- Reflections on buying or opening a corporate account with a foreign bank
- Insights into opening a personal account with a foreign bank online
- Prompts on choosing a jurisdiction for opening a foreign bank account online
- Clues for opening foreign bank accounts online
- Cost estimates of opening a foreign bank account online
Opening a bank account in a foreign bank is one of the most demanded services in the international business. There are many reasons why companies and individuals may need to set up overseas bank accounts. Each applicant hopes to accomplish this task very quickly, with as little publicity as possible, and from the convenience of their homes or offices, so that not to waste time on travel arrangements and trips.
However, today’s banking trends include, unfortunately, some limitations that you need to be aware of when planning to apply for a bank account abroad. They are closely intertwined with the global fight unleashed against offshore strategies blamed for the leakage of capital and business from around the world. To reduce compliance risks, the banks’ KYC efforts have been taken to another level of detail. This means longer checks and a more in-depth AML/CFT analysis of each major customer transaction and activity.
Our prompts, clues, and notes will help you prepare for the possible challenges. You can find in this article the summary of useful insights shared by our expert on offshore banking. You are also welcome to take advantage of our services.
Reflections on buying or opening a corporate account with a foreign bank
Opening an account at a foreign bank over the Internet is quite feasible. You can resort to this online solution right during your foreign company registration, or take your time and sign up later. Most clients start with a basic corporate checking account, without which no company could operate.
Please note that in today’s world it is next to impossible to buy a shelf company with an open account, re-register everything in the name of the new owner, and rush into transactions and payments in a few business days. When you consider some offers to sell you an operating company with a functioning account, be prepared to go through the compliance procedure with the bank all over again after you have become the company owner. If the bank decides to cooperate with you, it will not close the account. However, this is not always the case. Therefore, the purchase of a ready-made company with an open account, although quite legal and not rare, may not happen overnight. You will have to wait for the bank’s approval before you can start using your account. Otherwise, you will need to register a new one.
On the other hand, if you prefer to incorporate a foreign company from scratch and open an account, it is recommended to choose the jurisdiction with consideration of the banks’ policy. So it would be best if you could get a pre-approval from a particular bank with which you plan to work. European banks tend to avoid companies registered in classic offshore havens such as Seychelles, BVI, Belize, Panama, etc. But they would welcome corporate clients from the UK, Cyprus, Portugal, Malta, Liechtenstein, and other European Union member states. Nonetheless, the jurisdictions recommended by the foreign bank may not be the most suitable ones for your business. So, you should rely on the experience and specific insights of experts. Professional advice is the only guarantee that you will be able to find some agreeable solutions, even in Switzerland.
With a seasoned consultant, you may be sure that you can select the bank and the jurisdiction that will perfectly suit your purposes and welcome you onboard.
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Insights into opening a personal account with a foreign bank online
Opening a foreign account for an individual is just as time-consuming a process as opening an account for a foreign company. Many people look for an opportunity to open a foreign bank account online without intermediaries. This is possible, but the choice of financial institutions where you will be most welcome to open a personal account remotely is very limited.
The good news is that you have very bright chances to qualify if you can visit the foreign bank in person to submit your application, plus if you are ready to meet advanced requirements for the minimum deposit and/or balance on your personal account. This is how you can open personal accounts with reputable high-street banks in Switzerland, Luxembourg, Monaco, etc.
As far as offshore banks and more affordable foreign banks are concerned, they often prefer to cooperate with foreign private persons via professional intermediaries, such as Offshore Pro Group. Why? The answer is simple: a professional intermediary not only encourages and leads the clients by the hand to the bank but also does the banker’s primary job. They study the clients’ background, status, intentions, expectations, source of wealth – to determine if they can meet the bank’s parameters in principle.
Clients, in their turn, profit from an intermediary’s support, i.e. professional private advice and assistance in selecting the most suitable bank. The perfect match means the prospects of acquiring the right account online with the right foreign bank that will benefit the client.
One of the main questions is – where to open an account? There are plenty of jurisdictions that are famous for their banking sectors. However, the macroeconomic situation is changing so rapidly that former values have turned to dust, and awareness of such unexpected twists as some banks’ refusals to onboard U.S. citizens and residents has become of top priority when choosing a bank.
You can open an account with a foreign bank online, and this can be a classic financial institution or a narrowly focused bank. Investment banks, for example, are a very specific mechanism for protecting and servicing clients’ funds. However, if you can afford to open an account with a reputable investment bank, it doesn’t mean that you should choose it.
Investment accounts involve the creation of diversified portfolios consisting of classic and innovative investment products. One needs to understand which strategy to follow – a risky one or with lesser profits guaranteed. Also, such accounts are not suitable for making regular payments. If you decide to constantly transfer money from one account to another, you will lose a lot on commissions for processing your transactions.
For regular personal or corporate banking, an account with a retail bank will be fine. The service fees will be reasonable, but the investment products won’t be too sophisticated. If a classic deposit or savings account is right for you, then you may as well choose such a bank.
Prompts on choosing a jurisdiction for opening a foreign bank account online
The decision in which country to open a foreign account is closely intertwined with the policies and laws of the jurisdiction. The process of deoffshorization is another issue that makes banks increasingly tighten their belts, and shift their costs onto the shoulders of their customers.
Way back when, the leading positions in the offshore world used to belong to British offshore jurisdictions such as the BVI and the Caymans, which could offer excellent terms not only for setting up and running an offshore business but also for opening offshore accounts.
To this day, bank accounts are still available in the Caymans for Americans, who have recently faced a stone wall of negativity and virtually anti-Americanism from all international banks since the implementation of FATCA. For anyone else, the Caymans and other British offshore jurisdictions are becoming less and less popular as the jurisdictions are overly influenced by the UK and have already agreed to disclose beneficiaries to the UK and several other countries.
Offshore banking is on its way to abandoning the guarantees of non-disclosure and total confidentiality. Switzerland’s waiver of banking secrecy was the start of this process. The Automatic Exchange Of Information (AEOI) for tax purposes has made international banking transparent in all countries-signatories of the Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters. They include the EU states, the British offshore zones, Seychelles, the Russian Federation, etc. In this connection, obtaining a foreign bank account is becoming more challenging than some years ago.
Clues for opening foreign bank accounts online
Applicants should be prepared to submit to the bank a portfolio of many documents and prove the legality of their assets. On the one hand, this is not difficult, but on the other hand, it is very painstaking and time-consuming, since the documents need to be compiled and translated (if issued in languages not used by the bank), notarized, and some papers – apostilled.
Another hint is that holding only one foreign bank account is not safe by default. Even if the bank is healthy and reputable, has sound capitalization, maintains well-established correspondent relationships and features other strengths, it does not mean that tomorrow the same will be true. This is because global banks have long become very vulnerable to USD fluctuations. They are more exposed to disruptions in funding markets, and hence – are dependent on the US requirements, recommendations, and sanctions. Nearly any foreign bank can at any time become hostage to the adverse situations impacting liquidity. This means that under adverse circumstances, clients might have to wait years to get their legal assets back. Moreover, the internal policies of the bank may change in response to political, economic, legal shifts in their countries. So it is quite possible that at one point, you may suddenly find yourself in the category of unwelcome customers – just because your country is blacklisted.
What can you do? The only sound strategy would be to open an alternative account with another foreign bank. You can do this via the Internet, but this may take more than a month. So our advice is to set up a reserve account well in advance.
Cost estimates of opening a foreign bank account online
The cost of opening, maintenance, and management of your account is an important consideration to analyze when choosing a foreign bank. A worldwide trend is that offshore banking is getting more expensive. While in the past you could open an account for $200 and be sure that the annual maintenance of the account would cost you even less, the current costs are growing much higher.
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Banks are increasing fees because they have to cover their growing AML/CFT costs of more in-depth verification of operations and transactions. As a result, their clients’ banking costs are building up.
Please note: while it is getting technically easier to open an account in a foreign account online without leaving your country of residence, this does not mean that the process is any easier than opening an account at a local bank. You will need some time to consider different options and select the right jurisdiction, the right bank, and analyze your business and your compliance with due diligence.
Our advisors can help you speed up the process. You are welcome to contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and take advantage of our assistance and tools that you need to achieve your business and personal goals internationally.
Can you open a foreign bank account online?
Yes, as the world is going digital in all spheres, there are many web-based banking platforms, virtual banking services, and offers to open accounts online. However, not all clients can accomplish this task. First, not all banks are willing to open accounts remotely. You need to look for those that offer such a service. Secondly, the Internet does not mean that you can go to the website and click the button “Open an account”. This is often not possible for foreigners. More often than not, you need to be somehow introduced/recommended to the bank and prove your trustworthiness. As for the technical side, it is easy to submit the required documents and conveniently participate in the interview with the bankers on the Internet from your home if the bank accepts applications online. This will save you time and money.
Is it legal to open a foreign account?
Yes, almost any country allows its nationals to open accounts abroad. In some countries, after opening a foreign account, you have to register it with the tax authorities or obtain permission to conduct certain types of transactions. The main thing is to be sure that the bank has a license and the origin of your funds is legal.
Where can one open a foreign account?
It is possible to open a foreign account in any country of the world. The specific place depends on your goals and objectives, whether you need a personal or corporate account for daily expenses or investments. With these considerations, you can choose the country and the bank. In some cases, it is even possible to open an account not with a bank, but with another financial institution, such as a payment system. For more information, look up our topical articles on this portal or contact us on the phone, in chats, or at the e-mail address given at the top of this page.