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Top Georgian Banks for Expats Full Guide 2024




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Discover the largest banks and the best banks in Georgia. Georgia's banking sector offers a compelling mix of convenience, security, and services tailored for international clients. This guide from Gegidze provides a thorough overview of the top banks for expats, empowering you to make informed decisions about managing your finances in Georgia.



Requirements to Open a Personal Bank Account


Georgia's stable and reliable banking system offers attractive options for international individuals and businesses. With 15 commercial banks overseen by the National Bank of Georgia, the sector caters to a global clientele while providing a profitable investment environment. One key feature for investors is that Georgia isn't yet a participant in the Common Reporting Standard (CRS), the global tax information exchange system. However, do note that  Georgia plans to join the CRS shortly.


Understanding the necessary documentation is the first step when considering opening a bank account in Georgia. Thankfully, the process is generally easier and quicker than in many other countries.


Documentation for opening an account for foreigners


Be prepared to provide the following:


Documents for business accounts


Opening a corporate bank account in Georgia will likely involve: 

  • Providing the beneficiary's passport

  • A Georgian phone number

  • The company's incorporation documents (founders agreement & charter)

  • Completed application form (KYC Form)


Documents for Personal Accounts


Georgian banks reserve the right to request specific documentation. Typically, to open a personal account,  you'll need to provide 


  • Your passport as your primary identification

  • A Georgian contact number for the bank to reach you,

  • Filled-out application form (KYC Form)

  • Documents to verify your source of funds (such as client contracts or foreign bank statements). 

  • If you hold a US or UK passport, additional documents like a W8/W9 form may be necessary for tax compliance with IRS and FATCA regulations.



Register Business account in the country Georgia


Situated at the intersection of Europe and Asia, Georgia presents UK, EU, and U.S. businesses  to open bank accounts in Georgia and manage the business operation and payroll. Georgia offers a remarkable blend of opportunity and ease of doing business.


There are several advantages to opening a bank account in Georgia



Advantages of opening a bank account in Gerogia


Much simpler and faster than in the EU and U.S


Georgian banks are known for their quick and efficient processes. Expect less paperwork and faster turnaround times compared to many Western institutions.


Much cheaper than Western alternatives


Here better fees compared to Western alternatives and there are no capital controls, allowing you to send money internationally (except to sanctioned countries). 


No minimum deposit requirement 


You need no minimum deposit to open a bank account in Georgia. Also, with sufficient funds, you may qualify for premium services like a private banker.

Finally, interest rates in GEL are attractive, and the Georgian Lari demonstrates stability. Deposit rates in USD and EURO also tend to be higher than in the US and Western Europe.



Reasons Georgian banks may reject your application



Reasons Georgian banks may reject your application


Georgian banks aren't required to provide reasons for rejecting applications, but here are common factors that can lead to rejection:


Suspicious payments


If the majority of your income originates outside of Georgia, specifically from countries with less rigorous financial regulations, it can trigger suspicion. Banks must prevent money laundering, so demonstrating the legitimate source of your funds is crucial.


Unclear business model


Overly complex business models, those that are unfamiliar to the bank, or those that fall into high-risk categories (such as gambling or certain online businesses) can lead to your application being denied.  Being able to clearly explain your operations is key to building trust.


Lack of proof & information


Whether it's personal income or corporate accounts, failing to provide sufficient documentation about where your money comes from is a major red flag.  Be prepared to provide tax statements, invoices, contracts, or other evidence that supports your financial claims.


If you're unable to clearly explain specific transactions or the origin of certain funds, it can lead to your account being closed or your application being rejected. Banks need to understand your financial activities to ensure they comply with regulations.



Actions to increase your chances of approval



Actions to increase your chances of approval


To maximize your chances of success when opening a bank account in Georgia, consider these proactive steps:


Be transparent about your income


Clearly explain where your money comes from, especially if it's primarily outside Georgia. Provide supporting documentation whenever possible.


Explain the concept of your business 


If opening a corporate account, describe your business model in a clear, comprehensible way. Avoid overly complex structures if possible.


Provide strong documentation


Be meticulous in gathering proof of funds, business incorporation documents, and any other paperwork that supports the legitimacy of your financial activities.


Be prepared to answer questions


Anticipate that the bank may request additional information about specific transactions or the origin of funds. Have explanations and documentation ready.


The Big 2 Georgian Banks


When choosing a bank in Georgia, two major players stand out: TBC Bank and Bank of Georgia. These banks offer a reliable and comprehensive suite of financial services and play a significant role in the Georgian banking sector. Let's delve into a closer look at each institution and its offerings for foreigners.


Bank of Georgia 


As the oldest and one of the largest banks in Georgia, Bank of Georgia brings a wealth of experience and a commitment to serving both domestic and international clients.  Foreigners will find these benefits particularly compelling:


  • Straightforward Account Opening: Whether you prefer to visit a branch in person or explore potential remote account opening options, Bank of Georgia strives to make the process accessible for foreigners.

  • Extensive Currency Exchange: If you frequently work with multiple currencies, Bank of Georgia's support for over 35 currencies and competitive exchange rates can be a significant advantage.

  • SOLO BANK: Premium Experience: High-net-worth individuals can access the exclusive SOLO BANK platform, offering personalized services, potential financial benefits, and an elevated banking experience.


SOLO


SOLO is Bank of Georgia's high-end service with exclusive benefits.  Eligibility requires a consistent monthly account turnover of 3,000 GEL or a sizable deposit of around 25,000 GEL.


Here's what SOLO offers:


  • Specialized Cards: American Express Gold Elite at a special price, Visa Platinum, and American Express Platinum, each with benefits like free withdrawals, higher limits, and rewards.

  • Digital Banking Suite: Free online banking, SMS banking, mobile banking, email banking, automatic payments, and standing orders.

  • VIP Treatment: Access to special VIP departments in branches and exclusive SOLO lounges with business meeting facilities.

  • Priority Pass (Reduced Price): Enjoy airport VIP lounges worldwide.

  • Insurance Packages: Preferential insurance options with the potential to extend benefits to a spouse via SOLO FAMILY.

  • Interest on Balances: Earn 4% in GEL and 1% in USD (Visa Platinum).

  • SOLO Account Costs: The monthly commission is approximately 35 GEL, with additional fees possible depending on the chosen card type (e.g., American Express Platinum has an annual fee of around 1,000 GEL).


TBC Bank 


TBC Bank, founded in 1992, is one of the leading financial institutions in Georgia. With a nationwide network of branches and ATMs, TBC offers a wide range of banking solutions for individuals and businesses alike. Here's what you need to know as a foreigner considering TBC Bank:


Account opening and accessibility


  • Convenient Access: TBC makes account opening easy, whether you prefer to visit a branch in person or explore potential remote options. Find branches and ATMs throughout Georgia for everyday banking needs and withdrawals.


Personal account options


  • TBC Subscription: This popular card program offers flexibility with three tiers (2, 5, or 10 GEL monthly). All plans include basic banking services, with varying features like ATM withdrawal limits and commission fees. The 10 GEL option includes a DG pass for secure transaction authorization.

  • Digital Card: This affordable Visa Gold type card (1 GEL monthly) is ideal for daily transactions – shopping, e-commerce, and ATM withdrawals.

  • Mix Debit Card: Another versatile option for everyday banking needs. Carefully compare commission rates, purchase limits, and withdrawal limits to choose the right card for your spending patterns.


Business accounts


The TBC Business Card offers a perfect blend of convenience and affordability. With a 150 GEL annual fee and no minimum balance requirement, it's an accessible solution for streamlining your business finances.


Key advantages include:


  • Cost-Effective Cash Access: Enjoy minimal ATM fees (0.2% min. 0.2 GEL) at TBC Bank, VTB Bank, Halyk Bank, and Basis Bank.

  • Flexible Transactions: Zero merchant fees make in-store or online purchases seamless.

  • Ample Spending Power: Generous weekly purchase limit of 100,000 GEL (or equivalent).

  • Manage Cash Flow: Conveniently withdraw at banks (TBC Bank unlimited, others up to 35,000 GEL equivalent daily) and ATMs (up to 20,000 GEL daily, or 75,000 GEL weekly).


TBC business platinum


Maximize your financial potential with the TBC Business Platinum. Designed for companies that frequently handle large transactions, this premium card (250 GEL annual fee) offers exceptional benefits:


  • Minimal Cash Fees: Benefit from the same low ATM fees (0.2% min. 0.2 GEL) at select banks.

  • Effortless Transactions: Enjoy zero merchant fees for all your purchases.

  • Unmatched Spending Power: Take advantage of a significantly increased 200,000 GEL (or equivalent) weekly purchase limit.

  • Enhanced Cash Access: Experience the freedom of unlimited withdrawals at TBC Bank branches, and higher limits at other banks (up to 70,000 GEL daily equivalent). Increase your daily ATM withdrawal limit to 50,000 GEL (or 200,000 GEL weekly).


TBC concept


Launched in 2020, TBC Concept targets high-end clients (Visa Platinum/MasterCard World Elite holders).  


TBC Concept Premium extends its premium banking services to both residents and non-residents of Georgia. This means that even without permanent residency, you can benefit from exclusive cards like Visa Platinum or Mastercard World Elite, personalized financial guidance, access to TBC Concept lounges, and additional benefits. 


Premium Banking Experience

  • Dedicated personal banker for tailored financial guidance

  • Access to exclusive Concept lounges and meeting rooms

  • 24/7 Concept Assistant for around-the-clock support


Enhanced Cards & Cash Access

  • Visa Platinum or Mastercard World Elite

  • Free cash withdrawals at TBC and partner ATMs

  • Generous daily and weekly withdrawal limits

Rewards & Perks

  • Interest on available card balances exceeding 1,000 GEL

  • Cashback on co-working spaces, cafés, and stores

  • Travel insurance with TBC Insurance

  • Special offers and discounts at select locations


Everyday Convenience

  • Free external transfers (GEL and foreign currency)

  • Current account and My Safe deposit with favorable terms

  • Free utility payments through digital channels

  • Financial statements and balance sheets readily available


The basic package - “Digital kit” pricing starts from 15 GEL annually. 


Benefits of TBC Concept


Check out TBC Concept benefits:


  • Advantageous Cash Withdrawals: High withdrawal limits and 0% commission at ATMs.

  • Discounts and Perks: Exclusive offers at hotels and luxury shops in Georgia.

  • Concierge Services: Assistance with non-banking tasks like booking hotels, flights, or flower deliveries.

  • Digital and Premium Packages: The Digital package (120 GEL annually) requires an active account and provides extended online banking and offers. The Premium package (240 GEL annually) includes a dedicated advisor and requires a 3000 GEL account turnover, a sizable deposit, or a TBC loan.

  • Concept Space Access: Use the stylish meeting space on K. Marjanishvili Street in Tbilisi for a reduced fee (reservation required).



Other Banking Options in country Georgia


Liberty Bank


Liberty Bank is one of Georgia's leading banks, ranking third in total assets. It boasts a wide branch network for accessibility.  Services include personal and business accounts, various cards, loans, money transfers, and mobile payment compatibility. Liberty Wealth, their private banking division, caters to high-net-worth individuals. As of 2022,  Liberty Bank held a 5.00% market share with substantial total assets (3,640.59 million GEL). 


For high-net-worth individuals seeking tailored financial solutions, Liberty Bank's private banking division, Liberty Wealth, provides specialized services.


Procredit


Procredit Bank is a Georgian financial institution with a distinct emphasis on supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and promoting sustainable banking practices. Procredit offers various financing options for businesses, including standard loans, credit lines, overdrafts, and specialized products for environmentally conscious investments.


Basisbank


BasisBank is a Georgian banking institution and part of the Hualing Group, a Chinese investment group.  Foreigners with a Georgian residence card can easily open a personal bank account at BasisBank without restrictions. Individuals without residency will likely encounter additional steps in the account opening process.


Unlike some other Georgian banks, BasisBank provides UnionPay cards.  This may be particularly valuable for individuals conducting frequent transactions with China. 


Cartu Bank


Founded by Georgian billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, Cartu Bank positions itself as a premium financial institution focused on high-net-worth individuals and businesses.  The bank is wholly owned by the Cartu Group and emphasizes high quality and exclusivity in its financial services. 


Cartu offers a variety of personal banking cards in both Visa and Mastercard categories. These include high-prestige options like "MasterCard World Elite" and "Visa Infinite," which come with exclusive perks such as a Georgian concierge service and various discounts.  


Ziraat Bank Georgia


Ziraat Bank Georgia is a subsidiary of a prominent Turkish financial institution, with the Republic of Turkey as its sole shareholder. This connection offers distinct advantages for individuals and businesses with financial ties to Turkey. Ziraat excels in facilitating seamless money transfers to and from Turkey. Additionally, clients can open deposit accounts in Turkish Lira, Georgian Lari, US Dollars, or Euros, providing flexibility for those with multi-currency needs.


Terabank


Terabank reflects a global influence, with 45% ownership by The Dhabi Group, a prominent business group based in the United Arab Emirates. This connection potentially provides TeraBank with access to international resources and expertise 


The bank primarily focuses on retail banking, offering a variety of Visa and Mastercard card options to its customers. 


Other minor banks rarely used by foreigners


While the major Georgian banks typically attract the most foreign clients, there are several smaller institutions worth mentioning:


  • Halyk Bank: A subsidiary of a larger Kazakhstani bank, potentially offering some expertise in cross-border transactions within that region.

  • Pasha Bank/Re Bank: Pasha Bank (Azerbaijan) recently acquired Re Bank. It's worth monitoring how this merger may change their offerings and services.

  • Credo Bank: Credo focuses on micro and small businesses along with retail banking, potentially offering niche support for entrepreneurs.

  • Silk Road Bank: A smaller bank that could provide personalized service, but their range of offerings might be more limited.


Advantages of Georgian banking



Advantages of Georgian banking


Global banking standards


Georgian banks offer the comprehensive services you'd expect from leading institutions, including internet banking, internationally recognized debit/credit cards, and efficient transaction processing.


IBAN compatibility


Georgia's use of the International Bank Account Number (IBAN) system guarantees seamless cross-border transfers.


Remote account opening


A significant benefit is the option to open an account remotely using a Power of Attorney (POA). This eliminates the need for in-person visits, though US citizens may still find it advantageous to travel to Georgia for this process.


Important Considerations


Two-step verification


Georgian banks have strengthened their compliance with EU regulations by implementing a two-tier verification process. This means your application and supporting documents will undergo a review before approval.


Non - CRS status


Georgia remains a non-CRS country for the time being. However, as it pursues EU membership, it will inevitably adopt the Common Reporting Standard. This will lead to increased banking regulations in the near future.


Favorable deposit conditions


Georgia boasts competitive interest rates on USD and Euro deposits and has no minimum deposit requirements. Some banks offer premium services with a private banker for those maintaining larger balances.


Stable currency


The Georgian Lari (₾ Symbol/GEL) has demonstrated stability and growth. Its current healthy interest rates make it attractive for deposits.



Why Choose country Georgia?



Georgian bank account remotely


Premium service at lower cost


Georgian banks maintain high-quality standards while charging significantly lower fees than Western counterparts. Plus, there are no capital controls, giving you freedom in international transfers (except to sanctioned destinations).


Seamless digital banking


Online and remote banking are well-developed in Georgia, ensuring easy transactions from anywhere.



Georgia's Digital and Crypto-Friendly Banking


Georgia's liberal cryptocurrency laws and welcoming 0% tax on trading income make it a prime destination for savvy crypto investors. If you're seeking a legal and straightforward way to cash out your Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, Georgia offers compelling opportunities.


With dedicated services that streamline the crypto-to-fiat exchange process, sometimes even directly into your commercial bank account, you can enjoy tax-free gains. Act now, as favorable regulations could change in the future.

Beyond liquidation, Georgia opens doors for both residents and non-residents to directly invest in real estate using cryptocurrency.



Georgia Tax Residency, Taxation, and Residency


Georgian Residency: Your Key to Tax Advantages


Georgia's tax system is notably friendly to foreigners. Its territorial approach means you generally won't pay tax on income earned outside the country.  Understanding how to become a tax resident is crucial to reap these benefits. (Guide to Taxes in Georgia 2024: Income, Corporate, VAT, and More.)


Two Main Paths to Tax Residency


  • The 183-Day Rule: The simplest way. If you spend at least half the year (183 days) physically in Georgia within any 12 months, you automatically qualify as a tax resident. Those days don't need to be consecutive.

  • High Net Worth Individual (HNWI) Program:  This accelerated option is for those with:

  • Assets over 3,000,000 Georgian Lari (~$1,300,000)

  • OR annual income exceeding 200,000 GEL (~$77,000) for the past 3 years.

  • You must also hold Georgian residency or citizenship, OR show some Georgian-sourced income.

Benefits of Georgian Tax Residency


  • Low tax rates on both personal and business income.

  • Protection from double taxation (Georgia has agreements with 55+ countries).

  • Potential tax exemption on foreign-sourced income (with careful planning).

  • Easier access to Georgian banking services.



Lowest corporate tax in the world - country Georgia


Georgia stands out as a global contender when it comes to its exceptionally low corporate tax rates. This makes it a highly attractive destination for businesses looking to optimize their tax strategies.


Who Pays CIT?


  • Resident Companies: If your business is headquartered in Georgia, you'll be taxed on your worldwide income at the standard 15% CIT rate. This means even profits earned abroad are subject to Georgian tax.

  • Non-Resident Companies: If your business operates outside Georgia but generates income within the country (and has a physical presence), you'll only pay CIT on that Georgian-sourced income.


CIT Triggers: When Tax Kicks In


Georgia employs a unique approach, focusing on how profits are used.


Typical scenarios that incur CIT include:


  • Distributing Profits: Paying dividends to shareholders generally triggers CIT (with some exceptions).

  • Non-Business Spending: Expenses unrelated to your core business operations can lead to CIT.

  • Gifts and Giveaways: Free products, services, or unexplained inventory losses are viewed similarly to profit distribution.

  • Excessive Expenses: Client entertainment and similar costs have limits. Exceed those, and the excess may be taxed.


Special Tax Incentives


  • Virtual Zone Companies: IT-related businesses within designated "Virtual Zones" enjoy a 0% CIT rate.

  • Free Industrial Zones (FIZ): Businesses established in a FIZ are also exempt from CIT.

  • International Company Status: Companies with this status benefit from a reduced 5% CIT rate specifically on profit distributions.



Aspect

Detail

General Tax Rate

15%

For Financial Institutions

20%

Resident Companies

Taxed on worldwide income

Non-Resident Companies

Taxed on income generated within Georgia

CIT Triggers

Profit Distributions, Non-Business Expenses, Free Products/Services, Excessive Representative Expenses


Special Tax Incentives


Aspect

Aspect

Virtual Zone Companies

0% CIT rate for companies operating within designated "Virtual Zones"

Free Industrial Zones (FIZ)

0% CIT rate for businesses established within Free Industrial Zones (FIZ)

International Company Status

Reduced 5% CIT rate upon profit distribution for companies with International Company Status



Banking Services for Expatriates


Georgia's banking sector prioritizes digital solutions, offering expatriates exceptional convenience.  Prominent banks like Bank of Georgia and TBC provide robust online and mobile banking platforms for streamlined financial management.


Internet Banking: Remote Financial Control


  • Bank of Georgia internet online banking: Bank of Georgia's platform facilitates essential services like bill payments, transfers, and account monitoring – accessible 24/7.

  • TBC's internet bank: TBC offers a comparable internet banking experience, empowering users to handle most transactions without visiting a branch.


Mobile Banking: Unrestricted Access


  • Mobile bank Georgia: Bank of Georgia's mobile app ensures on-the-go banking. Check balances, execute transfers, and manage finances with ease.

  • TBC Mobile Banking: TBC's app delivers a user-friendly mobile banking experience, allowing you to stay in control of your finances wherever you are.


Advantages of Digital Banking for Expats


  • Convenience: Conduct banking tasks on your own schedule, unbound by branch hours or location.

  • Security: Reputable Georgian banks employ advanced security protocols to safeguard online and mobile transactions.

  • Efficiency: Digital banking streamlines processes, freeing up valuable time and reducing the need for in-person visits.



Accessing Financial Services


ATMs: The Cash Connection


  • Bank of Georgia and TBC Bank: Both major banks have extensive ATM networks across the country. These are your go-to for cash withdrawals, balance checks, and basic account services.

  • Convenient Locations: You'll find ATMs in major cities, smaller towns, airports, and often within shopping centers or near tourist attractions.

  • Fee Considerations: Using your foreign bank card might incur fees. Check with your home bank and consider a fee-friendly Georgian bank account as an alternative.


Bank Branches: When You Need In-Person Assistance


  • Major Cities and Towns: Bank of Georgia, TBC Bank, Liberty bank have branches throughout Georgia, with denser concentrations in urban areas.

  • Essential Services: Branches are ideal for opening new accounts, handling complex transactions or inquiries, or resolving technical issues with online banking.

  • Beyond Banking: Some branches may offer additional services like currency exchange or financial consultations.



Business and Investment Banking


Georgia offers a dynamic environment for business and investment banking, driven by its strategic location, growing economy, and favorable regulatory framework. While still developing compared to major financial hubs, the sector presents unique opportunities for businesses and investors.


Key Players


  • Major Georgian Banks: Institutions like TBC Bank and Bank of Georgia play a central role in business and investment banking. They offer services like:

  • Corporate Lending

  • Project Finance

  • Trade Finance

  • Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A) advisory

  • International Banks: A limited number of global banks have a presence in Georgia, catering primarily to larger corporations and multinational clients.

  • Specialized Investment Firms: Smaller, boutique firms are emerging, offering niche expertise in areas like private equity and venture capital.


Areas of Focus


  • Infrastructure Development: Georgia's infrastructural needs drive demand for project finance and advisory services within sectors like energy, transportation, and utilities.

  • Growing SME Sector: The expanding small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) landscape creates opportunities for corporate lending and tailored financial solutions.

  • Regional Trade: Georgia's position as a regional crossroads fuels trade finance activities, supporting import and export businesses.

  • Emerging Industries: Sectors like technology, tourism, and agriculture hold potential for investment banking activity as they mature and attract capital.


Opportunities and Considerations


  • Favorable Business Environment: Georgia boasts pro-business policies, ease of doing business, and a relatively streamlined regulatory landscape.

  • Untapped Potential: The market is less saturated than established financial centers, offering room for growth and innovation.

  • Developing Ecosystem: Access to deep pools of capital and highly specialized expertise may be limited compared to major financial hubs.



Expatriate Banking Essentials


In Georgia, expatriate banking is designed to meet the needs of foreigners and non-residents with services like account opening, international banking, and offshore account management. Banks offer options for remote account setup, making it convenient for expatriates to start banking without needing to be physically present in the country. This facilitates access to financial services for those relocating or investing in Georgia, with competitive banking fees and a focus on customer service to cater to the international community.



Navigating Georgian Taxation


Here is the overview of tax rates in Georgia including corporate, income, VAT, etc.


Tax Category

Rate

Details

Retained Profits

0%

Corporate Income Tax: Earnings kept within the company or reinvested are not taxed.

Profit Distribution

15%

Corporate Income Tax: Taxed at the time profits are distributed to shareholders.

Dividend Tax

5%

Personal Dividend Tax: This applies to individuals receiving distributions. Exemptions may apply for distributions to Georgian companies.

Employee Salaries

20%

Income Tax: Withheld by the LLC from employee paychecks.

Employee Pension Contributions

2% + 2%

Additional contribution (on salary fund and gross salary, respectively) for Georgian residents or citizens.

VAT

18%

Applies to businesses with taxable turnover exceeding 100,000 GEL in 12 months.



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FAQs


Where is the country Georgia


Georgia is a country located in the Caucasus region, strategically situated at the intersection of Eastern Europe and Western Asia. This unique geographical positioning has historically made Georgia a cultural and commercial bridge between Europe and Asia, contributing to its rich history, diverse culture, and significant geopolitical importance.


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