Opening a Bank Account for My Company in Singapore
Singapore has grown to become a leading financial centre in the Asia-Pacific region and is consistently rated as one of the best countries in the world to start and run a business.
However, every entrepreneur knows that in order to effectively run a business, you need to have a business bank account.
But where do you start?
In this article, we’ll walk you through the process of opening an account for your business in Singapore. We’ll discuss topics like what to expect, what documents you’ll need, how difficult the process is, and more.
What Documents Will I Need?
Opening a corporate bank account in Singapore is very easy for companies owned by Singaporean citizens. If you have a SingPass, the digital ID that allows every Singaporean citizen to interact with over sixty government agencies online, you can open a corporate bank account in Singapore in no time.
However, opening a bank account for your business is a little more complicated if you’re a foreign national. Different banks will require different documents on a case-by-case basis and depending on their Know-Your-Client (KYC) processes, but here’s an overview of the documents you’re required to present to the bank when you open an account:
- A completed application form
- Proof of identification and residential address for each of the company’s shareholders, ultimate beneficial owners, and directors
- A certified copy of the official company register (also known as the Business Profile) to prove who the company’s directors and shareholders are
- A certified copy of the company’s Memorandum and Articles of Association
- Background information of the ultimate beneficial owners. In general, a Curriculum Vitae (CV), website, or short bio will suffice
- Background information of your company. This includes an overview of business activities, a business plan, a list of suppliers, how much banking activity you expect to do each month etc.
- A written resolution signed by the company’s directors approving the opening of the bank account and its certified extract. The banks will usually provide their own resolutions for signing.
- A minimum deposit. This depends on the bank and type of bank account.
What Questions Should I Expect?
Banks in Singapore have to do their due diligence on foreign clients to ensure that they’re not inadvertently facilitating terrorist activities or money laundering schemes. Unsurprisingly, they’ll face serious fines if the government finds that they did this.
They also have to be more prudent if their clients are from sanctioned countries, which are Iran, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Algeria, Ecuador, Indonesia, and Myanmar and other countries perceived as higher risks by the banks.
In general, banks will ask you questions that will help them understand what your business activities are, who you are, and why you want to conduct business in Singapore.
Moreover, they’ll need to verify the identity and background of your company's key personnel, where the funds used to operate the company are coming from, where the company’s profits will go, the company’s organisational structure, etc.
Another crucial part of the verification process is the checks for Politically Exposed Persons (PEP) and the Adverse Media Risk Assessment. Banks conduct these checks to see if their clients are involved in corrupt or illegal activities.
How Long Will It Take?
The process of opening a corporate bank account typically takes around three to four weeks for foreigners. That said, the process can take longer if you’re from one or more of the sanctioned countries mentioned earlier.
What about Local Banks?
There are only five local banks in Singapore. These five banks constitute a mere 4 per cent of all commercial banks in the country. They are the following:
- The Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation Limited (OCBC)
- DBS Bank Limited
- United Overseas Bank (otherwise known as UOB)
- Bank of Singapore (which is a part of OCBC)
- Far Eastern Bank Limited
Of these five banks, only DBS Bank Limited, OCBC, and UOB offer corporate banking facilities.
Is Paid-up Capital Important?
The minimum paid-up capital required to incorporate a business in Singapore is S$1. However, to increase the credibility of your company and for other purposes such as applying for employment pass under your company, we encourage clients to have a higher paid-up capital.
Need a Hand? Let us help you Sprout!
Singapore is one of the best places in the world to do business. Although the process for opening a corporate bank account can seem daunting for foreigners, it’s well worth the effort given the benefits of operating in one of the most business-friendly countries in the world.
Here at Sprout, we help link our clients up with bankers and assist them with their bank account opening. We can help your business sprout as your corporate secretary!