How to Open a Foreign Bank Account Remotely?

Anyone who does a lot of international business — for work, study, business, or other reasons — should consider opening a foreign or offshore bank account online. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see that holders of accounts set up with offshore banks abroad enjoy many more benefits than just savings on fees and better rates of return.

The main reason why you may need to have a bank account offshore or just across the border is to protect your assets from a variety of risks in your home country. This is an opportunity to shield yourself from the risk of currency devaluation, illegal expropriation or seizure of funds by governmental authorities or courts, introduction or expansion of currency controls, and other perils associated with keeping all funds in one financial institution or jurisdiction.

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Moreover, banking internationally allows you greater financial freedom and opens new horizons – especially in terms of investing in promising projects or property. Offshore bank accounts of legal entities enhance credibility in the eyes of international partners and customers, enable faster payment settlement and transfers (in the appropriate currencies), and can considerably reduce the dues and fees charged for transactions.

The following types of offshore bank accounts are most often opened by non-residents:

  • Current or checking accounts. Also known in the trade as Demand Deposit Accounts,  they are convenient for frequent transactions (deposit and withdrawal of money, SWIFT transfers, cheques etc). Please note that some banks set a minimum balance that needs to remain in a bank account regardless of the value of transactions. Such accounts are essential in international trade and business with foreign partners.
  • Savings or Investment accounts are opened primarily for saving money. They are not suitable for day-to-day transactions. This is where you can invest in financial instruments like stocks and shares, bonds and the like.

Fortunately, it’s often possible to combine both types of accounts – or better still, combine your personal and business accounts in one bank. That way you can easily move funds between accounts and benefit from better deals on banking fees because of the total amount deposited.

There is no doubt that foreign bank accounts offer many advantages and may even be a bare necessity in some cases. But is it possible to open an account abroad at a distance without leaving your country of residence?

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Is opening a foreign bank account online possible?

Yes! Citizens of any country can remotely open a bank account abroad electronically. This allows them to save time and money on flights, and sometimes on courier expenses if the bank accepts documents submitted online. Even notarization may not be required if the document can be submitted as a scanned copy of the original. 

However, let us be completely transparent: it would be extremely difficult to open a bank account online on your own. First, not all foreign banks agree to open accounts electronically. And those that open, often do not make this possibility publicly known. 

Second, the requirements for online applications that foreign banks post on their sites are often incomplete. Only those who work with these banks all the time know all the details of the procedure. Moreover, offshore banks are more willing to work with clients who are recommended by professional credible experts who work with the bank and know the nuances of the requirements

Each financial institution has its own rules for submission of the application documents. A foreign bank account remote opening can be done in different ways:

  • during a video interview with a banker plus the online submission of documents;
  • by sending documents by post or courier;
  • on an in-person visit to a local office of the foreign bank in the country of residence;
  • by signing a bank form and notarizing it in the country of residence, then sending documents to the bank. 

These are just some of the possible options. Once the account is set up, it is usually managed by its owner completely online. 

We’ll get back to you within 10 minutes if you refer to us your questions. Please contact us at the e-mail address given at the top of this page.

Where can I open a foreign bank account remotely?

We know some offshore banks and financial institutions open non-resident accounts remotely even with the current challenging compliance environment and political pressure. They rely on foreign clients, offer a wide range of services, and protect customer confidentiality. Let’s look at some of them. 

Switzerland is one of the most popular and best known countries where you can open a bank account remotely. For example, to open a bank account for an individual in some Swiss banks, it is sufficient to conduct a meeting via video-conferencing. You can open a multi-currency account abroad  (the minimum deposit starts from 5,000 EUR, CHF, or USD). All services are available online, and the staff can communicate in many languages!  

Check out our top 10 Swiss banking choices here.  

Banks in some other European countries (for example,  Liechtenstein, Portugal) also offer to open non-resident accounts online. They are an ideal solution for customers wishing to grow and invest their assets. Looking for crypto-friendly offshore banks? Banks in Liechtenstein are particularly crypto-friendly. Clients mostly interested in their asset protection against various risks usually choose to open several offshore accounts in different banks. For example, one bank account might be opened in Europe and another outside Europe. The list of popular countries in other parts of the world includes Bahamas, Belize, the Cook Islands, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Curacao, Saint Lucia, Panama, Singapore, etc.

Opening a bank account abroad: due diligence matters

Why is it important to prepare well for compliance control by the bank? And why is it conducted at all?

All banks, whether they open accounts for local or international clients, are required to know their customers. They are obliged to comply with the provisions of the national legislations and international agreements governing  Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT). Violation is penalized with a fine and, perhaps more importantly these days, serious reputational damage. 

That is why offshore banks carefully check out the backgrounds of each and every one of their clients. Whether they are new applicants, customers at the stage of opening an account, or existing holders of their accounts, keeping the compliance department happy is a key to a successful offshore banking relationship. 

It does not matter if you open a personal bank account or a corporate one, if you apply online or in person: the first thing that will interest any foreign bank is the origin of your funds. All banks will ask where your money comes from, how you have made it. 

The following documents are just a few examples of what may be requested as proof of the source of funds:

  • Personal account statement from another bank
  • Copy of your latest tax return
  • Personal financial statement prepared by a CPA
  • Pay stub
  • Documents on ownership of property or sale of some property.

In most cases, offshore banks need documents in English or a certified English translation. Some banks may accept just scanned copies of the originals, others may require them to be certified by a notary public, and some may ask to send original documents by courier or mail. 

To set up a corporate account offshore, applicants are often required to “show the money” before the bank makes a final decision to open an account. For example, such a requirement exists in many Swiss banks. And this transfer can only be done in three ways:

  1. from the personal account of the owner of the company (the advantage of this method is that the bank does not need to conduct any additional check of this person’s profile);
  2. from the account of the same company with another financial institution (in this case, the bank will not have to perform additional checks either);
  3. as a transfer from some contractor or partner company (in such a situation, a foreign bank will request to submit a contract, invoice, or other similar document). And of course, all these documents need to comply with/conform to the stated activity of the company. 

From the companies that have been in operation for more than a year, banks will typically require a Certificate of Good Standing and/or a Certificate of Incumbency issued in the country of registration of the company. It will need to indicate all the relevant data about the legal entity, and also confirm the fact that the company is up to date on all its compliance, filing and payment obligations. 

Another document often requested by offshore banks is a letter of reference or recommendation from another bank that has served the client for more than two years. This document will allow an overseas bank to be sure that the client has already been checked by another financial institution. Reference letters may also be supplied by attorneys, accountants or business partners.

Having successfully opened a bank account offshore – whether online or during an in-person visit, the account owner should be aware of the following important recommendations

  • All transactions on the account need to be backed up by the relevant documents (contracts, invoices, bills of lading, etc.). 
  • The bank’s questions need to be answered as quickly as possible and in as much detail as required. 
  • If you plan some unusual transaction or transfer as part of your business activity, please consult with the bank in advance. 
  • Also, a bank abroad needs to be promptly notified about all changes in address, passport data, and other personal details.
  • Please be sure to check the dates of issue, expiration dates, etc. of all documents in advance, not when the bank notices it. For example, a Certificate of Good Standing is usually valid only for one year, so it needs to be updated annually in advance for timely submission to the bank. 
  • When planning to prepare and send the necessary documents, use a professional office scanner, rather than trying to use scanning apps on your phone that generally don’t produce good quality results.

All the above-mentioned prompts are relevant for most banks, especially European ones. However, banks do differ in their policies, and their requirements can be unique. Some foreign banks ask for just a few documents, others require a lot of bureaucracy. 

Not to waste your time when opening an account online, we recommend that you contact our experts at the e-mail address given at the top of this page or via WhatsApp. They will promptly answer your questions and advise on the most relevant services.

Is it possible to open an account with a foreign bank remotely?

Yes, you can open a bank account abroad without going to the bank. However, this possibility is available not in all financial institutions. The task to find a bank that is ready to open a bank account online is not easy if you are trying to look for it on your own. This is because many of them simply do not advertise this opportunity. Remote opening of a foreign account implies an online interview with a banker and submission of a certified package of documents by mail according to the bank’s requirements.

How can an individual open a personal bank account abroad?

First, you need to choose a foreign bank that will meet your purposes and match your financial status. Second, you should study its requirements, the required list of application documents, the minimum balance to be deposited on the account, etc. The success of opening a bank account abroad depends largely on how well the documents are prepared and how much all the requirements of a particular bank are met.

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