Over the years, Singapore has consistently been ranked as one of the best places to conduct business in Asia and the world, according to the World Bank Group’s Doing Business report. On top of the seamless incorporation process, our city-state has one of the most technologically driven economies with favourable public legislation and legal frameworks.
With that, it’s no surprise that businesses across the globe continue to flock to the ‘little red dot’ to incorporate their business and reap its many benefits. One of the prerequisites for incorporating in Singapore is setting up a local corporate bank account to keep your business funds safe and secure.
While the process of opening a business account is different for local and foreign founders, the differences only vary slightly. Here’s everything you need to know about opening a corporate bank account for foreign companies in Singapore.
Considering you’ve successfully incorporated your Singapore-based business, the next natural step is to look into the various corporate bank account options available. Consider these factors when narrowing down your search:
• Banking fees
• Initial deposit and minimum balance requirement
• Multi-currency account
• Range of banking support
• Online or mobile banking services
• Smart features and integration
From account opening fees, foreign currency remittance, and maintenance fees, pay attention to the various chargeable services in a bank account. These charges vary depending on your bank of choice, so it is ideal to find one that meets your budget and needs at the same time.
You also want to ensure that you are only paying for the services you are using — the last thing you want is receiving charges for unused features.
Here are some of the most common hidden bank fees and how you can avoid them.
An initial deposit is used to open and maintain your account while a minimum balance fee is charged when your account balance drops below a certain amount. For foreign companies that are just getting started, you may want to consider accounts with a low initial deposit and minimum balance fees.
Certain business accounts in the market don’t require an initial deposit or minimum balance fee, so keep an eye out for that.
Startups that regularly perform cross-border transactions should consider opening a multi-currency account or one that allows for several foreign currency transactions.
Not all bank accounts offer this feature; some accounts only have a limited number of currencies while others only allow users to transact in their local currency.
Imagine being away from Singapore on a business trip and you happen to come across an issue with a particular bank transaction or payment. In times like these, having access to customer support at any time of day is key.
Check the operating hours of your bank’s customer support service and ask whether they provide a 24/7 customer hotline or a responsive email-based customer support system.
Modern entrepreneurs need modern solutions that complement the way they run their businesses. For founders who are always on the go, look into online or mobile banking features that allow consumers to access banking services anytime and anywhere.
From processing and approving payments to performing cross-border transactions, save time with mobile applications and use them for high priority tasks instead.
To cater to the growing needs of business founders, certain bank accounts today offer smart features such as expense management, automated invoices, and even cashback rewards.
When choosing your preferred bank account, look into specific features and tools specific to your company or area of expertise that will allow you to save time and money as you grow your business.
While the requirements may vary depending on the different banks, the basic documentation needed is rather similar. Typically, here is what you will need for your application:
• Documentation and proof of company registration in Singapore
• Proof of identification (applicable for all directors, shareholders, and ultimate beneficial owners)
• Proof of residential address (applicable for all directors, shareholders, and ultimate beneficial owners)
• Detailed background of all ultimate beneficial owners
• Detailed information about the company (including detailed business plan, proposed business activities, potential suppliers and clients, anticipated banking transactional activity, etc.)
• Completed corporate account opening forms signed by all signatories
Take note that these are just the general guidelines and requirements. Make sure to check with your bank for any additional requirements needed.
Step 1: Decide on the preferred bank you want to open an account with. Ensure that the chosen bank fulfils your business needs the most.
Step 2: Complete your account application with the requirements either in-person at a physical branch or online. If you have a representative in Singapore, it is advised to apply personally as certain banks require authorised signatures.
Step 3: Pay a minimum deposit, if applicable for your chosen bank account.
Step 4: Wait for the bank to review your application.
Step 5: Upon successful approval, the bank will grant access to your bank account.
The majority of financial institutions in Singapore are welcoming towards foreign companies looking to open a local bank account with them.
To get you started, here are some of the local banks that offer corporate bank accounts in the country:
• DBS Bank: DBS Business Digital Account & DBS Multi-Currency Account
• OCBC Bank: OCBC Business Growth Account
• UOB: UOB eBusiness Account & UOB Business Global Currency Account
• Maybank: Maybank FlexiBiz Account & Maybank PremierBiz Account
• Standard Chartered: BusinessOne Current Account & Smart Business$aver Current Account
• HSBC: HSBC BusinessVantage Account
What if we told you there was a better option for all your business finance needs? Introducing the Aspire Business Account, which is not a corporate bank account but a payment services account. With a 100% digital onboarding process and same-day account opening, you don’t have to wait weeks to get access to modern features that will elevate the way you run your startup.
Enjoy no hidden fees, unlimited virtual cards for teams, cashback rewards, and credit solutions — all in one place.