A Limited Company is a separate legal entity from that of its directors and shareholders; therefore it will need its own bank account. Opening a bank account is a relatively straightforward affair, however, there is no shortage of banks and their respective promotions out there to there to entice and confuse you, influencing your decision as to which bank to choose.
An Overview of Opening a Singapore Corporate Bank Account
Generally, banks in Singapore require you to have the following in order to open a corporate bank account for your Singapore-incorporated company:
- A resolution by the Board of Directors sanctioning the opening of the account and specifying the signatories to the account or in the pre-approved format prescribed by the bank that simply requires the signatures of the directors
- Standard account Opening forms signed by the abovementioned authorised signatories
- Copy of the Certificate of Incorporation*
- Copy of Company’s Business Profile from ACRA*
- Copy of Company’s Memorandum and Articles of Association (MAA)*
- Copies of the Passports (or Singapore national identification cards) and Proof of Residential Addresses, Directors, Signatories, and Ultimate Beneficial Owners*.
Many banks require that the account signatories and directors be physically present in Singapore for the signing of official documentation at the time of opening this corporate bank account; however, some banks may accept documents that are signed in person at one of their overseas branches or in front of a Notary Public. Additionally, the banks may require additional documents on a case by case basis.
Where do I start?
Your first point of contact should be your own bank, as this may be the most convenient and quickest option as the bank is likely to be able to validate the identity of the director and your creditworthiness as a client, based on their existing records.
However, do remember that your existing bank may not necessarily be able to provide the best deal. If your company has other directors who have accounts with different banks, check out the facilities and rates being provided by these banks and other banks in order to make a more informed decision.
What do I need to look out for?
Some banks may offer an initial waiver period of bank charges, for any basic banking procedures such as depositing and withdrawing cash, or checking on the status of the account. For instance, the DBS Entrepreneur’s Account for Start-ups has certain waivers of the Fall-below Fee for a 6-month period (reverting to $15 per month when the minimum average daily balance falls below $10,000). The set up and subscription fees for the DBS IDEALTM account are also waived for 2 years— and you receive the DBS IDEALTM security device, GIRO facilities free for 2 years and a waiver of the annual fee on the DBS Business Advance Corporate Debit Card for 2 years.
However, thereafter the monthly rates or transaction fees might prove to be high therefore you should scrutinise the rates pegged to these types of accounts to decide if they are compatible with your business needs. You can do this by forming a realistic projection of the type, size and frequency of transactions you are likely to make in the course of your business, thereby choosing a bank account that is most suited to and cost-effective for your company.
What will I need to open a Bank Account?
Be forewarned that all banks in Singapore must comply with stringent laws and regulations, therefore will carry out a comprehensive series of checks and investigations on their potential clients before opening a new account for your company. This is not only to safeguard their risks against any potential default, but also as part of their regulatory compliance and stringent anti-money-laundering policies— as you may know, Singapore is very serious about combating terrorism financing and other transactions of illegal or doubtful nature thus a company involved in dealings that are not above board would not find it easy to engage in such transactions.
How long does it take?
Depending on the number of checks that the bank carries out to confirm the identity and/or creditworthiness of the directors, secretary and the company itself, it may take anything between 1-4 weeks to open a new company bank account. As bank policies vary slightly from bank to bank, in order to make the process of opening your corporate account as quick and simple as possible, you are recommended to confirm with the bank first what documentation (and who else needs to be present apart from yourself as the director/owner of the business) specifically is required so you are ready when you first meet the business manager.
Almost all major banks of the world have a presence in Singapore, which means that if you are a foreigner setting up your company in Singapore, you will be able to open an account with a bank from your home country if you so wish. Most banks are able to open a corporate bank account for Singapore as well as offshore companies as long as the necessary account opening paperwork is sufficiently furnished and the banks are satisfied with the information you provide them with.
The following is a snapshot of various account-opening issues with a few major local and foreign banks, for your information.
Singapore Local Banks
To open a UOB bank Singapore Dollar current account, you will need to be physically present in Singapore in order for the bank to speak to you face-to-face and find out more about yourself and your company (KYC). The initial deposit required is $1000, and the average monthly balance required in your account is $10,000 otherwise a $15 monthly fee will apply. There are internet banking facilities available, for both local and overseas transactions, and ATM and Credit Cards will be available for your use (as long as you obtain the requisite approvals).
To open a DBS bank account, you do not necessarily have to be physically present in Singapore although this would be preferable in order to avoid any delays. A telephone interview for KYC purposes will have to be conducted if you are not in Singapore, and thereafter you will have to undergo a Signature and Passport verification at an overseas DBS branch. The initial deposit required is $50,000, and the average monthly balance required in your account is $50,000 otherwise a $25 monthly fee will apply. Alternatively, if you are a new Singapore-incorporated company, you can apply to open the DBS Entrepreneur’s Account for Start-ups, that requires a Minimum Initial Deposit of merely $500 and a minimum average balance of $10,000, below which there will be a $15/month charge. There are internet banking facilities available, for both local and overseas transactions, and ATM and Credit Cards will be available for your use (as long as you obtain the requisite approvals).
Foreign Bank Branches
Standard Chartered Bank
To open a Standard Chartered account, you do not necessarily have to be physically present in Singapore although this would be preferable in order to avoid any delays. A teleconference for due diligence will also be conducted if you are not in Singapore, and the identification documents for such opening must be notarized (the bank only accepts notarized documents in certain countries). If not notarized by a notary in those countries, you will need to get it notarized at an SME banking branch or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in your country. The initial deposit required is $10,000, and the average monthly balance required in your account is $10,000 otherwise a $50 monthly fee will apply. There are internet banking facilities available, for both local and overseas transactions, and ATM Cards will be available for your use under a Singapore Dollar account.
To open a HSBC account, the account can be opened without you being physically present in Singapore and a telephone interview for KYC purposes will have to be conducted if you are not in Singapore, and thereafter you will have to undergo a Signature and Passport verification at an overseas HSBC branch. The initial deposit required is $100,000, a set-up fee of between $1000 – $7000 is chargeable and the average monthly balance required in your account is $30,000 otherwise a $50 monthly fee will apply. There are internet banking facilities available, for both local and overseas transactions, and ATM Cards will be available for your use under a Singapore Dollar account.
To open a Maybank PremierBiz (Non-individual) Account, the minimum initial deposit is S$10,000 and the minimum average daily balance is S$30,000, failing which the Fee would be S$35 per month.
To open a Maybank Current (Non-individual) Account, the minimum initial deposit is S$3,000 and the minimum average daily balance fee is S$10,000, any amount below that chargeable at S$35 per month.
* A Certified True copy by the Company Secretary