Upon the successful incorporation of your company in Singapore, opening of a bank account is essential to facilitate the operation of your business.
There are plenty of options for companies when opening a corporate bank account in Singapore. Most of the banks in Singapore offer appealing incentives such as credit cards, freedom to move funds across countries, internet banking, multi-currency accounts, trade financing and more.
It is essential to review each bank to ensure that the features offered matches your business plan and need, choose a bank that will provide financial services that are suitable for your business operation. Putting in a little effort on this can significantly reduce future banking-related problems. In this article, we are going to take a look at what is involved.
What to consider when choosing a bank in Singapore
Here are several factors you should consider when choosing the right bank:
- 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 to open 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.
The key is to understand the bank’s need to get to know you and your business. By law, banks must perform customer due diligence checks to comply with regulations designed to combat terrorist financing and money laundering. Banks technically have to filter out the few bad apples from the vast majority of legit proper businesses.
The compliance officers of the banks have to figure out if a new client company may be a fraudulent front for conducting unlawful activities; this is a difficult task especially in the case of a startup since there is no business history or records to refer to. Therefore, banks need detailed information and documents from companies to better understand their business and risk profiles.
Banks will make a holistic assessment of the client’s risk profile that covers a range of factors, including the complexity of legal structure, the background of company promoters, nature and geography of business activities, representative clients and suppliers and profile of transactional activity. Your ability to supply the necessary information to the bank will be the key to a successful account opening decision.
Requirements for opening a bank account
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
This 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. Take note, having your company registered with the authority and having a UEN number is not sufficient. UEN stands for Unique Entity Number (UEN). 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 and prepare in advance to back your account opening application. The documents you need to prepare are:
- Completed Corporate Account Opening Forms (signed by authorised signatories as per the board resolution)
- Board of Directors Resolution sanctioning the opening of the account and the signatories to the account (to be prepared by your company secretary)
- Certified True Copy of Resolution sanctioning the opening of the account 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)
- 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/notarised true copy of your passport to show proof of your nationality. This is necessary as most banks are sensitive to certain 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 date of application.
4. Background of ultimate beneficial owners
This information can be provided in the form of a Curriculum Vitae, a biography write up, official company website, employment/appointment letters or any kind of proof of employment and educational certificate from a recognised institution.
5. Detailed information of the company
Information can include sources of fund, the purpose of the entity, the proposed business activities, potential clients and suppliers, anticipated banking transactional activity and a short-term business plan will be extremely helpful. Banks prefer to discuss this information with the company representatives directly during their video call or in-person meeting.
Some of the documentation can be provided by the corporate service provider or lawyer that you work with. These can/will be done during the incorporation process of the Singapore legal entity. Results and requests may vary between banks, but the purpose of this guide is to provide an overview of the procedure and requirements for opening a bank account in Singapore, and will assist you in choosing a bank that best matches the banking needs of your company. Information presented here is for general guidance only, further verification with the bank will be encouraged.
Steps of opening a Singapore bank account
- Choose the bank you want to open an account that satisfies your requirements the most
- 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 authorised signatory(s) to be present.
- Submit all required documents with a minimum deposit
- The bank will go through your documents
- After reviewing your documents, the bank will approve the application and open the bank account
When opening a new bank account, you will usually be charged with an opening fee which varies depending on the bank. Local banks, when compared to foreign banks, have a lower set up 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.
There are also other fees you might not know of which include:
- Minimum deposits – the smallest amount needed to open a bank account
- Monthly average balance – the lowest average amount you should have in your bank account daily
- Fall-below fees – 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, mostly applies to non-members of the bank
- International transfer fees – applies when you send money to another country
How long does the bank account opening take?
Opening a corporate bank account in Singapore may take up to 1–4 weeks. The process of opening an account will be done as soon as your application form and required documents are received, and to avoid any delays, the director and authorised signatory must be physically present.
Banks comparison – compare various features of a handful of local & international banks, those we would recommend
|Can the account be opened without being physically present?||Allows remote account opening via a live video conference with the authorised personnel/signatory representing the company.||Allows remote account opening via a live video conference with the authorised personnel/signatory representing the company.||Requires a face to face meeting for authorised signatories. Can arrange for the client to visit overseas branch when one of the directors cannot come to Singapore.||No. The director(s) and authorised 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 branch worldwide.||No. The director(s) and authorised signatory must be present. Some exceptions may be made based on the bank’s consideration.|
|Setup fee||None||None, but there is an account fee for 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.
|Internet banking||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes. Setup fee of S$50 will apply.||Yes|
|Foreign currency account available||Both current account and fixed deposit account available in major currencies.||Both current account and fixed deposit account available in major currencies.||USD, GBP, EUR, CAD, AUD, NZD, HKD||Both current account and fixed deposit account available in major currencies.||Both current account and fixed deposit account available in major currencies.|
All banks in Singapore are willing to open a corporate bank account for you provided that you have all the necessary documents. Singapore has both local and international banks for you to choose from that will provide you with the services you are looking for. A significant factor that attracts investors in opening a corporate a bank in Singapore is the remarkably low corporate tax rate at only 17%. As Singapore is considered one of the tax havens, these reasons are drawing more investors into Singapore every year.
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