How to properly choose the right offshore bank

When going offshore, whether personal or corporate, you should be careful with details to choose your offshore bank wisely in order to keep your money safe and to not have all kinds of issues later when doing banking.

To what you should pay attention
Above all you will want to consider choosing bank in particular geographical location, which is politically and economically stable. Next will be the local language, as well as the languages supported by the banker. If you consider opening an account without visiting the country, note that it is getting increasingly harder to open an account without personal visit. However, some banks still offer opening an account via post or through agent. But you should be able to visit country and bank personally without any problems in case of emergency.

Next is to check, whether bank offers internet banking (most do), preferably in English language, cards options (few will issue credit card to non-resident without significant amount of money) and fees to running an account.

Laws and regulations
Having a privacy is getting harder and harder, so you should check what level of privacy bank offers if that is important to you. In particular you will want to know if there are tax treaties with your country in place. You should probably want avoid such offshore jurisdiction and choose another on. Ask if your banker is obliged to share information with your home country and in what cases.

Check history of bank, how long are they in business, reviews…

What will you need to open an offshore bank account
Most often than not, any reputable bank will request you to provide documents of your identity and questions about nature of your business. They might as well request information about source of money, which you intend to place into bank account.

Most banks will request at least the following:
Copy of your passport (certified) or another valid ID document
Proof of address, this can be utility bills, credit card statements, any other document which provide proof of address
Description of your business
Questions about source of money

In some cases banks will also ask for letters of reference from persons who can vouch for your. This can be your current banker, lawyer, auditor,…

Who is beneficial owner of the bank account
Because of the anti money laundering policy placed with the bank, bankers will want to know who is the real beneficial owner of money on your account. Be careful if banker only ask you for copies of your documents via fax. Real bankers will want to have at least original ID documents and information on your money sources.

Conclusion
Make sure that you are comfortable with the jurisdiction of the bank and check if banks are well regulated in that country. Next is language, internet banking and (credit) cards. Examine what kind of products bank offers in advance, so you don’t run into issues later. Finally be aware of what kind of documents bank wants from you. In particular proceed carefully with bank which only request a copies via fax.

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