Overseas banking can easily be done with a minimum investment of USD 200,000. We show you how to open an offshore bank account in Singapore.
Overseas banking used to be something only the wealthiest people in the world could do. Today, it’s relatively easy to open an offshore bank account in Singapore, especially if you have USD 200,000 or more to invest. In fact, foreigners residing outside the country can do overseas banking without ever setting foot in Singapore.
Here’s how you can open an offshore bank account in 7 steps:
1. Determine Why You Need the Offshore Account
There are several banks that will allow you to open an offshore account. Each offers different features, fees, and accessibility options. Before choosing a bank, you need to have a clear idea of why you want an offshore account.
Some common reasons may be:
- Having children who are studying abroad
- Intending to diversify your investments outside your country
- Low or unattractive interest rates in your home country
- Working abroad
All of these reasons necessitate different account requirements. For example, if you want an offshore account because your children are studying abroad, you may want to control how your children can access the money (e.g. a bank that can impose limits on withdrawals.)
If you are working abroad, you may require multi-currency options: this will allow you to keep hold of different currencies without having to exchange it. This will save you from fluctuating exchange rates.
Once you have a clear idea of why you want an offshore account, you will have an easier time comparing and choosing between banks.
2. Check If You Have the Required Opening Documents
You will need to provide proof of identity to open an offshore account. You may be asked to present the following:
- Identity papers (e.g. social security number, NRIC, driver’s license)
- Proof of address (you may be asked to provide a copy of your lease, home ownership papers, or utility bills)
- Banks statements from your existing bank, ranging from six months to a year
Depending on where the offshore bank is located, requirements may be more or less stringent. In some countries, banks may ask you to provide documents with an apostilles stamp (you will have to approach your government to obtain this stamp, which verifies your documents).
In a major financial hub like Singapore, opening a bank account is more convenient. Citibank International Personal Bank (IPB) in Singapore, for example, caters to offshore banking needs and can be set up online, without having to set foot on the island.
3. Speak to a Tax Advisor
Consult a tax advisor about your plans to open an offshore bank account. This can result in having to change the way you file taxes, and your country may require you to notify tax authorities well in advance.
If you are an American citizen, for example, you will have to file an additional Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) every 30th of June. Most other countries will have similar additional requirements for their citizens.
Please note that if you open an offshore bank account and do not file taxes properly, you may come under suspicion of tax evasion.
4. Check if the Banking Options are Sufficient
Find out the exact process for depositing or withdrawing money from the account. With some offshore banks, the process can be extremely complex and time-consuming. For example, some banks will demand that you be physically present to withdraw sums above a given amount.
Likewise, depositing money is an inefficient process for some banks. They may require you to wire the money over via an alternative service, which will incur fees.
If you are going to live or work in Singapore, consider the accessibility of ATMs. You don’t want to pick a bank that has only five ATMs, and end up driving 12 blocks every time you need to retrieve cash.
Choose a bank that has a robust online banking and investment platform. This will also go a long way in terms of convenience.
5. Check Reviews of the Bank’s Services
Listen to what Singaporeans have to say about the bank you’re interested in, and if you can, contact them to get their opinion. There may be a disparity between what the bank claims it can do, and how it actually operates.
For example, a bank may claim to offer free financial advice. But a quick conversation with existing customers may reveal the “free advice” is really just a sales pitch to buy products, and you are better off looking for an alternative.
In particular, check news reports of the bank in question, and look out for any negatives. A bank with a sound reputation is what you are looking for.
6. Compare Fees
Banks have different fee structures for holding your money or for making transactions. Always ask about:
- The fee for maintaining your deposit (there is often a fee imposed if the amount deposited falls below a certain threshold)
- Fees for currency exchange
- Fees for deposits and withdrawals, particularly if they are made overseas
- Fees for investment transactions, such as buying or selling shares
As mentioned in point 1, you must have a clear objective of what you want the offshore account for. This will allow you to zero in on the fees that matter most to you. If you will be frequently sending money to your child studying abroad, for example, you want to assess the funds transfer fees.
7. Examine How the Relationship Managers Work
The Relationship Manager (RM) is the banker you will interact with most often. The RM is the one you will approach to deal with complex transactions, get financial product recommendations, or trust to keep you updated.
If receiving sound support and financial advice is critical to your banking needs, make this a top priority when comparing offshore banks. It may be more tolerable to pay higher fees if it means getting an RM with a deep understanding of your needs and the expertise to help you reach your financial goals.
For those with a minimum of USD 200,000 or more to invest, Citibank International Personal Bank (IPB) Singapore offers unrivaled privileges and over 30 years of global banking experience.
With a Global Account residing in Singapore, you can benefit from the country’s stable economy and global outlook while accessing your funds from anywhere in the world. Save in multiple currencies, trade and invest with ease, and access financial products not available in your current location.
You also receive up-to-date financial advice from your dedicated Relationship Management Team, whose expertise in financial planning will help you build your wealth in a structured manner. Whether it’s capitalizing on global market opportunities or growing your wealth, Citibank will work with you to make it happen.
Start a relationship with Citibank today!