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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.

Note! The banks in Israel have toughened conditions for foreign citizens who want to open a bank account and have designated only a limited number of branches where foreign citizens are allowed to manage their account. Before opening an account, we advise you to ascertain the designated branch closest to your place of residence. If you encounter unreasonable and unjust difficulty when opening your bank account, contact the Department of Public Inquiries - Banking Supervision Department, Bank of Israel at the address: POB 780 Jerusalem 9100701.
The bank's stringent 

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.

The bank's stringent requirements for citizens, or foreign residents.

As part of the war against money laundering and thwarting operations originating in criminal activity, Israel has committed itself to OECD information exchange agreements with other countries, and to implement the provisions of FATCA with the US authorities. In light of this, the Israeli banks with the cooperation of the Israeli tax authorities are trying to adapt themselves to the new and stringent requirements of the tax authorities around the world. Financial institutions that violate these procedures are expected to face severe sanctions from the international authorities, among them Israeli banks.
Therefore, all the Israeli banks’ corporations in Israel are required to identify the residency of the account holder and to report certain actions to the tax authorities in Israel so they can transfer the information to the tax authorities abroad. These include a deposit or withdrawal of cash of at least NIS 50,000. [However, when it appears to the clerk in charge of the accounts at the bank that a suspicious financial transaction is being carried out in the account, he must report it to the authorities even if it is less than NIS 50,000.]
A foreign resident who opens a bank account in his status of a 'foreign resident' will be required to sign a waiver of confidentiality and / or permit the bank to transfer financial information to his country of residency. If a customer refuses to sign the waiver, the bank will mount difficulties for him during his account’s period of activity.
An American citizen who opens a bank account must in addition to filling out a confidentiality waiver form, also fill out a W9 form in which he declares that he is reporting the account to the US tax authority. The form authorizes the bank to forward information on his account to the US authorities.
Residents of the United States who do not disclose information about their bank accounts in Israel may be subject to a fine of up to 50% of the value of the accounts and possibly a criminal investigation and indictment.

Important! One who does any action with his property or money with the aim of concealing or disguising the origin and / or identity of those who have rights to it, or their location or movements, has done a money laundering operation and committed a criminal offense. He is liable to the penalties prescribed by law.

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