How to open a bank account in Singapore

March 20 , 2021 by: Amanda Goh

If you are planning on relocating to Singapore, whether it be to work, study or to live, opening a local bank account should be one of the first things you should do. In this article, you will find out more about how to open a bank account and which banks you can apply for.

Documents Needed to Open a Bank Account

To open a bank account, in any bank, you will need to provide them with a certain list of documents. Over the years, the procedures and criteria for opening a new local bank account has become tighter, due to Singapore’s Anti-Money Laundering laws (AML).

As Singapore has a large expat community, its banks are used to dealing with foreigners, thus making it easy and straightforward for one to open a bank account. As long as you have an employment or a study pass as a form of ID, you will find it easy to apply for an account. Unfortunately, if you are a tourist, and are temporarily in Singapore, you won’t be able to open an account as you are unable to prove a permanent local residential address in Singapore.

One main requirement which you will need to fulfil in order to open a bank account is to show proof of your residence in Singapore. You will need to show your bank that you are allowed to stay in the country for a long period of time. This document could be in multiple forms, depending on your reasons to stay, including your Employment Pass, Long-Term Visit Pass or your Dependant Pass.

While different banks may request certain documents from you while opening up your bank account, some documents that are required by all include your passport, proof of employment/student card, and a proof of your residential address. Proof of your residential address can mean showing your rental agreement or a recent bill.

You are able to open a current account in Singapore as long as you are 18 years old and above. If you are under 18, a parent or guardian is needed to help open an account on your behalf.

Considering that each bank has its own eligibility rules, you should contact respective banks to ensure that you will be able to open an account there before going down to do so. In these cases, you should provide supporting documents while applying to justify your need to open a bank account. This could be in the form of a company letter or any other document stating your situation.


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Which Bank Should You Apply To?

Although Singapore is small, they have over 100 different banks for you to choose from. In this article, we will shorten this list to a few of the largest banks on the island for you to choose from.

DBS the largest bank in Singapore, and one you can start out with if you are new to the country. This bank has it’s own Expat Programme that offers a variety of services and advice to newcomers in Singapore. Their Expat Programme allows for multiple benefits, including multi-currency convenience, easy payment transfers, and up to 3% interest on your savings. To apply for this programme, you are able to apply online on the DBS website. They also offer a list of documents which you will need to provide when opening this account, which includes: your passport, Employment pass, and proof of residence.

Alternatively, you can apply for their DBS Altitude Visa Signature Card. This is a miles card that enables you to earn up to 3 miles per Singapore dollar. If you will be travelling to and from Singapore constantly throughout your stay, this card will benefit you. Do note that for this account, you will need to have a minimum income of S$45,000 (Singapore Dollars) per annum and have a valid Employment Pass.

OCBC Bank similarly offers a variety of options for you to choose from. If you are looking for something simple, you should apply for the OCBC Current Account. This is a non-interest bearing account which allows you to transact conveniently and manage your transactions on a single account. To apply for this account, you will need to physically visit an OCBC bank and provide documents including your passport, Employment or Student pass, your phone bill, and an initial deposit of S$1,000.

If you are a student, you should open a FRANK Account, which gives multiple benefits to those aged 16 to 26. This account offers more than 4x interest than regular accounts and cashback. Above all, there is no monthly fee and initial deposit. For an account, you can either apply online or physically.

You can apply to UOB if you are looking for cashback. One of their best accounts is the One Account which offers interest on your savings as well as cashback when you use the card. On top of that, UOB has regular promotions and cash credits for customers. To apply, you will need to physically go down to their branches and show proof of your passport, residence address, and a Dependent/S/Employment Pass.

If you are a tertiary student, you should open a Campus Account which is only offered to students above 21 years. This account will enable you to have hassle-free monthly fund transfers and keep you up to date on your bank activity. There are also no fees needed to open this account. To apply for this account, you will need to fill in an application form and show proof of your student status when visiting a branch.

Singapore also provides a large number of foreign banks, some of which offering bank accounts in Singapore. If you already have an account in one of these banks in your home country, you can also look into opening a bank account with the branch in Singapore. However, you should note that the criteria for opening a bank account at these banks are not cheap and may only need big deposits.

If you frequent the digital world regularly, such as ordering lunch and groceries online, and watching Netflix, Citibank is a bank which you should go for. The Citibank Rewards Card is a miles card which offers 4 miles per dollar spend on any online transaction — whether it be for a cab, food or shopping. To apply, you will need to go down to a branch physically with your passport, proof of residence, and an income tax notice of assessment. Do note that for this card, you will need to meet a minimum annual income of S$42,000.

Bank Charges

Depending on which bank account you want to apply for, you may have different bank charges, such as monthly fees and early closure fees. Thus, before applying, you should take note of unexpected and avoidable charges.

Some charges you should look out for is the fall below fees and, international transfer fees, and early closure fees. The fall below fees will be charged when your daily average balance falls below the specified minimum. While international transfer fees is one that you may need to pay if you are sending money abroad. When opening a bank, you should also note their early closure fees, which you may need to pay if you decide to close the account before it’s minimum term.

When applying for a bank account in Singapore, do remember to choose one that will give you the most benefits, from interest rates to ATMs, depending on your priorities.

Keeping a Bank Account After Departing from Singapore

You are able to keep your bank account even after you have left Singapore. This is as long as you do not misuse the bank account for any illegal purposes. Do remember that if you do keep your account after departing, you will still need to maintain the minimum requirements of your account — such as minimum balance.



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