How to open a bank account in Singapore

How to open a bank account in Singapore

Singapore is one of the best countries in the world to live in. Financially wealthy, diverse business opportunities, fantastic climate and great city living attract foreigners from all walks of life wanting to study, work, invest and retire.

There is much more that makes this global world city attractive. It is extremely clean for starters (you do not want to litter over there, for there are huge fines) and taxes are one of the lowest in the world. If you are thinking of making Singapore a permanent destination or even if you just landed, opening a bank account should be near the top of your list of things that you must do. Here is our guide on how to open a bank account in Singapore.

Documents needed to open a bank account in Singapore

The process is rather easy and you won’t be required much with some banks even allowing you to start the process through the internet.

  • Passport
  • Employment or study pass (which are mandatory)
  • Proof of address, if not shown on your passport. (utility bill, bank statement, rental agreement
  • Optionally you may be required to have: a letter from your bank saying you are in good standing, your home country’s tax ID, a letter of recommendation from a friend that also has an account with the bank of your choosing, proof of employment such as payslips or a letter

It is probably a good idea to check with the bank what are the actual requirements specially for an expat. Banks have experience working with expats but there could be hang ups because you are a foreign citizen.

Can I open a bank account in Singapore as a non-resident?

Yes, it is possible to open a bank account as a non-resident but you are likely to be faced with large initial deposits (reaching a million dollars) because banks only want to work with high network individuals for investment purposes if you are a non-resident even if you are dealing with all the traditional European retail banks such as ABN-AMRO, ANZ, BNP Paribas, Citibank, HSBC and Santander.

If your home bank has a branch in Singapore or has a correspondent bank relationship with a Singaporean bank, it may be possible to open a bank account before you land. We reckon it is better to go straight to the branch when you arrive and get all the necessary information, or try to reach out to their phone service centres.

Best banks in Singapore

The largest banks in Singapore are DBS (Development Bank of Singapore), OCBC (Oversea Chinese Banking Corporation) and UOB (United Overseas Bank). Here are some of these banks selling points and features.

  • DBS: This is Southeast Asia’s largest bank with millions of customers. This is a great option for expats because they have a customized program for foreigners which you can start online or apply at a branch. This product comes filled with perks including a multicurrency account, a debit card that is free of charge for 2 years and a list of other benefits which include airline miles. Their ATM network is large.
  • OCBC: With 3 basic accounts to choose from which cover the needs of most people, these are the ones to look at. The Frank account is for youths between 16 and 29 and it has no initial deposit or minimum balance. For the other 2 accounts, which are called Statement Savings and 360 Account, there is a minimum deposit of 1000 dollars and minimum balance too. They also have a full selection of business accounts for both Singaporean and foreign businesses. Here are their network of branches and ATMs.
  • UOB: Their One Account has 3.33% yearly interest and even cashback on debit card purchases. They have a special student account with a free credit card which is free to sign up. Their business account is a great option too with a free corporate debit card, overdraft option  and a series of rebates in selected purchases. Their network is extensive.

Most basic accounts in Singapore will not carry monthly fees which is great but expect fees to be charged for certain transactions. Because each bank has different business models, it is important to look at their fees structure so you get the deal that is both financially viable and convenient. For example, there are fees to keep multiple currencies in one account and if that is a need you have selecting a bank that charges the lowest to transfer money between accounts is the best option.

Also, be aware of ATM fees for out of network transactions and for usage abroad. There will be charges - always - for out of country usage but some are considerably higher than others. There could also be account closing fees depending on the bank and fees that occur if your balance falls below a certain amount.

The virtual bank account alternative

It is expensive to do international money transfers from Singapore

If you regularly transfer money abroad for any reason and you regularly use your bank, chances are that you are losing money. Banks make a lot of money by charging above the mid market rate which is the real currency exchange rate that banks use to transfer money to each other. For example, if you transfer 10 thousand euros to India you only get 9000 euros worth of rupees bank to India with most banks and the money takes weeks to become available.

With a virtual bank account by B2B Pay, you get 9900 euros worth of rupees back in India which is a difference of 900 euros extra back in your pocket. You also get the money faster, in as little as 24 hours depending on the bank and you also get your own European IBAN that you can use to transfer money to 212 countries in 32 currencies with the same low rates.

How to open a bank account in Europe

We have a few guides to guide you through the process of opening a bank account in multiple European countries and explaining why a virtual bank account with B2B Pay may be a better alternative if you are transferring money outside of Europe and taking advantage of a better rate.



How to open a bank account overseas

We have a few guides to guide you through the process of opening a bank account in multiple countries all over the world and explaining why a virtual bank account with B2B Pay may be a better alternative if you are transferring money outside of Europe and taking advantage of a better rate.


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