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Dona Timani

Restrictions on opening a bank account for certain nationalities

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Hello!

It turns out Turkish banks/Turkish government won't open bank accounts for Lebanese, Ukrainian, Georgian, or Iranian nationals. I assume the list of banned nationalities is longer, but these are the countries I remember. 

I tried with 4 different banks, Yapi Kredi, Garanti, Ziraat and HSBC, and I made sure to tell them I'm planning to make regular transfers and actively use the Turkish account, not just transfer/withdraw and disappear, and I offered whatever guarantees they may need. The first three just rejected me on the grounds of nationality, one bank checked with "a government department" first, and then told me I've been rejected by the govt. HSBC staff were more lenient at first, but they eventually still rejected me, especially when they found out that I plan to make regular transfers from my Lebanese account (which is in USD) to the Turkish account. Also, no one could give me the exact reason, at least to satisfy my curiosity -- Is it because of the US sanctions on Iran,  other sanctions, some blacklist related to money laundering.. etc.? I even called the Lebanese embassy and my local bank and they assured me there are no international restrictions on Lebanon they know of.

I think there is a workaround -- like asking the US company I work for to transfer my salary directly from US to a Turkish bank, but I'm not comfortable with that just yet. Another solution that one bank suggested: If my husband, a US citizen, opens a bank account, then I can freely transfer money from Lebanon to his account. (so the issue is not the money transfer from Lebanon anymore??)

I'm now trying to see about Transfer Wise, but from what I read on their website, they don't offer TW debit card for use in Turkey just yet. 

Eventually it's not a big deal - I can survive without a Turkish account, but it's just very inconvenient, ATM machines charge me a lot every time I withdraw money and some local websites only accept local debit/credit cards to make online purchases. 



 

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