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An Overview Of OffShore Banking

We usually associate offshore banking with snooty, financially successful individuals who have millions to their name. Contrary to popular belief, even your average Joe can hold an offshore bank account. All it takes is a couple of hours of effort. First and foremost, every offshore bank has jurisdiction of its own, and you will need to become familiar with its requirements through thorough research. This is an overview of the most common offshore banks and also what you can expect by opening an account of this nature.

The Basics

In your home country, you need your personal information in order to open a bank account of any kind. The same is applicable to an offshore bank account. You will be asked for your name, residential address, and details of your employment. It is also necessary to verify your information by providing copies of the relevant documents pertaining to your identity and to your residence. These are mandatory for all accounts.

There is a large selection of identification documentation that is recognized by different offshore banks. Because of this, additional verification of documents may be required. In some cases, a notarized copy of a document may be sufficient. Some offshore banks request documents with an ‘apostilles’ stamp, which can be acquired via the relevant government office authorized to issue these stamps in your home country.

Additional Requirements


Since there are illegal activities and issues like tax fraud and money laundering on the rise, it has become commonplace for offshore centers to request additional requirements. Examples of these additional requirements can be financial reference documents issued by your home bank, displaying your balances and confirming a ‘satisfactory relationship’ with you as a client. These bank statements are often needed over a period of 6 to 12 months.

Questions and Other Necessary Documents

Offshore centers also tend to question you on the nature of the transactions you intend to be making with the account you wish to open. To you, these questions may seem incredibly intrusive, but this is yet another necessary measure offshore banks need to take to clamp down on illegal activities. You may even have to have documentation confirming the source of the funds entering the account you are opening. In the case of a deposit from your insurance contract, you would need to provide a letter from the insurance company in question. In the case of receiving funds from an estate, you might need to produce a letter from the executor of the estate as a testament of its authenticity. Even for business transactions, you may likely be asked for sales contracts as proof of a transaction. It is not uncommon for offshore centers to also question on details of your investment portfolio, like where your investments are held and perhaps to even verify your investment income.

Speaking of Currency

While domestic accounts hold your funds in the currency of your home country, some offshore accounts offer you to select the currency you wish your funds to be held in. This is a valuable tool, especially if the currency of your home country or source of funds is expected to decline in strength over time. This is because you have the potential to grow your money every time the currency drops in strength since your funds are increased when exchanged to your home currency during these times. However, holding funds in another currency places you liable for certain taxes and fees associated with the account and transacting with the account. Do your research and get acquainted with the fee structure of the account at different currencies and the exchange rates that are offered.

Deposit and Withdrawal

Depositing into your offshore bank account is a simple electronic payment via wire transfer. However, these are usually an added feature that you may have to pay for as domestic transfers are commonly fee but not international transfers.

To withdraw from your offshore bank account, there are several options. There are several offshore banks that go so far as to issue an ATM or debit card to make withdrawals of funds very convenient. These cards are often usable worldwide. It is worth investigating the fees related to these cards as well as they can be expensive. Another option for withdrawal is by check — though it is not a preferred method.

Based on all this information, you can see that opening an offshore account is not as intimidating as it is made out to be. Make sure that after everything, you consult with a tax professional to ensure that you are within regulations of your home country as well as abroad.


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