Singapore is globally recognized as a premier financial center, renowned for its robust financial system and dynamic business environment. Its diverse banking sector attracts major banks from around the world, bolstering international trade between Singapore, Southeast Asia, and the rest of the world.

This convergence contributes to a formidable banking and financial system that supports international wealth management.

Many multinational corporations choose to open offshore accounts in Singapore for financial and fund management operations.

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Ⅰ. Advantages of opening an offshore bank account in Singapore

For those without experience in opening a corporate account in Singapore, it is easy to face initial rejection from banks due to incomplete documentation. To avoid wasting the time and financial costs of business owners, it is advisable to seek assistance from experienced service providers who can offer the latest regulations and information regarding opening offshore accounts in Singapore, providing guidance and support throughout the process.

Ⅱ. Top banks in Singapore

A Singapore business bank account, often simply referred to as a company account, is recommended from an accounting perspective to minimize legal liabilities. It is advisable to operate business activities through a company account rather than a personal account, as there may be conflicts between bank user terms and account users. If a bank identifies inappropriate behavior by the user, they have the right to suspend services at any time.

You may have many options when it comes to opening a business account in Singapore, and most banks in Singapore offer attractive incentives such as credit cards, freedom to transfer funds across countries, online banking, multi-currency accounts, trade finance, and more.

You need to first understand each bank to ensure that the features offered are in line with your company’s business plans and needs and choosing a bank that will provide a suitable development for your business operations can reduce future banking-related issues.

Before confirming your bank, you should consider the following factors:

  • What is the expected bank transaction volume?
  • Minimum Initial Deposit: As part of the account opening process, some banks may require an initial deposit to activate the account.
  • Additional Financial Services Needed by the Business: What other financial services might the company require?
  • Minimum Account Balance Requirement: Some bank accounts may have a monthly minimum balance requirement. If the account balance falls below this requirement, the account may incur maintenance fees.
  • Currency Types for Transactions: Singapore banks typically offer various currency accounts, with some having a broader range of currency options.
  • Online Banking: Online banking has kept pace with the development of most banks in Singapore. Language is not a barrier as English is one of Singapore’s official languages, and banking apps and online platforms are user-friendly.
  • Information Provision: As part of the account opening process, the bank authorities may require certain information, such as identification documents and address proof for company owners and directors, as well as documentation for entity owners, ultimate beneficial owners, and supporting documents for parent company transactions.
  • Account Opening Methods: Relevant personnel may need to prepare for an in-person visit to Singapore for a bank interview, or some banks may arrange online video conferencing interviews.
risk free investment –Local Major Banks–

DBS
DBS Bank, originally established as the Development Bank of Singapore in 1968, underwent a name change on July 21, 2003, adopting its current name. Headquartered in Singapore, DBS is considered the largest bank in both Singapore and Southeast Asia based on asset valuation.

OCBC
Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation Limited (OCBC), commonly abbreviated as OCBC, is the second-largest bank in Singapore. Established in 1912, OCBC currently operates over 630 branches and representative offices in 18 countries or regions worldwide.
UOB
United Overseas Bank; abbreviation: UOB, is a multinational bank headquartered in Singapore, with branches all over Southeast Asian countries. Established in 1935, UOB is the third largest bank in Southeast Asia in terms of total asset value.
sound way to diversify your investment portfolios –Local Foreign Banks–
HSBC
In Singapore, The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited opened in 1877. HSBC is an Accredited Primary Dealer and an Accredited Bond Intermediary (ABI) in the Singapore Government Securities Market.
Standard Chartered Bank
Standard Chartered Bank’s business in Singapore began in 1859. It is the largest foreign institutional custodian bank in Singapore.
Maybank
Maybank is currently one of the top five banks in ASEAN and is a qualified wholly-owned bank in Singapore.
Citibank
Citibank was the first US bank to open a branch in Singapore in 1902. Citibank was one of the first four foreign banks to obtain a Qualified Bank (QFB) license in 1999.

Ⅲ.Documents required for opening an account in Singapore

The account opening bank will request the following basic documents, in addition to other documents depending on the individual case. 

  • Certificate of Incorporation. 
  • Full copy of Constitution/Memorandum and the Articles of Association(M&A). 
  • Certificate of Incumbency(note the validity period of issuance). 
  • The certified proof of passports and address certificates of directors, signatories and authorized persons. 
  • Proof of company business. 
  • Customer and supplier information. 
  • Proof of relevant bank flow or financial resources.

Opening a corporate bank account in Singapore for foreign (offshore) companies poses challenges in obtaining relevant information for verification. Therefore, banks must collect more detailed information in advance and implement approval processes more stringent than those for local accounts.

The key to opening a corporate account lies in the bank’s need to understand the customer’s and company’s business (Know Your Customer – KYC). According to regulations aimed at combating terrorism financing and money laundering, banks are legally required to conduct due diligence on customers. Banks must filter out a few bad apples from the vast majority of legitimate and lawful businesses.

Compliance personnel at banks must assess whether the opening company poses any risk of involvement in illegal activities. Consequently, banks require detailed information and supporting documents from the opening company to better understand its business and risk profile.

The comprehensive assessment of a customer’s risk profile by the bank covers a range of factors, including the complexity of the legal structure, backgrounds of company initiators, nature and geographic scope of business activities, major transaction clients and suppliers, and an overview of transaction activities. The question of whether offshore account opening is reasonable and necessary is also considered. Therefore, providing the bank with sufficient and necessary business information during the account opening process is crucial in determining its success.

IV.Singapore bank account opening registration process

Whether it is a Singapore company or an offshore company to open an offshore account, the account opening steps are as follows:

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1.Confirm the bank:

After understanding the bank account opening conditions and thresholds, choose the bank account that best meets your requirements.

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2.Submit documents for pre-review:

Prepare relevant information required by the bank, such as company certification documents, business information, etc., and submit it for preliminary review.

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3.Form signature:

Obtain the company account opening form and complete and sign it by the director's authorized person.

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4.Bank guarantee:

In principle, the bank requires account signatories and most directors to sign documents in person in Singapore when the account is opened. However, due to the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak, some banks may accept signing documents at one of their overseas branches or arranging online video conservatories.

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5.Account review:

After reviewing your documents, the bank will approve the application and open the bank account.

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6.Get an account:

Obtain bank account information, deposit the first basic deposit, and activate the online banking function at the same time.

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7.Get started:

The account is now ready. You will be able to make deposits and withdrawals, as well as use any other functions associated with your account.

  • Confirm the bank:
    After understanding the bank account opening conditions and thresholds, choose the bank account that best meets your requirements.
  • Submit documents for pre-review:
    Prepare relevant information required by the bank, such as company certification documents, business information, etc., and submit it for preliminary review.
  • Form signature:
    Obtain the company account opening form and complete and sign it by the director’s authorized person.
  • Bank guarantee:
    In principle, the bank requires account signatories and most directors to sign documents in person in Singapore when the account is opened. However, due to the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak, some banks may accept signing documents at one of their overseas branches or arranging online video conservatories.
  • Account review:
    After reviewing your documents, the bank will approve the application and open the bank account.
  • Get an account:
    Obtain bank account information, deposit the first basic deposit, and activate the online banking function at the same time.
  • Get started:
    The account is now ready. You will be able to make deposits and withdrawals, as well as use any other functions associated with your account.

V.Notes for Opening Bank Account in Singapore

After opening an account in a Singapore bank, the operation of funds is flexible. The bank in Singapore has strict requirements for opening an account.Generally, directors are required to have Identity Verification in person. However, some banks can still arrange directors to the nearest regional branch or use video according to customer requirements. Different banks have different account opening conditions and basic deposits. If you plan to open a Singapore bank account, you should first confirm the threshold of the local bank in Singapore and the required information.

  • Avoid dealing with high-risk or sanctioned countries and regions. 
  • When opening a corporate bank account with a Singapore bank, pay attention to whether the registered company name contains sensitive words. For example, finance, coal, oil… etc. Companies with such words are more sensitive when opening bank accounts. 
  •  If any of the company directors or shareholders have a negative record with any branch of a Singaporean bank, the Singaporean bank may not accept the company’s application to open a bank account.
  • The company’s shareholder structure should be as simple as possible to avoid an overly complex shareholding structure and increase the difficulty of bank approval.

VI.How do foreigners open a personal account in Singapore?

There are several different types of bank accounts for individuals in Singapore, including current accounts and savings accounts.
A current account works in Singapore the same way it does in other countries, allowing you to manage your day-to-day banking. However, savings accounts also have many of the same features as current accounts. As a result, many Singaporeans choose to only use savings accounts instead of current accounts.

-Multicurrency Savings Account-

Unlike regular savings accounts, multi-currency accounts allow you to hold multiple foreign currencies other than Singapore dollars in one account. This allows account holders to conduct overseas transactions directly from their bank account without incurring additional foreign exchange fees.

As a foreigner to open a bank account in Singapore, the required documents are slightly different from the bank requirements, basically you may need:

  • Proof of identity (passport or ID card)
  • Proof of address (utility bill, etc.)
  • Financial proof or local visa
  • Some banks may even require letters of recommendation.

VII.Singapore opening bank Account Q&A | INTER AREA

Q1.Which banks in Singapore can I open a bank account for my Singapore company?

Q2.What are the requirements for opening a bank account in Singapore?

Q3.How many working days does it take to open an account?

Q4.Can a multi-currency account be opened for a Singapore company?

Q5.Is it possible to open a company bank account before the Singapore company is incorporated?

Q6.Can I transfer my funds freely between my country of residence and Singapore?

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