How to Open Up a Bank Account in The Bahamas: A Complete Guide [2024]

money tree
Timothy Smith

If you’re planning to live in The Bahamas, even part-time, you might be wondering, “Can I open a local bank account?” You’ll be glad to know, The Bahamas are adamant about adhering to international standards while offering a variety of banking services to locals and those overseas.

Whether you’re enticed by the idea of managing your funds while living in a luxury estate against a backdrop of palm trees or simply seeking a strategic financial move, we’ve got you covered. 

From the required documentation to the step-by-step process, we’re here to answer all your questions and make your journey into Bahamian financial waters as smooth as possible. So let’s dive into the essential information you need to know about banking in The Bahamas. 


How to Open Up a Bank Account in The Bahamas

Aligning with the U.S. process, you’ll encounter some familiar checkboxes–establishing your identity, confirming your address, and outlining your financial objectives. Preparation is key before venturing into the realm of Bahamian banking. 

If you are a non-resident, you must first verify that the bank accepts off-shore accounts. If you are looking to apply as a resident and buy property, you can first look into the best banks for mortgages in The Bahamas.

Now, let’s delve into the specific steps:

1. Gather Required Documents

Here are some documentation requirements from Scotiabank that we’ll use as an example:

Ensure you have a valid proof of identity, like a passport, national ID card, or driver’s permit. Next up, confirm your current address using a utility bill, tax assessment, or rental contract. Provide evidence of your income—a job letter or recent pay slip for employees, and business-related documents for self-employed individuals. 

For foreign clients, in addition to the aforementioned items, you’ll need to submit a reference letter or bank statement from your foreign bank and your tax identification information. This ensures a thorough and streamlined process tailored to your specific circumstances.

It’s crucial to note that accepted documents may vary between banks, so checking with each one is advisable.

2. Choose the Right Bahamas Bank

When picking a bank in The Bahamas, think about what you need. Check what services they have–whether it’s for sending money worldwide, investing, or just good customer service. Make sure to keep an eye on the fees too, so you don’t get any surprises. And make sure the bank has a good reputation for being reliable and treating customers well. 

If you’re looking for banks with a strong local presence, Scotia Bank and Commonwealth Bank offer unique advantages tailored to residents. With over 270 licensed banks, the options are plentiful.

3. Select Bank Account Type

Choosing the right bank account in The Bahamas boils down to your financial needs. Need frequent international transactions? Look for an account with favorable foreign exchange terms. Saving up? Go for an account with solid interest rates. 

Consider features like online banking and fees. Whether you’re a local or an international player, picking the right account type ensures an ideal Bahamian banking experience.

4. Fill Out Application Form

Provide accurate personal info, specify your address, and choose the account type. Include employment details and necessary documentation. Accuracy is vital to prevent any unnecessary delays.


Pros and Cons of Opening a Bank Account in The Bahamas

While many are drawn to this offshore hub due to its strong privacy laws and absence of various taxes, it is important to also consider the drawbacks of using a foreign currency.


Many perks have sparked international interest, leading many to explore property options in The Bahamas as well as rental options.

Here are the benefits to consider:

  • Financial Privacy: Robust privacy laws ensure your financial information stays secure.
  • Stability: Enjoy the assurance of Bahamian banks operating within a stable financial system.
  • Global Access: Access global services through the international affiliations of many Bahamian banks.
  • Tax Benefits: Experience tax benefits with no corporate income tax, capital gains tax, or inheritance tax.
  • Investment Opportunities: Explore opportunities for offshore investments to diversify your portfolio.
  • Local Expertise: Receive tailored services from both local and international banks, ensuring a personalized banking experience.


While opening a bank account in The Bahamas comes with appealing advantages, let’s take a closer look at the cons of Bahamian banking for a well-rounded perspective.

  • Limited Currency Options: The primary currency is the Bahamian dollar, limiting currency diversity.
  • Currency Exchange Risks: Fluctuations in exchange rates may affect international transactions.
  • Potential Fees: Some banks may impose fees, requiring careful consideration.
  • Documentation Demands: Account opening may necessitate stringent documentation.
  • ATM Accessibility: Availability of ATMs could be limited in certain areas.


Best Banks in Bahamas

While there are many options to choose from, there are a few that stand above the rest. Let’s review the top performers:

Central Bank of The Bahamas

Central Bank of The Bahamas logo

The Central Bank of The Bahamas isn’t your typical bank for everyday transactions. It plays a crucial role in managing the country’s financial system — from handling legal tender and being the government’s banker to overseeing the banking sector. The Central Bank is all about keeping the integrity of its currency strong, ensuring the country’s cash flow stays stable, and supporting economic growth. The bank manages things like the Bahamian dollar’s value, keeping it equal to the U.S. dollar.

Its main focus is on the big picture — macroeconomic stability and maintaining the overall health of the financial system. It’s not the place to open your everyday account for groceries and bill payments. Central banks are in place to keep things financially steady for the area as a whole instead of private individual banking.

Scotia Bank

Scotiabank logo

Scotiabank holds the title of ‘Best Bank in The Bahamas’ for 2023, as recognized by Global Finance Magazine. There are multiple branch locations in Nassau and Freeport, and ATMs accessible across many Bahamas islands. They offer Personal, Corporate, Small Business, and Premium Banking services. 

Renowned for its straightforward and reliable banking services, Scotiabank is the go-to option for both locals and expats, ensuring a hassle-free account-opening experience. With six decades of financial expertise in The Bahamas, Scotiabank, Canada’s most international bank, has cultivated a robust presence. 

Scotiabank’s personal account offerings include:

  • Checking & savings accounts
  • Credit Cards
  • Loans and Mortgages
  • Term Deposits
  • Credit protection insurances for loans, mortgages, and credit lines

Corporate & Commercial offerings include:

  • Basic business accounts
  • Business savings accounts
  • Foreign currency business accounts
  • Term Deposits
  • Financing for working capital, term financing, risk management, and investment banking
  • Cash management services
  • International Trade
  • Industry expertise

Small business offerings include:

  • Checking and savings accounts for businesses
  • Term deposits
  • Overdraft protection
  • Borrowing services
  • Credit cards
  • Cash management services

Commonwealth Bank

Commonwealth Bank logo

The Commonwealth Bank of The Bahamas is known for its variety of services and many branches. It caters to different financial needs, from regular savings to specialized solutions. They offer various services for personal deposits, personal lending, and business.  

It has a strong local presence with physical locations and ATMs spread across New Providence, Grand Bahama, Abaco, and Eleuthera. The bank is well-regarded in the community for anyone looking for reliable and comprehensive banking in The Bahamas for both personal and real estate

Commonwealth Bank’s personal offerings include:

  • Debit & credit Cards
  • Checking accounts
  • Saving accounts
  • Student savings
  • Credit cards
  • Kids savings
  • Debt consolidation
  • Certificate of deposits

Personal Lending offerings include:

  • Personal loans
  • Home mortgage loans
  • Real estate financing
  • Auto loans
  • Education loans

Business offerings include:

  • Business deposit accounts
  • Business lending
  • Overdraft facility


Citibank logo

Citibank in The Bahamas brings global banking expertise to the table. Known for its excellent international banking services, Citibank offers a variety of financial options, including corporate, investment banking, and local demand deposit accounts. 

Throughout its history in The Bahamas, Citi has played a significant role in financing major projects in the country, particularly in areas such as public infrastructure, logistics, telecommunications, and power. You can find this institute located in Nassau.

Commercial offerings include:

  • Cash management solutions
  • Facilitating international trade
  • Digital banking
  • Foreign exchange
  • Investor solutions
  • Local markets treasury and trading
  • Working capital and short-term financing
  • Project and long-term financing

Local demand offerings include:

  • Cash deposits
  • Check deposits
  • Wire transfers
  • Availability in both local currency and foreign (USD) currency denominations


HSBC logo

HSBC has been around in The Bahamas since 1954, offering a wide range of international banking services. There is one physical location of HSBC in Nassau, but it is a limited service branch. There are no checking account, ATM or internet banking services offered at this location. The only service available is interest-bearing accounts operating by wire transfers. 

Through their online portal, HSBC offers commercial and property investing, wealth planning, bespoke financing services, and deposit accounts in all major currencies and most emerging market currencies.

Investing offerings include:

  • Advisory services
  • Discretionary services
  • Sustainable investments
  • Execution only services

Wealth planning offerings include:

  • Trust administration
  • Private family funds
  • Estate administration
  • Liquidity planning
  • Philanthropy services

Bespoke financing offerings include:

  • Lending against marketable securities and concentrated stock positions
  • Tailored mortgage solutions and home equity lines
  • Aircraft loans
  • Lending against fine art

Despot account offerings include:

  • Debit & credit cards
  • Check books
  • Domestic and international wire transfers
  • Treasury and foreign exchange services
  • DCIs (deposit instruments linked to an option)


More About Opening a Bank Account in The Bahamas

bahamas island

Can you open a US bank account in The Bahamas? 

Yes, it is possible for a US citizen to open up a US bank account in The Bahamas through either HSBC or Citibank upon submission of the necessary application documents and approval.

How long does it take to open a bank account In The Bahamas?

The time it takes to open a bank account in The Bahamas depends on the chosen bank, typically ranging around a few business days. Efficient completion of the required forms without conflicting or missing information ensures a smoother and faster process.

Can a non-resident open a bank account in The Bahamas? 

Absolutely. Offshore accounts are a major attraction when it comes to banking in The Bahamas.

What are Bahamas bank interest rates? 

Bahamian bank interest rates vary per institution, as the Central Bank does not set them. Currently, for a mortgage in The Bahamas, expect to the pay the following interest rates:

  • Scotia Bank’s rates start as low as 5.92% (APR/EAIR) 
  • Commonwealth Bank doesn’t list its interest rates online, but asks that you call in to your local branch, with your financial information in hand, to discuss your situation with a qualified loan specialist.
  • Citibank offers a range of loan options, in local or foreign currency, to serve short, medium, and long-term financing needs. While they don’t offer their specific interest rates online, they share that borrowers can expect to pay an up-front work fee, an initial commitment fee, an annual loan administration fee (usually a percentage of the loan, and the interest rate. The interest rate may be a specific rate or a floating rate. 
  • HSBC doesn’t list its mortgage loan interest rates online, but states that they “offer a wide range of rates across a broad range of residential mortgages and repayment options.” 

Can you open a bank account in The Bahamas online?

Absolutely. Most non-resident banking happens online! 


Considering Buying Property in The Bahamas?

Opening a Bahamian bank account is similar to what Americans have always been used to. Gather documents, prove your identity, prove your income, and submit. 

Thanks to advances in digital banking, the process is available online. If you’re moving to The Bahamas, this is just one of the many steps you’ll take as part of your move.   

Whether you are looking for a holiday home on your own private island or want to buy a home in Nassau, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to finding the best locations to buy property in The Bahamas.

Paradise is calling, so what are you waiting for? 

Visit MCR Bahamas today.

How to Open Up a Bank Account in The Bahamas: A Complete Guide [2024]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll to top