How to open an offshore bank account

Offshore banking has become a mass product which is no longer restricted only to the super rich. Almost anyone will, with a little effort, meet requirements, whether technical or financial, for opening an offshore bank account these days. It is especially easy when you only need a personal account. In some countries, such as Switzerland, you do not even need to visit the country. The opening procedure is very simple and it does not differ much from opening a regular bank account in your home country and you can do it all by correspondence. However, there are some offshore centers, such as Singapore, that require face-to-face meeting in the bank on the country's territory.

You will often read on the net that Swiss banks (or banks in some other offshore locations) require an introduction and will be asked to pay money to the intermediaries for providing you such references. This is not exactly true and you can, in many cases, avoid paying fees for such service. However, you should expect being asked questions about the origin of your funds and to provide a proof of your identity in order to open an account. Even if you are planning to open the so-called anonymous account (numbered account) the bank will need to know who is opening it and verify your identity.

Things will get a bit more complicated, though, if you wish to open a corporate bank account. You will need to hire a professional law firm to do the paperwork correctly as your documents will be reviewed by the bank's compliance officer. So get ready to spend some money and to travel to meet the representative of the law firm, doing the work for you. They will also advise you on the best structure for your corporation, provide nominees and do the local reporting for you. This obviously is not a free service so, in addition to paying a set-up fee, expect to pay a regular annual fee for their services.

Documents needed to open an offshore bank account:

1) Certified copy of an official identification document, e.g. passport and/or drivers license. Certification can be provided by the employee in the bank, its branch or representative office, by a designated financial intermediary or a notary.

2) Signed copy of the account application form with your signature being identical to that in the passport

3) Some banks may additionally require other documents such as recent utility bill, bank reference letter, professional reference letter or the proof of the source of your funds

4) For opening a corporate banking account a full apostilled set of corporate documents and certificate of good standing will also be required



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