Open a bank account

Belgium has been moving towards becoming a cashless society and, as a result, has one of the most modern and efficient financial frameworks in the world.

Whether you’re staying a few months or moving there permanently, one of the first things you’ll need is a Belgian bank account.

Having a bank account in Belgium will make your live easier in order to pay rent and utilities, your phone contract, gym membership, receive your salary.... A Belgian bank account may also facilitate your application for a mortgage in Belgium.

Opening a Belgian bank account is pretty straightforward. To do that you must be 18 or older, be able to verify your identity (national ID card or passport) and address in Belgium (utility bill, rental contract, document from the commune). Each bank has its process for opening a new account. One might require you to visit a bank in person and the other will let you submit everything online.

Some of the large banks also offer an expat service that allows you to open the account online before you move to Belgium. You will then need to inform the bank once your residence permit has been issued.

A standard Belgian bank account is set up for deposits, withdrawals, and online banking. It has an International Bank Account Number (IBAN) and allows you to move money between other Single Euro Payment Area (SEPA) accounts free of charge.
Belgian IBAN has 16 digits and consists of a country code, account number and a numeric verification key. It looks like this:

BE61 3101 2698 5517 which consists of [BE] + [2 check digits] + [12 digits of your bank account number]

You’ll also come across the BIC (Bank Identifier Code) and SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications) acronyms that are used interchangeably. They refer to the bank managing your account and are usually necessary for SEPA transfers.

Using a bank account

As soon as your account is open you can withdraw money and make payments. Payments in Belgium are generally made by electronic debit card or credit card. The most common debit card in Belgium is known as the “Mister Cash/Bancontact card”. It is a chip card that has a four-digit PIN code. The use of cheques is now almost obsolete in Belgium.


  • Make sure your bank has a user-friendly app or an online banking method that lets you receive and transfer funds quickly and easily
  • Check the rate of charges for a current account, as these can vary between banks.

Banking for expats

Due to the large expat presence in Belgium, you’ll find many banks with international capabilities and English-speaking services. The largest banks in Belgium are Belfius, BNP Paribas, ING Bank and KBC Bank (known as CBC in French).

The following banks offer an expat desk in Brussels:

They generally offer an optional comprehensive service to expats. This service (which involves an annual charge) includes a current account, debit card, credit card and transfer forms. It also includes advantageous financial and insurance packages geared towards the expat resident in Belgium.

Alongside these major banks, which have several hundred branches across the country, there are also numerous independent banking networks, private banks and online banks.

Following your needs or budget, you may be looking for specific services. That’s why we invite you to use an online comparison tool such as comparatif-compte-bancaire, mes-finances, test-achats,

Find more info on Expatica.