How to open bank account in the cayman islands

How to open a bank account in the Cayman Islands

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How to open a bank account in the Cayman Islands

A Caribbean paradise with a wealthy - and tanned - population with an attractive combination of quality of life, proximity to the United States, flexible business laws and gorgeous turquoise waters, no wonder it has attracted expats by the dozens of thousands ( a lot considering its largest city is about 27 thousand people). Still, there are more companies than people in the country, which explains a lot about its business laws. Its capital, George Town situated in the island of Grand Cayman, is one of the internationally famous centers for offshore banking and investments.

If you are thinking of moving to this British overseas territory, or if you need a bank account for your business, here is our guide on how to open a bank account in the Cayman Islands.

Documents needed to open a bank account in the Cayman Islands

It is super easy to open a bank account in the Cayman Islands and all you need are some basic documents. English is the main language, fyi.

  • Passport
  • Proof of residence such as a utility bill

You may be required to provide notarized copies of documentation and additional requirements such as bank statements, reference letter from your current bank, tax returns, supporting document for source of funds, and so on. If you came to the Cayman Islands for work, then a letter of employment from your employer will be required stating your position, salary, and date of effectivity of your employment.

Can I open a bank account in the Cayman Islands as a non-resident?

Yes it is possible to open an account as a non-resident but it is likely that it will be required that you provide income statements, tax returns and a few other documents, not to mention you will be restricted on how your accounts are used and funds going in may be limited as well. It is best to contact the individual bank to find out details either via email or starting a conversation via phone with one of their relationship managers.

Is it illegal to have a bank account in the Cayman Islands?

Having an offshore bank account in the Cayman Islands is not illegal, but if your intent is to hide money there, that’s another story.

When we talk about the Cayman Islands, two things usually come to mind: a tropical vacation paradise and a premier haven for investments and private and offshore banking. When it comes to banking secrecy, the Caymans have earned the reputation for having the most stringent in the world. Owing to their highly sophisticated trust laws, they provide a high level of privacy, protection, and flexibility to their clients. It is considered to be “one of the most transparent and professional of the tax neutral jurisdictions.

Setting an offshore account in the Cayman Islands (or in any other foreign country for that matter) is legal unless you are planning tax evasion. Note that offshore banking is also not tax exempt. Make sure you understand the regulations as there's only a slight difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion. 

In compliance with the requirements of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act or FATCA, banks around the globe are to report balances and all the transactions of American citizens to the IRS for accounts with more than $50,000 USD in assets. Failure to do so can lead to penalty. The FATCA is a law of the United States of America that went into effect in 2010.

What is the difference between an offshore account and an investment account?

Offshore transactional accounts are bank accounts opened in a country where the account holder is not a resident of. A transactional account is a small simple offshore account designed for easier access to funds for regular transactions. If you are just looking to initiate offshore banking, or looking to have an offshore account you can use for your international business transactions, then this may be the account for you.
 
In comparison, an offshore investment account is an international investment or brokerage account which is often used as a personal private offshore account that allows an investor to hold, invest and trade securities, bonds, stocks and other asset classes. It has a more complex structure requiring a larger initial deposit with a minimum amount of $500,000. 
 
Account holders open this type of offshore account to gain access to an extensive array of trading and investment options. However, transactions could be limited and going beyond the limit could mean additional fees and penalties. This makes it less liquid and not ideal for business transactions. If you don’t plan on having many transactions with your account and want to maximize returns and protection for your money, then an investment account may be for you. High-value investors are often drawn to this account type.
 
To use the offshore account, investors often set up an offshore corporation, financial entity, trust or LLC  to stay separate from it as individual persons. For additional levels of protection and security, the transactions, gains and revenues from an offshore investment are accounted for under the offshore entity instead of the individual.
 

FAQs

1 - Can anyone open a bank account in the Cayman Islands?
 
Non-residents can open a bank account in the Cayman Islands. Some banks even allow you to do so without visiting the Caymans. However, you need to submit several certified documents as proof of your identity, your current overseas address, bank references and the source of your funds. Cayman Island banks will do thorough background checks before allowing you to open an account in compliance with the mandatory due diligence requirements to make sure you are completely legally qualified to prevent money laundering. Overseas residents will have to provide local banks in the Cayman Islands a legitimate reason for setting up an account.
 
2 - How much money do you need to open a bank account in the Cayman Islands?
 
As mentioned earlier, if you’re opening an offshore investment account, the minimum initial deposit is $500,000. But if you’re opening an offshore savings account or personal account, the minimum initial deposit is typically $1,000 for non-residents, and $,5,000 for CD’s. Your funds can be in US$, CA$, CI$ and other leading currencies, although bank may require higher minimum account balances for some currencies.
 
You also have to factor in setup fees and other costs. If you hire someone to open an offshore bank account for you, the setup fee ranges between $550 to $1,250. This fee will vary depending on the jurisdiction and the bank. To set up an offshore company to hold your account, the cost ranges from $1,700 to $2,500.
 

Best banks in the Cayman Islands

If you need a bank account for your business of any kind, either registered in the islands or abroad, or if you need an account as a worker there, there is a huge selection of retail banks specializing in this business. Initial fees are low - surprisingly - and you get all sorts of perks. There won’t be any free accounts in the Caymans. Here are the top banks in the Cayman Islands:

  • RBC Royal Bank: With a series of special offers for families, regular sales on loans, this could be the bank you get a good deal if you arrive at the right time. They are a full service bank offering debit and credit cards, multiple offers depending on the stage of your life and a series of solutions for professionals. They are located all over the Caribbean and you can find their branches and ATMs here.
  • First Caribbean International Bank: This is one of the best options for banking in the area with nearly 60 branches offering a true one-stop shop banking solution in the Caribbean with financial backing by Barclays and CIBC Toronto in Canada. Besides the full retail offer, they have corporate banking, wealth management, credit cards, treasury sales and trading and investment banking. Here are their locations all over the Caribbean.
  • Fidelity: with a plan to help you achieve financial freedom (their words) they are a present in the Bahamas and in the Cayman Islands. They have a full service line including insurance for individuals, contractors and businesses, banks cards of all kinds, pensions, mortgages, cheques, the lot. Find their locations here and their ATMs here.
  • Scotiabank: with plenty of offers for day to day banking, credit cards, borrowing, investing, insurance and premium banking, this is one of the most complete banks of the whole of the Caribbean and also with a full stack of services aimed at small businesses and corporate and commercial accounts. Here are their branches and ATMs.

Other banks in the Cayman worth noting are Cayman National Bank (CNB) and HSBC Bank (Cayman) Limited. 

Of the dozens of banks and financial institutions located in the Caymans, most are catering to the wealthy. Regardless of that, it is surprising that there are plenty of banks offering personal accounts with all sorts of offers including cashback.

The virtual bank account alternative

Open a bank account in the Cayman islands online

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