Can Foreigners Overseas Open a Singapore Bank Account 100% Digitally?

Can Foreigners Overseas Open a Singapore Bank Account 100% Digitally?

As a small island nation with a high standard of living, Singapore attracts expats and non-resident workers from around the globe. In response to the increasing number of foreign nationals relocating to the country for employment in recent years, Singaporean banks have streamlined the process of opening accounts for non-residents.

According to the Monetary Authority of Singapore, there has been a significant influx of deposits into Singaporean bank accounts from non-resident workers since 2016. However, despite these improvements, navigating the process of opening a bank account can still be challenging and unclear for newcomers, particularly for those without proof of address in Singapore.

In Singapore, there are three primary avenues for opening a bank account online, each catering to different types of non-residents. The suitability of these options depends on individual needs and preferences:

Traditional banks: These typically require proof of address and either an Employment Pass or Student’s Pass for foreigners. Some banks allow you to apply online from abroad, activating the account in-branch upon arrival in Singapore.

Revolut: Registration for a Revolut online account does not necessitate proof of address in Singapore. However, only residents receive a local bank account, while others receive an account from their home country if Revolut is available there.

Wise: No proof of address in Singapore is required for Wise, and users obtain their own Singaporean bank details.

For non-residents, the most favorable option is often opening an account with a major local bank. Certain accounts are specifically tailored for expats and foreign workers in Singapore, providing comprehensive everyday banking services.

What’s Banking Like in Singapore?

Singapore, a small yet prosperous nation, boasts one of the world’s most advanced and competitive banking sectors. As of September 2023, the island hosts a remarkable total of 111 commercial banks, 49 merchant banks, and 45 other banks.

What’s Required To Open a Bank Account for Foreigners?

It’s common for non-residents to encounter certain documentation requirements when you open a bank account in Singapore for foreigners. Different local banks vary in their procedures, some allowing for online completion while others may require in-person visits to a bank branch.

Irrespective of the bank chosen, the following documents are typically necessary for the account opening process:

  • Your passport,
  • Your Employment Pass (for foreign workers), or
  • Your Student’s Pass (for foreign students).

Additionally, certain banks may request the following documentation:

  • Proof of address (in Singapore or abroad),
  • A secondary government-issued ID alongside your passport, or
  • A referral letter from a former bank.

What Types of Bank Accounts Are Available in Singapore?

In Singapore, retail banking terminologies may slightly differ from those in your home country. For non-residents, the following three types of accounts are typically the most relevant:

Savings Accounts: These accounts accumulate interest while limiting withdrawals, providing a secure means to save and grow your funds.

Chequing Accounts: Also known as “checking accounts” or “current accounts” in other countries, these accounts are designed for everyday use. Some Singaporean chequing accounts still offer written cheques, allowing withdrawals against available funds in the account.

Foreign Currency Accounts: These accounts are denominated in currencies other than the Singapore dollar. While the US dollar is the most common, other currencies like the Australian dollar, British pound, and Hong Kong dollar are also prevalent. They facilitate spending and conversion in various currencies.

Although Singaporean banks may offer additional account types such as time deposit accounts, the aforementioned three are the most common and typically cater to the needs of non-residents or expatriates in Singapore.