Simple Tips for Foreign Entrepreneurs to Open Business Bank Account in Singapore
The company registration process in Singapore is straightforward, but here, we will talk about how to open a bank account.
By definition, Singapore is a city-state (apart from it, there are 2 more in the world). Located in the very heart of Asia, it boasts a vibrant community. Given its strategically lucrative location, Singapore is considered a strategic hub for the entire region.
Investors worldwide are turning their heads toward this city-state, due to the literally unparalleled access to global markets, the most advanced business infrastructure, the ability to work with anyone in the world, and so on.
When it comes to registering a company in Singapore, formal reports say that this city-state has a triple-A economy, which is constantly on the rise. The government here did its best to come up with policies that will be beneficial for businesses.
There are more than 1,000 different kinds of financial institutions in Singapore. When it comes to banks, there are close to 500 of them. There are commercial banks which include both local and foreign banks, wholesale banks, offshore banks, representative of foreign banks, etc.
Commercial banks usually offer a full range of services for both individuals and corporate bodies. Opening a business bank account is fairly simple and straightforward with various options when it comes to choosing the type of accounts best suited to your business needs.
This post will provide an overview into how to open business bank account in Singapore as well as some of the choices you may want to consider when deciding on which bank to approach. Nevertheless, it is advisable that you go to a bank you feel comfortable with. They should be able to thoroughly advise you on the latest policies, benefits, and offers available. Due to the competitive environment, banks periodically adjust their terms and conditions to remain competitive.
Which Bank to Choose
There are way too many choices, and it can at times be a daunting task to decide which bank to choose. Choosing a bank that will fit your business needs and be supportive to new start-ups is crucial. You will also have to ensure it will be able to handle your business expansion plan, since you may need to apply for various loans.
It is necessary to create a shortlist and focus on the pros and cons. Basically, you will need to check if the bank will provide value for your money (they should have no establishment or recurring fees, no huge initial deposit should be required, there should be no penalty for not maintaining minimum balance, etc.). The bank should boast convenience, accessibility, and they should provide value-added services.
All in all, choosing a bank boils down to your comfort levels when it comes to dealing with the bank or its officers.
Most banks require majority directors and bank signatories to be physically present in Singapore for the purpose of opening a bank account and signing relevant bank forms/documents, as well as for identity verification purposes. However, some banks may allow documents to be signed or verified without the parties being present in Singapore. These banks usually allow users to execute the documents in front of an officer employed at an overseas branch or before a public notary. At times, banks will request to conduct a Skype or phone interview, where they can see the directors and signatories.
You need to have the documents mentioned below, as well as the initial deposit, ready when opening a bank account.
The documentation/paperwork involved may vary from bank to bank, but in general, the following are the standard requirements:
- The bank’s own corporate account opening forms, duly completed;
- A certified extract of the directors’ resolutions approving the account opening, indicating the names of the authorised signatories and the account's mode of operating. In the same extract, one can further indicate if they intend to apply for any phone or internet banking services (the company secretary can assist in preparing the certified extract);
- A certified copy of the Certificate of Incorporation;
- A certified copy of the Company’s Constitution;
- The company profile from the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority;
- Certified copies of identification documents such as passports, identification cards of directors, authorised signatories, ultimate beneficiary owners (if any), together with proof of the residential address.
(Note: If the directors and authorised signatories are physically present at the bank, the bank officer will usually be accommodating and he or she will help you make copies of the documents, provided you have the originals with you;
Some banks may do further due diligence processes for certain individuals or corporations to better understand the reason why they want a business/bank account here. This is usually done on a case by case basis).
How Long It Takes
How fast can a bank account be opened depends on a variety of factors but, in general, it can be done within a week if all processes are in order and the bank successfully completes its “Know Your Clients” checks. These KYC checks are mandatory, as required under Monetary Authority of Singapore regulations. These ensure that the clients who are opening bank accounts have a good score, deter any anti-money laundering activities, and counter terrorism financing.
What do I Need to Know?
The following highlighted features aim to provide an overview on the more popular banks used for opening a business account in Singapore. We will focus on the initial deposit, minimum balance maintenance, closure fees, and other fees if applicable.
However, you are the business owner! You cannot expect to fully grasp this issue without some proper homework. There are a lot of options at your disposal and you should thoroughly explore your options before you make a decision. The most important thing is that you choose a bank that you will be comfortable with.
We do hope that the information presented above will be enough to guide you. Be thorough, be careful and good luck.