Before coming to Ireland, I was warned by a colleague that I would be frustrated by bureaucracy. So far, that seems to be largely untrue, except in one area: banking. I have been here for almost a month, and I still cannot pay a bill online. I am not sure if the problem is the bank that I selected, Bank of Ireland, or if the process would be just as onerous at any Irish bank.
I have completed the following steps:
Obtain a Personal Public Service (PPS) Number, which is the Irish equivalent of a Social Security Number. I applied for this on the morning of my arrival; I was able to obtain the number by phone a couple of days later. Not bad.
With PPS Number, a letter from my employer, my staff ID card, and my passport in hand, visit a branch of the bank with spouse. I do not know what is required if one doesn’t have an employment letter and staff ID card, just that there is a Bank of Ireland branch specifically for Trinity College and this was what I was told was required. Apply to open a current account (equivalent of a checking account). They will not let me open a joint account with my wife, only a personal account. They do not really explain why, but mutter something about her not being affiliated with Trinity and her not having proof of address. I am told that I will receive my ATM card and PIN (in separate mailings) in about 5 business days, but that I can drop by for my account number sooner, in a couple of business days.
Account number is obtained two business days later. PIN number shows up via mail about 8 business days later. ATM card finally shows up about 13 business days after the account was opened.
Apply online for access to online banking. To obtain access, they must send me (another) PIN number via post. PIN number arrives about 5 business days later. (Today!) Must call to activate PIN number. This call requires ATM card.
Go online and attempt to pay rent. Told that in order to add a new payee, I must be sent a security code. Security codes can be sent via text message or post, but I cannot receive them via text message until I register my mobile phone. Registering my mobile phone requires (you guessed it!) a security code be sent via post.
So, tomorrow I will go into a Bank of Ireland branch and attempt to pay my rent (via electronic transfer, which seems to be how most payments are handled here). If I do not succeed, I will be very unhappy.
I also tried to apply for a credit card, as I thought that might be useful, given that I’m currently sharing a single debit card with my spouse. Was told (online) that I must be a permanent resident of Ireland to apply. Considered lying. Decided to try in person tomorrow, instead. Will also ask (again) about a joint account.
We’ve generally been trying not to complain about perceived inconveniences here. We remind ourselves that they do things differently here, and that different can be good. But here I am, whining about banking in Ireland.
Update: I walk into a BoI branch, ask to make a direct payment, saying that my online banking is not fully setup yet. “Are the recipient accounts BoI accounts?” “No.” “We can’t initiate those from a branch. You could make a lodgment [deposit, in cash, presumably] directly at one of the branches of that bank.” So angry.