How to Open a Corporate Bank Account in Singapore for Foreign Companies

Upon successfully incorporating your company, opening a corporate bank account in Singapore is essential to facilitate your business operations. Most Singapore banks offer appealing incentives such as credit cards, freedom to move funds across countries, multi-currency accounts, trade financing, and more. It is essential to review each bank to ensure that the features offered to match your business need.

Let's take a deeper look at what's involved in the process of opening a corporate bank account in Singapore:

Most frequently asked questions on this topic:

What do I need to open a bank account in Singapore?

Here are several factors you should consider when opening a bank account:

  • What is your expected volume of banking transactions?
  • Sum of the initial capital you intend to deposit with the bank.
  • What other additional financial services your business may need?
  • The minimum account balance requirements of the account by the bank.
  • The type of currencies you will be transacting in.
  • Ease of making transactions.

The procedure for opening a corporate bank account in Singapore is relatively simple and straight-forward. However, that may not be the case for a foreign-owned company or individual since data verification is neither possible nor readily available. Hence the banks must collect more detailed information upfront and execute a relatively stricter procedure than usual on their foreign clients.

Banks will make a holistic assessment of the client's risk profile that covers a range of factors, for example, including the complexity of the legal structure, company promoters' background, nature and geography of business activities, representative clients and suppliers, and also the profile of transactional activity. So, your ability to provide the necessary information comprehensively to the bank will be the key to a successful account opening process.

Requirements of opening a corporate bank account in Singapore

With that in mind, the following guide will provide you with the basis of information and documents that most banks will require upfront for review:

1. Proper documentation and proof of registration of the Singapore company

should be readily available if you work with a corporate services provider (CSP) while setting up your company. The CSP will ensure you have the proper documentation in place. Also, having your company registered with the authority and having a Unique Entity Number (UEN) is not sufficient. It is a standard identification number for entities to interact with government agencies, but it does not tell the bank much about what your business is all about.

The bank may require additional documents on a case-by-case basis. Still, the following list of documents will provide you with a good idea of what to anticipate before and prepare in advance to back your account opening application. The documents you need to prepare accordingly are;

  • Completed Corporate Account Opening Forms (signed by authorized signatories as per the board resolution).
  • Certified True Copy of Resolution sanctioning the account's opening and the signatories to the account (most of the banks have their own format, and you need to sign it).
  • Certified True Copy of Certificate of Incorporation (must be certified by the company secretary or one of the directors).
  • Board of Directors Resolution sanctioning the account's opening and the signatories to the account (to be prepared by your company secretary).
  • Certified True Copy of the Company's Business Profile from Company Registrar (must be certified by the company secretary or one of the directors).
  • Certified True Copy of the Company's Memorandum and Articles of Association (MAA) (must be certified by the company secretary or one of the directors).

2. Proof of identification

This can be your passport or a certified/notarized true copy of your passport to prove your nationality. This also is necessary as most banks are sensitive to specific nationalities, particularly those from sanction countries.

3. Proof of residential address

For each of the company shareholders, ultimate beneficial owners, and directors, they will need to provide some form of documentation displaying information of the place of residency of each. This can be a country/national ID, latest tax returns filing, invoices from utility or telecom firms usually not older than three months from the application date.

4. Background of ultimate beneficial owners

This information also can be provided in the form of a Curriculum Vitae, a biography write-up, an official company website, employment/appointment letters, or any proof of employment and educational certificate from a recognized institution.

5. Detailed information of the company

Information can include illustrating sources of funds, the purpose of the entity, the proposed business activities, potential clients and suppliers, anticipated banking transactional activity, and a short-term business plan that will be beneficial. However, banks prefer to discuss this information with the company representatives directly during a video call or in-person meeting.

The purpose of this guide is to provide an overview of the procedure and requirements for opening a corporate bank account in Singapore and assist you in choosing a bank that best matches your company's banking needs. The information presented here is for general guidance only.

What are the steps for opening a corporate bank account in Singapore?

  1. Choose the bank you want to open an account that satisfies your requirements the most
  2. Visit the bank in-person or fill in an application online. It is recommended to go in-person as some banks require the director(s) and authorized signatory(s) to be present.
  3. Submit all required documents with a minimum deposit
  4. The bank will go through your documents
  5. After reviewing your documents, the bank will approve the application and open the bank account

How much money do I need when opening a corporate bank account in Singapore?

When opening a new bank account, some banks will charge an opening fee, and some others will not. So, when compared to foreign banks, local banks have a lower setup fee or sometimes may not charge at all. There may be additional fees for extra services, such as internet banking or multi-currency. A minimum deposit is also required when opening an account.

Account Fees Comparison - Opening a corporate bank account in Singapore
Internet Banking Fee
Source: Vulcan Post (collected on 24th March 2021)

There are also other fees you might not know of, which include:

  • Minimum deposits: the smallest amount needed to open a bank account. It varies from $1.000 -$100.000
  • Monthly average balance: the lowest average amount you should have in your bank account daily
  • Fall-below fees: also applies when you are not able to reach the minimum deposit
  • Early closure fees: when your bank account is closed within six months
  • ATM withdrawal fees: fees charged when using ATM mainly applies to non-members of the bank
  • International transfer fees: applies when you send money to another country

How long does it take to open a bank account in Singapore?

Opening a corporate bank account in Singapore may take up to 4 weeks. The process of opening an account will be done as soon as your application form, and required documents are received. After that, the director and authorized signatory must be physically present to avoid any delays.

Which bank account to open in Singapore?

Compare various features of a handful of local & international banks, those we would recommend

Feature

DBS

OCBC

Maybank

Standard Chartered

CitiBank

Can the account be opened without being physically present?

No. The director(s) and authorized signatory must be present. Some exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis.

DBS Bank offers the online application, and account verification is done over Facetime/Skype or a phone call.

No. The director(s) and authorized signatory must be present. Some exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis.

Requires a face-to-face meeting for authorized signatories. Can arrange for the client to visit an overseas branch when one of the directors cannot come to Singapore.

No. The director(s) and authorized signatory must be present for due diligence with the bank. Some exceptions may be made based on the bank’s consideration – e.g., existing customers visit banks branches worldwide.

No. The director(s) and authorized signatory must be present. Some exceptions may be made based on the bank’s consideration.

Monthly Account Fee

None

None, but there is an account fee of S$38 per month

Nil

None

Nil

Deposit required

S$1,000 to S$3,000

S$3,000

S$1,000

S$30,000

S$100,000

Minimum balance required

DBS Digital Business Account has no minimum required.

DBS Business Account has an average monthly balance of S$10,000

S$5,000

Nil

Average monthly balance of S$30,000

S$50,000

Debit card

Yes

Yes. S$5,000 daily cash withdrawal limit and S$10,000 daily debit card transaction limit.

No

No

Nil

Credit card

Yes (for local entities)

No

Yes

No

Corporate commercial cards available

Cheque book

S$25/book for DBS Digital Business Account.

Free for DBS Business Account.

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Internet banking

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes. A setup fee of S$50 will apply.

Yes

Foreign currency account available

Both current account and fixed deposit accounts are also available in major currencies.

Both current account and fixed deposit accounts are also available in major currencies.

USD, GBP, EUR, CAD, AUD, NZD, HKD

Both current account and fixed deposit accounts are also available in major currencies.

Both current account and fixed deposit accounts are also available in major currencies.

Conclusion

All banks mentioned in this article and based out of Singapore are willing to help you in opening a corporate bank account and provide all the necessary documents. Singapore also has both local and international banks to choose from that will provide you with the services you are looking for. A significant factor that attracts investors in opening a corporate bank in Singapore is the remarkably low corporate tax rate at only 17%. Also, Singapore is one of the tax havens; these reasons are drawing more investors into Singapore every year.


Acclime initially published this article. Greenhouse has received permission from Acclime to distribute the content.

Are you looking to open a business bank account in Singapore? Greenhouse is the simplest way for your company to handle your bank account setup or any other corporate services you may need in Singapore. We will guide you in choosing the most appropriate bank partner given your expansion plans in Singapore.

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