Opening a Corporate Bank Account in Singapore
The first thing that any newly incorporated company needs to do, is to open a corporate bank account.
For starter, there are so many local and international banks to choose from, Each bank offers a differentiated package and fee structure that a lot of customers may not be aware of. In addition, the amount of paperwork needed to open a new bank account and due diligence work undertaken by most banks can be pretty daunting, especially if you are a foreigner.
In this article, we will be touching upon the process of opening a corporate bank account in Singapore and some tips on how to choose the right bank for your business needs.
What documents do you need to open a Corporate Bank Account?
The documents required depend on the bank, the nature of your business, and your nationality. Although some banks do offer instant account opening through their website with no need of document submission or signatures, these are solely for Singapore incorporated companies owned by Singapore citizens or PRs. The details of these companies are pulled out from MyInfo Business or Business Registration Number.
For most of the other cases, standard documents are still required for the corporate bank opening. The documents required are:
|For Singaporeans / Permanent Residents||For Foreigners|
Note: All copies of the above documents must be “Certified True” by the company secretary or one of the company directors.
In some cases, the bank may ask for additional documents for verification. So, make sure you have all your company documents on hand for a smooth account opening experience.
How long does it take to open a Corporate Bank Account?
Some of the banks offer instant bank account opening that can be completed within 30 minutes for companies registered in Singapore and owned by Singaporeans/PRs. If you are eligible, all you need to do is to fill up an online application and submit all the necessary documentation and signatories to the bank.
If the nature of the business is a little more complex to the bank or that there are foreign directors in the company, a representative may be required to visit the bank in person. For foreigners, it is advisable to allocate about 2 – 3 weeks for the bank account to be opened and fully functional.
For companies that are owned by foreign nationals, they will generally need to fill up an online application and then visit the branch to submit the required documents. If the proposed bank signatories are situated overseas, the time taken to open the account will be much longer as the bank authorities will need time to review and verify before approving the application.
Which local or foreign bank should I choose?
Most of the banks in Singapore are foreign banks and there are only 3 local banks – DBS Bank Limited, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation Limited (OCBC) and United Overseas Bank (UOB).
A local bank will be a good option to choose if your business operates mainly in Singapore. It will also be easier for you to make financial transactions to and from your employees, suppliers and clients.
If your business is already set up overseas or you, as a primary owner, are situated overseas with a corporate bank account at an international bank, it will be better to open an account with the same bank, if they have a presence in Singapore. This will make the account opening process faster as well as your future transactions smoother.
An important thing to note is that not all foreign banks in Singapore can offer all the financial services as compared to some local banks. They may have a limit on the number of branches and ATMs they can operate in Singapore.
Comparing Banks for Corporate Bank Account Opening
Picking the right bank to open your corporate account can be quite confusing. All banks offer similar services but some may be more favorable for particular businesses.
To help you identify the right bank for your business, we have provided you with a brief comparison between some of the most popular banks in Singapore for corporate accounts. We will be comparing the most basic corporate bank accounts from each bank.
Business Digital Account
Business Growth Account
|Bank Fees||S$18/month||S$10/month (Waived for first 2 months)||S$35/year||NIL||NIL||NIL|
|Minimum Account Balance||NIL||NIL||S$5000||NIL||S$ 50,000||S$30,000|
|Fall Below Fee||NIL||NIL||S$15 (waived for first 2 months)||NIL||S$100/month||S$50/month|
|Online & Mobile Banking||Free||Free||Free||Free||Free||Free|
|Cheque Book||$25 per cheque book||S$25 per cheque book
(waived for the first cheque book issued)
|Yes||S$10 per cheque book||Yes||$5 per cheque book (2 free books upon account opening)|
|Early Account Closure Fee||S$50 (within 6 months of opening)||S$50 (within 6 months of opening)||S$30 (within 6 months of opening)||S$50 (within 6 months of opening)||S$100 (within 6 months of opening)||S$500 (within 6 months of opening)|
Note: All the information above are as per stated on the banks’ websites (last update: 3rd June 2020) and are subjected to changes.
Apart from the charges mentioned, there may also be charges for services such as:
- cheque clearing charges
- coin deposit & withdrawal charges
- bulk cash deposit service
- cash deposits via ATMs
- charges for account statements & reports
It is good to keep a note of these charges as they can form a huge amount if used frequently and increase your business’s operational costs.
Every bank also offers premium corporate account options with more benefits and services available. We advise you to take a look at each bank’s websites to glance through the types of accounts they are offering. Also look out for promotions offered by the banks on their websites or physical branches. These can help you save the much-needed dollars in your initial days of business set up.
Can I open a Corporate Bank Account remotely (without the need to be physically present in Singapore)?
As a foreigner, one of the most popular question asked is whether it’s possible to open a Singapore bank account remotely, without being physically present in Singapore.
In general, as a foreigner, you can apply online for a new bank account opening via any of the bank’s corporate website. Once you have submitted all the necessary documents to the bank, the bank office will contact you to have a face-to-face meeting for verification purpose.
Of late and probably due to the Covid19 Pandemic, some banks are increasingly willing to adopt the verification process using video conferencing facilities. Therefore, it eliminates the need for foreign signatories to be physically present in Singapore.
- Banks such as Citibank and HSBC do allow the signing of all the paperwork in one of their overseas branches or in the presence of a Notary Public.
- Local banks such as OCBC and UOB also allow foreigners to apply for business accounts and perform the bank interview and verification process remotely using Video conferencing facilities. Having said that, the bank will require all the original signed documents (application forms, passport copies, residency proof, etc) to be endorsed by the Notary Public.
Point to Note
Most banks impose a more stringent set of requirements, due-diligence and Know-your-client (KYC) check on bank accounts for business owners from certain high risk countries such as Russia and other CIS countries.
Banks may also investigate if the business owner has any political link or business involvement with sanctioned countries such as Iran, Sudan, North Korea, Syria, Cuba and Crimea.
Alternate Easy Way to Open a Corporate Bank Account
Another way to open a corporate bank account remotely and in the shortest time-frame, is to engage a Local or Nominee Director and/or Nominee Shareholder Services. It is always faster to open the bank account using a Local Director name first, and add in the subsequent foreign director name when the bank account is fully functional.
You may also consider buying over a Shell company that has a ready bank account, and then make the necessary share transfer and signatory changes. This is probably the fastest way to get started.
In summary, opening a corporate bank account for foreigners can be quite an intimidating task. If you are unsure of the process and want to set-up a bank account with the highest probability of success, feel free to contact us for a free consultation.