Since the publication of this article, it has become a great deal more difficult to open an account in either Hong Kong or Singapore. To find out which jurisdictions are now better options for you, please read our Practical International Banking Guide, in which you will find the names and contact details of individual personnel within banks all around the world.”
Singapore is “a convenient destination to protect and add value to your international wealth” according to the website of one of the 205 banks operating in Singapore today. I couldn’t have put it better myself!
Singapore has developed in recent years into a sophisticated private banking and wealth management base for Asia. But besides targeting their traditional but fast growing market of wealthy entrepreneurs in Asia, the best offshore banks in Singapore today are also developing products and services tailored for North Americans, Europeans and Australians, including multi currency accounts.
UPDATE – 2015 For the Latest information, names, addresses and contacts, see the latest “Offshore International Banking Guide 2015“
If this sounds like you, read on to find out about some of the advantages and disadvantages of opening an offshore bank account in Singapore, and learn how to open an offshore bank account as a non-resident. Is Singapore the best offshore banking country for the new decade?
Typical investors from this latter group are looking for first-world banking services, delivered over the internet in English, in a country that is outside the zone of influence of the United States and the European Union.
One of the world’s most prosperous countries, Singapore today boasts a prominent financial centre and highly developed economy. Its flexible regulatory framework, independent judiciary and practical English-inspired legal system have become the foundations of the country’s success.
In common with most offshore financial centres, interest earned by individuals on bank deposits and foreign sourced income – including foreign sourced dividends received on non-Singaporeans securities – is exempt from Singapore taxes. Singapore also has no capital gains tax nor estate duty on bank deposits and investments.
Accounts can freely be maintained in all major currencies. These multi currency accounts provide an excellent hedge for those of us who foresee major devaluations of currencies like the dollar and the euro in the months and years ahead.
Accounts may also be opened in the name of foreign entities like corporations, trusts and LLCs, achieving even greater privacy and asset protection benefits, and sometimes legally sidestepping any requirement to report assets as personal holdings.
All these benefits are delivered in a strong bank secrecy regime, helping account holders to protect their investments from prying eyes inside or outside the country. Banking secrecy in Singapore is not just laid down by law, but is part of the national business culture. Indeed, tax authorities in Singapore are specifically blocked from having any access to individual bank accounts.
As in Asia in general, a lot of business in Singapore has traditionally been carried out in cash. This is epitomised by the $10,000 bill, the largest bank note in the world: at current exchange rates (January 2010) one of these bills is worth more than seven thousand US dollars. These days, however, as restrictions on cash are becoming tighter, sophisticated internet banking is becoming the norm.
So, if you are not resident in Singapore how can you access these banking services? Everything starts with opening a basic current, savings or checking account – the basis of your banking relationship.
One of the disadvantages of banking in Singapore is that you will need to go there to open an account. Banking regulations do not permit the opening of accounts by mail, unless the client is already known to the bank. The only possible exception to this is opening an account at one of the many banks in Singapore that send officers to visit their wealthier clients in their overseas homes, or have associated offices in other countries. HSBC clients, for example, may be able to open accounts at HSBC in Singapore via their local offices. The above process, however, is not advisable if banking secrecy is important to you – since it leaves permanent records of your accounts accessible in other jurisdictions. In any case I always recommend visiting at least once so you can get to know your banker personally.
Apart from that, opening your account should be relatively straightforward. There are few complications. If you choose one of the commercial banks such as DBS Bank or United Overseas Bank, a few hundred dollars will be enough to open an account. If you want a higher level of personal service and are prepared to make a higher deposit, let’s say over a hundred thousand dollars or equivalent (bank policies vary widely), contact one of the more discreet private banking operations. I recommend you go for one of the lower profile ones, since they tend to offer the best privacy protection.
A full list of banks operating in Singapore is available on Wikipedia, and you can contact them directly. It is always easier, however, if you have an introduction from a regulated professional who is known to the bank, such as a lawyer, accountant or company formation agent.
My firm can help with that, for example, if you are a Q Wealth member. Membership starts at just $99 per year so won’t break the bank!
In terms of documentation needed to open an offshore account, you will be expected to provide proof of who you are (a copy of your passport), where you live (such as a utility bill) and most importantly of all, proof that the funds come from a legitimate source. For example, if the funds you are depositing were obtained from a real estate sale or from an inheritance, you would show the relevant legal documents to prove this. Finally, it is advisable to take a letter of reference from your bankers at home, introducing you as a responsible account holder. This bank reference may be addressed ‘to whom it may concern.’
Note: Peter Macfarlane is editor of the Practical Offshore Banking Guide, an annually updated guide available free to readers of The Q Wealth Report. If you haven’t got yours yet, sign up today to access this information.
51 thoughts on “How to Open an Offshore Bank Account in Singapore”
Are these banks in Singapore I.R.S. qualified intermediaries?
Dear Sir,I have read most of your letters on offshore banks and jurisdictions, i would like to know as to what would be your advice on banks in the Seychelles,Hongkong,Dubai and Bahrain.
Need advice to open an Offshore Account in US$ in Singapore. THe source is for commission for services which I donot want to deposit in my Country for Tax reasons.
Can ur company help or any firms u are aware can help for this service.
I am interested in recieving your free offshore course but your website does not allow me enter my e mail address. Please send me the course as soon as possible.
Can a permanent resident of USA open an acc.in Singapore?
do singapore banks pay interest on savings accounts?
Singapore is often considered by international entrepreneurs and investors for offshore business purposes.
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One priority: Enable firms to adjust their business models and operations in response to the recently enacted Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. "Banks have got to figure out a different way to make money than fee income," says Jim Eckenrode, research executive for banking at TowerGroup, a financial service research and advisory firm. "You have to work a lot harder, while giving the customer confidence that your processes are consistent, fair, and easily understood."
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please sent me, how can open offshore account in sigapur, business account is need.
One elegant solution is to open a Corporate Account in Singapore in the name of an UAE Offshore Company from Ras Al Khaimah (RAK International Company).
This can be also done from Dubai or Abu Dhabi.
I travel the world. No fixed address. How can i open a Singapore bank account?
information on names of discrete private banks in singapore with numbered accounts
According to the Singapore Police website Singapore does indeed have cash and other negotiable instruments restrictions. Therefore it is not a true free market. But, compared to the US and Canada's $10,000 only without paperwork (talk about out of date), Singapore's is more liberal: S$30,000 = US$$23,880 without documentation.
We are interested to open our offshore corporate bank account in Singapore, kindly send us whole procedure.
Hello Peter, Can your firm be able to provide representation service in helping me applying for a personal account in HSBC Singapore?
can any one advise me how to open an offshore bank account in singapore ?
Nelson, we certainly can advise you on exactly how to do this. However I must say that we no longer recommend Singapore as highly as we did a few years ago.
The landscape of international banking is constantly evolving – contact us if you are a Q Wealth member and we will promptly be in touch about opening an account in Singapore if that is what you want. Otherwise we could further advise you on the range of banking jurisdictions that we currently favor.
If you are not a member please consider becoming one for a free email consultation and a host of other valuable benefits!
Please help with a good lawyer or accountant to start a business ( import & export company ) in Singapore , with off shore account , or a company that can do all that and run the company !!
We do have trusted contacts that can help you with this, and other parts of this we can help you with ourselves. However, we don't reveal our contacts unless you are a Q Wealth member. Why? Because our contacts are highly skilled professionals whose skills are always in high demand and they prefer we not list their information for just anyone to see.
If you are serious about starting your company then the very small membership fee to join us will be an investment you will earn back many many times over!
Thanks for the comment and best of luck.
singapore offshore banking account is closing for the foreigner that do not work there. new rules is we must have a valid mailing address in singapore and supporting document for your stays in singapore.
the rule of games had changed since 2014.
where as icbc.cn in shanghai. to my surprise they allow any foreigner to open account there in china. But is it safe? i believe it will be a pearl of asia.
normantingee, yes things have certainly changed since this was written (2010) we did an update in early 2013 “Why I no longer like Singapore Banks”
Hi,I have potential clients from Africa interested to have their offshore accounts and wealth management services through your firm.Please guide accordingly.
We would like to open account in your bank for personal account and investment accounts as we are working in the oil drilling rigs financial investments we are looking to open accounts in your bank.
Please we are from kingdom of Jordan and our company from Cyprus and Egypt.
We are looking for forms to help us for open accounts .
I believe you also sent us an email with this same question, and we replied to that message. Please let us know if we can do anything else to help!
I have also done extensive further research online regarding Singapore IBCs and, according to a webpage related to Singapore at http://www.milonline.com/companies/singapore-offshore-company.html , it states that: “If you wish your Singapore company to be non-taxable then you should have a bank account outside of Singapore, and do not remit funds into Singapore. Of course, you can do both; remit funds into Singapore which will be taxable and keep funds outside of Singapore which will not be taxable.”
Can you confirm that any funds in a Singapore bank account would be taxable, even if the funds were not used to trade in Singapore? How much tax would be payable?
We intend to invest our funds in stocks / shares. If our sharedealing brokerage account was in Singapore, but we only bought shares on stockmarkets in, say, the USA, rather than Singapore itself, would that classify as local trading and then make us eligible for taxes in Singapore?
The bank accounts in Singapore were simply going to be used to receive and forward income to the sharedealing accounts.
If that is the case, our only option would be to register an IBC in Singapore and then have a bank account in, say, Hong Kong. Then we would open sharedealing accounts in Hong Kong to invest our funds. Please let me know your thoughts on that.
Finally, we have read that the details of Directors etc. are public in Singapore. I’ve seen on your website that you provide a variety of services. So can all the names on the report, such as Directors and Secretaries, be nominees provided by yourselves? Or must some of them be ourselves (which ones)?
In terms of company finances / revenues etc. each year, are these all available to everyone via a public directory?
Thank you very much for your detailed comment. We really appreciate it. I will send you a more detailed response via email.
Can any one advise me how to open an offshore bank account in singapore ?
We sure can! Let me send you an email with how to get started. Thank you so much for leaving us a comment and have a great weekend!
I wonder if you can help me to open an offshore account? I live in Sweden and have company here. I want to expand into the Asian market. With reference to what do I need to open an account.
Best regards Sam
We would be more than happy to help you set up that bank account. I will send you some information via email with some options for you to choose from. Thank you for thinking of us for your offshore needs and have a great weekend!
Little help? I would like to open an offshore account in Singapore, how might I do this? From what I can see you need either Work permit or student papers? are there ways for a foreigner to open an account without these, only a passport ?
Very good question Sebastian. Thank you so much for taking the time to leave us a comment. Let me send you an email with a little more information on how to get in touch with our experts to get reliable answers to that question.
I wanna ask am in Ghana and I wanna open a savings account am I allow and how am I gonna do it
Let my send you an email Mystic with information on how you can get in touch with our experts to get that question answered.
dear sir madam
Please I would also like some detailed info on the possibility of opening a non-resident personal account in Singapore. Thank you
Let me send you a little information that might help. Thank you so much for your comment!
Hi, I am managing wealth of several individuals from eastern Europe. Are there any limitations for larger tan 100K Mil euros deposits and can they be managed in Singapore. Also what are the taxes? What are the Banking Charges.
Thank you so much for your comment Dragan. I will send you an email right away with what we have in Singapore right now.
Hi, there. We are interested to open a offshore private account. Kindly advise on the requirement. Thank you.
Thank you so much for taking the time to leave us a comment. I will send you some options right away on how you can get in touch with our experts to get reliable answers to your questions.
I m interested in opening an offshore (international ) personal bank account . could you please put me in touch with someone who can help me with this . Often using the services of a facilitator makes the application easier and successful. Thanks. Best regards
Habib, we very much agree that a facilitator can make the process less painful, which is why we are here to help. I will send you an email right away with options on how to get in touch with our experts. They will then be able to help you create a unique strategic road map for your circumstances. Thank you so much for your comment and we look forward to working with you on this project!
I went to Singapore last week to open an account. I emailed all the banks for weeks before I went to find out if I was allowed to open an account there. I told them quite clearly that I was NOT a US citizen and I was NOT a Singapore citizen and did not work there. They all said that was okay and told me what information I had to bring to one of their branches. I confirmed this information with them again and again just o make sure. I got all the information they requested ie. certified copies of passport, onshore bank statements, utility bill showing my home address and hardest part; why did I want to open a bank account in Singapore. They all said a brokerage report was good enough as I will be using their banks for funding my forex account. When I got to Singapore, I went to each bank and got the same answer every time. My application was declined because they “don’t open bank accounts for people not working/living in the country.” Therefore, all the information I received from the banks beforehand was wrong. They no longer allow foreigners to open bank accounts there unless you live and work there 🙁
This article is very helpful to me to realize how to open the offshore bank account in singapore.Thanks for sharing .