How to Open a Bank Account in Puerto Rico

A photo of an old stone fortress overlooking water

If you are considering making a move to Puerto Rico, you may be wondering where you will bank once you have made it to the island. Puerto Rico participates fully in the US banking system, so you should find the island banks work similarly to those on the mainland.

Benefits of Switching to a Puerto Rican Bank

Mainland bank cards work fine on the island, so there is nothing that forces you to give up your mainland bank account. However, you will likely find your mainland bank does not have a branch on the island, which may be a deal-breaker for you.

Also, if you wish to participate fully in the Act 2 and Act 22 tax benefits, then moving your money to a Puerto Rican bank will help you establish residency and give government officials more confidence that you are indeed living long-term on the island.

What is Needed to Open a Puerto Rican Bank Account?

To open a new bank account on the island, you will need:

  • A Social Security Number or TIN
  • Two forms of official ID; typically a driver’s license issued by PR
  • Proof of PR address (such as a utility bill)
  • Possibly a minimum deposit

5 Steps to Opening a Bank Account in Puerto Rico

  1. Get a PR address (move into a house on the island)
  2. Get a PR driver’s license
  3. Establish a utility bill at your new address
  4. Decide which bank you would like to do business with. Banko Popular is the primary bank on the island but there are several smaller options.
  5. Walk into a branch and ask to open an account

Can I Open a Bank Account Online in Puerto Rico?

Yes, each of the major banks in Puerto Rico has a way to open an account online. However, some banks may still require you to enter a branch so they can validate your identification paperwork.

Puerto Rico Bank Accounts for Non-Residents

Traditional bank accounts at Puerto Rican banks can only be opened by Puerto Rican residents.

Non-Residents may be able to open a Puerto Rican Offshore Account, but that is a complicated topic.

5 Best Banks in Puerto Rico

There are a variety of banks available on the island, with the five largest banks being:

  1. Banco Popular is the largest bank on the island with 125 branches
  2. Oriental: 52 branches
  3. FirstBank: 73 branches
  4. Santander: 26 branches
  5. Scotiabank: 20 branches

Are Banks in Puerto Rico Considered US Banks?

A photo of a tall glass skyscraper. The word BANCO appears on the side of the building

Essentially, yes, the banks in Puerto Rico operate under the US Banking system.

There are no federally-chartered (a.k.a national/regional) banks in Puerto Rico. Therefore, none of the Puerto Rican banks are regulated by the Federal OCC. 

All of the banks in Puerto Rico are state-chartered, under the regulation of The Office of the Commissioner of Financial Institutions of Puerto Rico.

The good news is that all Puerto Rican banks are under FDIC regulation and are thus FDIC insured. Its banks are also controlled by the US Federal Reserve system. This makes the Puerto Rican banks “look and feels” like any other US bank.

Are Puerto Rico banks safe?

Yes, Puerto Rican banks are very safe; safe as any other bank in America, as the island banks are regulated and insured by the FDIC.

Related: 17 Pros and Cons of Retiring in Puerto Rico