The holy grail of international business banking for many is being able to open a Singapore offshore company bank account.
But, increasingly strict compliance rules, new reporting requirements, and ever-changing banking laws are making applying for accounts in Singapore far more difficult.
Even though an offshore Singapore company bank account is one of the most sought-after (and well-regulated) accounts, and Singapore itself is one of the best banking jurisdictions in the world today, it’s still possible to open a company offshore bank account here.
- Foreign businesses can open an offshore Singapore bank account
- Banks prefer clean structures & easy to understand businesses
- Exotic business structures will likely be denied instantly
- High-risk businesses will also face challenges here
- Common jurisdictions like BVI are more widely accepted
- Deposit requirements are higher for offshore companies
With the right information, contacts, strategies, and knowing which mistakes to avoid, pretty much anyone can open an offshore bank account in Singapore for their company. The problem is that few people actually have all of this information.
Before getting started, don’t forget to download your FREE copy of the Business Banking Starter Guide. It will help you prepare for banking offshore for your offshore company in top banking hubs like Singapore.
In this article, we’ll share how offshore companies can open an offshore bank account in Singapore, the critical steps business owners must take before approaching a bank, and the common pitfalls that kill applications.
Feel free to use the table of contents to jump ahead to the sections most relevant to you.
Table of Contents
- Benefits of a Singapore Offshore Company Bank Account
- Who Should Open an International Bank Account in Singapore?
- Who Should Not Open Bank Accounts in Singapore?
- Is It Possible to Open an Offshore Bank Account in Singapore Remotely?
- Alternatives to Opening an Offshore Bank Account in Singapore
- Ready to Explore Your Options?
Benefits of a Singapore Offshore Company Bank Account
Applying for an offshore bank account in a foreign country is no small undertaking. This is especially true when applying for accounts for offshore companies and when travel is required. Given the deposit requirements, fees, and travel expenses involved, deciding where to open an offshore business account and which banks to approach is critical.
With this in mind, let’s look at the benefits of banking in Singapore to make sure it matches your banking objectives.
Benefits of Banking in Singapore:
- Highly respected offshore banking jurisdiction
- Politically and economically stable
- Fiscally responsible and well-capitalized banks
- Strong rule of law and low corruption
- Accepts foreign and offshore companies
- Deposit insurance up to SGD 75,000
- Territorial taxation
Of course, these benefits don’t automatically mean that having an account abroad is the best choice for all business owners. Depending on your business and banking goals, there may be better banking options elsewhere.
Below, we break down who should (and shouldn’t) be banking in Singapore. After that, we’ll explore how to successfully open an offshore bank account in Singapore.
Who Should Open an International Bank Account in Singapore?
There are a number of considerations that will determine if banking in Singapore is right for you and your foreign company. One major factor is: can you actually afford to bank here? We’ll walk through this and several other important considerations to see if Singapore is the right banking jurisdiction for you.
Well-Understood Foreign Entities
While having an offshore bank account in Singapore as a foreign business owner is theoretically possible for companies from most countries, certain countries are better suited than others. For example, companies registered in blacklisted or greylisted countries typically have more difficulties. Though, this is true in most international banking jurisdictions.
That said, it is possible for companies from classic offshore hubs such as the British Virgin Islands, Bahamas, Isle of Man, Gibraltar, Marshall Islands, Nevis, and many more, to open a bank account here. What’s crucial though, is that the company is able to meet the bank account opening criteria for the desired bank and has an acceptable risk profile.
This is the formula for successfully opening accounts. As an example, many GlobalBanks members have used this formula to find the best bank for a BVI company, Nevis company, Panama company, and more.
Businesses That Can Meet Singapore Bank Requirements
Opening a corporate bank account here can often come with higher minimum deposit requirements than in other jurisdictions. The simple reason for this is that Singapore is a better banking hub that can afford to pick and choose who they want.
So, they increase minimums to reduce the number of unprofitable business bank account applications. In other words, they want businesses with enough money to make the account management make sense for the bank.
For example, an offshore company registered in the British Virgin Islands may be able to open a bank account in Panama with US $15,000 to $30,000. But, when applying for an account in Singapore that same offshore company could be expected to deposit between two and three times that amount, depending on the bank, banker, and perceived risk profile.
Requiring a Local Business Bank Account
Like most offshore banking hubs today, Singaporean banks want to see some connection to the region. Banks want to know your reasoning for wanting to bank in their country.
Having local or regional ties can help explain (and provide supporting proof) why you want to bank in Singapore for an offshore company. Likewise, if you have a need for a local currency (or even a regional currency) account, this can help explain your requirements.
Ties can be personal or commercial and can be demonstrated in a number of ways. We share the specifics of economic substance, what works, what doesn’t, and which ties are most helpful in our premium report, Open Offshore Bank Accounts in Singapore: Global Banking at its Best.
Note: If you are hoping to open bank accounts to access payment processing, this is highly unlikely for non-Singapore entities. If you require offshore payment processing our team has covered how to approach this here.
Not Engaged In Regulated Activities
Singapore, like most banking jurisdictions, does not allow companies with regulated activities to apply for accounts locally unless they are regulated locally. For this reason, foreign businesses that are not involved in regulated activities will have a much easier time applying for a bank account.
Alternatively, businesses such as broker-dealers, transfer agents, money services businesses, or similar entities that are active in financial activities are unlikely to open a bank account. This also applies to companies that have been set up to skirt regulations by claiming their offshore company is from a country where such regulation does not exist (e.g., forex brokers in Saint Vincent & the Grenadines).
Crypto & Other “Grey” Industries
Crypto business clients are not openly accepted. However, certain individuals have reported being able to send and receive transfers to and from exchanges. As always, we suggest only using an account in agreement with the terms of services that you signed when opening. This is particularly important when dealing with a foreign bank, as they tend to be quicker to close accounts for service violations.
Other Corporate Bank Account Opening Factors to Consider
There are a number of other considerations that applicants should consider when looking for an offshore bank account in Singapore. These might include such items as the nationality of the ultimate beneficiary or the residency of the directors. It could also include proof of business relationships and business operations. Or, banks may want to know the location of customers.
From a client perspective, these considerations make up what we call your “client profile”. To find a bank that accepts your specific client profile and offers the banking services you’re after, you need to understand the bank’s requirements.
Likewise, you need to know what their client preferences are. And of course, you should understand their application and onboarding quirks, and more. Don’t worry, we’ll share how and where to get all this information below.
But first, anyone considering banking in Singapore needs to make sure they don’t fall into one important category…
Who Should Not Open Bank Accounts in Singapore?
In addition to anyone who can’t meet the bank’s basic onboarding and client preference criteria, there is one group in particular that may want to avoid banking in Singapore.
And, ironically, that group involves offshore companies that are registered in… Singapore.
This is due to the fact that any income remitted into Singapore on behalf of a Singapore offshore company is subject to tax in Singapore.
For reference, Singapore’s tax code does not tax the international income of a Singapore company, as long as the income stays outside of Singapore. That means, if a Singapore offshore company wants to bank and receive payments in Singapore, they would have to start paying tax.
For this reason, if you own a Singapore offshore company, you may want to look at banking in jurisdictions outside of Singapore instead. Of course, this is not tax advice and before making any decisions related to tax or structuring you should check with a qualified advisor.
Is It Possible to Open an Offshore Bank Account in Singapore Remotely?
While it’s becoming increasingly difficult to open a company bank account offshore, it’s even harder to open such accounts remotely. This is especially true if your company is high-risk. Likewise, businesses in regulated activities and have no ties to Singapore (or the region) will struggle.
That said, in some instances, business owners can get a bank account without ever visiting Singapore. But, to do so, there are specific steps that need to be followed.
And, it’s important to note that this option is not available at all banks in Singapore. Additionally, in order to be eligible for remote bank account opening, the bank may make additional requests.
Fortunately, opening a bank account remotely in Singapore is 100% possible. To this end, our team has outlined several proven strategies that allow foreign business owners to open company bank accounts in Singapore remotely in our premium report.
These strategies include 100% legal methods to apply for (and open) company bank accounts in Singapore remotely. And they do not include using middlemen or introducers. That means you can save thousands of dollars in travel expenses, accommodations, and wasted introducer fees.
Of course, we share all these strategies and more with the members of our international banking platform, GlobalBanks IQ. It also includes our premium report Opening in Singapore: Global Banking at its Best.
Alternatives to Opening an Offshore Bank Account in Singapore
While Singapore is one of the top offshore banking jurisdictions in the world today, there are other banking options available. In fact, certain offshore companies could get more value from offshore banking services in a different country. This will depend on their client profile, business needs, goals, and products and services you’re after.
Yet, bank account opening for offshore companies getting increasingly difficult, so it’s more important than ever to know which banks to approach. Plus, you need to have the right contacts. And, you must know which bank account opening strategies will work best for you.
To this end, our team has prepared a premium report for offshore companies, called How to Open International Bank Accounts for Offshore Companies.
In this report, you get bank account opening strategies and opportunities in specific countries. You’ll also discover which specific banks to approach for offshore company banking. So, even if you decide that banking in Singapore isn’t the best choice for you, there are still many other options to consider.
Ready to Explore Your Options?
If you’re ready to start banking in Singapore or you’re just starting the process of looking to bank offshore, we can help.
When you join GlobalBanks IQ, you receive instant access to all of our premium reports, including the two mentioned above:
- Banking in Singapore: Global Banking at its Best
- How to Open International Bank Accounts for Offshore Companies
These reports outline specific banks, bank account opening strategies, and remote opening options. It also tells you how to avoid high fees, overcome tough paperwork requirements, and which banks in Singapore to approach.
So, if you’re ready to take action and start opening international accounts in Singapore (or elsewhere) 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.
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And, you get access to our library of premium (members-only) reports. These include proven bank account opening strategies, country-specific banking options, and lists of banks for specific client types.
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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.