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These Are The Best Countries to Open an Offshore Bank Account in 2024

Byron Mühlberg, writer at Monito.com
Nov 25, 2023
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Are you beginning your search for jurisdictions in which to open an offshore bank account? Although it evokes notions of multinationals engaging in clandestine financial affairs or wealthy individuals exploiting legal loopholes to evade taxes, the reality of offshore banking is quite different. In truth, offshore bank accounts can represent a legitimate, legal, and valuable option for you if you're aiming to manage your finances abroad.

No matter whether you're looking for an offshore bank account to diversify your assets, hedge against exchange rate risks, save for retirement, or make international transactions, as we enter 2024, let's take a look at a few jurisdictions around the globe where opening an offshore bank account might be attractive for you – as well as a few alternatives.

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Are you just looking for an online foreign currency account and not necessarily full-service investment banking abroad? Then we recommend Revolut, which charges no monthly fees while offering you a debit card and online account balances in over 30 foreign currencies.

Before we proceed, there are a few things you'll need to keep in mind when planning offshore banking:

First, you'll want to consider carefully why you want to open an offshore bank account in the first place, as the answer to this question will steer your course. For example, if you're looking for investment or wealth management services with a dedicated relationship manager looking after your account, your options (and requirements) would look totally different than they would if you were merely looking for an online account in which to hold, transfer, and spend in a foreign currency (where apps with low barriers to entry like Revolut and Wise have transformed the industry in recent years).

Next, you'll want to consider what options you actually have available to you. If you'd like to open an offshore bank account, you'll need to know not only what banks in which countries are open to foreign clients (which we discuss in this article) but also to what extent, as a resident of your home country, you'll face any restrictions or taxation for holding offshore assets. And that's just the beginning. After that, you'll want to contact a foreign bank or, ideally, consult a financial lawyer to help you get your ducks in a row. Many banks also require you to visit a branch in-country to open an offshore account, so you'll need to consider this, too.

The bottom line is that opening an offshore bank account – although not a shady and illicit practice like it's sometimes made out to be – can, and will, come with real administrative hurdles, and these hurdles can look completely different depending on factors such as your home country, tax residency, net worth, the jurisdiction in which you'd like to open an account, as well as your general banking needs and preferences. In this article, we won't cover it all – because we simply can't. Therefore, the countries we've listed below are merely our picks for the best countries to open an offshore bank account in general based on our research and personal experience, but they don't represent any empirical ranking or legal advice.

So, without further ado and in no particular order, let's jump into our list of the eight best countries in which to open an offshore bank account in 2024:

Switzerland

Henrique Ferreira on Unsplash

It should be no shock to hear that in 2024, Switzerland is still an excellent country for offshore banking, boasting a long-standing reputation for financial stability, privacy, security, and a stable currency, the franc. Moreover, Swiss banks are known for their discretion, client-centred approach, and high-quality banking services. However, recent global initiatives over the last two decades have led to increased transparency and information exchange between countries, and Switzerland has been no exception. For new clients, this means, among other things, that complete anonymity isn't typical anymore (at least in principle – in practice, Swiss banks are still very protective of client information) and that American applicants face a much tougher time being accepted by Swiss banks due to tight IRS oversight in the form of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA)¹.

In general, there are no hard-and-fast eligibility requirements for who can and cannot open an offshore bank account in Switzerland, provided you're not from a high-risk third country, according to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)², and you don't have a criminal background. However, the more you plan to deposit, the more attractive your profile will be to Swiss banks, and the easier it'll be for them to justify the risk of taking you on board as a foreigner.

Here's an overview of offshore banking in Switzerland:

  • Currency: Swiss franc (CHF)
  • Financial Regulator: FINMA
  • Major Banks: UBS, Credit Suisse, Julius Bär, J. Safra Sarasin
  • Minimum Initial Deposit: None in theory
  • In-Person Meeting Required: Yes
  • Banking Privacy Laws: Subject to FATCA. Article 43 (Banking Act, 1934) protects against the disclosure of client information³.
  • Political & Economic Stability: Very high. Switzerland is renowned for its exceptional political and economic stability. It has a long-standing tradition of neutrality, a strong rule of law, and a well-established and resilient economy.
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If you're a resident of Switzerland or a neighbour and you're just looking for a standard CHF IBAN account and not full-service investment banking, then try Yuh, an online bank account launched by Swissquote and PostFinance. If you live elsewhere or just want to hold CHF, then Revolut will be your best bet.

In general, opening a bank account in Switzerland is feasible if you have a large initial deposit and are interested in holding CHF, but it becomes difficult for smaller clients if you're not a Swiss resident (especially for people carrying US citizenship). Check out our full guide to opening a bank account in Switzerland to learn more about banking in this small, reclusive Alpine economy.

Singapore

Mike Enerio on Unsplash

Singapore is a small island nation with a big financial footprint. In the 21st century, the country is home to a major financial hub in East Asia and boasts political stability, a strong economy, and a well-developed banking system. Moreover – partly because Singapore's financial system follows strict regulatory standards – the country's resident banks consistently top the rankings as the safest banks in Asia⁴. Offshore banking in Singapore generally gives you access to both the Singaporean dollar (which is widely considered to be one of the world's safe-haven currencies) and the US dollar (the most important currency around the globe), as well as an advanced and globally interoperable banking system.

It's also generally relatively easy to apply for an offshore bank account as a foreigner in Singapore, and it can sometimes even be done entirely online from abroad, although offshore accounts typically come with initial minimum deposit requirements of over $100,000 USD.

  • Currency: Singaporean dollar (SGD)
  • Financial Regulator: Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS)
  • Major Banks: OCBC, UOB, Maybank, DBS
  • Minimum Initial Deposit: Upwards of $150,000 SGD
  • In-Person Meeting Required: Typically, but not always
  • Banking Privacy Laws: Subject to FATCA. Section 47 (Banking Act, 1970) protects against the disclosure of client information⁵.
  • Political & Economic Stability: Very high. Singapore consistently ranks high for robust governance, low corruption levels, and a well-diversified economy, all creating a favourable environment for businesses and investors.
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If you're looking for an SGD checking account to make and receive local payments and not necessarily a full-service offshore account, we recommend opening a Wise Account, which gives you Singaporean bank details in partnership with DBS Bank (i.e., your own Singaporean account number and bank code) and a VISA debit card to spend in dozens of currencies, including in SGD.

In summary, Singapore is a stable Asian economy that could be a good option for you to open an offshore account, especially if you have connections to Singapore or interest in exposure to Asian markets. Learn more about banking in Singapore by reading through our full guide to opening a bank account in the country.

Cayman Islands

Ronny Rondon Small white boats in a harbour in the Cayman Islands.

Jumping over to the Western Hemisphere, the Cayman Islands are another popular offshore jurisdiction known for tax neutrality and a well-established financial industry. In recent years, this small Caribbean country has become particularly popular for investment funds and structured finance thanks, in large part, to its stable political environment and British-style legal system. What's more, unlike Switzerland and Singapore, the Cayman Islands also carry an advantage for American residents in that they are (more or less) in the same time zone.

The Cayman Islands make it very easy for foreign non-resident individuals and entities to open an offshore account in the country, with a lot of online support, legal assistance, and procedural accessibility. In theory, as long as you can pass a local bank's Know Your Customer (KYC) processes and make a qualifying initial deposit, your application has a reasonable chance of being accepted. However, minimum deposits for non-residents in the Caymans are much higher than in many countries and can easily be more than $1 million USD, depending on your profile, and administrative fees are also comparatively quite steep. The Cayman Islands, therefore, should be considered a destination primarily for high-net-worth individuals to open an offshore bank account and is out of reach for many people.

  • Currency: Cayman Islands dollar (KYD)
  • Financial Regulator: Cayman Islands Monetary Authority (CIMA)
  • Major Banks: Butterfield Bank, Cayman National Bank, Proven Bank
  • Minimum Initial Deposit: Upwards of $250,000 USD.
  • In-Person Meeting Required: No
  • Banking Privacy Laws: Subject to FATCA. The Cayman Islands government can evaluate client information as per the Confidential Information Disclosure Law, 2016 (Law 23 of 2016)⁶.
  • Political & Economic Stability: High. While the Cayman Islands generally maintain political stability, their economic stability is highly dependent on the global financial industry, making it susceptible to fluctuations in the international market.

Luxembourg

Jean Carlo Emer on Unsplash

Luxembourg is a small but prominent European financial centre with a well-developed banking sector. Like Switzerland, Luxembourg is known for its stability, investor-friendly regulations, and generally favourable tax environment, but unlike Switzerland, it doesn't have a history of banking secrecy and, being an EU member forming part of the Eurozone, its currency is the euro. This latter point gives Luxembourg a unique advantage. Being part of the EU's single market, residents from other EU countries will have a much easier time opening an offshore account in Luxembourg compared to many other countries, and for high-net-worth individuals in particular, Luxembourg's diverse range of financial services (which include world-leading investment funds, wealth management, and insurance) can offer a lot of advantages.

  • Currency: Euro (EUR)
  • Financial Regulator: Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier (CSSF)
  • Major Banks: Société Générale, BGL BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank
  • Minimum Initial Deposit: Varies significantly
  • In-Person Meeting Required: Yes
  • Banking Privacy Laws: Subject to FATCA. Article 41 of the Luxembourg Banking Act of 5 April 1993 protects against the disclosure of client information⁷.
  • Political & Economic Stability: Very high. Luxembourg's strong financial sector, EU membership, and commitment to international cooperation contribute to its high level of perceived stability.
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If you're looking for a euro personal account to make and receive SEPA payments in the EU and not necessarily a full-service offshore investment account, we recommend opening a Wise Account, which gives you Belgian bank details (i.e., your own euro IBAN account) and a VISA debit card to spend in 50+ currencies, including in the euro.

All told, opening a bank account in Luxembourg isn't a difficult process, but it's generally an unrealistic route if you don't live in the EU, have an economic connection to Luxembourg (e.g., gainful employment or close familial relations there), or aren't a high-net-worth individual. You can learn more about the process and your options in our Luxembourg banking guide.

Hong Kong

Ryan Mac Hong Kong city skyline in the evening.

Hong Kong is a major financial centre with a robust banking system. It has a simple and transparent tax system and is often chosen for its strategic location in Asia at the crossroads of many global markets like China, Japan, Australia, and the United States. For these reasons, Hong Kong is a more attractive destination for business offshore accounts these days, and it's not as popular as some of the other options on this list for individual clients.

Since the imposition of the National Security Law in Hong Kong by the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 2020, concerns have been voiced about the potential for increased surveillance, data security issues, and changes in the regulatory environment that could affect financial privacy in Hong Kong. This even led the US government to warn of the impact of these changes on US businesses in Hong Kong in an inter-departmental statement in 2021⁸. However, it's worth keeping in mind that, as of December 2023 at least, Hong Kong still maintains a legal and financial system distinct from mainland China.

  • Currency: Hong Kong dollar (HKD)
  • Financial Regulator: Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA)
  • Major Banks: HSBC, Hang Seng, Standard Chartered, Citibank
  • Minimum Initial Deposit: $5,000–$500,000 HKD
  • In-Person Meeting Required: Yes
  • Banking Privacy Laws: Subject to FATCA. There are currently no banking secrecy laws in force in Hong Kong.
  • Political & Economic Stability: Very high. Luxembourg's strong financial sector and its commitment to international cooperation contribute to its high level of perceived stability.
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If you're not a resident in Hong Kong but are just looking to hold, spend, save, or transfer HKD, then opening an online account with Revolut will be your best bet. Using Revolut, you can hold a HKD balance and exchange between currencies with no fees and excellent exchange rates (although weekend surcharges may apply).

Belize

Meritt Thomas A man sitting alone on a beach in San Pedro, Belize.

Belize is a small Central American nation that's becoming increasingly regarded as a good jurisdiction to open offshore bank accounts. Not only does it offer banking secrecy, a stable political environment, and favourable tax policies, but its regulatory framework also provides a level of privacy for account holders, with no exchange controls currently in place⁹. What's more, offshore accounts in Belize have very low minimum deposit requirements compared to other jurisdictions worldwide, making the barrier to entry a lot lower.

However, largely because of the fact that its regulatory oversight isn't perceived at the same standard as, say, Switzerland or Singapore, Belize's reputation as an offshore banking hub isn't quite as solid as the other jurisdictions we discuss in this article, and we'd recommend seeking professional advice from a legal or financial expert specialising in offshore banking in Belize who can help you navigate the country's regulatory environment before you make a decision about opening an account there.

  • Currency: Belize dollar (BZD)
  • Financial Regulator: Financial Services Commission of Belize (FSC)
  • Major Banks: Belize Bank, Atlantic Bank, Heritage Bank
  • Minimum Initial Deposit: $1,000–$5,000 USD
  • In-Person Meeting Required: No
  • Banking Privacy Laws: Not subject to FATCA. There are currently no exchange controls in force in Belize⁹.
  • Political & Economic Stability: Medium. Belize has had a history of political and social unrest, and its economy is very susceptible to fluctuations in commodity prices.

Bermuda

Kino A white and blue sky over the beach in Bermuda.

Bermuda is a popular offshore jurisdiction known for its strict financial sector regulations and reputable banks. Just like Belize and the Cayman Islands, which we looked at earlier, Bermuda has had the fortune of inheriting a British legal system with a strong rule of law and good financial governance¹⁰. Consequently, the island nation's banking sector today is well known as a financial hub for wealth management and private banking in particular, where its banks offer world-class services on par with the very best.

As a foreign resident, you can generally open an offshore bank account in Bermuda without much trouble, provided you're not a resident or citizen of a sanctioned country, and you can afford to put down a reasonably sizeable minimum initial deposit. If you're a Bermudan resident, however, you can, of course, open a personal bank account with minimal requirements.

  • Currency: Bermuda dollar (BMD)
  • Financial Regulator: Bermuda Monetary Authority
  • Major Banks: Butterfield, HSBC, Clarien Bank, BCB
  • Minimum Initial Deposit: $250,000–$1,000,000 USD for investment banking
  • In-Person Meeting Required: Sometimes
  • Banking Privacy Laws: Subject to FATCA. There are currently no bank secrecy laws in force in Bermuda¹⁰.
  • Political & Economic Stability: High. Bermuda boasts a well-regulated financial sector and strong ties with international business.

Isle of Man

James Qualtrough A Castle overlooking a picturesque harbour in the Isle of Man's ancient capital, Castletown.

Located in the Irish Sea about halfway between Britain and Ireland, the Isle of Man is not only known for its rugged hills, castles, and tailless cats but also for its political stability and robust financial sector. In fact, given the island's small population, there is one bank for every 4,500 Manx residents! If you'd like to open an offshore bank account on the Isle of Man, its sturdy financial sector, close access to the British and European markets, and low minimum initial deposit requirements could make it an attractive option for you. One drawback of offshore banking on the Isle of Man, however, is that many countries do not have double taxation agreements with the Crown Dependency, which, depending on your home country, could be relevant to you.

While non-residents of the Isle of Man can indeed open offshore accounts, Manx banks will require proof of address and identity to determine your citizenship status and bank account eligibility. If you're a citizen of the UK, EEA, Commonwealth, or another unrelated country, you may be eligible to open a bank account on the Isle of Man, but you'll have to verify directly with your bank of choice. In any event, you'll need to be 18 years of age or older and make the minimum required opening deposit, which varies depending on the bank and account type.

  • Currency: British pound (GBP); Manx pound (IMP)
  • Financial Regulator: Isle of Man Financial Services Authority
  • Major Banks: HSBC, Conister Bank, Isle of Man Bank
  • Minimum Initial Deposit: £5,000–£50,000 GBP
  • In-Person Meeting Required: No
  • Banking Privacy Laws: Subject to FATCA. There are currently no bank secrecy laws in force on the Isle of Man¹¹.
  • Political & Economic Stability: Very high. The Isle of Man is known for its diversified economy and commitment to financial transparency, offering a high level of stability for investors and businesses.
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If you're looking for a pound sterling current account to make and receive payments and not necessarily a full-service offshore investment account, we recommend opening a Wise Account, which gives you British bank details (i.e., your own British IBAN, account number, and sort code) and a VISA debit card to spend in multiple currencies, including in the British pound.

For non-residents, expats, and digital nomads looking for a reliable and secure offshore banking option, the Isle of Man is a compelling choice. Renowned for its stability and well-regulated financial system¹¹, the jurisdiction allows you to open bank accounts remotely, catering to the needs of international clients. To learn more about your options, take a look at our guide to opening a bank account on the Isle of Man.

Why You Might Not Need an Offshore Account After All

Although opening an offshore bank account can be a valuable decision for many people, as we mentioned in the beginning, it ultimately depends considerably on your individual situation. Depending on your aims, net worth, home country, country of residence, chosen jurisdiction and bank, and your general needs and preferences, the process and the outcome could look totally different from one person to the next.

However, it's very much worth keeping in mind that although you want to take control of your international finances, you might not need an overseas bank account to accomplish that. Here are a few instances, in our opinion and experience, where formal, full-service offshore bank accounts (especially wealth management or investment accounts) would be excessive:

  • You're not looking to invest your money in funds or structured products using advanced financial instruments abroad,
  • You're not looking to protect a large sum against exchange rate risk,
  • You don't necessarily need a relationship manager,
  • You cannot afford a high initial minimum deposit, e.g. upwards of $10,000 USD,
  • You're only looking for an account to fund holidays or overseas expenses of approximately $75,000 USD and less
  • You're only looking for an account in which to receive payments in a foreign currency from abroad (e.g. for business),
  • You're only looking for an account to hold some foreign currency to diversify a part of your earnings away from your home currency,
  • You don't want to pay account maintenance fees,
  • You don't want to travel abroad, file lots of paperwork, and undergo lengthy KYC tests just to open an account.

If some or most of the above sounds like you, then you might not need to open an offshore bank account to achieve your objectives after all, since there may indeed be alternatives more suitable for you. We explore two of them below, but in addition, we also recommend you consider talking to a financial advisor to help you with your specific needs and preferences, as this should help you to shed light on what's best in your specific case.

Alternative 1: Bank Foreign Currency Account

Most major banks in many countries have extensive foreign exchange services, allowing you to, among other things, open up a bank account in a foreign currency right from your home country. These accounts function more or less like normal bank accounts do (i.e., they come with online banking and a debit card), with the only notable difference being that they're denominated in a different currency.

If you're living in the US, most big banks don't offer this service, unfortunately, but in the United Kingdom, it's quite common. For example, high-street banks like HSBC, NatWest, Barclays, and Santander all offer multi-currency bank accounts. In South Africa, you can open USD, EUR, or GBP accounts very easily from all the big banks like FNB, Standard Bank, and Absa.

As a first step, we recommend contacting your bank directly or visiting their website to explore what options they have for foreign currency deposits. However, remember that foreign currency accounts normally come with a monthly fee and are normally only restricted to accounts in major currencies like US dollars and euros.

Alternative 2: Fintech Foreign Currency Accounts

Non-bank financial services are increasingly popular around the world. Many offer foreign currency balances (not full bank accounts) that you can use to pay in foreign currency and even receive foreign currency deposits. In this category, we recommend Revolut in particular. Its critically acclaimed and immensely popular mobile finance app has changed the way people send and spend foreign currencies in recent years, and with its online platform, you'll be able to receive foreign currency deposits, hold foreign currency balances in over 30 currencies, and convert them to your home currency at excellent exchange rates (although fair use limits and weekend surcharges may apply).

Revolut is only available in the United States, the United Kingdom, the EU/EEA, Australia, Japan, Singapore, Azerbaijan, Sri Lanka, Brazil, New Zealand, and Chile. If you live in Canada, the Wise Account is another excellent option to consider. If you're from any other country, we recommend checking out what multi-currency cards are available in your country or whether your bank offers any similar products.

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