Opening a Cayman Islands bank account is far less dubious than Hollywood wants you to believe. In fact, thanks to new compliance measures, it’s now difficult for regular, law-abiding citizens and small businesses to open accounts here.
That said, a Cayman Islands bank account can be a suitable option for individuals seeking expat wealth management services, if you can meet the bank’s requirements.
- Non-residents can open a bank account in the Cayman Islands remotely (with the right information)
- The Cayman Islands is home to 75% of all the world’s hedge funds
- Banking in the Cayman Islands can offer unique benefits to the right client profile
- The Cayman Islands is a tax-neutral jurisdiction
- Non-residents should expect to deposit between US $50,000 to $100,000 to open a bank account here
Feel free to use the table of contents to jump ahead to the sections most relevant to you.
Table of Contents
- Opening a Cayman Islands Bank Account
- Cayman Islands Banking 101
- Who Should Open a Bank Account in the Cayman Islands?
- Why Open an Offshore Account in the Cayman Islands?
- How to Open an Offshore Account in the Cayman Islands
- How to Choose the Right Banks in the Cayman Islands
- Frequently Asked Cayman Islands Banking Questions
- Do You Want Help Opening Offshore Bank Accounts?
Opening a Cayman Islands Bank Account
Cayman Islands bank account opening is still available to non-resident individuals and businesses–in most cases, it can even be done remotely. But to open an account, you will need to provide certified documents, transparent records, and (as we’ll discuss) ties to the Cayman Islands.
In today’s article, we’re going to cover the main hurdles you’ll need to overcome when applying for a bank account in the Cayman Islands. We will also discuss who should consider banking here, and what the benefits are. Finally, we’ll also discuss how you can start opening a bank account in the Cayman Islands today.
Many people think that international banking started in Cayman at the turn of the century… but, that’s wrong.
International banking in Cayman didn’t start until the mid-60s when Scotiabank set up operations and started to shape the banking landscape.
Before that, the Cayman Islands was a sleepy island with little more than a domestic banking sector propped up by Barclays to support the burgeoning British colony.
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Cayman Islands Banking 101
Today, a Cayman bank account is widely seen as one of the most important cogs in the international banking world. And, for a good reason.
It’s the world’s fifth-largest financial center, home to 75% of all the world’s hedge funds, and has US $674 billion on deposit–not bad for a country of less than 60,000 people.
In general, opening businesses, setting up hedge funds, and even acquiring residency in the Cayman Islands is an administrative process that most people can navigate… so long as they can afford the fees.
But banking is a different situation altogether. While the media, tax haven hating journalists, and Hollywood scriptwriters would have you believe that George Town is the dirty money capital of the Caribbean… that couldn’t be further from the truth.
In fact, the Cayman Islands is one of the most challenging jurisdictions to open non-resident accounts for both individuals and businesses. In other words, Cayman Islands banks here don’t roll out the welcome mat for anyone anymore, especially criminals and tax dodgers.
So who should bank here? Let’s take a look…
Who Should Open a Bank Account in the Cayman Islands?
Banking in the Cayman Islands can have a lot of benefits for certain people and companies. But, whether you should open a bank account in the Cayman Islands comes down to your banking objectives.
With this in mind, here are the groups that typically benefit the most from a bank account in the Cayman Islands:
- Foreign non-residents with existing ties to the Cayman Islands
- Foreign non-residents planning to establish clear ties to the Cayman Islands
- Businesses looking to invest in the Cayman Islands
- Individuals or businesses with existing relationships with a Cayman Islands bank
- Trusts & estate planning entities
- Investment funds with ties to Cayman
If you fit into one of the groups above, you might be able to tap into the Cayman Islands offshore banking machine–but don’t forget, not all banks in the Cayman Islands are created equal, and choosing the right bank (and banker) isn’t always easy.
Now, if you don’t fit into one of the groups above, don’t worry. If offshore banking in the UK is a must, you can choose from a wide range of jurisdictions, including the Isle of Man, Jersey, Guernsey, and much more. That said, if you are interested in applying for a personal bank account outside of the UK you might want to consider applying for accounts with banks in Barbados.
Why Open an Offshore Account in the Cayman Islands?
The benefits of a bank account in the Cayman Islands are what you’d expect in similar jurisdictions including strong asset management, wealth management, and more. Here is a quick look at the top benefits that most people look for when opening accounts in the Cayman Islands:
- Asset management services
- Estate planning services
- Tax planning services
- Investment services
- Stable banking options
- Strong and transparent legal framework
- Close proximity to North & South America
- And much more…
Likewise, as you’ll find in other offshore financial centers, Cayman is teeming with sophisticated bankers, service providers, and professionals who understand the banking needs of individuals and businesses with international footprints.
In other words, they understand non-resident banking. And, for some, that’s an important consideration when deciding where to build and protect your nest egg.
Of course, the banking products and services available to you will highly depend on your banking profile, deposit level, and the bank you choose to open a bank account with.
Now, if you’re planning on moving to the Cayman Islands, there are even more benefits. Cayman is a tax-neutral jurisdiction, which means in addition to having no corporate tax, they don’t have any personal taxes either, including:
- Income tax
- Capital gains tax
- Wealth tax
- Inheritance tax
- Property tax
- Withholding tax
- Payroll tax
In other words, Cayman offers a similar option to Monaco in that it can (depending on where you’re from) entirely remove your personal tax liabilities. But, unlike Monaco, you don’t have Europe in your backyard.
How to Open an Offshore Account in the Cayman Islands
If you’re planning on applying for a bank account in the Cayman Islands, you’ll need to prepare to pass an extensive due diligence process. This means you, your business (if you’re applying for a company account), and your ties to the Cayman Islands.
Of course, the amount that you plan to deposit, the services you’re interested in, and whether or not the offshore bank perceives you to be a profitable client for the bank also come into play. But, we talk about this in more detail in GlobalBanks IQ.
Before applying to open a bank account in the Cayman Islands, you might want to consider the following:
Unlike many international banking jurisdictions, Cayman Islands banks require and now strongly enforce existing ties to the country. That means you’re not going to be able to squeeze in by just saying you’d like to visit on holiday. Instead, you’ll need to have (and demonstrate) meaningful ties that the bank will be able to verify.
This requirement is starting to be heavily enforced and many Cayman Island banks take it very seriously. That said, depending on which bank and banker you speak to, you may find that some Cayman Islands banks are willing to accommodate looser ties than others.
If you’re a GlobalBanks IQ member, just message us and we can help you identify the best Cayman Islands banks to open with based on the ties you already have or can acquire.
The initial deposit size required varies from bank to bank, which can make account opening even more challenging. So making sure that you are within the range of what your Cayman bank requires is an important step to consider before applying.
At some Cayman Islands banks, you can squeeze by with a few thousand dollars. But, if you’re looking to open an account with a decent bank, deposit requirements can be somewhere between US $50,000 and $100,000. But again, this amount will vary based on the bank you speak to and the banker you’re talking to. Of course, if you’re looking to tap into Cayman private banking options you will be expected to deposit significantly more.
It’s not the 90s anymore. The days of anonymous shell companies, bearer shares, and unidentifiable beneficial owners are over. So, if you have a legitimate desire to open a bank account in the Cayman Islands, you’ll need to be able to present yourself to the bank in a transparent manner. This is true both for individual accounts and business accounts.
With this in mind, knowing how to present your client profile is one of the most important things you need to determine before applying. We help GlobalBanks IQ members do this by helping them understand their client profiles better. And in many cases, we publish specific reports that cater to each client type and risk profile.
How to Choose the Right Banks in the Cayman Islands
When you’re looking to open offshore accounts as a foreign non-resident, you will usually have five or six banks to choose from in each country. If you’re lucky, you might find up to 10 different options.
Well, Cayman is no ordinary banking hub. And you’ll have a lot of homework to do if you plan on reviewing all of the available options. Plus, if you don’t have the right contacts, just getting an email response is difficult.
Today, there are 94 banks currently licensed in the Cayman Islands. The complete list of the 94 banks is separated into (a) Class A Banks, (b) Class A Bank & Trusts, (c) Class B Banks, and (d) Class B Bank & Trusts.
That said, the Cayman Islands also offers other deposit-taking and financial service licenses, including Money Service Providers, Building Societies, Cooperative Societies, Development Banks, and Money Service Businesses.
As always, every bank is different in terms of its specific requirements. Similarly, bankers have different client preferences, deposit requirements, and more.
So make sure you take the time to find the best bank and the right banker and understand all of your banking options before applying for a bank account in the Cayman Islands.
Frequently Asked Cayman Islands Banking Questions
Below are a few of the most common questions we receive from people exploring how to open a Cayman Islands bank account. If you have further questions about online offshore banking, don’t hesitate to contact us directly.
Can a US Citizen Open an Account in the Cayman Islands?
Yes, a US citizen can open a bank account in the Cayman Islands. That said, the banks available to them will depend on their banking needs and deposit level. Bank selection is an important factor to consider when choosing where to open a bank account in the Cayman Islands as a US citizen.
How Much Does It Cost to Open a Bank Account in the Cayman Islands?
To open a bank account in the Cayman Islands, applicants need to make a qualifying deposit, which will vary from several hundred dollars up to USD 1mm. The factors determining how much it will cost to open a bank account in the Cayman Islands depend on citizenship, residency, account type, risk profile, and form of economic substance in the Cayman Islands.
What Is the Safest Cayman Island Bank?
The safest Cayman Island bank for a foreign non-resident will be a large international bank like Butterfield Bank (Cayman) Limited, Cayman National Bank Ltd., or CIBC First Caribbean International Bank (Cayman) Limited.
Do You Want Help Opening Offshore Bank Accounts?
If so, you can access GlobalBanks IQ and start the process of applying for an offshore bank account online in a few clicks.
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