Opening a bank account in Brussels
Opening a bank account in Brussels is a simple process requiring only a valid form of identification (ID card or passport) and can even be initiated before you come to Belgium. Some of the companies offer complete online banking where you almost never have to physically go to a bank branch. Probably the most important factor when choosing a bank (as language is not an issue since English is widely spoken) is convenience of branches. The Belgian banks, in particular Fortis, KBC and Dexia have branches in all parts of Belgium making for easy access.Once you have opened your bank account it will take a few days to receive your bank card, PIN and other relevant information. Credit cards may take longer to be issued as the banks may look at your account history to determine whether to issue one and what limits to place on it. Extra services such as online banking may cost a little bit extra, though it is a one-time expense to set it up. You can determine how often you receive statements and online banking is available and encouraged.An appointment is not necessary to set up an account at the bank; just visit the bank of choice and speak with a representative. You do not necessarily have to deposit any money initially. There are several different types of accounts:
Current Account – Used for everyday transactions, you receive a Bancontact debit card that you can use at ATMs and shops.
Savings Account – Used for savings, you can have as many as you like for whatever purposes you desire. These may be exempted from tax on interest if used for a qualifying reason such as retirement savings. More information can be obtained from the banks as to what other savings are exempt. You may also be able to choose how the money in these accounts is invested for the best returns.
Deposit Accounts – You may have to invest for a minimum of one year in these accounts and normally cannot access the funds. The bank gives interest on the deposit. Generally the longer you take on the the account, the higher the interest rates, though these may be variable depending on market performance.