LHV is the largest of the local Estonian-owned banks. It also is the easiest to work with as a non-resident e-Resident. In this article, I share my experience with LH and how to open an account.
Review and my experience
Prior to considering Estonia as a possible jurisdiction in which to register a location independent business, I had never even heard of LHV. It is during my researches that I first learned about it. That said, due to some similarities with an infamous Latvian bank, I mentally classed LHV as “the Estonian Rietumu” and pretty much eliminated it right away as an option. It is not until I eventually took the plunge and registered an Estonian company that I heard about it again. Part of the registration package I bought from LeapIN included assistance with opening a local business bank account and much to my dismay, the bank they partner with turned out to be LHV.
LeapIN had already arranged a meeting with the bank during the registration process so I thought that I might as well give it a try just for the heck of it. Obviously, I also opened an account with Swedbank (without LeapIN’s assistance) just to be safe.
I showed up to LHV’s sleek headquarter in Tallinn for what turned out to be a five minutes meeting as LeapIN had already briefed the bank about me and filled all the necessary forms. The banker I met assured me that the account would be opened within a few business days and that I would receive my debit card about a week later. He also informed me that I qualified for their in-house payment processing solution and that he would send me his best offer via email as soon as the account was opened.
A few days later, I received an email informing me that the account was open. I also received the payment processing offer: 1.20% for all credit and debit cards, no other fees. I have heard of people being charged an account opening fee but there was none for me. For those who are unfamiliar with the world of payment processing, that was one hell of a good offer.
Because of the offer, I decided to give LHV a try. That was a while ago and so far they have been great. Customer service has been really good, nearly everything can be done on their website or apps, SEPA payments are processed quickly, TransferWise payments are instant and the payment processing service works like a charm.
LHV may not be as well known as the Scandinavian banks present in Estonia but that has in no way impacted my experience as an account holder. I definitely recommend giving them a try although as usual I also recommend opening a backup account elsewhere too.
It is currently not possible to open an account remotely (2019), a visit to the bank is required. In most cases, an appointment is also required. You will need to bring along your passport, e-Resident card and any relevant supporting documentation for your business. There is no minimum opening deposit nor any monthly fee (there is a debit card fee). If you are interested in LHV’s payment processing service, simply let your account manager know during your account opening visit. The whole process takes up to a month to complete (the delivery of the debit card is very slow).
LHV, like the other Estonian banks, has recently been closing a large number of business bank accounts. The vast majority of these accounts were owned by Estonian companies with non-resident board members. If your Estonian company has non-resident board members, I strongly recommend opening a backup account with a foreign bank or a financial services company (such as TransferWise) as there is a risk that your LHV account will be closed.
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