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Guide to Open an Israeli Bank Account for a Foreign Citizen

What is a bank?

A bank - is a financial institution whose main business is handling money and mediating in financial dealings.
Bank operations include: managing accounts, receiving money deposits from individuals, businesses and corporations in the framework of managing their accounts, issuing cashing checks, managing savings and investments, and giving loans.
The banks play an important role in the economy, by mediating between those who have money that they don’t immediately need and those who wish to use this money for a variety of economic goals. The bank pays commissions to investors and collects interest from borrowers as the cost for using the money.

Please note: Lately the Israeli banks have been mounting difficulties for foreign citizens who want to open a bank account in Israel and only allow a few branches to manage their accounts. Before opening an account, first check which is the closest branch to your home that allows accounts for foreign nationals. If you came across any difficulty in opening a bank account, please contact us through our web site.

Important note: A couple who wants to open a bank account in Israel should preferably open a joint bank account because there are grants such as a maternity allowance and a children's allowance which Bituach Leumi gives only to the mother. Both the husband and wife must be present when opening a joint bank account.

A List of Banks in Israel

What documents do I have to bring to the bank to open a bank account?

1.  The applicant’s valid passport with a valid visa.
2.  Another document identifying the applicant, such as a driver's license or a Kupat Cholim card with a picture.
3.  A PIN number from abroad (for U.S. citizens).
4.  For a student, certification from the school where he studies.

Identifying your bank account
The bank account number is composed of three sets of numbers.
The first number is the individual number of the Bank (as set forth in the table above).
The second number is the bank branch number (each bank has several branches and each branch has a different number).
The third number is the personal account number of the account holder. For example, a person who owns account number 123456 in the Meah Shearim branch of HaPoalim Bank, will have a bank account number of 12-533-123456.

What is the Money Laundering Law?
A person who maneuvers property or money in such a way as to conceal or disguise its origin, the identity of its owners or those possessing rights to it, its location, its movements or what actions were done with it, is laundering money. Laundering money is a criminal offense and subject to penalties prescribed by law.
As part of the war to prevent money laundering by criminals, and part of the efforts of banks to apply the new, strict demands of the tax authorities around the world and the United States in particular, the Anti-Money Laundering law and regulations was passed which applies to the banks. Commercial banks in Israel have opened special departments whose goal is to detect suspicious transactions and report them to the Money Laundering Authority so they can be investigated in depth. 
Part of the responsibilities which the Money Laundering Law confers on banks is the responsibility to report to the authorities about certain operations carried out either by individuals or corporations, including depositing or withdrawing cash at a value of at least fifty thousand new Israeli shekels. [If a clerk in charge of the bank account feels that a financial transaction in an account is suspicious, he has to report it to the authorities even if it is less than fifty thousand].
A person with non-resident status who opens a 'non-resident' bank account, will be required to sign a confidentiality waiver \ and confirmation for the bank to convey financial information to his country of residency. The bank will mount difficulties during the period that his account is active if the client refuses to sign a waiver.
In addition to signing a waiver form, an American citizen who opens a bank account must also fill out a W9 form, in which he declares that he reports to the US tax authority. The form authorizes the bank to transfer information about it to the US authorities.
U.S. residents who will not disclose information about bank accounts that they hold in Israel, may be exposed to a fine of up to 50% of the accounts’ value. In addition, they are exposed to the possibility of a criminal investigation and indictment.

A bank account with 'non-resident' status
A foreign national or an Israeli citizen who live permanently abroad, can open an account with 'non-resident' status if they fulfill the following conditions.
The one opening the bank account must fill out and sign the Client Declaration Form that he/she is a foreign resident (according to the Income Tax Ordinance), during up to 14 days of opening the account. U.S. residents should also fill a W9 form, and submit it to the bank personally. Sometimes, even a person who is not a U.S. citizen will be required to fill out a W8 form.
Every three years, the owner of the account must renew his declaration (about being a foreign national). He must also undertake to notify the bank of any change in his residency status, and sign the declaration in order to receive an exemption from income tax.

Conditions to get a 'non-resident' account

1.  The “center of one’s life” must be established as being abroad. To determine this, family, economic and social ties will be taken account, including among other things his permanent home; his and his family’s place of residence; his place of regular work / employment; where he has permanent active and significant economic interests; and the location of organizations, associations or institutions that he is active in.
2. He did not live in Israel during the tax year more than 183 days (continuously or intermittently), or did  not spend in the tax year more than 30 days with the sum total days in the tax year and the two years before the tax year, did not exceed 425 days.

The advantages of having a 'non-resident' account

Exemption from foreign currency account service fees.
•  Preferential interest rate for deposits.
 Exemption from payment of income tax on interest from deposits (depending on signing the tax declaration form).
Tax exemption for Israeli and foreign securities.

Public Inquiries:
If you have any criticism or complaints for any of the above banks, you should contact the Public Affairs Department of the Bank.

Questions and Answers:
Must the husband and wife be present when opening a joint bank account
Yes, both spouses must be present.
Why is it important for a couple to have a joint bank account
Since there are bonuses, such as the Maternity Allowance and the Children's Allowance, which are deposited by Bituach Leumi into the mother’s account or the couple’s joint account.
Is only a passport required to open a bank account
Most banks request to see two ID documents, such as a passport and a driver's license with photo.
Email is must
Invalid email
Last name is must
First name is must
Phone is must