If you plan to live in Mexico, or work or buy a home here, a local bank account provides essential services to help you manage payments and day-to-day banking.
You need to be a legal resident in Mexico to open an account here, and you need to attend a local Mexican bank branch in person to make an application.
Proof of legal residency in Mexico
Almost all Mexican banks require persons asking to open a bank account to have legal residency status in Mexico, and will ask to see a residency card, Residente Temporal or Residente Permanente. You’ll also need your current passport and other documentation (see below) as part of the account opening process.
Choosing the type of account you need
When you attend the bank, a representative will talk with you about the types of account offered by the bank.
Most foreign residents opt to open a checking account that enables them to:
- receive deposits from other bank accounts in Mexico and banks overseas; and
- send payments to others using online banking; and
- make payments to traders and service providers (in person and online) using a debit card; and
- some accounts offer a paper check book, although paper checks are rarely seen and used in Mexico now.
Check the terms and fees of the account you select
Many bank accounts require you to hold minimum deposits on account otherwise they will debit monthly charges that will eventually drain the account of any funds you have on deposit in them.
Check the terms of the account including minimum balances, monthly account fees, charges for using ATMs, as well as any penally charges and interest that might accrue on the account if you breach its terms or conditions.
Documents required to open a bank account in Mexico
When you attend the bank, the representative will ask you for various documents including:
- your current passport; and
- your Mexico residency card (not your residency visa); and
- proof of address in Mexico—usually a recent electricity bill; and
- banks may also ask for your RFC.
They will also ask you to make a deposit to open the account, equivalent to at least the minimum deposit balance required to maintain the account open.
Most new customers make this initial deposit in cash. The bank might accept an international transfer-in to the account by prior arrangement; ask locally.
When the account is opened and set-up, you will be provided with:
- A bank account reference number associated with your name.
- A debit card (this might be provided on the day, or you might have to return later to pick it up).
- The bank’s system will also send you an email that contains a User ID and password to access your account online and via smartphone app.
- For security, the banks require you to visit a branch in person to complete the online/app set-up process.
Accounts to individuals are offered only in Mexican pesos
Any funds you wire to your Mexican account will be converted into Mexican pesos.
Some banks offer ‘accounts’ in US dollars to individuals, but these are not deposit accounts although they might exhibit some features typical of a deposit account. They are investment accounts, and they might or might not be covered under the IPAB depositor insurance scheme.
Managing your bank account in Mexico
When your account is set-up and active you will be able to bank in Mexico. As a minimum, customers are usually provided with the following facilities:
Your bank account number
You can quote your account number (CLABE or Card Number) to others so that they can make electronic deposits directly into your Mexican account in-person at the bank or convenience store, or via an online transfer using a smartphone app or internet banking access.
International payments into your Mexican bank account will require you to quote the IBAN number that your bank can furnish you with; this contains the international routing number for the bank in addition to your personal account number.
The bank will furnish you with a debit card that you can use at ATMs in Mexico. You might also be able to use this at ATMs outside of Mexico, depending on the account type; ask your bank representative for details, and about the charges the bank makes for use of your debit card outside of Mexico.
Some debit cards can also be used for purchases in stores and online. Online purchases usually require you to authorize each purchase via the smartphone app, for security.
Online banking and smartphone apps
The bank will also provide you with the details you’ll need to logon to your account online (using a web browser) and/or via a banking app via your smartphone.
The bank’s smartphone app provides immediate access to a range of helpful banking transactions including. Features include:
- View recent and historical your account activity.
- Transfer money between your accounts.
- Make electronic payments to other Mexican bank accounts
- Top-up pre-pay Mexican mobile telephone numbers.
- Pay for utilties including electricity and phone companies.
- Authorize payments made using your card online.
- Some apps provide a ‘virtual card number’ for online payments. The security code changes with each payment and makes it virtually impossible for your card number to be cloned and misused by others.
- Set-up a ‘cardless’ cash withdrawal: the app gives you a code that anyone can take to an ATM and withdraw a prescribed amount of cash from your account.
- Buy a range of other financial services, like travel insurance.
Mexican cell phone may be required
Some banks require you to have a smartphone to open and manage your account through the mobile banking app they provide.
If you use an Apple iPhone note that you might not be able to download some of these Apps if your iPhone account is not linked to Mexico. (If you use an Android smartphone this is not an issue.)
Some foreign residents who have iPhones linked to an account in their home country purchase an Android phone (or use a different iPhone with a separate account) to manage their Mexican bank account in Mexico.
You can learn about Mexican cell phone plans here.
Some bank accounts in Mexico will furnish you with a checkbook to write paper checks, although this is not common these days.
Most people make and receive payments electronically using a debit card (in stores, online) or using direct electronic transfer to others—to individuals or a company they are trading with. The smartphone apps (see above) make this easy to do.
If you want a paper checkbook, be sure to talk with the bank’s representative to ensure that the account you open can have a checkbook.
Learn about managing your money in Mexico
Mexperience offers you a wealth of information about Mexico’s money, banking services, and banknotes.
- Learn more about managing your money in Mexico
- Articles about Mexico’s banknotes
- Latest articles about the Mexican peso
- Latest articles about money and finance in Mexico
- Latest articles about health and safety in Mexico
The information published in this article is provided for general information in good faith and is not intended as personal, legal, financial or investment advice.