Guide to open a bank account in Singapore

Due to increasingly tight Anti-Money Laundering laws in Singapore, procedures and criteria for opening a local bank account has become tighter over the years.

To open a bank account, you’ll either need to 1) Show proof of your residence in Singapore or 2) Justify your need for a local bank account.

Recognised proof of residence in Singapore includes a valid employment pass, dependant pass, or student visa. This proves that you have a legal basis for residing in Singapore and requiring a local bank account. If you are in the midst of securing these documents, letters of offer from a local company or school may be accepted at the bank’s discretion.

There can be other reasons why you may not fulfil the proof of residence in Singapore criteria, but still would like a local bank account. Perhaps you’re a regional manager who is only stationed in Singapore for a few months each year, or you own a local business subsidiary.

For these cases, you’ll need to produce supporting documents to justify your need for a local bank account. This can be a company letter stating the nature of your job, or ACRA documents showing your directorship in a company, or other documentation depending on your unique situation. You may also speak to a bank staff and get advice on the specifics of what you need.

Should you fulfil the above guidelines, you can visit the bank of your choice’s website or branch to find out what are the exact documents and initial deposit amounts they require, before heading down to the branch to open your account.

Singapore is also home to a large number of foreign banks, some of which have full banking licenses and offer bank accounts in Singapore. If you’re already a client in your home country, you could look at the criteria for opening a local bank account with the Singapore branch.

However, note that the criteria wouldn’t necessarily be more lax. In fact, most banks’ international banking services don’t come cheap and may only be available to those with huge deposits.

You may be better off evaluating the various banks in Singapore and choosing the one that gives you the best benefits, such as interest rates, valued-added services, and ATM network.