• Opening a bank in Singapore

Opening a bank account  for your business comes naturally since it is necessary to send and receive money. As natural as it comes, bank account openings in Singapore have not been easy due to tightened anti-money laundering compliance brought on by recent cases of high-profile fraud. In this article, we will cover the two most essential questions and the basics of how to.

  • Why are banks making it so difficult to open bank accounts?

  • What do banks look for to approve your bank account opening?

Due to the changing landscape, most banks allow remote bank account openings. In exchange, of course, is stricter compliance.

Why are banks making it so difficult to open bank accounts?

As stated by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD): “As the world becomes increasingly globalised and cross-border activities become the norm, tax administrations need to work together to ensure that taxpayers pay the right amount of tax to the right jurisdiction.”. Thus, the birth of The Common Reporting Standard (CRS).

The CRS calls on tax authorities across the world to obtain information from their financial institutions and automatically exchange that information with other jurisdictions on an annual basis.

Since 1 January 2017, Singapore based Financial Institutions such as banks are required to:

  • Establish the tax residences of all their account holders.  

  • Report to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) the financial account information of relevant account holders.  

If the company is NOT a tax resident in Singapore or a tax resident elsewhere, the information will be exchanged with other jurisdictions under the CRS. The information consists of the details of financial assets they hold on to behalf of non-resident taxpayers and the income derived therefrom.

Similarly, overseas Financial Institutes must identify account holders who are Singapore tax residents and report their financial accounts to IRAS through their respective local tax authorities.

reciprocal automatic exchange framework

What do banks look for to approve your bank account opening?

As a result of CRS, and understandably so, banks would like to avoid the hassle of the additional reporting of client information. If a company does not have tax substance in Singapore, they are likely to reject the application for an account opening.

Therefore, your company needs to have tax substance in Singapore.

Tax substance is commonly measure by tax residency. A company is tax resident in Singapore when the control and management of the company is exercised in Singapore.

How can you achieve tax substance?

  • Having local supplier or customers invoice, contracts or agreements

  • Having a physical or virtual office in Singapore, according to company business activity

  • Having local staff located in Singapore

  • Contribute CPF for staff working

  • Pay employee tax for staff working

Wan Yi
Tip: Your account opening must have a substantial purpose aside from the reduction of tax liability (and of course, it can’t be fraudulent activities) companies might enjoy under Singapore’s tax law.

The problem many foreign business owners face and our solutions

Many of our clients manage their businesses while overseas, without a physical presence in Singapore. While this is allowed, new companies will find it difficult to open a bank account and existing companies will find their accounts are at risk of closing.

The banks are looking for your physical contribution in Singapore, but you do not have one yet, or it does not make sense to initiate operations when you cannot secure a bank account!

Paul Hype Page solutions:

1.  Obtain an employment pass

Obtain an employment pass to live and work in Singapore. This implies that control and management is in Singapore which directly contributes to local tax residency, or that an employee is located in Singapore.

2. Engage local staff through our Shared Services Solution 

Our Shared Services Solution enable your business moving by employing physical local staff for multiple roles as below. Having physical presence in Singapore will contribute to your business substance and meet current requirement from the government

  • Admin

  • Sales

  • Customer Service

  • Accounts

  • IT

  • HR Executive

  • Other roles if specifically requested

 Incorporation checker

Best practices for a successful bank account opening

Whether you have a case for your account opening or not, abide by these best practices- do not jeopardize your chances in a rush! 

1. Get all your legal documents ready

Common documents requested by bank for verification are:

  • Certificate of incorporation

  • Corporate account opening form

  • Board of directors’ resolution

  • Bizfile of the company

  • Constitution of the company

  • Directors or shareholder identification documents

2.  Work with the right people  

The ideal situation would be to have a local representative speaking to bankers. Your local representative should be related to your company e.g. your company secretary, an employee etc. On the other hand, work with the right bankers. A more subjective criteria, but one that Paul Hype Page fulfills from years of building relationships in the industry.

3.  Applying with the right bank

Match your business needs with the right bank; Match your business risk with the right bank too. Banks may have their own preferences for business activities or profiles of ultimate beneficiary owners.

” We selected Paul Hype Page to help us incorporate our Singapore business entity and to secure Employment Pass for our staff. I was very impressed with the expert guidance the in-house corporate specialists provided to navigate the Incorporation and Employment Pass application process. Now that our staff is ready to relocate to Singapore and our company’s bank account is open, we can focus in growing our business. ”

Procedure to open a bank account in Singapore

Paul Hype Page’s focus is to prove that your company has a tax substance* and select an account that best fits your business needs. Moreover, we are working with numerous banks, including traditional banks, digital banks and we have alternative solutions that will best tailor to your business.

Most importantly, you DO NOT need to be physically here! We work closely with our trusted bankers to give you a higher success rate in opening a corporate bank account.

Financial institutions in Singapore include:

Singapore Financial institutions

We have a 3 stage process:

  • Stage 1: Compilation of all documents and compliance checks on a local level by our compliance team.

  • Stage 2: Compliance checks by our banking partner at an international level.

  • Stage 3: Submission to bank, where they conduct a deep background check with information provided by our banking partners.

Our 3 stage process provides for the most efficient and fair experience for our clients.

Conclusion

If you are a foreigner opening your bank account from overseas, you should to consider some professional advice for your bank account opening. It’s a different world from back in 2018 when opening a bank account used to be just an administrative procedure and a matter of a couple of days. Paul Hype Page specializes in assisting foreigners to set up their companies and run their businesses in Singapore. Approach us to discuss your bank account opening.

Thinking of setting up your company in Singapore? Reach out to us for free consultation on company incorporation and other corporate services like visa application today!

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