Opening a business bank account in Cyprus can be a last resort banking option for some, and a primary banking option for others. In fact, anyone with an urgent need for transactional EU banking and who is struggling to open elsewhere might find Cyprus interesting. If that’s you, a business bank account in Cyprus may be your best (and only) shot at banking in the EU.
So, do you want to open a bank account in Cyprus as a non-resident? Or, are you looking to open an account for a foreign company? Maybe you want to open a bank account in Cyprus online (without visiting the country)?
Well, regardless of your reasons for wanting to bank here, you’re in luck…
Opening a business bank account in Cyprus is possible for both Cypriot and foreign companies. But the rules of the account opening game in Cyprus have changed and are radically different than in years past. Deposit requirements are low, ties to Cyprus aren’t always needed, non-residents and foreign companies can still open accounts, and remote opening is sometimes possible– but only if you choose the right bank, branch, banker, and know what you’re doing. Even then, there are pitfalls and shortcomings you need to be aware of.
In this article, we’ll explore business bank accounts in Cyprus, the benefits, the disadvantages, what you need to watch out for, and why companies and entrepreneurs are still opening accounts here.
But before diving in, don’t forget to download your free copy of our Business Banking Starter Guide – it will help you get started opening accounts for your business overseas, including in Cyprus.
The country gained independence in 1960, uses British law, is light on regulation, and has some of the lowest tax rates in the EU. Oh, and it also has a pretty negative reputation in the banking world.
Today, people come to Cyprus for golden passports, attractive residency programs, tax efficiency, to set up companies, and of course, to open bank accounts… not just any bank accounts, Cyprus attracts foreign companies, offshore entities, and businesses that generally struggle to open elsewhere. And the accounts they open tend to be transactional, facilitating business or trade in other countries.
In the business banking world, this beautiful Mediterranean destination is often seen as a European backwater, used only by Russian and CIS clients, their businesses, and offshore structures. But that’s not always the case…
For many people from around the world, Cyprus is a transactional banking godsend. In fact, it’s one of the only hubs in Europe that will consider foreign non-resident companies for transit-style business banking at all.
So, it’s no surprise that many people consider opening business bank accounts here. But regardless of why you might consider banking in Cyprus, there are a few caveats that need to be discussed, such as the banking crisis that they had in 2013.
We go into the catalysts of the crisis, what to watch out for in the future, and which banks are worth considering in Cyprus in our September report available to GlobalBanks Insiders.
But basically, Cyprus banks were incredibly exposed to two key drivers that forced the banking sector into a crisis: Non-resident accounts and Greek government debt.
Here’s the gist…
Cypriot banks failed. Currency controls were imposed. Depositor money was confiscated. It was really ugly.
And, that’s a big reason why many still tread cautiously when even thinking about banking in Cyprus today.
All things considered, you might be wondering why anyone would intentionally open a bank account in Cyprus? Well, there are a few reasons.
First, Cypriot banks don’t care about your deposit size. After all, Cyprus isn’t a private banking hub and bankers don’t care if you invest. Instead, banks here are hungry for high annual turnover and fees generated from transactions.
So, if you have a Cyprus non-resident company or an international business, but you can’t deposit a large lump sum when opening accounts, opening a business bank account in Cyprus might be one of your only options.
Likewise, those struggling to open accounts elsewhere in Europe, such as France, Germany, Ireland, or Spain, might have better luck in Cyprus.
Here are a few of the reasons why some businesses and entrepreneurs are considering banking in Cyprus, either as a transactional or backup banking hub.
Not surprisingly, some businesses, offshore companies, and non-resident companies have a difficult time opening a bank account in the EU. Without any ties to the EU, non-resident account opening is often an uphill battle in Europe.
It’s worth noting that Cyprus joined the EU in 2004 and the Eurozone in 2007. However, unlike many European countries, Cyprus has a long history of dealing with outsiders and international companies.
Some entrepreneurs and business owners, especially those just starting out, struggle to meet initial deposit or minimum balance requirements. Often, if you can’t meet a bank’s deposit requirements or maintain a certain balance, you either won’t be able to open an account or you’ll be hit with high fees.
What’s interesting about some banks in Cyprus is that they’re more focused on transactional banking. And, thanks to the banking sector’s rapid consolidation after the bail-in, Cypriot banks aren’t interested in holding large non-resident cash deposits anymore. And that means, lower deposit amounts for business bank accounts in Cyprus are acceptable.
Additionally, Cyprus banks are focused on transactional banking and profiting through fees. They don’t want (or expect) high deposits. And, they don’t want to manage your money. With this mind, those who are looking for transactional business banking with low deposit requirements may find Cyprus attractive. If, of course, you can tolerate the high fees (or know how to minimize them).
If you choose the right bank, have an experienced banker, and know how to present yourself properly, it is possible to open a business bank account in Cyprus remotely.
While remote opening is common in many offshore financial centers and island nations, new regulations have made it more difficult and restrictive. So, approaching the right bank, applying through the right division, and dealing with an experienced banker that’s responsive and won’t drown you in fees in key.
If you’re a GlobalBanks Insider and would like the contact information for a banker in Cyprus that can help you with this, just message us through your Insider Dashboard and let us know.
As mentioned, Cypriot banks have a long history of dealing with outsiders and international companies. So, if you can pass due diligence and meet the requirements, it’s possible to open a business bank account in Cyprus for a foreign or offshore company as well as various types of estate planning structures.
The biggest challenge is finding the right bank and a banker that’s motivated (and willing) to entertain a client with your particular profile and existing structure. Not all of them will. Also, it’s common for emails to be ignored.
If you can pass due diligence and have a clear source of wealth, Cyprus banks are happy to open accounts for you. And, if you’re Russian or from a CIS country, certain bankers will not only understand your client profile, they’ll also speak your language.
Many banks around the world are rejecting Russian and CIS clients, especially those with transactional businesses. But, with a long history of ties to post-soviet states and the importance of foreigners to the Cypriot economy, some members of the Unlucky Passport Club may feel very welcomed here if they have the right profile and deal with the right banker.
Cyprus isn’t for everyone. There are better banks elsewhere. But if you’re struggling to open a business account elsewhere, can’t deposit a lot of money, and desperately need a transactional bank account in the EU– Cyprus might be an option.
With this in mind, here are a few of the client profiles that typically consider opening accounts in Cyprus along with their related nuances.
Those acquiring residency or citizenship in Cyprus or who plan on purchasing real estate will often find that opening an account is an essential part of the process. And, since many people choose to make such investments through corporate structures, opening a business bank account in Cyprus is often required.
If you have a non-resident company in need of transactional banking in Europe or the EU, Cyprus might be worth considering. Obviously, your overall risk profile, business type, transaction activity, and where you can open accounts outside of Cyprus will ultimately determine whether opening a business bank account in Cyprus makes sense for you. And if you’re not sure, check out GlobalBanks Insider below. After you join, we’ll help you sort the best banking options for you and your business.
Obviously, one of the most important considerations when determining if you should open a business bank account in Cyprus is whether or not you can afford to bank here. In post-crisis Cyprus, banks are trigger-happy when it comes to fees, so bank and banker selection are important, as is identifying which fees can be waived.
For example, due diligence fees, account opening fees, annual review fees, inactivity fees, monthly maintenance fees, high-risk business fees, administrative fees, non-resident fees, higher than normal transaction fees, and so on. If your business is just getting started and €500 per year in fees will break you, look at banking options elsewhere.
There are a number of other groups, and important considerations when opening accounts in Cyprus. To learn more you can access our premium report or send us a message with your question and we’ll see if we can help.
If you need help sorting out your banking options, are struggling with account opening, or just aren’t sure where to turn, we can help.
Whether you are set on opening a bank account in Cyprus or want to explore your options, we can set you on the right path and tell you which banks to consider.
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