Offshore banking might be something you associate with the super-rich and highly-sophisticated investors, but the fact is, most of us can open such an account when living and working away from home and the process is actually relatively straightforward. What’s more, they are perfectly legal as long as you follow the laws of your own country.
Over the past few years, we’ve seen a number of changes in the way the offshore banking industry operates due to things like FATCA, the Common Reporting Standard, the Panama or Mossack Fonseca Papers and it has become harder for citizens of some countries, e.g. USA, to open bank accounts in foreign jurisdictions, but, for most of us, it is still possible to open an account remotely and actually, the process, which I have outlined below, is quite straightforward.
If you’re planning on working abroad for a couple of years or more, for the little time and effort it takes to set up an offshore bank account, I would definitely recommend doing so, since it can make managing your finances across borders much easier.
Firstly, you need to select your bank. The most popular and accessible options for expats from Europe seem to be:
- Barclays International, Jersey/Isle of Man (£25,000 min)
- HSBC Expat, Jersey (£60,000 min)
- Standard Bank, Isle of Man (£4,000 min)
(Correct at the time of writing, but may have changed since.)
Applications require your personal information, e.g. name, date of birth, citizenship, occupation, etc. You will also need to provide verification of identity via a notarised copy of government-issued ID document and proof of your address, typically something like a utility bill, bank or credit card statement dated within the last 3 months. This also needs to be approved by a notary or other suitable certifier.
You can generally apply for these accounts online, but the certified/notarised identification documents will need to be sent separately by courier, since originals are always required.
The application may also ask about the intended transactions to the account each year. This is generally an anti-money laundering requirement and the bank may ask for additional information regarding what is termed as ‘source of wealth’.
Depending on the type of account you select or are eligible for, as a minimum you should be able to access basic banking services, such as online and telephone banking, debit card (I don’t know of any that issue a credit card) and a foreign exchange facility. Additional services may include overdraft facilities, mortgages and investment options.
If you would like more information on opening an offshore bank account, feel free to contact me.
Some more great posts on Expat Financial Guy.