Open an Expat Bank Account in Singapore

If you’re interested in opening an expat bank account in Singapore, you’re not alone. In fact, thanks to Singapore’s stable economy, strong banking regulation, and world-class banks, more and more expats are trying to bank here.

Unfortunately, opening an expat bank account in Singapore is not easy. And, unless you have the right information and know which mistakes to avoid, your chances of opening here are slim.

Expat Bank Accounts in Singapore

Opening an expat bank account in Singapore is possible. However, you’ll need to go through an intense account opening process, meet specific requirements, and know which bank and branch accept your client profile. To help you open an expat bank account in Singapore, we detail everything you need to know below. 

Naturally, if you don’t have the right information or you’re unable to meet the bank-specific account opening requirements, your chances of opening an expat bank account in Singapore are zero. In fact, the risk of getting denied in Singapore is very high when compared to other banking jurisdictions.

In this article, we’re going to explore why banking in Singapore is so popular. We’ll also share information about the challenges you’ll face. And, we’ll outline what you need to open an expat bank account here.

But, before diving in, if this is your first time visiting GlobalBanks, don’t forget to download your free Non-Resident Banking Starter Guide. It’s designed to help non-residents open accounts in top banking hubs around the world.

Expat Banking in Singapore

First, it’s important to explain what we mean by expats. Essentially, we’re referring to two different groups. First, expats that actually live and work in Singapore as residents or with work permits. Second, expats that live in other countries but want to open bank accounts in Singapore.

In both cases, opening bank accounts in Singapore is going to be possible. Obviously, residents will have far more options to consider. And, opening accounts when you’re on the ground locally is much easier.

But, individuals that live abroad can also open an expat bank account in Singapore. In fact, remote account opening is even possible, if you have the right information and strategy going in.

With this in mind, this article will focus on the account opening needs of the expats living outside of Singapore who want to access the Singapore banking system.

Why Open an Expat Bank Account in Singapore?

Expat bank account opening in Singapore
Before looking at the benefits and challenges, let’s take a look at some reasons why an expat may consider opening an account in Singapore.

Reasons for Opening an Expat Bank Account in Singapore

  • Working or studying in Singapore
  • Retiring in Singapore (required to pay local expenses)
  • Interested in purchasing real estate in Singapore
  • Spend large parts of the year in Singapore as a tourist
  • Looking to establish Singaporean residency in the future
  • Wealthy expats who want to access private banking
  • Individuals seeking diversification to safe and stable banks

As you can see, there are many reasons why you may want to open an expat bank account in Singapore. But, banking in Singapore isn’t for everyone. In fact, the challenges involved with opening an account can make it difficult to navigate.

So, if you fit one of the above categories and you want to open an expat bank account in Singapore, you’ll need to first make sure it’s worth your wild. That means confirming that you can unlock the benefits you’re after.

So, let’s review the benefits that you can access when opening an expat bank account in Singapore.

Benefits of Opening an Expat Bank Account in Singapore

Benefits of Banking in Singapore
Since Singapore is recognized as one of the best banking jurisdictions in the world, it’s no surprise more and more expats are looking to open accounts here.

In fact, Singapore banks are not only incredibly well managed and conservative, but they’re also governed by sound banking regulations, and operate in one of the most stable economies in the world. But, there are many other benefits that Singapore banks can offer beyond opening expat accounts in a stable jurisdiction.

In fact, for the right client profile, opening an expat bank account in Singapore can unlock many benefits. Here’s a look at some of the most sought-after Singapore banking benefits to see which could apply to you.

Benefits of an Expat Bank Account in Singapore:

  • Opening accounts with some of the safest banks in the world
  • Maintaining deposits in a sound and stable jurisdiction
  • Access to multi-currency accounts
  • Access to investment and banking products
  • Remote account opening (possible for some customers at certain banks)
  • Enhanced asset protection due to strict rule of law
  • Multi-language banking staff
  • Deposit insurance up to S$50,000

As you can see, there are many benefits to opening an expat bank account in Singapore. And, for the right client profile, these benefits are worth navigating the account opening challenges. With that said, let’s take a look at the challenges now.

Challenges of Opening an Expat Bank Account in Singapore

Singapore Offshore Company Bank Account
Like most countries, when it comes to opening an expat bank account in Singapore, you’re going to face challenges. In fact, if you don’t prepare, your application will likely be denied. And, in Singapore, this can lower your chances of ever opening an expat bank account with Singapore banks.

So, before you start applying, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the potential challenges you could face when opening in Singapore.

Challenges of Opening an Expat Bank Account In Singapore

  1. Tough account opening requirements
  2. Knowing where to apply
  3. In-person account opening requirements
  4. Standardized KYC requirements
  5. Not wealthy enough to bank in Singapore

Let’s explore these challenges in further detail below:

1. Tough Account Opening Requirements

Singaporean banks have a strict application process. Of course, the account opening process can vary depending on the bank, the banker, and your client profile. But, in general, Singapore has tough requirements for opening accounts.

So, it’s important to understand the bank-specific requirements before applying as some banks may have special requests and regulations in place compared to other banks in Singapore. This is especially true if you have a unique or high-risk client profile.

For instance, deposit requirements, the reasoning for the account, and additional identification documents may be requested by certain banks. So, before you book your flight and accommodations, make sure you know all the requirements for opening an account with the bank you wish to open with.

2. Knowing Where to Apply

This is much easier said than done. Bottom line, not all Singaporean banks accept expats. And, even at those banks that do accept expat clients, one wrong decision and you’ll be denied, which could ruin your chances of ever opening an expat bank account in Singapore. So, choose carefully.

Knowing which bank and branch cater to your client profile will be beneficial. So, before applying at any Singapore bank, make sure you know which bank and banker will open an expat bank account for you. And, ensure the bank you choose, aligns with your banking needs.

3. In-Person Account Opening

As we mentioned above, remote account opening is possible in Singapore. However, it’s not very common, especially for expats. But, our team does have several remote account opening options in Singapore that we make available to our members.

But, if you don’t know which specific banks and branches offer remote opening, you’ll need to make a trip to Singapore to open an expat bank account in person.

4. Standardized KYC

Like any other high-quality banking jurisdiction, the onboarding process in Singapore is strict and time-consuming when it comes to opening accounts for new clients. But, one thing that does differentiate Singapore from other banking hubs is that the compliance and KYC are standardized.

In other words, because of the compliance systems that are integrated in Singapore, it makes it difficult to re-apply at other Singaporean banks. So, if you’re already in the banking system and you’ve been rejected elsewhere in Singapore, chances of opening are slim.

5. Not Wealthy Enough

Singaporean banks are not opening accounts for just anyone. In fact, they are quite picky when choosing who to open accounts for. That’s because they can afford to be. So, if you want to open an expat bank account in Singapore, you’re going to need to be an attractive, profitable customer.

In other words, you need to ensure you can meet the minimum deposit requirement and the minimum daily average balance. Of course, the minimum amount of funds can vary depending on the type of account you open and also the bank you choose to open with. Additionally, most banks want to see a banking relationship that will grow. So, if you want to bank here, it should be with a long-term relationship in mind.

That said, depending on the bank you decide to open with, there are strategies for opening an expat bank account in Singapore for less than $10,000.

Needless to say, there are going to be some challenges to overcome when you open an expat bank account in Singapore. But, most expats can overcome these challenges and successfully open… with the right information, account opening strategies, and some help.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at how to start opening an expat bank account in Singapore right now.

How to Open an Expat Bank Account in Singapore

Like everywhere, each Singaporean bank will have its own set of account opening quirks and guidelines for expats to follow.

Of course, the account opening process can vary from bank to bank. And, before you even begin to apply, you’ll need to choose a bank that accepts expats and ideally clients with your specific profile.

You can obviously attempt to open an expat bank account in Singapore on your own. But, if you want some help, we’ve already done the heavy lifting for you.

In fact, we detail the entire account opening process, including which banks cater to expats, how to successfully navigate account opening challenges, and even how to open accounts remotely in our premium report “Banking in Singapore: Global Banking at Its Best (And How To Get In)”.

Opening Corporate Bank Account in Singapore Report
You can access this report (and all of our premium international banking reports) immediately when you join GlobalBanks IQ.

That said if you want to move forward with trying to open on your own, be sure to prepare yourself by reviewing the pre-account opening checklist and the required document list below.

Pre-Account Opening Checklist

  • Find a bank that accepts expats
  • Choose a bank that meets your client profile
  • Confirm the opening requirements
  • Confirm the minimum account opening deposit
  • Get a list of all documents you will need to submit

What You Need to Open an Account

  • Two forms of government-issued identification
  • Proof of residence (dated within 3 months)
  • Proof of local address (if applicable)
  • Local phone number
  • Proof of income & source of wealth
  • Formal letter from employer
  • Bank statement from your home country
  • Bank reference letter
  • Relevant bank-specific application forms
  • The reasoning for opening an account

Again, these requirements can vary depending on the bank, branch, and banker you deal with. But, this gives you an idea of what to expect when you begin applying to open an account.

That said, if you’re looking to open an expat bank account in Singapore today, here’s how you can start…

Ready to Open an Expat Bank Account in Singapore?

Whether you’re ready to open an expat bank account in Singapore today or you’re just starting to explore your options, we can help.

You can start by accessing GlobalBanks IQ, our dedicated international banking intelligence platform.

GlobalBanks IQ gives you everything you need to start figuring out where you should (and shouldn’t) open accounts.

When you join GlobalBanks IQ, you immediately unlock the GlobalBanks Database of international banks – home to 250+ banks in 50+ countries.

And, you get access to our library of premium (members-only) reports. These include proven account opening strategies, country-specific banking options, and lists of banks for specific client types.

Plus, you unlock our account opening checklists, dedicated account opening alerts, and much more.

To get started, click here to see if GlobalBanks IQ is the right choice for you to start accessing the benefits of international banking today.

You can also view all of the account opening solutions offered by GlobalBanks on our products page.

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