want to be able to use a card to pay as soon as possible. You’ll usually be able to order and have it delivered to your living place, which is very convenient. Or you can collect it at the bank branch.

What banking fees are involved?

Many banks in Slovakia offer no-fee account opening, though a few do charge nominal fees dependent upon the type of account opened and whether or not you also order a card. Some banks also may have special promotions,where they waive the maintenance fee for a time period or under certain conditions.²

In most countries, opening a bank account includes fees, and it's no different in Slovakia. The same goes for card maintenance. Collect and compare fee schedules from a few banks to determine which offer the most competitive rates and reward programs. You can usually find this information online, or you can always call in to speak with a banker.

Typical fees include:

ATM fees

Most ATM’s in Slovakia offer free ATM use when taking out money at a bank or partner ATM. Withdrawing cash from an ATM at a different bank, however, can be pricey, with flat withdrawal fees ranging from 1 to 5 euros per transaction.

If you’re using a debit card from a foreign bank at a Slovakian ATM, it’s very likely you'll be subject to a foreign ATM fee, as well as a percentage of the amount withdrawn. This is the flat fee, plus a percentage of the transaction which goes back to your bank at home. You may also be given a higher exchange rate at ATM's than you would at a local bank.

Standard bank fees

While many regular bank fees have been eliminated at many banks to be competitive in the market, most banks still have fees for specialty services. A few of these maintenance and convenience charges are:

  • Account statement by mail
  • Cash transactions at a branch are around 3 EUR³
  • Monthly account maintenance fee of 6-7 EUR, though you may find an account free of charge as well⁴ ⁵ ⁶
  • Card changes like PIN update of 2-5 EUR⁷ ⁸
  • An account balance maintenance fee, which is applied if your account balance falls below the bank’s set minimum⁹
  • Bank transfer and deposit fees

Fees for international transfers

Banks typically charge a flat fee, that can sometimes be as high as 25-50 EUR.¹⁰

It’s not just the fee, that you need to keep a keen eye on. The rate your bank provides you for exchanging the currency is as important as the fee itself.

The rate your bank will provide will be one that they’ve added their own mark-up to. To understand what a fair rate would look like, compare the rate your bank offers to the mid-market rate.

At this point you may want to consider using a money transfer service like TransferWise, since you’d be guaranteed to receive the mid-market rate. TransferWise also cleverly reduces international transfer fees by taking your international transaction and breaking it into a series of local ones. You can also use TransferWise to transfer money between your account in Slovakia and your account at home. TransferWise can even be used to pay employees or be paid internationally - it’s all quite easy with the TransferWise multi-currency Borderless balances.

Which bank should I choose?

There are many banks to choose from in Slovakia, all of which offer competitive services and an English speaking staff. Most banks in the region are internationally owned.

  • Mbank¹¹
  • Tatra Banka¹²
  • VUB Banka¹³
  • Slovenska Sporitelna¹⁴

Mbank

Mbank offers a many different account types with competitive pricing. They also offer accounts free of charge.¹⁵ They also have an excellent online banking system in several languages. They offer a wide range of services including:

  • Current and savings accounts
  • Reward program¹⁶
  • Business accounts
  • Debit and credit cards
  • Online and Mobile Banking
  • Loans and mortgages
  • Insurance
  • Business accounts

Tatra Banka

Tatra Banka is one of the largest banks in Slovakia with a relatively extensive network of branches and ATMs. They offer a rewards program, contactless debit cards, and a wide variety of account types. Some of the services they offer are:

  • Current¹⁷ and savings accounts¹⁸
  • Reward program¹⁹
  • Online and Mobile Banking
  • Investment services
  • Insurance²⁰
  • Loans
  • Business accounts

VUB Banka

With a vast network and a great English-speaking staff, VUB Banka offers a lot to customers. They have an excellent online banking system as well as discounts.²¹ Here are a few of their offerings:

  • Current and savings accounts
  • Reward program
  • Online and mobile banking
  • Loans
  • Credit Cards²²
  • Investment services
  • Business accounts²³

Slovenska Sporitelna

Being the largest commercial bank is Slovakia, Slovenska Sporitelna has a large ATM network. They also offer low-interest loans in addition to standard services provided by other banks.²⁴ They provide a wide range of services including:

  • Current and Savings accounts
  • Credit and debit cards
  • Online and mobile banking
  • Business accounts
  • Loans
  • Extensive insurance services
  • Investment services
  • Business financing
  • Business Risk Management services²⁵
  • Non-for-profit accounts and services²⁶

TransferWise

Consider using TransferWise’s Borderless account, which is a perfect match for expats and freelancers working with businesses overseas. With the Borderless multi-currency account you can actually store your money in more than 40 different currencies. Another great addition is the possibility to order a debit card.

The Borderless account comes without monthly account fees. You’ll also be able to benefit from the best rate out there - the mid-market rate - which is used for all the conversions that you make between currencies. Since you get local bank account details which can be used in the UK, the Eurozone, Australia and United States you can pay and get paid like a local, no matter where you are.

Opening an account in Slovakia is relatively straightforward, especially once you get all your documentation in place. With low-fees and convenient online banking options, you can have more time to visit and relax in the many mineral springs rather than worrying about accessing your money and paying bills.


Sources:

¹¹https://www.mbank.sk/pomoc/info/ucty/mkonto-zalozenie.html (September 13, 2018)
²https://www.tatrabanka.sk/en/personal/account-payments/current-account/ (September 13, 2018)
³https://www.tatrabanka.sk/files/archiv/en/about/important-documents/service-charges/tb_cennik_sluzieb_fo_eng_210x100_0218_n.pdf (September 13, 2018)
⁴https://www.tatrabanka.sk/files/archiv/en/about/important-documents/service-charges/tb_cennik_sluzieb_fo_eng_210x100_0218_n.pdf (September 13, 2018)
⁵https://www.mbank.sk/individualni/ucty/mkonto/ (September 13, 2018)
⁶https://www.slsp.sk/en/personal/accounts/personal-account (September 13, 2018)
⁷https://www.tatrabanka.sk/files/archiv/en/about/important-documents/service-charges/tb_cennik_sluzieb_fo_eng_210x100_0218_n.pdf (September 13, 2018)
⁸https://www.slsp.sk/content/dam/sk/slsp/www_slsp_sk/en/sadzobnik-obyvatelstvo-en.pdf (September 13, 2018)
⁹https://www.tatrabanka.sk/files/archiv/en/about/important-documents/service-charges/tb_cennik_sluzieb_fo_eng_210x100_0218_n.pdf (September 13, 2018)
¹⁰https://www.slsp.sk/content/dam/sk/slsp/www_slsp_sk/en/sadzobnik-obyvatelstvo-en.pdf (September 13, 2018)
¹¹https://www.mbank.sk/individualni/ (September 13, 2018)
¹²https://www.tatrabanka.sk/en/personal-banking/account-and-payments.html#tatra-personaltb (September 13, 2018)
¹³https://www.vub.sk (September 13, 2018)
¹¹⁴https://www.slsp.sk/en/personal (September 13, 2018)
¹⁵https://www.mbank.sk/individualni/ucty/mkonto/ (September 13, 2018)
¹⁶https://www.mbank.sk/individualni/specialne-ponuky/ (September 13, 2018)
¹⁷https://www.tatrabanka.sk/en/personal/account-payments/ (September 13, 2018)
¹⁸https://www.tatrabanka.sk/en/personal/account-payments/savings-system/ (September 13, 2018)
¹⁹https://www.tatrabanka.sk/en/personal/account-payments/reward-program/ (September 13, 2018)
²⁰https://www.tatrabanka.sk/en/personal/savings-investments/ (September 13, 2018)
²¹https://www.vub.sk/ludia/produkty/ucty/vub-ucet/ (September 13, 2018)
²²https://with.vub.sk/en/products/cards-overview/ (September 13, 2018)
²³https://www.vub.sk/firmy-podnikatelia/ (September 13, 2018)
²⁴https://www.slsp.sk/en/personal/purchases/purchase-for-any-purpose (September 13, 2018)
²⁵https://www.slsp.sk/en/business (September 13, 2018)
²⁶https://www.slsp.sk/en/towns-townships-public-non-profit (September 13, 2018)


This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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