5 min Reading time
Access to a bank account is essential to be able to function in our society. That’s why Belgian banks are offering a basic banking service to residents of Ukraine who have had to leave their country because of the war.
The outbreak of war in Ukraine is causing unspeakable human suffering and many people have been forced to leave the country and seek protection in the European Union. They have to get organised as well as possible in a short period of time so as to be able to function in a totally new environment. That’s why the Belgian banks are offering a basic banking service that allows them to open a current account to carry out various bank transactions. After all, access to a bank account is essential to be able to take part in daily life in our society.
The FAQ list is a guide to the basic banking service offered to refugees and asylum seekers, including the Ukrainian refugees who find themselves in this situation.
When someone is entitled to the basic banking service, this means that for a limited amount they can open a current account with a Belgian bank to carry out basic transactions such as cash withdrawals, payments by transfer or payment card and the creation of standing orders and direct debit instructions.
Every Belgian credit institution offers a basic service like this, which can be obtained by filling in the application form that they provide for this purpose.
In 2016, the bank sector drew up an FAQ list providing more information about access to the basic banking service for asylum seekers and recognised refugees. These guidelines of course also apply to the war refugees from Ukraine.
The existing identification rules for entering into an ordinary customer relationship also apply for the basic banking service: in line with the usual procedure in the context of the anti-money laundering legislation, banks are obliged to identify their customers. They also have to be able to verify their identity, otherwise a basic banking service cannot be authorised. The bank will ask for the surname and first name, date and place of birth and (temporary) place of residence.
Asylum seekers, recognised refugees or those with subsidiary protection status can prove their identity using an identity document issued by the Belgian authorities, for example:
More information about the official documents required for the basic banking service is available in the FAQ list.
Important: Since 7 March 2022, Ukrainian refugees (with their identity documents) have been able to apply for a certificate of temporary protection from the Immigration Office that also gives them the possibility of using the basic banking service. For additional information about the certificate of temporary protection, please consult the Immigration Office website.