How would you handle your banking if you are relocating overseas? Or, are spending significant amounts of time working overseas? If you are like most people, you would probably have a bank account in your home country and a local account in the country you are working in. You would then probably start moving money between the two accounts while making your bankers happy by clocking up plenty of currency exchange and transfer fees.
An offshore account can help you save on exchange costs and take advantage of tax savings while also offering you plenty of other benefits. So, how do you go about opening and accessing an offshore bank account? Here, we will try and answer your all-important question:
Opening an offshore bank account
Some offshore banks require your presence while opening an offshore account while there are many other banks that allow you to open an offshore bank account remotely. There are also global banks with high-street arms like Citibank, HSBC, ANZ etc that can help you open an offshore account through their local branches in your country. Of course, if an offshore bank identifies you as a premier customer, you can expect the bank to come to your house to complete the necessary formalities!
Given the global impact of terrorism and how terrorists use money laundering to fund their activities, KYC (Know Your Customer) and AML (Anti-Money Laundering) norms have become more stringent and most offshore banks have also had to fall in line in adopting these norms. So, expect to provide a range of documents establishing your identity and financial track record when you open an offshore bank account.
▪ The documents required may include:
▪ Photocopies of your passport and/or driver’s license or any other photo-identification document issued by a governmental agency
▪ Photocopies of any of your utilities bills to establish proof of residence
▪ Financial reference usually from your current bank
▪ Proof of income including bank statements and tax assessment notices
▪ You may also be asked the nature of transactions that you expect to carry out from your offshore account; for this purpose, many offshore banks may want additional documentation, noting from where the money you are depositing in the bank is coming.
Accessing your offshore bank account
Most offshore banks now allow you to access your accounts through a secure website. And, many also provide dedicated phone banking lines. You could also go through a Relationship Manager who may be provided to you. You will usually be given an internationally-valid debit card onto which multiple currencies may have been loaded; you can transact with such a card in different countries without having exchange fees to worry about. And, as and when you have a particular financial requirement (loans, structured investments, retirement or insurance products) you may also be able to access your offshore bank’s team of product specialists for specific insights / solutions.