How to Open a Foreign Bank Account Remotely?

Anyone who spends a lot of time abroad — for work, study, business, or other reasons — should consider opening a foreign bank account online. Just give it a thought and you will realize that the holders of accounts set up with banks abroad enjoy many more benefits than just savings on fees and international transfers.

The main reason why you may need to have a bank account overseas 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 threats of devaluation of local currency, illegal expropriation of funds by local authorities, currency control, and other perils associated with keeping all funds in one financial institution. 

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

Deposits protection is likely to be an important obvious advantage of cooperation with banks outside your place of residence. For example, the European Deposit Insurance Scheme (EDIS) is much more beneficial than insurance of bank deposits in many countries outside the euro area.  

The following types of accounts are most often applied for by non-residents:

  • settlement accounts that are convenient for frequent transactions (accrual and withdrawal of money). Please note that some banks set a minimum amount that needs to remain in a bank account regardless of the value of transactions. Such accounts are essential in trade and services rendered to foreign partners.
  • savings accounts that are opened primarily for saving money. Please note that the number of transactions that can be carried out within one month is often limited. Sometimes the terms of the banking agreement may ban the use of funds deposited in such accounts for transactions and purposes other than saving. 

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 or stay?

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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 postal 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 put it straightforwardly: 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, banks abroad 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 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 by courier to the bank. 

These are just some of the possible options. Once the account is set up, it is 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 institutions that keep opening non-resident accounts remotely even under the current challenging situation unrolling worldwide because of the pandemic and its economic impacts on the banking sector. They are loyal to 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 reliable countries where you can open a bank account remotely. For example, to open a bank account for an individual in one of a Swiss banks, it is enough to pass an online interview. Clients may even not be required to notarize documents. You can open a multi-currency account abroad  (the minimum deposit starts from 5 thousand EUR, CHF, or USD). All services are available online, and the staff can communicate in many languages!

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. 

Clients mostly interested in their asset protection against various risks usually choose to open several accounts abroad. For example, one bank account can be opened in the EU and another beyond Europe. The list of popular countries in other parts of the world includes Georgia, 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 the locals or foreign customers, 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). Their violation is penalized with a fine and may result in the disqualification and prosecution of bank officials. 

That is why foreign banks carefully check each of their clients, whether they are new applicants, customers at the stage of opening an account, or the regular holders of their accounts. 

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 may be requested as proof of the source of funds:

  • personal account statement from another bank
  • documents confirming the payment of taxes
  • pay statement
  • documents on ownership of property or sale of some property.

Each foreign bank will either allow to provide any of these documents or specify which document it needs.

In most cases, foreign banks accept documents in English or certified English translation. Some banks may accept just scanned copies of the originals, others may require their notarial certification, and some may ask to send original documents by courier mail. 

To set up a corporate account abroad, applicants are often required to get the initial deposit credited before the bank makes a final decision to open an account. For example, such a requirement exists in Switzerland. 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 consignment note). 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 require a Certificate of Good Standing and 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 of all relevant state duties paid. 

Another document often requested by foreign banks, especially Caribbean ones, is a letter of 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. 

Having successfully opened a bank account abroad – 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 confirmed by the relevant documents (contracts, invoices, invoices, 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. Otherwise, it can be blocked.
  • 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. Otherwise, when it expires, an overseas bank can simply block the account. 
  • When planning to prepare and send the necessary documents, remember to take into account the travel time that will be needed for the delivery by mail.

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 rather specific. Some foreign banks ask for just a few documents, others require an extended list of certificates. It often depends on the amount of your money transfer. 

Not to waste your time when opening an account online, we recommend that you should contact our experts at the e-mail address given at the top of this page or via any of the messengers. They will promptly answer your questions and offer 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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