Opening a bank account in Singapore

Discover whether it's possible for you to open a bank account in Singapore and the steps you'll need to take to do so.

Singapore is one of the world’s most active international financial hubs.

So, you might not be surprised to hear that it’s possible for foreigners to open a current account with most of the nation’s banks.

However, there are a few extra documents you’ll need to provide to be eligible to open a bank account in Singapore.

In this guide, you’ll find out about the eligibility criteria for opening a bank account in Singapore, and how the application process works.

Can a foreigner open a bank account in Singapore?

Most banks in Singapore allow foreigners to open a bank account, provided they can fulfil one of the following criteria.

  • They can provide proof of a permanent address in Singapore
  • They can provide proof of a need for a local account.

An example of a need for a local account could be proof of employment or involvement with a company in Singapore, proof of studying in Singapore, or proof that you’ll be a long-term visitor to care for a dependent.

Some bank accounts for non-residents will have different restrictions. For example, you may have to make a significant initial deposit into your account.

Which documents are required?

You can be expected to provide the following documents when opening a bank account in Singapore.

  • Proof of identity.
  • Proof of your permanent address in Singapore.
  • Proof you require a bank account in Singapore (if you have no proof of address).
  • An employment pass, S pass, Student pass or dependent pass (when relevant)
  • In some cases, you may have to provide a reference from a Singaporean resident.

How does the application work?

In most cases, you’ll have to present these documents in a local branch.

Although your application will differ depending on your choice of bank, you’ll usually be put through a background check, a credit check and some other financial checks.

Can a foreigner open a bank account if they are not physically in the country?

As things stand, it would appear that all Singaporean banks require foreigners to visit a branch and present their documents to open a bank account.

The one exception to this rule could be if an individual already has an account with that bank, and is applying to open a second account.

Can a bank account be opened online?

Yes, there are a handful of online-only banks that have emerged in recent years.

These accounts can be opened online, without any need to visit a local branch. In fact, there are no branches associated with these banking brands.

Because these online-only banks tend to offer competitive rates on overseas spending and ATM withdrawals, foreigners should be able to get by using these accounts in Singapore.

Alternative options

An alternative to opening a bank account in Singapore is to open an account with a challenger bank such as Starling Bank or Revolut. These offer straightforward application processes via their respective apps, and foreign transaction fees are low.

Starling’s personal account, for example, won’t charge fees for ATM withdrawals or foreign transactions, while Revolut’s account lets you transfer money abroad in more than 30 currencies with the interbank exchange rate. Its card also allows you to hold up to 30 currencies at a time.

Pros and cons of opening a bank account in Singapore

  • Accounts can be opened online. There are a number of online-only banks that allow foreign residents to open an account.
  • Strong banks. Singapore’s banking system is widely considered to be safe and secure.
  • You may need a reference. Alongside the usual paperwork that foreign residents need to present to open a bank account in Singapore, you may also need to provide a reference from a Singapore resident.

Bottom line

Singapore is one of the more developed financial hubs of the world, so you may not be surprised to hear that there are a lot of options for foreigners wanting to open a bank account there.

Provided you meet the eligibility criteria and can provide the relevant documents, you should have no problem opening an account.

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Written by

Matthew Boyle

Matthew Boyle is a banking and mortgages publisher at Finder. He has a 7-year history of publishing helpful guides to assist consumers in making better decisions. In his spare time, you will find him walking in the Norfolk countryside admiring the local wildlife. See full profile

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