Opening a Bank Account in Armenia

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There are both local and international banks in Armenia, the latter of which are either fully or partially owned by non-Armenian investors. ACBA-Credit Agricole Bank’s 28% is owned by the French Credit Agricole Banking Group, Russian Gazprombank owns Areximbank, 100% of Anelik Bank’s shares belong to Lebanese Credit Bank, the Byblos Bank shares are split between EBRD, OFID and the Lebanese Byblos Bank, while Mellat Bank belongs to the Iranian bank of the same name, ProCredit Bank to the German, and VTB to the Russian.

All banks have Internet Banking services, which usually requires a one-time payment. Mobile Banking is also extremely common and easier than Web. Most top currencies are handled by all banks, including the Japanese Yen, Swiss Franc, etc. The most commonly used currencies are the AMD, USD, GPB, EUR, and RUB, however. You will have to check individual banks to see what currencies they work with.

Generally it is free to open an account in AMD, though there may be a small cost for other currencies. The maintenance for individuals can range up to 1000 AMD, while it may go up to around 5000 AMD for legal entities. Closing the account will also be around 1000 AMD for individuals and 2000 AMD for legal entities. Pension, state support and social package accounts have certain interest rates that accrue over time as well. Some banks require a minimum balance in the accounts, while others allow you to keep it at 0.

You can have a bank account open and in service within 30 minutes of you walking into the building, but for residents it is usually said to wait up to 2 days. Non-residents may have to wait up to 2 weeks, especially if done remotely. 

A bank account allows you to pay and get paid, receive a savings interest or open a credit line, pay for utilities and most anything else required in the country. While residents and citizens can open a bank account with only a passport or other simple identification, those of non-Armenian nationalities may be required to provide multiple documents, depending on the bank and the residency of those applying for an account.

This is with the exception of Iranian citizens, where some banks are more lenient in the documentation required. If you leave an account inactive, a bank might decide to close it after 14 months have passed since the last activity. 

Personal and Business Accounts

Documents required to open a bank account, make a deposit, receive a credit/debit card or rent a safe include:
-Passport for ID (Special passports aka 10-year visas work perfectly with this as well)
-Social Security Number (SSN)
-Copy of the passport translated to Armenian (if the applicant does not live in Armenia and does not have a residence card). 
-Form filled out at the bank by teller
-Some banks will require proof of residence in the form of utility bills or other bank statements
-Sample of card signature to compare with
-Those under 18 will require an added proof of legal representative’s status in Armenia, as well as written approval by said representative to open the account. 

If you own a business or legal entity in Armenia, you will need the following documents as a resident:
-ID
-SSN
-Document with Tax identification number
-IDs of those who can operate the account
-Service Certificate/Appointment order for notary
-Application/documentation filled at bank

Information to note:

US Citizens: you will be required to sign a form called a FATCA. In an effort to decrease the number of offshore accounts about which they have no information, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of the United States created the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or FATCA.

For jurisdictions (e.g. countries) or banks which agree to the terms set by the IRS, all US citizens who open bank accounts within that jurisdiction or bank are required to fill out a FATCA form. This informs the IRS that a US citizen has a bank account abroad and it can call upon that banking institution to divulge the banking information of that individual if it finds it necessary.

Non-residents may be able to open accounts in most banks remotely, by submitting the originals of all documents required by the bank, verified by a public notary. They are generally accepted in Armenian, English and Russian, but may accept documents in other languages as well, upon agreement. 

Loans

There are multiple types of loans one can get, but only if you are a resident or national of Armenia. These include:
-Personal (spent on whatever you wish): ranging from 11-25%, depending on the bank and promotions currently at hand. The amount you can take out ranges from bank to bank, generally up to 2,000,000 AMD. With collateral, this might increase to 20,000,000 AMD. 
-Real Estate: This can be used to acquire, renovate or construct residential and non-residential real estate and ranges in maturity and interest rates, as well as loan to collateral ratios. 
-Car: Generally the car financed is used at the collateral here, while most banks have working relationships with car dealers to help make the payments an easier process. These are given only in AMD and range in interest rates, floating around the 15-20% range. 
-Student: These loans do not exceed the tuition fee and transferred directly to the educational institution and has around 12% in interest, reduced should the student bring excellent results. Some student loans range up to 20% however. Loans are also available for parents of younger children studying at private schools. 
-Consumer: Loans are given at over 20% rates for the buying of home supplies.
-Agricultural: Agricultural loans have a lower interest rate of 10% or under, depending on the currency obtained with. Some. However, can also range up to 24%. 
-Healthy Life: Some banks have partnerships with gyms that allow for credit cards used specifically for a healthier lifestyle. It can range up to 1,000,000 AMD and has a rather high interest rate of over 20%. 

One can also obtain a credit line or gold-secured loans. Remember that the numbers listed are always changing and you should check with your bank to see if their terms suit your needs. Shop around for each loan separately. 

by Tamar Najarian

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