If you’re moving to Singapore to live, work, or study, or if you want to visit, you might be wondering if a non-resident of Singapore can open a bank account there. The good news is that most major banks offer products that foreign customers can open, though you may need to visit the branch in person to submit your documents and set up your account.
This Singapore bank overview explains how to create a bank account in Singapore, as well as some account options to consider.
Let’s begin with the requirements.
What Do Foreigners Need To Do To Open A Singapore Bank Account?
Because each bank has its own process for opening accounts, the documents required may differ slightly depending on the bank you choose. In most cases, you can expect the bank to be asked for the following documents:
- Your passport
- Your Singapore work permit (for employees)
- Your Singapore study permit (for students).
Some banks may also require the following documents in addition to these:
- Proof of residency (in Singapore or elsewhere);
- In addition to your passport, you will need a secondary government-issued ID.
- A letter of recommendation (from a client or a former bank.)
Non-residents’ required documents can differ significantly from one bank to the next. As a result, once you’ve found a bank that works for you, we recommend visiting their website ahead of time to double-check which boxes you’ll need to check.
For example, you may be required to present a passport with six months or more remaining validity. Government-issued proof of your residential address may be accepted only if you are from a FATF (Financial Action Task Force) – member country.
What Kinds of Bank Accounts Can Foreigners Open in Singapore?
The three types of accounts that are most relevant to non-residents are as follows:
- Savings Account
Savings accounts are bank accounts that pay interest while limiting withdrawals. As a result, they’re ideal if you want a secure place to keep and grow your money.
- Chequing Accounts
These bank accounts, also known as “checking accounts” or “current accounts” in other countries, are intended for daily use. The name has been derived from the fact that some Singaporean checking accounts still accept written cheques. These checks can be written against any amount in the account.
- Accounts in foreign currency
These bank accounts can be held in any currency other than Singapore dollars. While the US dollar is the most commonly used currency for foreign currency accounts in Singapore, other currencies, such as the Australian dollar, British pound, and Indian rupee, are also widely used.
In addition to these, most Singaporean banks also provide other types of bank accounts, such as time deposit accounts. However, the above three bank accounts are by far the most common and convenient options for a non-resident or ex-pat in Singapore; they will provide you with everything you require.
How to Open a Singapore Bank Account as a Foreigner?
You can open an account with most of Singapore’s major banks if you have the necessary paperwork and can visit a branch in person. However, it is worthwhile to conduct some research in order to find the best bank for your needs. Also, ensure you understand the fees and limitations of the account products you’re considering. Keep in mind that some accounts aimed at foreign customers have a relatively high minimum deposit requirement.
For retail banking services, Singaporean banks charge a unique set of fees. While banks in Singapore do not usually charge monthly service fees, but they do charge a monthly fee if the average monthly balance falls below a stipulated amount (usually between S$1,000.00 and S$5,000.00). This “fall below fee,” as it’s known, can also be relatively high, sometimes as much as S$7.50 for each month, and the balance is below the threshold. Furthermore, most Singapore bank accounts require a minimum initial deposit. This amount ranges between S$500.00 and S$5,000.00, depending on the bank and account type.
Which Banks Allow Accounts for Non-Residents in Singapore?
Here are the major offerings from Singapore’s local and multinational banks below to learn more about your banking options as a non-resident:
DBS offers a variety of accounts, including current and savings accounts, that can be operated in Singapore dollars as well as foreign currencies. Most of the accounts are available to non-resident customers, with the exception being the DBS Multi-currency Autosave account. The DBS Multi-currency Autosave account is only offered to Singaporean citizens and permanent residents. The multi-currency Multiplier account6 is especially recommended for foreigners. Monthly fees range from S$2.00 to S$7.50, depending on the type of account, and online account applications are available.
Foreigners can open accounts with OCBC, but some products may require them to be Singapore residents. At the same time, some kinds of accounts are open to foreigners with valid passes only, while others need you to be a Singapore resident to apply. Most OCBC bank accounts require a minimum initial deposit of S$1,000.00. Annual account fees for some OCBC bank accounts are waived for the first year. Online account applications are available.
If you are an immigrant living in Singapore with an Employment Pass, Dependant Pass, or S Pass, you can open a UOB account. However, you must visit a branch of the bank in person to open an account; foreign customers have no online account option.
But, if you’re a regular visitor to Singapore but neither to live nor to work there, you can also apply for an account with UOB bank by attending a meeting in person at a UOB branch. You must provide ID, residential address proof, and a reference letter from your bank or a current UOB customer. UOB states that each application is reviewed individually, so you’ll need to gather the necessary documents.
Another UK-based bank, HSBC Singapore, allows newcomers to apply for a bank account online before arriving in Singapore. To activate the account, however, an Employment Pass will be required. HSBC also provides ex-pat services to assist newcomers in settling in Singapore. For most accounts, the minimum initial deposit is US$2,000.00 for current invoices and US$1,000.00 for savings accounts, and a S$5.00 monthly fee is charged if the average daily monthly balance falls below S$2,000.00.
Thus, opening a resident bank account in Singapore is relatively simple once you have all of your paperwork in order. However, opening an everyday account with a traditional bank as a non-resident is difficult or impossible.