How Americans Can Open a Bank Account in Mexico
This article provides helpful advice if you have been wondering how to open a bank account in Mexico. Many countries are far stricter when it comes to opening a bank account in Mexico. If you have the required documentation, then you don’t need to worry about your credit history. Having a Mexican bank account is a great way to avoid constant international fees. However, if you are only planning to be in Mexico for a short time, then you might want to consider sticking with your American account for the time being, and just stick to withdrawing cash as needed.
** Note: Every city and bank have their own internal rules for foreigners, these are just general guidelines from our local experience in San Miguel de Allende. Some banks only require a tourist visa, while another bank down the street may require residency **
THREE STEPS TO OPENING YOUR ACCOUNT
STEP 1 – CHOOSING A BANK IN MEXICO:
– Here are five prominent banks in Mexico –
– BBVA Bancomer –
With roughly 1800 branches, over 7,500 ATMs, and 12,000 POS terminals, Bancomer is hands down Mexico’s largest bank.
– Banamex –
Mexico’s second largest bank is a Citigroup subsidiary called Banamex. 1,700 branches and 6,200 permanent ATMs service their client base of 21 million people.
– Banorte –
Banorte has over 1,200 branches, more than 7,000 ATMs. Furthermore it has over 5,200 commercial businesses which accept deposits, such as convenience stores and drug stores.
– Scotia Bank –
Scotia Bank is a Bank of America partner, so if you bank with Bank of America, then this may be a good solution for you.
– HSBC –
HSBC banks in Mexico, have over 5,200 ATMs across Mexico, and more than 1,400 branches to accommodate your needs.
*To learn more about some major banks in Mexico, click here.
*These major banks generally only allow permanent residents to open a bank account in Mexico. For those foreigners on a tourist visa, we have heard that Ci Banco and Intercam allow tourists to open up a bank account.
Step 2 – FILLING OUT YOUR APPLICATION PAPERWORK:
After choosing your bank, you should locate your local branch. You will likely have to physically be at the branch to open your account, though there are some remote options covered in the next section. Be sure to bring your pertinent documentation with you, such as:
- Your U.S. or Canadian Passport
- Proof of Address (a power bill will do for example)
- Your FM2, FM3, or FMM Visa (depending on the bank’s requirements)
- If you are a corporation, then you will likely need to bring your incorporation paperwork and your power of attorney documentation
- You may be asked for a credencial if you are a business traveller, which you can easily get at the Instituto Nacional de Migracion.
Some banks may offer an English translation of the necessary paperwork, however a few banks might have a master copy in Spanish that you will have to fill out. If you have a language barrier, you might want to bring a Spanish speaker with you to help translate.
STEP 3 – OPENING YOUR ACCOUNT:
When you go to open your account, be sure to have at least 1,000.00 MXN (roughly 50.00 USD) with you. If you are only going to use this account in Mexico, you may want to choose an account that is based in the Mexican peso. You might want to consider a bank account that is based in either the U.S. dollar or the Canadian dollar if you plan on using this account in your native country, or if you want to reduce the currency loss which naturally results from the vicissitudes of international currency. Certificate options often carry more security and better returns.
You should receive your Mexican account paperwork and your booklets. Some banks offer a temporary card until your card arrives in the mail. Other banks will print you a card right there in the bank. Follow the clerk’s instructions when it comes to ATM use and basic account maintenance. It is always a wise decision to ask for a list of contact numbers as well.
*To learn more about opening an account in Mexico, click here.
OPENING AN ACCOUNT REMOTELY
There are some American banks that can help you open a bank account in Mexico. Foreign banks are prevalent among the Mexican banking industry. If you already have an account with Santander, HSBC, or Bank of America—they can help you open a bank account in Mexico with one of their partner banks before you arrive.
Most banks do not allow you to open a bank account in Mexico online. However, all major banks offer online banking where you can pay your bills and transfer funds.
TYPES OF BANK ACCOUNTS
- Cuenta de Nomina –
By law, all banks in Mexico must offer what is called a cuenta de nomina. This type of account is a payroll account which is intended for workers to receive their wages. Cuentas de nomina do not charge commissions or fees, and ATM holders are provided ATM cards for free.
- Cuenta de Cheques –
All Mexican banks also offer a checking account (Cuenta de Cheques) which often requires a minimum deposit which must be made every month to avoid incurring fees. Furthermore, they generally only offer a limited of free ATM withdrawals. Afterward surpassing this limit, a commission is charged based on a certain percentage of the amount you take out of your account.
- Cuenta de Ahorros –
A Savings account is a type of deposit account which is meant for holding savings for a time. It typically has a higher interest rate than a cuenta nomina. Many savings accounts in Mexico require you to hold your savings in the account for a period of time between one month and one year.
- Cuenta de Depositos –
One type of deposit account (cuenta de depositos) is an a la vista deposit account. This type of bank account in Mexico usually comes with a free debit card, and it allows you to take out money without giving the bank a prior notice. Interest rates are generally low, and you likely have to hold a minimum balance of more or less 1,000 pesos (50 USD) or you might incur account fees.
Another type of account is a notice account which—as the name implies—requires you to give the bank notice before you can withdraw money from the account. This type of account offers better savings than an a la vista account.
- Premium Accounts –
Most banks offer the option for premium accounts which have cash back services, insurance, and interest payments. These accounts have strict eligibility requirements and they often have monthly fees. You may or may not qualify for one of these bank accounts in Mexico if you have just arrived in the country with little documentation in the country. For this reason, many expats only set up a short-term account.
- Investment Accounts –
Most major banks in Mexico offer some form of “market accounts” that will let you buy or sell directly in the international stock market. These are a type of premium account, and they often require a higher minimum deposit—around 5,000 MXN pesos.
- Offshore Bank Accounts in Mexico –
Citizens of nations other than Mexico are allowed to open dollar-denominated offshore accounts through many offshore branches that are affiliates with Mexican banks. These accounts target individuals with high net worth and they generally require large deposits. Activities on offshore bank accounts are free from Mexican taxes such as: income taxes, profit taxes, interest, and dividends. The income from these accounts is taxable in your country of residence however. Most Mexican offshore bank accounts are fully liquid offering daily capitalization of interest, and they are also confidential with all information.
*To learn more about bank accounts in Mexico, click here.
- ATM and Human Bank Teller Fees –
Human bank tellers at your own branch are free, as are ATMs from most types of bank accounts. If you are using another branch’s ATM in Mexico, then you can expect to pay a fine for using their services, as well as another fine from your own bank for using an outside ATM. If you choose among the most popular banks in Mexico, then we recommend trying to find that bank’s nearest ATM to your residence and making it a habit to use their services as much as possible.
- International Transfer Fees –
If you are going to be sending money internationally on a regular basis, then you would watch out for hidden fees from poor exchange rates. Before you send your money abroad, check an online currency converter to see the actual value of your cash. Your American bank—should you decide to keep it—may also charge you exchange rate fees which are usually only a dollar or two to compensate for the amount of money that you withdrew. However, to avoid all international transfer fees and exchange rate fees, open a bank account in Mexico.
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What is a fm2 etc visa?
Hello, that is a type of visa you obtain in Mexico. There are different tiered visas, starting at Tourist, then Temporal, then Permanente. Here is more information if you are interested https://www.mexperience.com/lifestyle/living-in-mexico/visas-and-immigration/
FM2 and FM3 visas no longer exist (since 2012). The 2 visas are Temporary Resident Visa or Permanent resident visa and the FMM visa is a tourist or business visa for 6 months. Banks will not usually allow you to open a bank account without a Temporary Resident or Permanent Resident Visa. You apply for those Visas at Mexican Consulates outside of Mexico. Without the Temporary Resident or Permanent Resident visa you do not “legal estancia” or legal standing in Mexico.
I am a canadian citizen and have approached 3 of the major banks here to open a simple bank account and they will not even look at me without an actual Mexican resident card.I have ALL the required id except for the resident card. I’m still waiting for it. I am in Cancun QR.
I am sorry to hear that. In our city San Miguel de Allende it is similar. Only certain banks with deal with tourist, it is at the discretion of the bank for their guidelines. We have had success with the banks Cibanco, and Intercam on a simple tourist or temporal visa.
You need either a Temporary or Permanent resident visa – Banks cannot legally open an account without those visas.
BofA is not affiliated with Santander. They were a year+ ago. New affiliate bank is Scotia Bank, Mexico.
Thank you for letting us know! I will change the content today. 🙂
I saw the above post regarding Bank of America being affiliated with Scotia Bank. Have you verified this before I go a goose chase. Thank you in advance.
Yes it is verified. 🙂 I hope this article helps you find what you are looking for. All our best!
I have a bad experince with Citibanamex. I opened my account last year. And after 3 months I had a letter from Citibanamex to go to the branch where I opened my bank, to prove my passport, my resident temporary card and electricity/gas payment. I followed their request, but in the last january I got the same letter, I went to bank and 1 week later my account is blocked by Citibanamex. I went back to bank, and they said to wait for several days, but my account is still blocked. The peak is I went to bank again and tried to close my account so I get my money back to me. But no, they said the same reason, waiting and waiting. Until now (after 3 months) I still dont get my money back to me. Be carefull choosing a Bank.
All of bank officer they dont speak english.
I am so sorry to hear that you had this awful experience! Yes, this is good advice indeed.
hi diki, i had the exact experience as you. really identical. i can second the information that you give here. the ony difference is that i could empty my account online by putting the money back to my broker who has also a banamex account and who is connected to my account. i could even buy mex shares with the money. AVOID BANAMEX . they are horrible to deal with. fred
I also have experienced a problem with banamex closing my account and taking my money. I complained to teller at window. He seemed familiar with the type of incident and gave me information to a Mexican gov’t office that regulates banks. He also provided me with the information that I needed to send this gov’t authority. I sent all information even talked to them by phone but they are still ignoring me.
This is shocking! So sorry to hear that Richard. Thanks for letting us know!
These accounts are being cancelled because of the money laundering law. If you opened an account without a Temporary or permanent resident visa or your visa has expired, you cannot legally have a bank account. The law was reformed in March of 2018 and since that time the banks have been closing what are now illegal accounts in Mexico and in the US. Many of us with businesses in Mexico used to have bank accounts in the business name in the US, those accounts have all been forcibly closed by the banks unless you have a tax ID and physical branch office in the US. FEDERAL LAW FOR THE PREVENTION AND IDENTIFICATION OF OPERATIONS WITH RESOURCES FROM ILLEGAL SOURCES (LEY FEDERAL PARA LA PREVENCIÓN E IDENTIFICACIÓN DE OPERACIONES CON RECURSOS DE PROCEDENCIA ILÍCITA).
I have tried to open an account with Banana Mex twice. First time they wanted me to fill in a W 09, so I said no and left. A couple of weeks later I went to another branch of the same bank. As to the clerk filling the form in, the software asked for my social security number… But as that was not a Mexican whatever, my application stopped there. So, next time I will go to Bancomer.
Wow Bjorn! Sorry to hear it’s been such a hassle. I hope things turn out okay!
Banamex is owned by Citibank, a US bank, and they are required by US law to record and report the Social Security numbers and other information of US citizens. Banamex is the only bank in Mexico that I am aware is recording that information.
Do not bank with Citibanamex, they have awful customer service! I had a replacement card stolen in the mail (before it even got to me) and nearly 34k pesos worth of credit spent online by who-knows-who. I have already filed complaints with their “aclaraciones” and “unidad de servicios especializados”departments and they insist that it was my fault the card got abused, and now I have to pay up. They won’t even look up in their own records to check who they delivered that card to. I have already started action through CONDUSEF and will cancel all my accounts with Citibanamex when all the mess they caused is cleared.
Oh dear. Francisco, we are so sorry to hear that you have had this terrible experience. We hope (other than this) that this message finds you well.
Banamex closed my sister’s account this year because it asked for the KYC (Know Your Client) information, a special form that they needed completed, which is a normal process with foreigner clients. Since she didn’t proceed quickly, the bank closed the account. It took months but it was reopened and all funds recovered. It is possible, following their prescribed process and being persistent.
Oh, that is good to know. Thanks for commenting Elena!
Does anyone know what Mexican Banks are affiliated with HSBC? What would be the best bank in the US to open a Mexican bank remotely, BoA or HSBC – For ATM withdrawls?
HSBC operates in Mexico. That would be your best bet.
In addition, these articles might help:
We hope this message finds you well.
my husband is a Mexican citizen he open an account in Mexico after many years living here in the USA he tried to add me into his account to send no because I am a USA citizen by the way but I think that’s ridiculous because here in the US anyone is allowed to open a bank account long as you show a picture ID and proof of address my question is how can I be added my father is a Mexican citizen but I am a US citizen second question as well my husband is thinking to buy a property in Mexico what I have issues to him to add me and my kids.
Hello Angela, maybe your husband could use transferwise to send money.
Concerning your second point, perhaps this article could help:
We hope this message finds you well.