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Can someone open a business bank account without visiting the UAE?

Opening a business bank account without visiting the UAE can be challenging, but is possible in some cases. Banks have strict know-your-customer (KYC) requirements to prevent financial crimes like money laundering. However, digital banking options are making it easier to open accounts remotely.

Can someone open a business bank account without visiting the UAE?

What are the requirements to open a business account in the UAE?

Banks typically require the following to open a business account:

  • Valid business license – Proof the business is registered in the UAE. Free zone companies can open remotely.
  • Shareholder passport copies – To verify identities and run due diligence checks.
  • Proof of address – A utility bill or rent contract in the business’s name.
  • Deposit – Minimum deposits range from AED 10,000 to 50,000 for new companies.

Without the right documents, most banks will not proceed until you visit a branch. Some banks allow exceptions for offshore and free zone companies.

Can I open an account online or remotely?

In the past, the only option was to visit a UAE branch. However, regulations are changing to enable digital onboarding:

  • Many banks now allow video KYC calls to verify documents instead of applying in-person.
  • Digital banks like Liv. and Wio Bank allow online applications without visits, but focus more on residents.
  • Banks with strong international operations like HSBC or Citi make exceptions for offshore corporate accounts occasionally.

The process can move faster by working with a bank representative ahead of time to confirm eligibility. While remote onboarding is improving in the UAE, visiting in person is still the surest approach currently.

Tips for opening a bank account without entering the UAE

If visiting the UAE is genuinely impossible, the following tips can help with opening an account remotely:

  • Work with a bank that allows video KYC – HSBC, Mashreq, ENBD, and some others accommodate this now.
  • Apply for an account with a free zone company – Many free zones assist clients with opening bank accounts without visiting.
  • Use a local corporate services agent – They can submit documents in person and liaise with the bank on your behalf.
  • If eligible for digital banking, choose Liv. or Wio. for easiest online application process.
  • Provide as much KYC information upfront as possible – Audited financial statements, thorough business registration details, etc.

With preparation and a willingness to share documents, opening an account without entering the country is feasible with certain banks or as a free zone entity.

Challenges you may face trying to open an account remotely

While progress is happening, most banks still require visits to open business accounts. Attempting this remotely can present obstacles like:

  • Application denial due to lack of clear KYC documentation. Very common issue.
  • Request to visit a branch within 30 days of account approval or closure threats.
  • Free zone trade license restrictions on banking – Some don’t permit regular local accounts.
  • Frustrating back and forth providing more documents by email before approval.
  • Overall slower application processing compared to visiting a branch.

Banks must comply with anti-money laundering regulations. While irritating, these precautions ensure a sound financial system – enabling long term business growth in the country.

Conclusion: Opening UAE business accounts without visiting remains challenging

In summary, opening any UAE business account without entering the country is difficult but possible in select situations:

  • Offshore corporate banking has the fewest barriers for remote applications currently.
  • Free zone companies also have better success getting accounts approved from abroad.
  • Otherwise, most banks still require an in-person branch visit for full KYC compliance.

As digital transformation continues across the UAE economy, expect easier remote banking onboarding in coming years. But visiting the country at least once initially can smooth the account opening process now.

carefully following KYC requirements and preparing thoroughly helps offshore applicants. Consult banks ahead of time for specific policies when considering opening an account without entering the UAE.

Key Takeaway

  • Opening a UAE business bank account remotely is challenging but possible with select banks or as a free zone company. Expect easier digital onboarding options in the future.
  • Offshore corporate banking currently has the fewest barriers to open an account without visiting.
  • Otherwise, most banks still require an in-person branch visit for full KYC compliance when opening locally.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can I open an account with just a passport copy and business documents?
    No, almost all banks will request either an in-person visit or live video verification call nowadays for full KYC compliance.
  2. What banks allow non-resident account opening?
    HSBC, Citi, and Standard Chartered facilitate this the most for offshore business banking clients that meet eligibility criteria.
  3. Can free zone companies open accounts remotely?
    Yes, many banks allow this, especially for reputable UAE free zones like DIFC, ADGM, or DMCC. The free zone authority assists with approvals.
  4. Is video KYC allowed to open accounts now instead of visiting?
    Yes, an increasing number of major banks like ENBD, DIB, and Mashreq permit verification video calls now to confirm identities.
  5. Can I open a business account online without visiting UAE?
    Only select newer digital banks like Liv. and Wio currently. facilitate fully online opening without in-person visits. But eligibility is mostly for residents.
  6. What are the standard KYC documents to provide banks?
    Valid passport copies, proof of UAE address, detailed ownership information, business licenses, and often audited financial statements.
  7. Can a bank deny my account application if I never enter UAE?
    Yes absolutely. Visiting in-person remains the surest route for account approval as it satisfies full KYC obligations.
  8. How can an agent assist with opening accounts remotely?
    They submit application documents on your behalf in person. This facilitates the process faster versus sending everything by email from abroad.
  9. Is there a minimum deposit amount for each bank?
    Requirements vary per bank but often range from 10,000 AED to 50,000 AED for new business account opening deposits.
  10. What challenges exist trying to open an account without visiting UAE?
    Denied applications, document requests, free zone license limits, slower processing times, and mandatory branch visits.
  11. Can LLC or mainland-registered companies open accounts remotely?
    Extremely difficult as onshore commercial licenses require in-person verification in almost all cases currently.
  12. How long can it take to open an account from overseas?
    Timelines vary dramatically but generally 1 week to 2 months is expected depending on responsiveness to bank information requests.
  13. Is visiting the UAE 100% necessary to open any type of account?
    No, but it facilitates much smoother applications and immediate approvals from most banks.
  14. Can a new offshore company open an account without UAE visits?
    Yes, popular jurisdictions like BVI, Seychelles, and RAK Offshore allow this with certain banks that welcome offshore firms.
  15. What additional compliance is required for money transfers?
    Banks scrutinize inward and outward transfers to ensure legitimate business purposes abide by regulations. So expect lots of documentation requests.
  16. Can banks freeze or close my account if I never visit after opening?
    Yes, if doubts emerge on true account ownership or nature of transactions from the business.
  17. Is fintech improving remote account opening capabilities?
    Yes, UAE fintech adoption is accelerating digital transformation of client onboarding and verification procedures.
  18. Are banks strict about requiring a UAE phone number to open accounts?
    Most banks want at least a working mobile number or live phone on file, although technically possible without.
  19. What if we change business activities later on?
    Inform your bank immediately of any ownership, activity, or contact changes per compliance guidelines.
  20. Can an account stay open indefinitely without visiting UAE?
    Technically yes, but prolonged lack of face-to-face interaction could trigger requests for updated KYC information or risk closure.


In conclusion, visiting the UAE remains the surest route for smooth business bank account approval in most cases currently. But remote opening is increasingly viable for offshore companies or via select digital banks and financial centers. Expect easier digital onboarding capabilities in the future as regulations modernize. Carefully prepare all documentation and coordinate with banks ahead of application submission from abroad.


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