Where to obtain a foreign bank account (for corporate or personal use) is a comprehensive decision. It cannot be reduced to the selection of a country of some handsome bank. Unfortunately, the failure to understand this time-tested truth is a common mistake. As a result, too many applicants rely on make-believe reasons and shallow judgement, instead of sound professional guidance.
To prepare customized advice on where to obtain a foreign bank account, our experts usually ask our clients at least 10 questions. Then, depending on their feedback, more questions may follow. This is how we can cherry-pick the most appropriate foreign bank from our shortlist of recommended financial institutions in different countries. To compile this database, we have discarded all the bogus banks, banks with revoked licenses, foreign banks without a SWIFT code, banks with unreliable and underperforming correspondent accounts, banks offering low-quality services, as well as banks that avoid overseas customers. We also monitor and exclude banks that have currently faced risks and are subject to huge fines, banks that refuse to consider in their CDD screening the specific circumstances of nationals from certain countries.
Come to think of it: can amateurs have a good handle on all such selection criteria if they do not conduct a regular, profound worldwide study of banks that work with non-residents?
In the course of any one-on-one consultation with our clients, experts weed out a lot of unfavorable options. For example, a bank is rejected if the interest rates on deposits are too low and unprofitable for the planned account activity; if the time difference between the bank and the client can be too inconvenient; if the bank officers and the client do not have a common language; if the bank requests certain documents that the applicant would never be able to get. Only after such a customized analysis can experts trim down the shortlist and recommend where it would be best for you to obtain a foreign bank account.
When choosing how to obtain a foreign bank account, you should always remember that the relationship with your bank is a bilateral business relationship. You need a bank to provide you with a reliable mechanism for accepting payments for your goods and services. To be able to do so, the bank must have a banking license, a SWIFT code, and comply with a lot of Central Bank requirements.
A foreign bank is a legal entity whose rules are not subject to compromise. Unless you are a VVIP client, no one will even think to discuss with you the bank’s compliance policy. Even for the sake of a very wealthy client, a trustworthy bank will NEVER risk losing its license.
Last but not least, a professional expert will verify what you already know about foreign banks – to check if you have misconceptions about offshore banking. Why is this important? Because our expert needs to trust you to be able to represent you at the bank and will stake his/her reputation on your attitudes and conduct.
Once the RIGHT foreign bank is chosen, you shouldn’t assume that you can file the application all by yourself. Things are not that simple.
If you are a regular reader of Internationalwealth.info, you probably know that banks offering accounts and services to non-residents usually maintain agency agreements with so-called Eligible Introducers. This approach helps banks grow their client base in terms of quantity and, most importantly, in quality. As a rule, such agents are corporate lawyers, often engaged in the registration of branches and offices of major companies overseas (including offshore jurisdictions). They also deal with immigration matters. In most cases, a professional Eligible Introducer has agreements with only 3 -5 banks. Offshore Pro Group has direct agreements with over 30 foreign banks. We also have partners through which we cooperate with even more banks all over the world. Why? Because some countries, for example, Cyprus, allow only local Eligible Introducers.
Having studied the policies and procedures of different banks, we understand the importance of correctly completed bank forms for obtaining foreign bank accounts. This awareness is a fruit of years of counseling and practical experience. So we do have now the right to claim that when we hand-pick accounts for our clients and check the logic and accuracy of their forms filled out under our supervision, the banks approve such applications on the first try.
Some clients choose banks on their own. They usually rely on word-of-mouth recommendations, succumb to the bank’s emotional branding, or have to follow their suppliers’ requirements. In such cases, even if they reject our help at the account selection stage, we always do our best in other matters so that the customer would successfully obtain a foreign bank account.
Finally, there are countries (for example, Singapore and Hong Kong) that do not welcome clients from certain jurisdictions. Nevertheless, we offer to arrange such applicants’ visits to such destinations and prepare them for in-person interviews at the bank. Thanks to this strategy, their chances grow, particularly if they have a locally registered business.
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Some words about steps to obtaining a foreign bank account remotely
For many clients, it is much more important to obtain a foreign bank account remotely than to choose an “ideal country” with a perfect bank. A professional consultant helps with selecting banks that offer the remote opening option.
Moreover, the expert can also persuade a bank to postpone a meeting with you by up to 6 months, after the account is opened. This consent will allow you more flexibility in planning your trip, even though such mediation is not the main value of expert assistance to applicants.
A professional consultant is most useful at every step of your progress to obtaining a foreign bank account:
- Preparation for the CDD Screening. The procedure is roughly the same everywhere. However, it depends on the bank’s policy and can be more or less restrictive, more or less expensive. Would you prefer less paperwork and a cheaper registrar’s stamp on your documents instead of the more expensive and intricate apostille/notarization arrangements? The differences may be critical not only in terms of money and time. If you are planning to obtain a foreign bank account for your personal needs, you will be asked by various banks to submit a shorter/longer list of transcripts and documents. Besides, the difference between the lists of papers to be submitted with your personal vs. corporate application can be quite significant. Your professional consultant will help you avoid stressful situations. For example, you obviously do not want to discover right at the last moment that you don’t have a suitable document, or that a reference from another bank or lawyer is an absolutely impossible task because of your young age. Such disappointment will never occur if you are well-informed by your consultant.
- Completion of a bank form for obtaining a foreign bank account. Why is it that fees for assistance in opening a foreign bank account are so different? Because there are 4-page and 20-page application forms and even banks that ask you to fill out 10 different forms. So the professional consultant has to check the correctness, signatures, logic, credibility of your information on as many pages as needed. This professional service is a way for you to avoid extra costs, waste of time, and failure. It is worth every dollar you pay as a fee.
- Transfer of the initial deposit to the foreign bank account. Another benefit of having a consultant is the chance to negotiate with the bank a permit for you to make the initial deposit payment by installments (which is an important concession for large deposits). In Europe, some banks agree to open accounts for clients depositing at least €300,000. There are also banks not accepting clients who deposit less than €1,000,000. You should ask your consultant about the best deposit payment methods and all the ins and outs of your deposit installment plan.
- The use of the foreign bank account. There are things that the bank has no legal right to tell you directly. Foreigners banking on their own, without a consultant, often make mistakes in transactions or in other financial activities. In such cases, the bank may suggest that the client close the account. On the other hand, a professional expert can resolve your issues with the bank (without disclosing your confidential information).
Over the past 10 years, well-defined paths have been paved to obtaining foreign bank accounts in Europe and other parts of the world. Some of them are particularly popular with tax residents and citizens of CIS states: most of them choose the Baltics, especially Latvia and Estonia. This is because their banks are more beneficial and convenient for small cash and settlement operations than banks in Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Luxembourg, Andorra, Monaco.
You are welcome to find on our portal information on every country of your interest and their products and services. However, if you are trying to select a country to obtain a foreign bank account, you should focus not only on choosing the country. Your decision requires consultations with a trusted professional expert. The key aspects to discuss are as follows:
The economic situation in the country where the bank is licensed. An excellent example is Cyprus. Those who had been keeping track and had got a sound judgment of the Cyprus economy, managed in due time to safely withdraw their funds.
Reliability of a foreign bank. Annual bank reports certified by auditors are published on the official websites of licensed banks and on the websites of the Central Banks.
Accessibility of the bank. For different clients and different purposes for opening an account, the location of a branch or office in your country can be both an advantage and a disadvantage. Please note that you can ask specific questions when you meet bank representatives at online professional workshops that we regularly organize and announce on our portal.
Language of service. Nearly every bank today maintains convenient online banking and mobile apps, as well as Wealth Management services in English. If you need a bank offering ONLY services in a particular language other than English, you should tell us so from the very start. We will add this consideration to our bank selection criteria.
The minimum deposit amount. Some offshore banks do not set any minimum threshold for an initial deposit at all, some require a reasonably small amount (eg., €5,000), some require a million euros or more. There are banks that are not interested in deposits at all (except for multi-million ones) if the account is opened for active business in their region (eg., Hong Kong and Singapore).
Online banking (or access to your account via the internet). Most standard or traditional banks in the world offer online account management via mobile app or website. Believe it or not, some countries still have limited or no access to the internet. This does not mean that their banks fail to process international transactions: you can use telephone or fax protocols instead of the internet. In fact, some clients do look for such banks. However, online banking is much faster, more convenient, allows many options, and is well-protected if you follow the banking safety rules. Besides, neobanks (or virtual banks) operate entirely online.
Banking secrecy. It is believed that offshore jurisdictions and their banks have always taken a tough line on information disclosure to third parties. Banks in Western Europe and the Baltics also firmly and steadfastly ensure a high level of banking data security. At the same time, every bank under certain circumstances will have to disclose their client’s information: on a formal request from its correspondent bank, or in the rare situations of legally grounded stipulations by authorities or court rulings. Laws and regulations on information and banking security are country-specific, yet the banking privacy commitments of reputable banks remain a powerful instrument of asset protection and diversification.
If you need to obtain a foreign bank account but do not know where to start, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free private consultation.