Can A Foreigner Open A Bank Account In Singapore?

Alevin Chan

Alevin Chan

Last updated 17 April, 2024

Yes, foreigners can open a bank account in Singapore, provided they have the necessary documents. Here’s everything you need to know about the account opening process, the documents required, and things to watch out for. 

If you’re looking to stay in Singapore for a long period of time, opening a local bank account is recommended. Doing so will help you enjoy greater convenience in financial transactions, such as when receiving money or making payments. 

Yes, Singapore’s international banking hub status means you can continue to access your foreign bank account back home unhindered. However, doing so will incur costly bank transfer fees or ATM withdrawal fees. Hence, you should consider using your bank account in your home country only as a backup option. 

Let’s take a look at how foreigners can open bank accounts in Singapore.

Table contents

Understanding bank accounts for foreigners in Singapore

Eligibility for opening a bank account as a foreigner

To open a bank account as a foreigner, you will need to satisfy the eligibility criteria involved. Generally speaking, the eligibility requirements are:

  • Age 18 years or above
  • Have a valid pass or visa (Employment Pass, Student Pass, Long-Term Visit Visa, etc)
  • Proof of residential address in Singapore
  • Proof of tax residency

What is the minimum amount to open a bank account for a foreigner in Singapore?

Besides meeting the eligibility requirements, you will also need to meet the initial deposit amount to open a bank account as a foreigner. See the table below for a summary of the minimum amount required for different banks.

Note that the minimum deposit amount should be maintained, if your account balance falls below the required account minimum, you may be subject to a fall-below fee which is charged monthly.

Bank account

Maximum interest rate per annum (p.a.)

Minimum deposit required

Minimum monthly balance

Monthly fall-below fee

DBS Multiplier Account

4.10%

None

S$3,000

S$5 (waived if you’re below 29 years old or if you’re a new DBS/POSB customer) 

OCBC 360 Account

7.65%

S$1,000

S$3,000

S$2 (waived for the first year)

UOB One Account

6.00%

S$1,000

S$1,000

S$5 (waived for first six months for accounts opened online)

HSBC Everyday Global Account (EGA)

4.60%

S$2,000

S$2,000

S$5 

Standard Chartered Bonus$aver Account

7.68%

None

S$3,000

S$5 


What fees and charges are there when opening a bank account as a foreigner in Singapore?

The fall-below fee is the most common fee to look out for when using a bank account in Singapore. This fee applies to all customers (including foreigners), and ranges from S$2 to S$5 per month if your monthly balances fall below the stipulated amount.  

Another fee to watch for is the early closure fee. Some banks charge a fee – typically S$30, but it could be more – if you close your bank account within six months or less of opening it. Thus, you should only consider opening a bank account if you are sure you will require one for longer than six months. 

In addition, you may encounter these fees if you have services and products bundled with your savings account:

  • Credit card annual fee
  • Debit or ATM card replacement fee
  • Credit line service fee (for a line of credit accounts)
  • Bank transfer and foreign exchange fees (for MCAs)

What types of bank accounts are available for foreigners in Singapore?

For the most part, foreigners are able to apply for the same types of bank accounts offered to residents. This means you will be able to select from several different types of bank accounts, such as:

Savings accounts

The most basic bank account available, a savings account will enable you to receive payments from employers and other parties, or allow you to deposit your savings. This type of account can also be used to pay bills and make cash withdrawals with an ATM or debit card. 

Savings accounts offer the lowest interest rates – below inflation rates – and thus may not be the best choice for long-term savings. 

However, there are also high-yield savings accounts in Singapore that allow you to earn higher interest on your deposits in return for accomplishing certain transactions. These include depositing your salary, or making X number of GIRO payments, hitting a minimum spend on your credit card, or purchasing insurance or investment products. 

Citigold Tactical 50_BLOGARTICLE_800x250

SingSaver Exclusive Offer: Get an Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max 256GB (worth S$2,017.50) or S$1,200 Cash when you successfully apply for a Citigold account and make a S$250,000 deposit within 3 months of account opening and maintain these funds until gift fulfilment. Also, apply through SingSaver and enjoy 3.0% p.a. on a 6-month SGD Time Deposit. Valid till 2 June 2024. T&Cs apply.

Plus, get additional welcome rewards on top of the above offer (T&Cs apply):

  • Get additional S$100 Cash Reward from Citibank when you complete an Investment Risk Profile and Fact Find
  • Get additional S$100 Cash Reward from Citibank when you hold a valid Primary Citibank Credit Card
  • Get additional S$500 Cash Reward from Citibank when you apply for a Citibank Mortgage loan with min. loan size of S$800,000 within 3 months of account opening
  • Get additional S$250 Cash Reward for every S$50K purchase of investment and/or insurance from Citibank

Multi-currency accounts

A multi-currency account (MCA) works like a savings account, but it allows you to receive money and pay in other currencies besides the Singapore Dollar. This can be helpful if you regularly receive funds from overseas and don’t always want your currency to be automatically converted into SGD. Some examples of multi-currency accounts are YouTrip, Revolut, Wise, Instarem, DBS/POSB My Account, HSBC EGA, and Standard Chartered Bonus$aver Account. 

MCAs also allow you to purchase and keep foreign currency when rates are low, so you can eke out better value over time. For instance, if you’re Malaysian, you may want to convert part of your SGD savings into Ringgit while the exchange rate is skewed in your favour. 

Fixed deposit accounts

Fixed deposit accounts are more straightforward. You simply have to maintain your deposits with a bank for a stipulated period of time in return for a fixed interest rate and your principal amount, which is disbursed at the end of the term. 


Process of opening a bank account as a foreigner

Once you have the necessary documents, you can browse online to see the types of bank accounts offered by different banks. 

You might also want to consider other banking products, such as credit cards or debit cards, for convenient access to your funds, whether in cash or otherwise.

Then once you’ve selected your bank account, all that’s left to do is to make your application.You may be able to apply for a bank account online, or you may be asked to pay a visit to a bank branch to open an account in person. This will depend on the actual requirements of the bank you choose. 

Perks of opening a local bank account in Singapore

Convenience

The local banking scene is highly competitive, spurring banks to constantly compete to outdo each other with innovative services and products. 

As such, the average retail banking customer can enjoy a high level of convenience, being able to carry out most transactions using their mobile banking apps. For the most part, there is no need to interact with a customer service officer, much less visit a bank branch in person. 

Safety

Singapore’s banking and financial services sector is strictly regulated and has some of the highest standards in the world. This helps customers enjoy a high degree of safety when banking in Singapore. Of course, you should always maintain vigilance against scams and other nefarious activities when carrying out any banking or related transaction.

Insurance

All cash deposits in Singapore are insured against bank failures. The Singapore Deposit Insurance Corporation Limited (SDIC) covers all bank deposits up to S$100,000 per account holder.

Potential to earn extra interest 

Foreigners may be eligible to earn extra interest on their savings account if they fulfil the qualifying criteria. This can help you build your savings faster or make your funds straight that little bit further. 

If you’re interested in earning extra interest, approach your bank to find out more about the high-interest bank accounts available to you.

Looking for the best credit cards to complement your spending patterns and expenditure in 2024? Check out our Ultimate Credit Card Guide that covers all things credit cards in Singapore – from choosing between a cashback, miles, or rewards credit card to planning your credit card strategy.

An ex-Financial Planner with a curiosity about what makes people tick, Alevin’s mission is to help readers understand the psychology of money. He’s also on an ongoing quest to optimise happiness and enjoyment in his life.

FINANCIAL TIP:

Use a personal loan to consolidate your outstanding debt at a lower interest rate!

Sign up for our newsletter for financial tips, tricks and exclusive information that can be personalised to your preferences!