Open an offshore bank account in Europe

There are many factors that will determine what process is required when you start to investigate how to open an account in one of the jurisdictions that are regarded as offshore for you. Your country of residence plays some part in the process of registration. Banks accepting US residents have to abide by the new FATCA regulations, and European citizens are also having stricter regulations imposed, most recently by the OECD-wide Common Reporting Standard (CRS). Make sure that you are fully informed by the bank of their relevance for your own account.

Another factor that will affect the way the bank will require identification and the level of fees and deposits is the nature of the account (personal, commercial business, investment, family trust etc.) and the types of services that are being requested. Bottom line is to investigate the target banks thoroughly, and include the relevant regulations of the specific jurisdiction that the bank operates in.

 

Offshore European bank account

The process of opening an account in a European jurisdiction that is regarded as offshore differs both for your country of residence and for whichever country the bank is registered in. For example, Swiss banks typically require very substantial initial deposits, in some cases in excess of one hundred thousand Swiss francs, and may also require a personal interview on the premises of the bank. Other countries that have been involved for many years in off-shore banking services such as Luxembourg and Lichtenstein, also have high net-transaction requirements. Newer entrants into the field such as Malta (Largest Electronic Money Institutions in Malta), Latvia, Armenia and Cyprus will set easier levels and may provide purely on-line access to all processes.

Each country has detailed legal requirements, and the registration process published by the bank should set it all out clearl

 

How much does it cost to open a bank account offshore?

When you open a bank account in an offshore jurisdiction you’ll need to pay the set-up fee which can be about $550-$1,250. The amount can vary depending on the jurisdiction and type of bank account. Some banks also require a minimum deposit. For a corporate bank account offshore you may reach figures of $1,500-$2,500 for opening the account.

Are offshore bank accounts safe?

Most of the European offshore jurisdictions offer a high level of banking safety, since they are supervised by their own governments and regulatory authorities and also have to comply with international treaties and obligations to restrict money laundering, illegal traffic and tax avoidance. As well, to operate as a banking institution dealing with other banks it must also meet with banking standards and accepted practice.

Individual banks should be rated on the basis of their published accounts, taking due regard for the important ratios such as assets to liabilities, liquidity, measure of solvency, amount of capital that has been committed by the controlling interests and many more. As a rule of thumb, take it that the more the bank tells you, the safer it is!

How do I open an offshore bank account?

In some of the more traditional countries (Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Luxembourg), the bank may insist on a visit to the bank in order to open the account. The newer banks all have created internet web pages for new customers to register. However, in all cases the new customer is probably required to supply several documents proving identity, credit worthiness and in case of corporate customers the relevant company documentation. So don’t expect immediate establishment of a new account – it may take a few days for the documentation to be processed.

A primary requirement will be to have a sufficient level of funds available for immediate transfer into the new account. These funds will have to be placed into an interim holding account at the bank until the account is approved.

Can you open a bank account without going to the bank?

Many banks offer a full digital registration process without requirement for a visit. The bank’s website should indicate clearly the steps you need to take to open an account, the identification documentation that it requires, and the amounts of minimum deposits, the fees for initial charges and regular charges.

Which is the best offshore bank account?

The choice of which jurisdiction and which bank best suits your requirements is highly dependent on your own specific needs. There are banks that specialize in certain areas, such as asset management, currencies, privacy, liquidity etc. and it is important to have a clear goal when choosing a bank. Most importantly, do NOT choose a bank simply because it offers the lowest operating costs or entry fees. There may be a reason why it is taking such an aggressive approach and it could indicate some area of weakness. Find a few banks that meet your stated objectives in terms of services and features, and then choose the one that has the best cost structure.

Is it difficult to open an offshore business account in Europe?

Unfortunately, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to open an offshore corporate bank account in Europe. However, if you would like some assistance we have the connections and experience to help you obtain a European business account.

Is it legal to have a bank account in another country?

Yes, it is legal to bank in a country other than your country of residence, although depending on the jurisdictional there may be limitations. Even though it is legal it will require a complex onboarding process. Offshore banking is associated with corruption, tax evasion and hiding assets and although these things are criminal offshore banking is completely legal. Legally all your bank accounts and assets must be declared to the tax authorities, no matter where they are.

What are the top recommended offshore banking jurisdictions?

  •  Belize
  • Cayman Islands
  • Germany
  • Singapore
  • Switzerland

Remember that you can always hold multiple bank accounts even at different banks in different jurisdictions.

An offshore corporate bank account is a bank account held in a foreign country, “offshore” from your jurisdiction of residence. When you hold a bank account in an offshore jurisdiction the account is subject to international banking regulations.

Should I open an offshore bank account?

Your reasons for having an offshore banking account can vary widely. In general, the primary reasons are:

Finding the most stable and trustworthy bank, since in many countries domestic banks have poor foundations and may not represent the best possible institution in terms of security
Generate higher returns than bricks-and-mortar banks in your home country are offering
Advanced services that are typically not available for domestic banks customers
Spread your assets across multiple currencies, to minimize downside risks from overexposure to a single currency. Most offshore banks allow you to choose from a range of leading currencies as well as blockchain
Asset protection from legal attack in your home jurisdiction
Achieve maximum possible privacy (although there is no such thing as absolute secrecy).

Taking possible benefits of these factors into account, against the costs of opening and running the account, should be the main considerations for you to evaluate in deciding whether or not to proceed.

Best offshore bank account online

Identifying what to look for is not simple. At the top of the list must be the bank’s financial stability. One important measure of this is the degree of the bank’s liquidity, or the ratio of debt to equity. Some countries demand compulsory insurance for all deposit accounts, which adds another level of security against loss in case of the bank collapsing.

Next should be the degree of secrecy and privacy of your own information, since one of the main purposes of offshore banking is to remove yourself from focus in your home banking system.

Another important feature is the native taxation policy in the bank’s own jurisdiction – for example are capital-gains taxes payable, is there personal income tax payable on interest and dividends etc.

Finally, the bank you choose should be offering exactly the range of services that you require. Importantly, there should be a very high level of internet access so that you have access to all of the services, and to your account, at all times.

Obviously, the level of fees charged to open the account and for ongoing transactions is very important, but you should be careful not to give this too much weight ahead of the essential features we have listed above. Choosing the cheapest bank in which to trust your hard-earned funds can perhaps not be the best decision.

When choosing a bank ask yourself:

  • Can this bank provide the services my business needs
  • What jurisdiction is the bank in and what will that mean to my business
  • Which regulatory body regulates the bank
  • What are the business bank account terms and conditions
  • Are there minimum requirements for opening a business account.
  • What will the cost of holding a business bank account be
  • IS there a minimum balance
  • What are the maintenance fees
  • Is internet banking free
  • Are there transaction fees

Can anyone have an offshore bank account?

People are often surprised to hear that almost anyone can open an offshore bank account. It is not about hiding illicit funds or avoiding taxes but rather diversifying your assets. Although you can open an offshore account you must consider the necessary documentation required, the initial deposit and identity verification which are all part of opening an offshore account. Most offshore banks will also check your credit history. Some banking jurisdictions are off-limits to US citizens but they still have many options for foreign banking.

Advantages of an offshore bank account

  • Increased privacy
  • Little or no taxation
  • Convenient regulations allow for easy access to deposits
  • Offshore accounts offer a chance to diversify your assets to protect funds from political or financial instability in any one jurisdiction.

How to choose a bank for your company's business bank account?

Don’t open a company bank account with the first bank you come across, or the one with the loudest marketing campaign and don’t automatically open a business bank account at the same institution where you hold your personal accounts. With banking regulations evolving and increasing banking options available it is important to choose your business bank according to the services it offers.

What makes a bank "offshore?"

The term “offshore” bank originated from the Channel Islands which are located “off shore” of the UK and the islands were one of the first popular locations offering bank accounts to non-residents. As it happens many offshore jurisdictions are in fact islands although some are land-locked like Switzerland but are still referred to as “offshore.” Offshore banks hold an offshore banking license and operate under the regulations of that international banking license. The conditions laid out in the offshore banking license usually prohibit the bank from any business activity in the offshore jurisdiction. Offshore banks offering financial services to foreigners are also referred to as Offshore Financial Centers (OFC).

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