Singapore has created one of the most advanced banking systems in the world, numbering about 700 local and foreign banks and financial institutions that provide services ranging from consumer banking and asset management to the stock exchange, investment banking and specialized insurance services.
Due to rigorous secrecy laws and tailor-made private-banking services attract crowds of wealthy personalities to Singaporean banks. Swiss UBS and Credit Suisse Group work as magnets for big money from Asia and Europe. Singapore is among the few financial offshore centers that haven’t signed the EU Tax Directive that would oblige Singapore to disclose private information about its foreign investors.
DOCUMENTS NEEDED TO OPEN A BANK ACCOUNT IN SINGAPORE FOR FOREIGNERS
- Proof that the individual is allowed to stay in Singapore for more than 60 days.
- Local ID (National Registration Identity Card, NRIC) issued to foreigners who are granted the status of Permanent Resident (PR) in Singapore
- Employment Pass (EP) issued to skilled foreign employees of Singapore companies
- Dependant Pass (DP) issued to family members of EP holders
- Long-Term Visit Pass issued to family members of Singapore PRs before they are granted PR status
- Proof of residential address
- Letter of employment
- Utility bill
- Phone bill
- Must be present to submit documents
For students, the Proof of Employment portion is replaced by Matriculation card/Student card/In-Principle Approval by ICA. If you’re here on a dependants’ pass, you’ll need your spouse’s Proof of Employment as well as your Proof of Relationship.
A FEW THINGS TO NOTE
- Cheque books in SGD are provided by all banks.
- When it comes to credit cards, banks usually have a custom solution for every corporate client both for local and foreign currency.
- Not all banks provide an ATM card in SGD
SINGAPORE BANKING CATEGORIES
- Local Banks: There are only 6 local banks. The top 3 local banks are Development Bank of Singapore, Overseas Chinese Banking Corporation, and United Overseas Bank.
- Foreign Banks: There are around 150+ foreign banks.
- Full banks: There are around 27 full banks. ABN Amro, BNP Paribas, HSBC are most significant among these.
- Wholesale banks: Providing a full range of services, except that they do not have the right to provide retail banking services in Singapore dollars. There are around 53 wholesale banks. Barclays Bank, ING Bank, and National Australia Bank are noteworthy.
- Offshore banks: Offshore banks have the right to engage in the same activities as banks, providing a full range of services, as well as activities involving Asian currencies, expressed in units of Asian currencies (ACU). There are around 37 banks are offshore banks. Korea Development Bank, Bank of Taiwan, etc. are mentionable.
- Merchant banks: Merchant banks provide financial services including underwriting, loan services, fundraising services, and financial advising to high net-worth individuals and small/mid-sized corporations. There are around 42 merchant banks in Singapore.
Leading Merchant Banks
- Bank of America Merrill Lynch
- Goldman Sachs
- J.P. Morgan
- Morgan Stanley
Helpful Money Resources
Tips for expats on foreign currency exchange.