Banking, Money and Taxes in Bahrain

Bahrain's economy, though strong, is heavily reliant on petroleum and aluminium production, and its growth slowed down somewhat as a result of the global economic crisis.

However, Bahrain remains one of the most important centres for Islamic banking in the Middle East, and expats relocating there can look forward to dealing with banking services that are efficient and reliable.

Money in Bahrain

The currency used in Bahrain is the Bahraini Dinar (BHD), which is divided into 1,000 fils.

Coins: 5, 10, 25, 50 and 100 fils  

Notes: ½ BHD, 1 BHD, 5 BHD, 10 BHD and 20 BHD

Banking in Bahrain

The Central Bank of Bahrain is the island's monetary authority and is a solid choice for expats looking for a local bank. For those who prefer to bank internationally, there are also a host of foreign and multinational banks with branches in Bahrain.

An alternative for expats is opening an international account for use in Bahrain through a bank in their country of origin. International accounts can be opened before arriving in Bahrain, and will provide access to a wide range of international banking services, such as high-interest savings account options and online money transfer services. Some expats report that they prefer the convenience and security of having their finances centralised in this way.

Opening hours for banks in Bahrain conform to Islamic culture and are generally between 7.30am and 2.30pm, from Sunday to Thursday.

ATMs and credit cards in Bahrain

There are plenty of ATMs in Bahrain and expats won't need to look too hard to find one. The majority of ATMs offer 24-hour service, and customers withdrawing cash using a bank card issued by any Bahraini bank will incur no charges at the machines.

Bahraini society is very much cash-based, with very few people using credit or debit cards for small purchases. The use of cheques is almost unheard of.

Opening a bank account in Bahrain

Expats find that opening a bank account in Bahrain is a bit more of a hassle than in other Gulf countries, as the process is stringently administered, and requires a lot of paperwork.

Expats looking to open a bank account in Bahrain must appear at the prospective bank in person, and in possession of a number of documents. The exact requirements vary from bank to bank, but a passport, work and/or residence permit, and proof of residence (such as a utilities bill or rental agreement) will usually be required.

Taxes in Bahrain

One of the great incentives for expats moving to Bahrain is that there is either very little personal or income tax levied against their salary each month, or none at all.

However, before getting too excited, expats are strongly advised to research whether a double taxation avoidance agreement exists between Bahrain and their country of origin. If not, expats will have to pay tax in their country of origin on the money they earn in Bahrain.