Opening a bank account in Nigeria as a foreigner is a crucial step towards establishing your financial foothold in one of Africa’s largest and most dynamic economies. Whether you are an expatriate, a business investor, or an international student, having a local bank account is essential for seamless financial transactions and integration into the Nigerian economy. The Nigerian banking sector is robust, well-regulated, and offers a range of services tailored to meet the diverse needs of its customers, including foreigners. Navigating the process of opening a bank account in a new country can be daunting, but understanding the specific requirements and procedures can significantly ease the journey. Nigerian banks require several forms of identification and documentation, in line with the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) regulatory standards. These measures ensure security and compliance with international financial laws, providing a safe banking environment for all customers. Choosing the right bank is also pivotal. With numerous reputable banks operating in Nigeria, each offering unique benefits, it’s important to compare factors such as fees, services, accessibility, and customer support. This article aims to provide a comprehensive guide on the steps to open a bank account in Nigeria as a foreigner, and the requirements for doing so effectively. By following this guide, you will be well-prepared to navigate the Nigerian banking landscape and make informed decisions that best suit your financial needs.


Yes, foreigners can open a bank account in Nigeria so long as he or She satisfies the requirements for doing so.


Opening a bank account in Nigeria as a foreigner requires a thorough understanding and adherence to the country’s legal and regulatory framework. This framework is designed to ensure financial stability, prevent fraud, and combat money laundering and terrorism financing. Here are the key legal and regulatory considerations to be aware of before opening a bank account in Nigeria as a foreigner.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is the primary regulatory body overseeing the banking sector in Nigeria. It enforces stringent regulations to maintain financial stability and protect the banking system.

Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (CFT): The CBN enforces robust AML and CFT regulations. Banks are required to conduct thorough due diligence on all account holders to verify their identity and the source of their funds. This includes submitting comprehensive documentation and undergoing a verification process. Banks continuously monitor transactions to detect and report suspicious activities. Compliance with these regulations is essential to avoid legal complications and ensure the integrity of financial transactions.

Know Your Customer (KYC) Requirements: KYC requirements are critical components of the CBN’s regulatory framework. Banks must collect detailed information about their customers to verify their identities and assess potential risks. As a foreigner, you must provide documents such as a valid passport, residence permit, proof of address, and a Bank Verification Number (BVN). These measures help prevent fraud and ensure that banks can accurately identify and communicate with account holders.

Tax Identification Number (TIN): Foreigners may need to obtain a Tax Identification Number (TIN) from the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) for certain types of accounts, especially those involving business transactions. The TIN is used for tax purposes, and obtaining one involves providing additional documentation about your financial activities in Nigeria. Compliance with tax regulations is crucial to avoid penalties and ensure smooth financial operations.

National Identification Number (NIN): The National Identification Number (NIN) is becoming increasingly important in Nigeria’s regulatory framework. The NIN is issued by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and is used for various purposes, including opening bank accounts. It serves as a unique identifier and helps streamline the verification process. Foreigners may be required to obtain NIN to meet KYC requirements, further strengthening the identification process and ensuring compliance with national regulations.

Foreign Exchange Regulations

The CBN controls the flow of foreign currency into and out of Nigeria through foreign exchange regulations. As a foreigner, understanding these regulations is crucial, especially if you plan to engage in international transactions. The CBN has specific rules regarding the repatriation of funds, currency conversion, and the use of foreign currency accounts. Non-compliance with these regulations can result in legal issues and financial penalties.

Financial Reporting and Transparency

The Nigerian government places a high emphasis on financial transparency and reporting. Banks are required to report large transactions and suspicious activities to the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU). As a foreign account holder, you must ensure that your financial activities are transparent and comply with local laws. This includes providing accurate information about the source of your funds and the purpose of your transactions.

Residency and Work Permits

Foreigners residing in Nigeria must have the appropriate residency and work permits. These permits, issued by the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), are necessary for legal residence and are often required for opening a bank account. Ensuring that your immigration status is in order is a critical step in the account opening process.

Navigating the legal and regulatory considerations for opening a bank account in Nigeria as a foreigner requires careful preparation and strict compliance with local laws. Understanding the CBN’s regulations, obtaining a TIN and NIN, adhering to foreign exchange controls, and ensuring transparency in your financial activities are essential steps. By meeting these requirements and maintaining compliance, foreigners can successfully open and manage bank accounts in Nigeria, contributing to the country’s financial ecosystem while safeguarding their interests.


Opening a bank account in Nigeria as a foreigner involves understanding and meeting several requirements set by the banks and regulatory bodies. Banks in Nigeria follow strict protocols to comply with local regulations and international standards, ensuring that only eligible individuals can open and operate accounts. To open a bank account in Nigeria, foreigners must provide several key documents and some of the documents may vary amongst banks. These documents help to verify the identity and legal status of the applicant. The primary documents typically required from a foreigner preparing to open a bank account in Nigeria are dependent on whether it is a person or business entity like companies, incorporated trustees, etc. Below are the documents necessary for opening a bank account in Nigeria as a foreigner depending on the type of bank account he intends to open.

Documents Required For Opening a Bank Account for an Individual Foreigner

a. Valid Passport: A valid passport is essential for identification purposes. It serves as the primary proof of identity and citizenship of the foreigner.

b. Residence Permit /Combined Expatriate Residence Permit (CERPAC) (where applicable): A valid Nigerian residence permit or visa is required to show that the applicant is legally residing in Nigeria. This document confirms the individual’s legal status in the country and it is crucial for compliance with Nigerian Immigration Laws. To obtain CERPAC, a foreigner who wishes to establish a business in Nigeria must first have his/her company registered, and obtain both a business permit and expatriate quota before obtaining CERPAC.

c. Proof of Address: Proof of address in Nigeria is necessary. This can be provided through utility bills (e.g., electricity or water bills, etc.), a tenancy agreement, or an official letter from a recognized institution. This verification is essential for correspondence and ensuring that the bank has accurate residential information before opening the bank account for the is mandatory for opening an account and it helps for reducing fraud and identity theft by linking biometric data to the individual’s bank account.

d. Bank Verification Number (BVN): The BVN is a unique identifier for banking activities in Nigeria. Foreigners can obtain a BVN at any bank branch by providing their biometric information, such as fingerprints and facial photographs.

e. Reference Letter: Some banks may require a reference letter from an existing account holder in Nigeria or from the applicant’s employer. This letter serves as an additional verification of the applicant’s credibility and financial standing.

f. Passport-Sized Photographs: Recent passport-sized photographs are typically required for the bank’s records and to verify the individual identity visually.

g. National Identification Number: NIN is a unique number assigned to individuals upon enrolment in the Nigeria National Identity Management is required for identity verification and is increasingly becoming a standard requirement for accessing various services in Nigeria, including opening a bank account.

h. Employment letter or admission letter: If the foreigner is employed or studying in Nigeria, an employment letter or admission letter may be required by the bank to open the bank account.

Documents Required for Opening a Bank Account for a Foreign-owned Business Entity in Nigeria.

a. Certificate of Incorporation: This certificate is issued by the Corporate Affairs Commission and it proves that the business is legally registered and recognized in Nigeria. It is a fundamental document for opening a business account as a foreigner in Nigeria.

b. Memorandum and Article of Association: These documents outline the company’s structure, purpose, and the roles and responsibilities of its directors and shareholders. They are essential for understanding the operational framework of the business.

c. Resolution from the Board of Directors: A formal resolution from the Board of Directors authorizing the opening of the bank account and specifying the authorized signatories is required. This document ensures that the bank account is opened with the company’s consent and authority.

d. Identification of Directors and Signatories: Valid identification documents, such as international passports, for all directors and authorized signatories are necessary to verify their identities.

e. Proof of Address of The Company: This could be a utility bill, lease or rental agreement, or any official document verifying the business operating address in Nigeria.

d. Tax Identification Number: This is issued by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FRIS) located in each State of the Country. It is necessary for tax compliance and financial transparency.

e. Bank Verification Number: All directors and authorized signatories need to provide their BVN, ensuring that they are registered in the Nigerian banking system.

f. National Identification Number: NIN is required from all the directors and authorized signatories. It is used for comprehensive identity verification, which is crucial for regulatory compliance.

g. Recent Passport-Sized Photographs of Directors and Authorised Signatories: This is required for bank records and identification purposes, ensuring accurate and up-to-date visual verification.

Opening a bank account in Nigeria as a foreigner requires meticulous preparation of documents to meet stringent regulation standards. For personal accounts, the focus is on verifying the individual’s identity, legal status, and residential address. For the business account, the emphasis is on establishing the legitimacy of the business, the authority of its directors and signatories, and ensuring tax compliance. Thorough preparation of these documents will facilitate a smooth and efficient bank account opening process, aligning with Nigerian banking regulations and enhancing financial security.


Nigeria hosts a range of reputable commercial and international banks, each offering distinct advantages that cater to the diverse needs of expatriates. Here is a list of some of the banks operating in Nigeria that a foreigner can consider.

1. Zenith Bank PLC: Zenith Bank is renowned for its extensive branch network and advanced online banking platform. It offers a variety of account types, including savings, current, and domiciliary accounts, which cater to both personal and business needs. Foreigners benefit from Zenith Bank’s robust customer support and numerous financial products designed to facilitate easy financial management and investment opportunities.

2. Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank): GTBank is known for its excellent customer service and innovative financial products. It provides comprehensive online banking services, allowing foreigners to manage their accounts remotely with ease. GTBank’s diverse range of account options and user-friendly digital platforms make it an ideal choice for expatriates looking for convenience and efficiency in their banking experience.

3. First Bank of Nigeria Limited: With over a century of experience, First Bank offers stability and a broad spectrum of financial products. Its extensive ATM network and reliable customer support are significant advantages for expatriates. First Bank’s rich history and solid reputation provide a sense of security for foreigners looking to integrate into the Nigerian financial system.

4. United Bank for Africa PLC (UBA): UBA has a wide reach across Africa, with an extensive branch and ATM network. The bank offers various account options tailored to meet the needs of both individuals and businesses. UBA’s strong online banking presence ensures that foreigners can manage their finances efficiently, regardless of their location.

5. Access Bank PLC: Access Bank is celebrated for its customer-centric approach and diverse range of financial products. The bank provides robust digital banking services and extensive branch coverage. For foreigners, Access Bank’s focus on innovation and customer service makes it a reliable partner in navigating the Nigerian banking landscape.

6. EcoBank Nigeria: EcoBank’s strong pan-African presence facilitates seamless transactions across the continent. It offers a variety of personal and business banking services, supported by a reliable online platform. Foreigners benefit from EcoBank’s extensive knowledge of African markets and its commitment to providing tailored banking solutions.

7. Standard Chartered Bank: Standard Chartered Bank specializes in international banking services, including foreign currency accounts and global fund transfers. Its expertise in managing expatriate finances makes it a preferred choice for foreigners. Standard Chartered’s global presence and sophisticated banking solutions ensure that expatriates can manage their international financial needs effortlessly.

8. Citibank Nigeria Limited: Citibank offers a wide range of financial services with a focus on international banking. It provides specialized products for expatriates, such as multi-currency accounts and international investment opportunities. Citibank’s global reach and extensive resources make it an ideal choice for foreigners seeking a comprehensive banking experience.

Some of the banks in Nigeria provide various services tailored to the financial requirements of foreigners, ensuring a smooth and effective banking experience. By selecting the appropriate bank, expatriates can access local currency, simplify financial transactions, explore investment opportunities, and receive comprehensive customer support. This information is intended to provide expatriates with the necessary knowledge to make well-informed decisions about their banking needs in Nigeria.


Foreigners looking forward to opening a bank account in Nigeria have a variety of options, each tailored to specific financial needs and preferences. The main types of accounts available are discussed below.

Current Accounts: Current accounts are designed for those who require frequent access to their funds and need to conduct regular transactions. These accounts are suitable for both personal and business use. They provide a range of facilities including chequebooks, online banking, debit cards, and mobile banking services. Current accounts generally do not earn interest, but they offer the flexibility of unlimited deposits and withdrawals. Foreigners opting for a current account should be prepared for higher maintenance fees and minimum balance requirements. These accounts are ideal for expatriates involved in business activities or those who need to manage routine expenses seamlessly.

Savings Accounts: Savings accounts are ideal for individuals who wish to save money while earning interest. These accounts typically have lower maintenance fees compared to current accounts and may come with restrictions on the number of transactions allowed per month. Savings accounts offer features such as passbooks, online banking, and ATM access. The interest rates on savings accounts vary across different banks, and they are usually compounded monthly. This type of account is perfect for foreigners who aim to save part of their earnings in Nigeria while maintaining easy access to their funds when needed.

Domiciliary Accounts: Domiciliary accounts are specialized accounts for holding foreign currencies such as US Dollars, Euros, or British Pounds. These accounts are particularly beneficial for expatriates and foreign businesses that need to conduct international transactions or receive payments in foreign currencies. Domiciliary accounts allow account holders to deposit, withdraw, and transfer foreign currency with ease. They provide a safeguard against exchange rate fluctuations, making them an attractive option for those who wish to maintain their savings in a stable currency. Additionally, domiciliary accounts facilitate international trade and investment, as they enable seamless financial operations across borders.

Corporate Accounts: A corporate account in Nigeria for foreigners is essential for managing business finances, receiving payments, and conducting transactions. To open such an account, foreign businesses must provide the documents necessary just as we have explained above. Compliance with Nigerian regulations, such as obtaining necessary business permits, is mandatory. Corporate accounts offer the financial infrastructure needed for efficient business operations and regulatory compliance within Nigeria.

Fixed Deposit Accounts: This type of account allows a foreigner to deposit a lump sum for a specified period at a higher interest rate than a regular savings account. The tenure can range from 30 days to several years. Early withdrawals may incur penalties. To open a fixed deposit account, a foreigner typically needs to provide valid identification (passport), and proof of residence, and meet the minimum deposit requirement set by the bank. Fixed deposit accounts offer a secure way to earn interest on savings.

Choosing the right type of account depends on the foreigner’s specific financial requirements. Current accounts offer transactional convenience, savings accounts provide interest-earning potential, domiciliary accounts ensure smooth international transactions, etc. By carefully considering these options, foreigners can effectively manage their finances in Nigeria and meet both personal and business financial objectives.


Having considered the requirements for opening a bank account in Nigeria as a foreigner as well as the list of some commercial banks operating within Nigeria to set up an account, below are the steps to follow when opening a bank account in Nigeria as a foreigner.

1. Gather Required Documents: Ensure you have all necessary documents as we have rightly listed and explained in this article. You may also contact the bank of your choice for further information on the requirements.

2. Visit the Bank or Apply Online: Submit your application either in person or through the bank’s online platform. You should submit the application in person to the bank to open the account.

3. Complete the Application Form: Fill out the application form with accurate information as will be given to you in the bank.

4. Submit the Required Documentation: Provide copies of all required documents.

5. Undergo Biometrics Registration: The bank will capture your biometrics, including fingerprint and image, as part of their identity verification

6. Make an Initial Deposit: Once your documents are approved, you will need to make an initial deposit. The required minimum amount varies from one bank to another.

7. Account Approval and Activation: the bank will process your account, providing you with account details like account number, debit card, and online banking credentials. This account approval may be done within 12 or 24 hours after all the processes of account opening.


Opening a bank account in Nigeria as a foreigner is a structured process that requires compliance with local regulations and the submission of specific documents. By thoroughly preparing and understanding the legal requirements, foreigners can seamlessly integrate into the Nigerian financial system. The choice of bank, whether commercial or international, offers distinct benefits tailored to the needs of the foreigner. With options ranging from current and savings accounts to domiciliary and corporate accounts, foreigners can find solutions that suit their personal or business needs.

If you are a foreigner looking to do business in Nigeria and need to make inquiries about opening a bank account or starting a business, you can contact us HERE or through the Whatsapp icon on this page, and we’ll respond to you.





Cynthia Tishion
Cynthia is a lawyer and currently serves as Head of Corporate / Commercial Services at LEX – PRAXIS. With her passion for business and entrepreneurship, she is actively engaged in creating awareness on the legal aspect of businesses through various platforms such as writing, public speaking engagements.

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