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Do you need an Alien Registration Card (ACR) You Get Only After Six Months In Country?
There is no law in the Philippines that a foreigner must have an ACR to open an account. There is a law (Anti-Money Laundering Act) that requires customers to produce original documents of identity issued by an official authority bearing a photograph of the customer. Examples of such documents are identity cards and passports. There are other requirements such as evidence of permanent address etc. Also accounts can only be opened face to face. As a matter of internal policy a bank has a right to decide its own policies and many require foreigners to have an ACR. They also have a right to refuse to open an account for a potential customer if they so wish. Getting a credit card is even more difficult and even with an ACR and an account at BPI I was refused one, I managed to get one at Citibank as I had a Immigrant Certificate of Registration, (ICR.) Of course an ICR is even better, shows you are a permanent resident.
As for people commenting on the Philippine Banking system is backward or its not making sense. Blame the US as they are the ones who imposed these rules on Philippine banks, by forcing the government to introduce the Anti Money Laundering Act. (At the same time It is become near impossible for somebody without a US Social Security Number or Tax Number to open an account in the US. If I went to US as a tourist I would have difficulty opening an account. I have had an account at Bank of America for over 20 years and part of there sales pitch were offering me a credit card. I applied and yesterday I found out that to have a credit card I required a US address.)
My recommendation for anybody wanting to open an account who does not have an ACR is to go and see the bank manager together with your passport and the lease on property. No guarantee it will work as its dependant on the bank manager and the bank. But if they do open an account for you they are not breaking any law. Talking to the clerk behind the desk may not get you anywhere as they will just follow the checklist. (Jon Speaks, British Citizen, Philippine Resident).