In an increasingly globalised, borderless business world, there is a growing need for businesses to have an offshore bank account. It makes doing business easier, provides some fiscal benefits, and facilitates increased financial mobility. But what is an offshore account? How can you open an offshore bank account? In this section, Fast Offshore will give the basic information on offshore accounts, what they are, and why you need them.
What is an Offshore Bank Account?
The offshore bank account definition is an account that is maintained by a business or individual in a jurisdiction that they are typically not resident in. In other words, if a citizen or resident of one country opens a bank account in a second country, this would be an offshore account as the second country is not their place of residence or citizenship.
Jurisdictions that offer offshore bank accounts will often provide benefits for non-residents that choose to open a bank account there. This is done to encourage foreign investment and the development of business opportunities. It also provides support and liquidity to the local banking sector. After all, if you open a bank account in a foreign jurisdiction, it’s unlikely that you’ll be withdrawing money every day or week. This means the local banking sector benefits from the funds being deposited there.
Asides from the geographical location of the account and some of the benefits, there is very little difference between offshore banking and banking at a local bank. Accounts can be viewed and managed online, you can make transfers in and out of your account.
Is Offshore Banking Illegal?
One of the main reasons that people opt for an offshore jurisdiction is to optimize their fiscal obligations. Some people may confuse this with tax evasion, which is illegal. There’s a difference between tax evasion and tax optimization as the latter is done in full accordance with the laws of the country where the account is located. Offshore banking must also be compliant with the laws of the country where the account holder is from.
People usually utilise offshore banking to lessen their tax burden in a way which is completely legal and ethical. Many offshore jurisdictions offer zero or low rates of tax on income and profits derived from outside of the country. Despite what you may hear, this is not illegal.
Rather, offshore banking is about protecting yourself and your assets by keeping them in a safe, regulated, and well-capitalized banking institution where there are additional benefits for the individual and business.
Offshore banking has received negative press which paints an incorrect picture of tax-evading millionaires who illegally stash their wealth in obscure jurisdictions. There are always bad actors when it comes to money and business, but this doesn’t mean that everyone’s the same.
Opening an offshore bank account is completely legal as long as you are honest as per requirements. Furthermore, Fast Offshore does not work with anyone that want to illegally hide assets, commit financial crimes, or evade tax. We work with those who want their hard-earned money to be secure in a way that will benefit them, their family, and their future.
Benefits of Offshore Banking
There are several benefits to having an offshore bank account. These include protecting and securing capital, enjoying high levels of service, fiscal benefits, convenient access to funds, and being able to access international investment opportunities wherever you are. Of course, the exact benefits that you will be able to enjoy, depend on the jurisdiction you pick and the type of account you have.
In this section, Fast Offshore provides in-depth information on all the pros, benefits, bonuses, and merits of offshore banking:
How to Open an Offshore Account?
If you think offshore banking could be suitable, you might be wondering how to open an offshore bank account. For a first time offshore banker, it can be difficult knowing where to begin, particularly in picking a jurisdiction.
Offshore bank account opening isn’t easy, especially if you’ve never done it before. It’s not as simple as just opening an account; you should consider whether you need a company and how you will optimize your taxation without breaking any laws. This is complex and requires the input of someone that knows the area, and the jurisdiction.
It’s strongly recommended to engage a corporate service provider to handle the whole process. It’s advisable to use the same provider that set up your offshore company or did any additional licensing for you. As they already handled your paperwork, you just need to fill in the required application forms and provide updated due diligence forms.
Why Should I Get a Corporate Service Provider to Help Me Open the Account?
Having a corporate service provider is necessary as some banks will only open accounts via introductions. These banking establishments require that the client is introduced via a provider or a trusted third party.
There are cases where the provider has a good working relationship with the bank and due diligence processes are more relaxed.
Opening an offshore bank account can also be a time-consuming and complex process. The paperwork involved combined with a required understanding of local laws and processes can be too much for some. Banks often request long lists of documents and application forms and collating this can be frustrating.
Effective management of offshore bank account opening means it will be completed quicker and with less hassle.
Fast Offshore has been working in the international business sector for over 22 years. During that time, we’ve helped countless clients establish offshore entities, open offshore bank accounts, and optimize their taxation. To find out more, or just to find out what your options are, contact us today.
Basic Requirements to Open an Offshore Account
Every offshore bank is different and will have different processes and standards for opening the account. Therefore, the information we will provide here is generic and only to be used as a rough idea of the minimum documentation that would be required for the opening of an offshore bank account.
Typically, you will be required to submit documents that prove who you are, where you live, and where your money has come from. These questions are asked to discourage money laundering, tax evasion and fraud, or other illegal activities that are sometimes associated with offshore banking. You will also be required to disclose information such as:
- Specific nature of your business
- Anticipated account activity
- Origin of funds
- Destination of funds
- Reason for receipt of funds
- Reason for sending funds
While this may seem intrusive, it’s an important part of making sure that the accounts are not used for illegal or unethical measures. Offshore banking jurisdictions have been under increased scrutiny in recent years to make sure that their banking clients are acting within the law. While the requirements for each bank in each jurisdiction may vary, these are some of the typical documents that will be required as standard.
Personal Offshore Bank Account
- A certified copy of your passport. In some cases, the bank may request that it’s apostilled by the country of origin.
- A certified copy of a utility bill as proof of residential address that contains the full name and full residential address (issued within the last 3 months). This includes electricity, water, fixed phone line, fixed internet bills as well as bank statements or official government correspondence. Mobile bills or mobile internet bills will not be accepted.
- A bank reference is also required in the format of a letter, on the bank’s official letterhead. Typically it includes information relating to the length of the banking relationship (which should be a minimum of 2 years), the nature of the accounts held, and whether the account has been operated in a satisfactory manner. This letter must have been issued within the last 3 months.
- A professional letter of reference (issued within the last 3 months) of a character nature by a lawyer or accountant of which the shareholder has been a client for at least 2 years.
- Updated Curriculum Vitae (resume) duly signed
- Proof of income or Source of Wealth. All financial institutions are required to know and understand the origin of any funds that are deposited into the account. It will be required that you provide satisfactory proof of the source of your wealth. This may include a bank statement, payslips and investment statements.
Corporate Offshore Bank Account
If you wish to open a corporate offshore account, all the requirements for opening a personal account must be provided by each and every officer, director, shareholder and UBO of the company. A notarized copy of passport, a notarized copy of utility bill, a bank reference, a professional reference and Curriculum Vitae. In addition, you will also need to provide a certified true copy of:
- Company certificate of registration
- Memorandum of articles of association or an equivalent document
- Register of shareholders dated within the last 3 months and signed by the director of the company
- Certificate of Good Standing
- Register of directors dated within the last 3 months and signed by the director of the company
- Certificate of incumbency or equivalent
- Provide information regarding the specific nature of your transactions. Where they´ll be coming from, where are they going to, how often, how many transactions, how much volume.
Personal vs Offshore Business Accounts
Fast Offshore can assist with opening an offshore business account and/or a personal account. It’s recommended that clients incorporate an offshore company in their jurisdiction of choice and then open an account. But don’t worry, this is something we can help with as well.
When you open an offshore account, it means that any income gained will not be subject to tax, or the rate will be lower than elsewhere. To be sure, you need to conduct significant research to evaluate different jurisdictions and banks to find the best fit for you. It’s not as simple as picking the one with the ‘lowest’ rate as there are many intricacies to consider. These include reporting, audits, and annual tax filings. Fast Offshore recommends not taking this decision alone. Instead, you should discuss your needs with a professional and follow their expert advice.
Fast Offshore can help if you’re interested in opening an offshore bank account, be it a personal or corporate account. If you opt for an offshore business account, we can also assist you with incorporating an offshore company and all paperwork. With over 22 years of experience in this sector, we are perfectly placed to guide you through the entire process. Contact us today to open your bank account.
Frequently Asked Questions
These are the most frequently asked questions we receive. Feel free to explore them and if your question is not listed below, simply contact us for more information:
Can I Open My Account 100% Virtually?
Some offshore banks allow you to open your account remotely by completing the account application, submitting it along with your required documents via currier. However, most banks will require a personal visit at a certain point.
How Long Does It Usually Take to Open My Bank Account?
The amount of time that takes to open your offshore bank account varies from bank to bank. However, accounts are usually approved in 2 to 4 weeks after all the required information has been submitted. This depends on the complexity of the application.
What Are The Costs of Opening an Offshore Account?
Every financial institution has its own fee schedule. Generally speaking, they will charge an account opening or activation fee, additionally, some will charge an additional KYC fee. The fees will vary case by case, depending on the nature of your business and the complexity of your application. Additionally, your corporate service provider may levy fees for time spent.
What’s the Minimum Amount to Open a Bank Account?
The amount to open your offshore bank account will vary according to the specific bank requirements. However, the range goes from 2,500 to 5’000.000 euros.
Contact Fast Offshore to Open Your Offshore Bank Account
Do you need assistance opening your Offshore Bank Account? Fast Offshore provides a free 30-minute consultation during which we can clarify any points, answer your questions, and provide expert guidance. Contact us today to schedule yours!
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