That Time I Opened an Irish Bank Account

Another little how-to guide, but really opening a bank account in Ireland couldn’t be simpler as long as you have all your paperwork ready.

Can you tell me some banks in Ireland?

Why yes, yes I can.

Bank of Ireland

Permanent TSB

Allied Irish Bank (AIB)

Ulster Bank

While in Ireland I banked with AIB and eventually switched to Bank of Ireland (BOI). AIB does not currently have a debit card service. **UPDATE 3/12/12 – they’re getting them! Let the online shopping begin!** They only issue you with a laser card which has very limited use, particularly regarding internet backing. Bank of Ireland, however, is on the ball and their Visa issued debit cards can be used practically everywhere.

Have a look around their websites and see what suits you.

What should I bring?

  • Proof of address: the bank will want something a little more formal than a letter of residence from an employer. Bring a utility bill or something on official letter head. Once your PPSN has arrived you can use that letter as your proof of address.
  • Your passport
  • Your GNIB card
  • Your banker will probably tell you if you need anything else!

How long does it take?

Some banks will require you to make an appointment to see a banker. Bank of Ireland Killarney required this of me where as at AIB I opened my account at the enquiry desk.

No matter which bank you go for your debit/laser/cashpoint card and pin will be mailed to you separately. So keep an eye out for the postman! Honestly, EVERYTHING is done by snail mail. You can’t just set up a payee online or walk out the door with your debit card and expect it to work. Everything involves a pin or special code that has to me mailed to you!

Internet Banking?

Have your cards and account number at the ready because setting up internet banking requires a phone call to your banks head office. Depending on the bank they will set it up then and there or will require you to have a password sent to you by post first. It can be a bit of a run around if you go through the latter (BOI), but worth it.

Sending Money Overseas?

As I have said, I banked with AIB and with Bank of Ireland during my stay in Ireland and both of them had internet banking based services for sending money overseas for a flat fee per transaction. With BOI it was about €5 each time I sent money.

Setting up international transfers was a further processes. After applying to set my mobile phone up for banking passwords I had to wait for a further snail mail letter to arrive before I could activate and use it.

What is Branch Banking like?

Branch banking is actually quite efficient. They are, of course, mostly closed on Sundays and have strict operating hours. But if you’re there on time you will generally be greeted by a purpose built bank greeter who can direct you to the correct queue. Deposits can be made with a teller, but you’re better off going to a deposit capable ATM. Most banks also have foreign exchange capabilities.


Bank owned and privately owned ATMs can be found on shopping streets and in convenience stores. It’s not normally too hard to find one unless you’re at Carrickmines (why are there no ATMs there?! They really need to sort that out!)

My summary on banking in Ireland… SNAIL MAIL sucks, otherwise hassle-free!


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