Business Bank Accounts Opening Abroad: Timesaving Advice

When choosing a country and a bank to open an offshore account, you should pay attention to key factors like:

  • application timelines, 
  • list of documents
  • schedules of fees and rates charged by your prospective banking providers. 

Not all banks offer an expedited procedure, but some do. Timelines depend a lot on the country of incorporation of a legal entity, its reputation, the reliability of the information provided in the documents, as well as some other factors that we will explore here.

How long does it take to open an account for an offshore company? Which country’s offshore banks provide the most favorable terms? What requirements do most banks set for applicants? Is there any fast track to getting your offshore business bank account?  

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To get trustworthy advice on foreign bank accounts opening and offshore banking services, please contact the International Wealth experts at the e-mail address given at the top of this page or reach out to us using the WhatsApp button. We’ll contact you asap.

Stages of Opening an Offshore Business Bank Account

It is possible to open an offshore company’s account in many countries around the world – if you meet the application requirements, and are not engaged in “high-risk”  business. Even in countries like the USA, Switzerland you can still open business accounts for offshore companies. However, with many restrictions and requirements imposed by prestigious jurisdictions in relation to offshore companies, your aim of account opening in those countries should be rather significant and you should be prepared that your application can still be rejected at any stage. Our recommendation would therefore be to realistically assess your chances and avoid tacking against the wind without a real necessity. 

Many offshore jurisdictions have adopted the OECD and FATF recommendations on transparency and beneficial ownership of legal persons. This means that banks have to beef up their customer due diligence and compliance procedures – as mandatory joint measures for combating terrorist financing and money laundering. Therefore, all applicants for setting up foreign accounts need to be aware of the importance of the documents they submit to the banks for consideration and the questions they might be asked.   

At the same time, however, the application process has in many cases become more customer-friendly thanks to the banks’ technical advances. Just about a year ago remote services were offered mostly at the client’s special request. Nowadays, with the restrictions still enforced in many countries due to COVID-19 pandemic, many more financial institutions have started to offer to open an offshore account remotely. 

To gain access to the bank’s products, all corporate clients need to take the three mandatory steps: 

  1. Prepare impeccable documents. Please note that any negligent error or omission can be treated by the bank as a reason for refusing to open an account. To save your time and so that you could be sure of the strengths of your application portfolio, we recommend our experts’ free professional advice and/or fee-based services.
  2. Wait for the bank’s verdict. The feedback always depends on the quality and validity of the information provided, the company’s business profile and scope, and its country of incorporation. Please note that applications from companies engaged in high-risk activities, such as gaming, brokerage and forex trading, are more likely to be rejected, compared to conventional trade companies involved in import/export or e-commerce, trusts, and investment funds. Also, the financial institution may require the applying legal entity’s real presence via a local registration in the country where it is trying to set up a bank account. This requirement needs to be taken into consideration right from the pre-application stage – when you are choosing the jurisdiction and the bank. Some companies have to undergo restructuring to be allowed to open a branch or office in a particular jurisdiction.
  3. Finalize and sign the banking agreement. Account opening is the final stage… during which the applicant might be invited to visit the bank in person or send a signatory (account manager or professional director) to visit it and sign the agreement on the UBO’s behalf. Please note, however, that there is very often also an opportunity for the remote signing of the documents, whether by e-signature, video notarization or traditional power of attorney. To learn the details of this option, please contact us at the e-mail address or by messengers (see the details at the top of this page).  
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Note: The average wait time for opening offshore accounts is country- and bank-specific. It could literally be 24 hours or 6 months. The exact timeline can be estimated only after the PRE-APPROVAL of the application (this is a special service offered by our experts who can submit your application portfolio to several shortlisted banks for preview, to see which banks would accept your application in principle).

Documents Required for Opening Offshore Business Bank Accounts

To open a foreign bank account, an individual and a legal entity need to prepare a required portfolio of documents.

To open an offshore account for an individual:

  • the applicant’s passport copy;
  • the applicant’s proof of address (usually a copy of a utility bills not older than 3 months, or a government-issued ID document);
  • proof of the origin of income and the legal source of assets (a tax return, a certificate of inheritance, a contract of sale of property, etc.) – may be required in some cases.

To open an offshore corporate account:

  • the company’s statutory documents;
  • a copy of each director’s and founder’s passport;
  • the proof of address of the company’s directors and shareholders/UBOs;
  • a certificate of Good Standing or a similar document, unless the company is new;
  • an executive summary or business plan and a detailed description of the company’s business;
  • information about partners/contractors and examples of existing contracts with them;
  • proof of the signatory’s authority (account manager), if any; 
  • some other documents may be required on a case-by-case basis

Please note: Each bank has its specific policy and rules for verification of a potential customer’s trustworthiness. So that not to waste time, you should take advantage of a preliminary consultation with experienced professionals who will help with choosing the jurisdiction for opening an offshore account. An experienced consultant will answer all relevant questions and guide you through the process of compiling the documents, and introduce you directly to the appropriate banks.

FREE EXPERT ADVICE

To What Bank Should you Apply for Business Bank Accounts Opening Abroad in 2021?

The choice depends on the place of residence of the founder, the tax residence, as well as the country of registration of the company. Other aspects need to be considered. It is recommended that you should take advantage of our professional expert services in choosing the right financial institution for your needs.  

Please note: When registering the company, it is strongly recommended that you open several bank accounts at once – to save and diversify assets across a few financial institutions, including payment systems and new banks. Opening more than one account is a wise decision since you always need to have plan B at hand in case of some unpredictable situation. 

Which Jurisdictions are Recommended for Business Bank Accounts Opening Abroad in 2021?

The shortlist of jurisdictions that are ready to provide banking service to international corporations and offer customer-friendly terms includes the following countries:

  1. Puerto Rico, where you can open an offshore account on favorable terms within a month – remotely, without having to visit it in-person.
  2. Singapore, where banks will open you access to the Asian market, is one of the world’s major financial centers with a stable economy and a wide range of opportunities. If you have partners in Singapore and plan to perform payments in this country, you can obtain an account within just a few weeks: you will have to visit the financial institution only once – to attach your signature to the agreement and/or confirm the authority of the administrator. 
  3. St. Kitts and Nevis. You can open an account in this state without a personal visit, within just a week or two. The initial deposit is required, however there is no minimum balance requirement.
  4. Saint Lucia, one of the Caribbean countries. Almost all offshore companies can get access to the banks of this state. The initial deposit is usually around US $ 5,000, however account opening can take from three to five weeks.
  5. Payment systems in a variety of countries have long become key players in international banking and are recommended as one of the best options for opening a reserve account. However, even these financial institutions have tightened their requirements for customers and have to perform compliance checks according to established rules.

The above-mentioned list of jurisdictions can be extended, including Panama, Belize, Cyprus, Macedonia, and many other countries.

However, let us remind you of a wise saying: ‘don’t halloo until are out of the wood’. The point is, even if you know ‘for sure’ that your company can pass a compliance check, you can’t be 100% sure that an offshore account will be opened. We have to admit that banking terms keep changing every year, and the blacklists of countries compiled by the EU and powerful international bodies are being updated. Such game-changing circumstances are beyond your control, and, unfortunately, they may interfere with your perfect plans and operations related to financial assets.

In 2021, one of the main requirements set for foreign legal entities is to submit the proof of Substance (i.e. locally-based office,  local staff, local contact telephones, etc.) in the place of incorporation or in the country of opening an account. Also, banks can verify information on all your contractors and partners, and (in case of finding the slightest trace of their unreliability or even any relevance to the blacklisted countries) may refuse to serve you even if all other aspects comply with the requirements.

Please note: It is best to choose for your company registration a country in which you have good chances to open a bank account. Such an approach will allow you to solve two problems at a time – to launch your business and open its offshore account.

A Shortcut to Business Bank Accounts Opening Abroad in 2021

There is no strictly established time frame for opening an overseas offshore account. However, despite what is often advertised,  non-residents (legal entities) cannot get access to banking products within 1 – 5 days. The total procedure and wait period for opening an offshore account involves several steps:

  • preparation of documents following the requirements of the bank;
  • a preliminary review/approval of your application by the chosen financial institution, –  this should be done through the PRE-APPROVAL service (offered by our experts), i.e. the submission of your basic application portfolio to several shortlisted financial institutions across the world at once;
  • Customer Due Diligence, which involves a review of your personal and corporate information, as well as compliance control and the bankers’ interview with you;
  • transfer of the deposit, finalization and signing of the banking agreement, the issue/receipt of the bank documents.

Taken together, all of these stages last from 1 to 3 months. If the service is rendered remotely, the timeline may be much longer.

What is the main advice we can give you to help you expedite the entire procedure of your business bank account opening abroad?

International Wealth experts will help you open an offshore account quickly and safely. Please book a free consultation and discuss all the most important details with our seasoned experts. Our contact details are given at the top of this page.

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