This guide is for expats who want to open a bank account in Singapore. Citizens or permanent residents of Singapore will find it much easier to open a bank account. The requisites are a little more stringent for expats, who are temporary residents, either working or studying in the island nation.
All banks have a standard requisite of passport and employment or study pass. There are some banks that would accept online applications but most banks will ask expats to physically visit one of their branches to complete the formality. While passport is not a problem for any expat as otherwise you would not be able to travel to the city state, the study pass or employment pass is not that easy to attain. All students need various supporting documents and a detailed educational plan to get the study pass. The employment pass is only available to those expats who have got a job. This pass is issued by an employer based and registered in Singapore. Hence, if you are an expat and you do not have a job yet, then you would not have the employment pass to open a bank account.
Many banks will need additional documents, including an address proof, a written recommendation from a bank you have an account with, the tax or insurance number you had in the country you were or are a citizen of and a letter of introduction from one of the present customers of the bank where you are applying to open an account. All banks don’t ask for each of these documents. For proof of address, expats can use an utility bill or a telephone bill but not older than three months, any official correspondence with a public agency, authority or government, any bank statement, rental agreement or a letter from the employer, which confirms employment status and provides an address. A pay slip is also accepted. Some expats have the address on their passport. This would suffice.
Nonresident or temporary residents can open a bank account only if they have the aforementioned documents. Anyone without a study pass or education pass cannot have a bank account. Tourists cannot open a bank account since they don’t have either. Partners or spouses of expats who don’t have a job or are not studying here and hence without an employment pass or study pass will also be unable to open a bank account. A joint account could be a possibility but not all banks will facilitate this at the outset.
There are many banks in Singapore. It is likely you would find at least half a dozen banks that you have already heard of and you may have even dealt with at least one before. Singapore is a banking and financial hub so many banks have its international branches. However, these international branches don’t always cater to everyone. They are at times specifically for high net worth individuals and have very high minimum balance requirements and steep charges.
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