Why might you want to open an overseas bank account as a US citizen?
Well, if you travel frequently, are looking to diversify your wealth, and/or take advantage of higher interest rates, it can be a very good idea to have an international account.
Opening overseas bank accounts for citizens of the US used to be a breeze.
But, over the last decade, things have changed.
Since the US government introduced the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (a.k.a. FATCA), it has become much harder to open foreign bank accounts for US citizens.
Of course, there are banks overseas that do still accept citizens of the US, but you have to know where to go to find them.
- It is 100% possible for a citizen of the US to open an international account abroad
- Banking offshore can be challenging if you don’t know which country, bank, or branch best suits your banking needs
- Deposit requirements will vary depending on the bank you choose to open an account with
- Opening accounts offshore can be a way to diversify your wealth, unlock higher interest rates, and so much more
Read on in this article to learn how to navigate the process of opening an overseas bank account as a US citizen today and the top jurisdictions to do so.
Feel free to use the table of contents to jump ahead to the sections most relevant to you.
Table of Contents
- Opening an Overseas Bank Account for US Citizens
- Why Should US Citizens Bank Overseas?
- Benefits of Opening an Overseas Bank Account for US Citizens
- Challenges of Opening Accounts With a Foreign Bank as a US Citizen
- Where to Open an International Bank Account as a US Citizen
- Ready to Explore Your Options?
Opening an Overseas Bank Account for US Citizens
Opening an overseas bank account has many benefits for US citizens. Unfortunately, since the introduction of FATCA, it has become very challenging for Americans to open accounts abroad. So, it’s important to know which banks, branches, and even bankers will accept citizens of the US before applying to open accounts overseas. Read on to find out where you can go.
Knowing where to go to open an account overseas is key. Because if you go in blind you’re going to end up wasting a lot of time and money applying to the wrong banks.
Fortunately, in this article, we’re going to guide you through the process to get started opening accounts for US citizens. We’ll discuss the many reasons why citizens of the US are interested in banking overseas and the specific benefits it can offer.
We’ll also discuss the most common challenges citizens of the US face when applying to open an overseas bank account so that you’re prepared to handle them when they arise.
As a bonus, we’re going to outline 6 countries where US citizens can open bank accounts.
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.
Why Should US Citizens Bank Overseas?
For many citizens of the US, opening an overseas bank account may make sense, and may even be necessary.
For instance, whether you’re a frequent traveler, do business internationally, or perhaps are looking to retire abroad, opening an overseas account may be essential.
Unfortunately, though, you can’t just walk into any bank abroad and start an account. Today, many banks have internal rules to not accept US citizens. So, opening an account internationally as a citizen of the US can be extremely challenging. We’ll get into why this is the case below.
With that in mind, if you’re looking to open a bank account as a citizen of the US, it is important for you to know which jurisdictions and specific banks will accept you.
You should also be prepared to demonstrate a justifiable reason for wanting to open an overseas bank account.
Your reason can make or break your application. So it must be both convincing and justifiable.
Now, before we dive into how to open an overseas bank account, let’s first explore some of the reasons why a citizen of the US may want to open an overseas account in the first place.
Reasons US Citizens Want to Open Bank Accounts Overseas:
- Frequently travel internationally
- Looking to retire abroad
- Work & conduct business internationally
- Interested in purchasing real estate outside of the US
- Studying or living abroad
- Looking to grow financial portfolio with more attractive rates
- Have family members living overseas
As you can see, there are many reasons why US citizens want to open overseas bank accounts.
If you can find a bank that accepts you and can provide the appropriate documentation you will have a good chance of opening an overseas bank account.
Read on for some of the benefits of opening an overseas bank account as a US citizen.
Benefits of Opening an Overseas Bank Account for US Citizens
As we’ve mentioned in previous articles, having an overseas account can benefit many foreign non-resident individuals and their businesses.
And even though the US banking system is typically well-regarded on the international scene, there are still a number of advantages to having accounts overseas.
Here’s a list of some of the most attractive benefits US citizens can unlock when opening an overseas bank account:
- Diversify wealth
- Access to foreign currencies
- Higher interest rates
- Better security & asset protection
- Lower transfer fees (depending on the bank)
- Access to local debit cards
- And more…
Now, it’s important to note that each banking jurisdiction (and bank) is different. Meaning that the benefits you can unlock will vary depending on where you choose to open an overseas bank account.
Before we go into the specific jurisdictions that are best for US citizens, let’s take a look at some of the most common challenges when it comes to opening accounts as a citizen of the US.
Challenges of Opening Accounts With a Foreign Bank as a US Citizen
Like banking everywhere, when it comes to opening accounts for foreign non-residents, there are a number of challenges you’ll have to face. And unfortunately, it’s even harder if you’re a citizen of the US.
When the US government passed FATCA in 2010, it put a huge burden of responsibility on banks across the world to report the accounts and financial activities of any US customers they have.
Compliance with all of the reporting requirements outlined by FATCA posed a huge cost for banks, requiring them to create an array of procedures to handle compliance and hire whole teams to execute them.
On top of it all, if anything managed to slip through their compliance measures, the banks could be fined millions of dollars in penalties.
Bottom line: It’s more expensive to onboard and maintain an account for US citizens because of the extra compliance and reporting required under FATCA.
As a result, many banks dropped their US-citizen clients, closed their accounts, and pledged to never accept US citizens again.
Can you blame them?
So, while many banks do not accept citizens of the United States, there are some banking jurisdictions that still do. But, even then, there are a number of hoops you’ll have to jump through to be accepted.
With that said, let’s look at the most common challenges that US citizens can face when opening accounts overseas…
Challenges of Opening a Foreign Account as a US Citizen:
- Strict due diligence process
- Heavy documentation required
- Approval process can take a significant amount of time
- Not all banks abroad accept US-citizen applicants
- Remote account opening is not always an option
- Higher minimum deposit requirements
- Special account opening fees just for being American
- High monthly account fees
- Knowing what banking jurisdiction will accept you & is a right fit for you
- And more…
As you can see, there are many challenges to overcome when opening an account for US citizens. That said, some of these challenges and even the fees mentioned above can be completely avoided if you know which bank and banker to open with. Because some banks are more open to US citizens than others.
So, it’s very important that you do your homework before applying.
Not only do you want to look for a bank that accepts US citizens, but you also want to see which ones offer lower fees, fewer surprises, and quicker account opening.
To start your search, the first step is to pick your jurisdiction. Read on for six top jurisdictions for US citizens looking to open an overseas bank account.
Where to Open an International Bank Account as a US Citizen
Despite the obstacles citizens of the US face in the process, it’s still very much possible to open a bank account overseas.
But, it’s crucial you know which bank, branch, and even banker to contact when applying. This way, you don’t waste time and money applying to banks that won’t accept you.
To start you on your search, here are six countries where US citizens can open accounts overseas.
We’ve listed the countries in order of their minimum deposit requirements, from the lowest to the highest.
First on our list is Portugal. Portugal is a popular banking hub for foreign non-residents from around the world. And, what makes Portugal attractive, is the fact US citizens can open accounts here with relatively lower fees compared to other EU jurisdictions.
But, that’s not all.
While many international banks typically require an initial deposit in the thousands, citizens of the US only need to make an initial deposit of $500 to open a Portugal bank account.
With that said, banks in Portugal do have strict account opening requirements. In fact, some of the requirements are mandated by local regulators. This means that you can’t get around some requirements by knowing which banks are more lenient – as you can in most other jurisdictions..
Now, if you’re interested in learning more about what Portugal has to offer and how to get started opening an account in the country, you can check out our free article “Opening With Banks in Portugal [Remotely]” for more information.
Next up is Panama, which is an accessible banking hub and a great option for US citizens to consider. One of the reasons that Panama is at the top of the list for most US citizens is because the country is also on the US dollar. And its economy has been historically stable.
Another reason why many citizens of the US look to banking in Panama is because of the lower minimum deposit requirement of $10,000. While this may seem high, this is relatively lower compared to other banking jurisdictions.
That said, even though US citizens are eligible to open a Panamanian bank account, it’s not as simple as just walking into any bank. In order to successfully open an account, you need to know what documentation to have and specifically which banks to go to.
If you’re interested in learning more about how you can open an account as a citizen of the US in Panama, we have you covered. We outline everything you need to know about banking in Panama in our premium members-only report “Panama Offshore Banking: Ultimate Guide to Account Opening”.
Singapore is one of the most sought-after banking jurisdictions for the stability of its banking system and the quality of its services.
But these perks come with a high price tag. The initial minimum deposit for citizens of the US when starting a bank account in Singapore is $200,000.
On top of that, to open an account in Singapore as a citizen of the US, you’ll need to meet a long list of requirements. Not to mention, find a bank that will accept you as a client and as a citizen of the US, which can be a difficult process.
Fortunately, we’ve already done the heavy lifting for you. We detail the entire account opening process, including how to successfully navigate account opening challenges and even how to open accounts remotely in our premium members-only report “Banking in Singapore: Global Banking at Its Best (And How To Get In)“.
Monaco may not be the first choice when it comes to opening accounts for citizens of the United States. But, if you’re able to support the minimum initial deposit of $500,000 it is definitely worth considering.
Banking in Monaco isn’t like banking in other countries. In Monaco, banks specialize in private banking instead of traditional transactional day-to-day banking.
To open a bank account in Monaco, you need to overcome a strict due diligence process, meet specific client requirements, and of course, be able to afford the heavy account opening deposit.
But, if you’re interested in learning more about how you can open an account in Monaco as a citizen of the US, we cover everything you need to know to get started in our free article “Monaco Bank Account Opening [Free Guide]”.
Last but not least, the crème de la crème of overseas banking options: Switzerland. Opening a bank account in Switzerland is 100% possible for citizens of the US, but it comes with a heavy price tag. $1,000,000 to be exact.
Given the high barrier to entry, Swiss banking is reserved for the elite. Opening a Swiss bank account not only brings status but also unlocks a wide range of high-end banking services as well. Including wealth management, tax planning, and international investment options.
You just have to be able to navigate the banks’ hidden requirements, connect with the right Swiss banker, and afford the required deposit, and you’re in.
To learn more about how you can open an account as a citizen of the US in Switzerland, check out the articles below.
Now, if you’re looking to open a bank account as a citizen of the US, you can obviously use the information in this article to guide your search on how to get started… or, we can help you to start the account opening process right now with the help of GlobalBanks IQ.
Ready to Explore Your Options?
If you want to open an overseas bank account for US citizens and need help figuring out what to do next, you can get started by using the information in this article.
But if you need more help or want to know which banks will accept you, which countries you should target, the best account opening strategies to use, how to avoid predatory fees, and how to overcome tough paperwork requirements, then we’d be happy to help you on your journey.
If you’re ready to take action and start opening international accounts now, you can access GlobalBanks IQ, our dedicated international banking intelligence platform.
GlobalBanks IQ gives you everything you need to start finding and opening accounts for you or your business today.
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, including proven account opening strategies, country-specific banking options, and lists of banks for specific client types.
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.