Opening a bank account

Opening a bank account

To open a bank account you usually have to apply. Depending on the bank, you can do this in a branch or online, or over the phone or by post.

Before you open a bank account, you have to provide proof of your identity and verify your address. If you are opening a joint account, you both need to fill in the application and show 2 sets of documents for proof of identity and proof of address.

If you apply online, you still need to provide your documents. Most banks need hard-copy forms of documentation to be submitted in-branch or by post after you have completed your online application.

The CCPC has some helpful tips on opening a bank account.

Types of Accounts

The two main types of bank accounts are deposit and current accounts. The differences between account types include the amount of interest paid and the access you have to the account day to day.

Deposit account

A deposit account allows you to build up savings and you can earn interest on this money. Deposit accounts are offered by banks and credit unions. They are sometimes called savings accounts.

Before you open a deposit account you should know what rate of interest you can earn on your savings. If you earn interest on savings then you may have to pay a tax on the interest called Deposit Interest Retention Tax (DIRT).

Current account

Current accounts are offered by banks, some Credit Unions and An Post. You can use a current account to manage your money day-to-day. A current account allows you to:

  • Pay your bills by Direct Debit or standing order
  • Receive automated payments such as salary, wages or benefits
  • Transfer money in a branch, by telephone or through a mobile or online banking service
  • Pay for things with a debit card
  • Withdraw money from ATM machines
  • Keep track of your spending
  • Access an overdraft

Some current accounts can also earn you interest on the money you have in the account, although this is likely to be less than many savings accounts.

Banking Fees

Different accounts charge different fees and some accounts offer free services. With some accounts you may have to keep a certain amount of money in your account at all times to qualify for free banking.

If your bank charges quarterly fees, you should check the number and types of transactions included in the fees.

Your bank may charge the following fees and charges:

  • ATM withdrawal fees
  • Debit card purchase fees (charged when you use your debit card to pay for goods in a shop or get cash back)
  • Credit transfers
  • Direct debit set up or cancellation
  • Standing order setup, amendment or cancellation
  • Overdraft fees
  • Non-euro transaction fees (charges for using your debit card in countries outside of the Euro-zone)
  • Lost card fees
  • Duplicate statement fees
  • Charges for refused Direct Debits and standing orders

Before you open your account, the bank should give you a fee information document. This document shows the most important services offered on the account and any related fees that you might have to pay.

Switching your Account

You may want to switch your account to another financial institution because:

  • Your circumstances may have changed and you may have different needs from an account
  • You may have found an account that offers you a better deal
  • You may be unhappy with the level of service that your bank is providing
  • You may be unhappy with the fees your bank is charging

If you decide to switch your account you can get information to help you decide and there are rules governing the process.

The National Consumer Agency has a personal current account cost comparison that may help you to see whether you can get a better deal from another financial institution.

If you decide to switch your account, the Central Bank has issued a code of conduct on the switching of current accounts with credit institutions (pdf). All credit institutions (banks and building societies) in Ireland must comply with the code.

Under the code all banks and building societies must provide a switching pack to their customers. This contains a description of all of the current accounts currently being offered to new customers, as well as a step-by-step guide to what you need to do when switching.

Your new bank or building society must have your new account up and running within 10 working days of the switching date - this is the date agreed between you and your new bank or building society for the process to start. You will be given the option to keep your old account, or to close it. You must let your new bank know before you switch.

If you keep your old account open you may have to pay charges on this account and stamp duty on your cards, even if you no longer use that account.

You can get detailed information on switching accounts from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC).

Further Information

Competition and Consumer Protection Commission

Revenue - Deposit Interest Retention Tax (DIRT)

Last updated: 15 May 2020