Singapore Corporate Bank Account

Singapore is one of the world's financial centres and home to many of the major banks. Opening bank account however, largely depends on the type of your corporate entity, its country of registration and operation, industry, beneficial owners and many other factors. Banks are very choosy nowadays.

Yet Singapore's banking system is still one of the best in the world and it continues to attract top talent, especially from Fintech sector. Singapore is welcoming international businesses to the republic, as long it can be innovative and creates work and business opportunities. Overall, banks in Singapore are pretty easy to work with, especially if compared to Europe and many other places.

In essence, opening a corporate bank account is a simple process. In many cases it is pretty quick as well. Below is the short overview of types of business bank accounts in Singapore, process for opening an account, and a list of major banks in Singapore to consider.

General information

Any company registered in Singapore can approach a local bank for business account opening. The application forms must be signed by 2 directors or 1 director and company secretary. If the company has only 1 director, he alone can sign the application forms.

There are 3 first-tier retail banks in Singapore: DBS, UOB and OCBC. Just behind them with a slightly lower presence are Maybank, Standard Chartered, HSBC and Citibank. 

If the company has only local directors, in some banks (OCBC, DBS) the account can be opened in online mode. In other cases, the review of account opening application may take up to couple of weeks by the bank.

Singapore banking system is famous around the world for its efficiency and advanced features. Many local banks are awarded internationally in various categories. 

What foreigners should know when approaching a Singapore bank for business account opening

It is worth to keep in mind that Singapore banks are not exactly chasing after customers nowadays. For many years they've been enjoying growing popularity and large increase in customers' base from all over the world. In many cases, taking to the account the new, more stringent requirements imposed on them in regards to the due diligence procedures, banks became pretty choosy in picking their customers.

Therefore, it is important to understand and follow some simple guidelines to elevate your chances of success of account opening for your company in Singapore banks.

What you should know to prepare yourself for the bank account application:

Present a clear picture of your business activity:don't use vague terms, describe the operations in clean cut and reasonably detailed manner, list your counterparts and countries of operations. If you have existing business under a different entity - present it, bring copies of your contracts and invoices.

Keep your structure simple. In case there is no legitimate requirement to have corporate shareholders in your company, don't use them. The banks often perceive the complex corporate structures as an attempt to evade the real beneficial owners. In any event, they will want to see the physical persons - beneficial owners behind each corporate entity.

Prepare copies of proof of address for all your directors; if they are not in English, they must be translated and certified as true copies.

Note well: you have higher chances to open a bank account in Singapore if your business is connected to the region, i.e. your suppliers or customers are locally based.

If you have serious business intentions, you have to show it to the bank: maybe you have already rented an office in Singapore or hired some staff - present this information to support your application. Substantial local presence will be a very positive factor!

Other options

At the same time, have a wider picture in mind: in many cases, it is not even necessary to have a bank account in Singapore. For example, if you are running international online business and your employees and customers are based outside of Singapore, you can choose one of the online payment systems which are recently getting more and more popular. In many cases this will help you save a considerable amount of bank fees or even on taxes, because the income which is deemed foreign will not be taxable in Singapore

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