Georgia is a country with a well-developed financial system. Two Georgian banks – TBC and Bank of Georgia – are listed on the London Stock Exchange. If you apply for banking services in the country, you will find that the service level is high and the bank personnel speak English. You can link your PayPal account to your account with a Georgian bank. Currency control is lax in Georgia but you should be aware that the country has now joined the CRS group and it exchanges the account holders’ information with the fiscal authorities of their home countries.
Not all Georgian banks will take foreign clients onboard but some of them will do so. Thus, non-resident banking is possible in Georgia. As far as remote bank account opening is concerned, the opportunity is hardly available in the country. You certainly cannot open a bank account in Georgia online but you might be able to do it by proxy. If you are prepared to go to Georgia, you should be able to open an account there without anybody’s help. However, if you would like to set up a non-resident bank account in the country remotely, you do need professional assistance in any case.
What you need to open a bank account in Georgia
Though it is possible to set up a non-resident bank account in Georgia, the task is not exactly easy. When applying for banking services in the country, you have to submit a package of application documents that have to be in perfect order. What might be a bit irritating for you is the fact that different Georgian banks request different sets of application documents. You will have to supply the following main documents whatever Georgian bank you choose:
- A completed Know Your Customer (KYC) form;
- Your passport or an equivalent ID;
- Documents confirming the legality of your income (it can be a job agreement, a business contract, a rent agreement, and so on).
Please note that it is becoming a common practice for Georgian banks to request proof of address. Non-resident applicants for banking services have reported that the tendency does exist. Besides, most banks in Georgia will want you to have a Georgian SIM card. You won’t be able to interact with Georgian banks unless you have a local mobile phone number.
What Georgian bank should you choose?
Whether you would like to set up a personal bank account in Georgia or a corporate account, the first thing you should do is choose the right bank. There are several banks in the country and you would probably want to consider one of the local banks even though you will find branch offices of international banks in Georgia as well. We suggest that you should consider one of the following financial institutions if you would like to set up a bank account in Georgia:
- Bank of Georgia.
- Liberty Bank.
- Basis Bank.
The first two banks on the list are especially trustworthy. Bank of Georgia and TBC have been stable for years, they have international trust, and the largest number of branch offices and ATMs all around Georgia. You will have to pay a personal visit to the bank in all likelihood regardless of what financial institution you choose. Georgian banks take the KYC requirements seriously (they have to) and opening a bank account in Georgia remotely can be a challenging task.
Please note that any Georgian bank can deny services to you and any bank has a legal right to withhold the reasons for service denial. Sadly, you will never know why exactly the bank has refused to open an account for you.
How to fill out the KYC form
Every Georgian bank will have its own KYC form. Moreover, the forms are regularly amended so you will have to play it by ear. Naturally, all KYC forms will have certain standard fields such as Name, Country of residence, Country of citizenship, and others. When filling out the form, you have to make sure that you spell your name exactly the way it is spelled in your passport. The same holds for proof of address: the address has to be spelled exactly the way it is spelled in the official document that you are supplying such as the rent agreement, for instance. Your passport data (the number and date of issuance) often have to be entered too. If you are opening a bank account for your sole proprietorship or any other type of company, your taxpayer’s number is required.
You will also have to make it clear for the bank administration why you would like to have a bank account in Georgia. Do you visit the country often? Do you have close ties with it (some relatives in Georgia, a business venture, a piece of real property, and so on)? Besides, you will have to specify the expected account turnover. Depending on the turnover amount, you may gain access to some premium banking services.
In addition to that, you will have to prove that you are not a PEP and that there are no Publicly Exposed Persons among your close relatives. If you are a PEP from a foreign country, setting up a bank account in Georgia is going to be difficult, we are afraid. (Please mind that difficult does not mean impossible.)
Another important requirement that you have to meet to qualify for banking services in Georgia is as follows: you should not be on any lists of sanctioned individuals and you should not be a citizen or a resident of a sanctioned country. If you are, opening a bank account in Georgia is close to impossible.
It would be great if you can prove your solvency to the Georgian bank. If you can bring bank statements from other banks that show that you have money on your accounts, you will win much more trust from the Georgian bank administration. If you can bring a letter from your employer that confirms your having a high salary, it may also help. Finally, if you can supply a tax declaration that shows that you paid quite a lot in taxes last year, the bank officers may also be impressed.
One more requirement that you will have to meet concerns the sources of your income. They have to be legal and you have to be able to prove that. We suggest that you should be frank when disclosing your sources of income because the bank’s Compliance Department is going to ascertain the truthfulness of your words. If you have lied and the truth has been found out, banking services will be denied to you.
Please bear in mind that you will have to pay a fee when submitting a completed KYC form. The fee amounts are different with different Georgian banks. In rare cases, you may be able to fill out an online KYC form. For example, the Bank of Georgia provides such an opportunity. Most Georgian banks, however, will invite you for an interview with a bank officer who will tick the boxes when you answer his or her questions.
To conclude, being a wealthy law-abiding foreigner with a spotless reputation is not enough to be able to set up a bank account in Georgia. You will have to convince the bank administration that you are a wealthy law-abiding foreigner with a spotless reputation. If you can, they will open a bank account for you in the country.