Update: You can now open a domiciliary account as described in this article with just your BVN. No extra documentation required.
Do you know you can open a domiciliary account in Nigeria without references in just 5 minutes?
Yes, that’s right.
If you do online business, freelancing, blogging via adsense, or affiliate marketing in Nigeria, then you would have encountered some issues with getting paid earnings that you worked hard for.
I remembered when I first made my first Adsense payment threshold of $100. I withdrew the money to a local Nigerian bank and I lost almost half of that earning. Apparently, the bank used their own exchange rate, which was lower than the normal Naira to Dollar rate, and then paid me in Naira.
I hated this and wanted to change it. The only way was to get a domiciliary account so I could receive my adsense payment in dollars and exchange at any rate that is favorable to me.
That period, I went to so many banks in Nigeria and asked to open a domiciliary account. All the banks I met told me blankly to get 2 references before I could open a domiciliary account with their branch.
I think at some point, I gave up because I couldn’t source for references who held current accounts with the same bank.
The Constantly Changing CBN Forex Policy
The CBN policy is even making things harder. Nowadays, when you receive money from abroad, you are not even sure if the amount would hit your bank account or be bounced back.
The CBN Forex policy that changes almost on a daily basis has now made it compulsory for any serious Nigerian doing online business to have a domiciliary account.
Before now, you could receive foreign transfer into your account, but can only use it for online payments. Apparently, the CBN instructed all banks that Forex that can be withdrawn are those that are deposited by the account holder themselves. Any other foreign transfer into the account can only be spent via online foreign transfer.
But now, the new CBN policy is that you can only receive your earnings in dollars, or in the same currency that it is sent, instead of the automated exchange into Naira.
I think now, it is best to just get a domiciliary account and get peace of mind rather than worrying if your money will get to Nigeria or not.
How Does A Domiciliary Account Work In Nigeria?
A domiciliary account is simply a foreign account that is domiciled in Nigeria. It could be dollars, euros, or pounds.
So, when you get paid in dollars, you can actually withdraw the dollars in cash here in Nigeria. No need expecting the banks to help you receive the money, exchange it at their own rates, and deposit it into your Naira account.
So, if you receive a lot of foreign currency, it is best to get a domiciliary account because it gives you a lot of control. Imagine if you want to spray dollars at a wedding occasion. A domiciliary account gives you the option to do that. You can just withdraw some cold hard dollars and use as you please.
Opening A Domiciliary Account Without References
So, I literally gave up on opening a domiciliary account in Nigeria without references. I spoke with almost all the banks, and none of them could help me.
I went online and searched “how to open a domiciliary account in Nigeria” and yet, there was no solution.
I was about giving up until an idea struck me. What if those bank reps don’t know what they are saying? What if there was a way to do this, but the guys at the bank are not aware? You know all these bank people. They can be very rigid and hard to convince.
So, I decided to go to the website of each bank to check for myself. Here are the list of bank websites I checked:
- First Bank
- Zenith Bank
- Access Bank
- Diamond Bank (defunct)
- Fidelity Bank
All I did was check the requirements needed to open a domiciliary account with each bank. All the banks required that I get 2 references before I could open a domiciliary account except one.
The only bank without that requirement is UBA.
I screamed aha. I gotcha! And ran to the nearest UBA bank I know. When I got there, I talked to the account opening officer. I told him that on their website, references are not needed to open a particular type of domiciliary account.
Here is the back story.
UBA has different types of domiciliary accounts with different features. One of them is the Dom Advantage account, which has an option of savings or current account. The current Dom Advantage account requires references, but the savings Dom Advantage account does not require any reference or guarantor.
I showed the UBA account officer what they wrote on their website, and that I didn’t need any references to open a savings Dom Advantage account with UBA. But the account officer waved me off.
He said I wasn’t serious and that the rule states that every domiciliary account owner must provide 2 references. I didn’t agree with him. We argued and argued until we decided to call their head office.
He made a call with the bank’s phone, and after about 10 minutes of clarification with the person on the other end of the phone, he collected my documents and opened a domiciliary account for me. Yay!
That was how I opened a brand new domiciliary account in Nigeria without presenting any reference.
The UBA Savings Dom Advantage Account
The UBA savings Dom Advantage account is a lifesaver. You can literally open it in 5 minutes or less and you’d be able to withdraw dollars from any of your foreign accounts.
Since opening the account, I’ve been able to withdraw foreign currency and exchange at any rate I want. Now, banks can no longer cheat me with their shorthanded dollar to Naira exchange rates.
Minimum Opening Balance
To open a UBA Savings Dom Advantage account, all you need is $100 in cash (update: you now require at least $50). That’s all. You could easily get this from your local Aboki. Find a trusted Aboki exchanger near you and pay him the Naira equivalent of the dollar amount. Get your cash and head to the bank.
You will only need to fill an account opening form that will require your BVN, a government-issued ID card, and 2 passport photographs.
The account should be open and functional in about 24 hours. If you agreed to get a debit mastercard for the account, they would charge you a separate fee for that.
If you like to use the bank app for transactions, then there would be no need to use the bank hall. You could easily transfer dollars to your aboki, and he will pay you the agreed Naira equivalent once the transfer is confirmed.
Minimum operating Balance
The minimum operating balance of the UBA savings Dom Advantage account is $50 (update: the minimum operating balance of $50 has been removed). So, you can spend everything that comes into the account, save for the cents.
Charges On The UBA Dom Advantage Account
The charges on this account are minimal. For every withdrawal over the counter, they charge you 0.5% of the withdrawal amount, VAT inclusive. This fee is usually very small and negligible. I think the same charges are incurred if you make a transfer to another bank’s domiciliary account.
Withdrawing From Freelancing Sites
Withdrawing from freelancing sites to your UBA savings Dom Advantage account is usually a breeze. From upwork, you can send payments directly for a small charge of about $0.99. In the bank account form, you have to provide UBA’s swift code, which is UNAFNGLA.
Withdrawing From Payoneer
If you work with freelancing sites like Fiverr, then you would usually withdraw your earnings via Payoneer. Payoneer charges about 2% of the withdrawal amount. You have to fill the accounts form and also provide the uba swift code.
Payoneer would first confirm the account before you are able to withdraw with it. Also, your bank account must have the same name as the name that appears on your payoneer account.
Withdrawing From Affiliate Marketing Sites
Most affiliate marketing sites, such as Amazon provide options to withdraw to a U.S. bank account. You can use the U.S. bank account provided by Payoneer to withdraw from Amazon, and then withdraw from Payoneer to your domiciliary account in Nigeria.
Withdrawing From Google Adsense
Withdrawing from Google Adsense to your UBA domiciliary account is pretty straight forward. You simply go to the Payment Information section of your adsense account and fill the form according to your bank details. The UBA swift code will also be required.
Google would confirm the account first before approving it for payments. Also, the name on your Google Adsense account must match the name on your bank account to enable you receive payments.
I am a strong advocate of making domiciliary accounts easy for everyone to open and operate. Afterall, it is a huge window of foreign currency inflow into the Nigerian economy. Most banks just make it difficult to open for no reason due to the requirement of references.
I believe that presenting references just to open a bank account in this age, is so old school. Guarantors and references were required in those days when personal identity was hard to trace. So, banks needed someone reputable to vouch for you in case of fraud.
But these days, we have so many ways of personal identification and profiling such that presenting guarantors and references for opening of bank accounts should be abolished. Now we have NIN, Voters card, International passport, BVN, etc. Now, it’s easier for fraudulent persons to be easily traced and apprehended.
I’m grateful that UBA thought it useful by thinking out of the box and bringing up a simple innovative product like their savings Dom Advantage domiciliary account. Now, almost anyone can have a domiciliary account in Nigeria without roaming from office to office looking for references.
Now, what are you waiting for? Go and open a UBA savings Dom Advantage account today!