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Bahrain Banking and Money
There are a number of international banks operating in Bahrain including Citibank, HSBC and Standard Chartered.
They all have a number of branches in the city centre and other popular areas. The local banks, however, offer a good alternative, and it is worth considering who your employer banks with.
To get your salary credited to your account, you will often not only be charged a fee of BD3, but there may also be a delay of up to three days if it is with a different bank from that of your employer.
The major local banks include Al Ahli United Bank, Bank of Bahrain and Kuwait, and National Bank of Bahrain.
All the banks, local and international, offer standard savings and current accounts and of course offer many investment options.
Most of these banks also have internet banking options and some form of tele-banking, although the branch network is still the most common form of banking.
If you maintain a minimum deposit in your account of BD50, there are normally no charges that you will face, unless paying for a particular service.
A higher minimum deposit will sometimes assure you of a higher status account. This enables you to jump queues and have a more personal service.
For transferring money abroad, the exchange houses will normally offer a slightly better rate. Current Bahrain Dinar Exchange Rates
The downside is the parking problems involved in getting close to one of the exchange houses.
The banks all follow slightly different times but are generally open from 08:00 until 12:30 and then from varying times in the afternoon or evening depending on the branch location.
- Al Ahli United Bank. Tel : 1758 5858
- Arab Bank. Tel : 1754 9000
- Bahrain Credit Bank. Tel : 1731 1311
- Bahrain Saudi Bank. Tel : 1757 8999
- Bank Melli Iran. Tel : 1722 9910
- Bank of Bahrain & Kuwait. Tel : 1722 3388
- BNP Paribas. Tel : 1753 1152
- Citibank. Tel : 1758 8588
- Habib Bank Ltd. Tel : 1722 8522
- Housing Bank for Trade & Finance. Tel : 1722 5227
- HSBC Bahrain. Tel : 1722 4555
- National Bank of Bahrain. Tel : 1722 8800
- Shamil Bank of Bahrain. Tel : 1758 5000
- Standard Chartered Bank. Tel : 1722 3636
How to open a bank account in Bahrain
Expats find that opening a bank account in Bahrain is a bit more of a hassle than in other Gulf countries, as the process is stringently administered, and requires a lot of paperwork.
Expats looking to open a bank account in Bahrain must appear at the prospective bank in person, and in possession of the following documents:
- Passport, also copies of information and visa pages
- Two passport photos
- Residency/work permit and copies
- Copy of lease/tenancy agreement, to prove residential address in Bahrain
- A 'no objection certificate' (NOC) or a 'letter of no objection' from the Bahraini employer, stating the expected monthly salary deposits they will make into the account. Often it is much easier for an expat to open an account at the same bank as their employer.
- In addition, it is highly recommended (though not necessary) to supply recent bank statements, and a letter of reference from the expat's bank in their country of origin
Bahrain Current Accounts
For everyday transactions, cash is preferred. Although cheques are generally accepted by the large utility companies and other large service providers, the smaller companies usually don't due to the fact that personal cheques have no guarantee of payment. This is why with most current accounts you cannot use them. Check out the larger banks, they often still have current accounts available allowing you to use cheques.
The banks in Bahrain offer all the standard bank services, debet/credit card payments and cheque clearances. It depends on the bank how many transactions you can make for free, most banks will charge a fee when you reach the limit of the number of transactions you are allowed. When opening a bank account, most banks offer cash dispenser cards with pin number for free which allows you to withdraw money from all ATM's. In most cases you can also order a creditcard serviced mostly by Visa or Mastercard, check out the conditions of the bank to see what the spending restrictions are as they differ from bank to bank.
Make sure you never overdraw your bank account, if this happens and it concerns a small amount, the bank might authorize the payment or the bank will only pay the amount which is on your bank account. Either way, you will be charged a substantial fee and they will question you about the incident.
In case of a lost or stolen check book, you have to call your bank urgently and inform them after which they will block your account. Any payments you make by cheque after the event, will be your responsibility. Therefore it is highly recommended to confirm your telephone call you had with the bank in writing.
Bahrain Utility bills
For utility bills, direct debits can be arranged with your bank to cover regular payments, but make sure that you check your statements to ensure that these instructions are being carried out. Alternatively, you can pay utility bills in cash at any bank, irrespective of whether you have an account there.
ATMs in Bahrain
There are more than 300 ATMs in Bahrain, all of which are operated by BENEFIT (Bahrain Electronic Network for Financial Transactions).
The majority of ATMs offer 24-hour service, and customers withdrawing cash using a bank card issued by any Bahraini bank will incur no charges at the machines.
Bahrain Savings & Deposit Accounts
Any retail bank in Bahrain offers savings & deposit accounts. On most saving accounts they offer lower interest rates than they would do on deposit accounts, but the advantage is you can withdraw your money at any time. In most cases you receive monthly statements with all transactions made. Some banks offer cash cards to withdraw money from ATM's, a credit card and a cheque book, but this depends on the type of account.
Many types of deposit accounts are offered by Bahraini banks, they offer different rates depending on the deposit amount and minimum deposit period. Most banks pay the interest per month but there are banks who pay interest on a weekly basis when it concerns a large deposit amount. In general most banks offer higher levels of interest when the deposit amount increases. In some cases banks issue cheque books but they can charge maintenance charges and limit the number of cheques you can write out.
Money in Bahrain
The currency used in Bahrain is the Bahraini Dinar (BHD), which is divided into 1,000 Fils.
Notes: ½, 1, 5, 10 and 20 BHD
Coins: 5, 10, 25, 50 and 100 fils
Expats should be aware that Bahraini society is very much cash-based, with very few people using credit or debit cards for small purchases. The use of cheques is almost unheard of.
Taxes in Bahrain
One of the great advantages for expats moving to Bahrain, is that no personal or income tax have to be paid. You will be charged 1% of your gross monthly salary as a contribution to the General Organisation for Social Insurance (GOSI), which is being used to subsidize the unemployed in Bahrain. You are strongly advised to research whether there is a double taxation avoidance agreement (DTAA) in place between Bahrain and your country of origin. If there is no DTAA, you will have to pay tax in your country of origin on the money you earn in Bahrain. Also please research if there are any restrictions in case you send money from Bahrain to your country of origin.
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