How to Open a Bank Account in Singapore as a Foreigner
I’ve been posting a lot of long posts lately, so let’s try keep this one a little more brief.
I’m gonna try and show foreigners how to open a bank account in Singapore as quickly as possible after moving to Singapore.
Drawing on my own experience, here’s, generally, what you need:
- A valid long-term visa – which will probably be one of the ones listed here – and a copy of both the front and back
- Your foreign passport – which is probably going to be tied to the visa above
- A payslip
- A “letter of employment” with your employer’s details, company’s official stamp, company address, your role, your salary, and your residential address
- Ensure this letter does not state that you are currently residing in temporary accommodation, even if it is true. The reason for this is a letter stating you are residing in temporary accommodation may result in the bank not accepting your stated accommodation. I say this because I was advised (when I checked in branch) that my letter would be accepted because nothing stated my accommdation (at the time) was temporary accommodation, despite me verbally stating this.
- A utility bill with your name and address
For those unemployed, the utility bill (think internet/water/electricity) is probably what you’ll need to open a bank account, as you won’t have a payslip or letter of employement to show. The quickest way to be eligible to open a bank account would most typically be the letter of employment, because your payslip probably can’t be generated until you have a bank account for that money to go to, not to mention that even if you (for whatever reason) had an account for it to go to, you’d have to wait for a while for the payslip to be generated!
Otherwise, the letter of employment can typically be requested from your HR representative/team at work and is probably the quickest way for you to get a bank account up and running in Singapore.
You do not need to open it at a branch. In my opinion, it’s probably a little bit less convenient too, especially when you can be lounging on a sofa and doing it all online. The other incentive, in typical Bulging Wallet fashion, to open the bank account online, is you sometimes get better promotions by opening it up online.
For example, the very popular DBS Multiplier (which, by the way, is quite a good/handy account!) is giving you up to ~$100~$20 in cash bonuses for opening an account online.
Refer to this page. The current promotions are:
- $20 cash for opening a DBS Multiplier online by 31 October 2018
- ~$80 cash when you credit your salary to DBS~ This seems to have expired as of 30 September 2018, but the promotional details are still listed.
- A DBS Multiplier account where there is no fall below fee for the life of the account
The $20 bonus is $20 more than opening up an account in a branch!
The last benefit is an interesting one, and one that I would argue has the potential to be of significance to foreigners in Singapore.
This last benefit is in fact what prompted me to ask whether it was possible to keep a bank account in Singapore open even beyond the validity of your long-term visa. I was (verbally) told yes. This makes it a pretty good benefit. I feel there is generally not much harm in keeping a free account open, and it was explained to me that, “the bank account is not tied to your long-term visa, but the long-term visa is required to open the bank account”. You never know when a bank account might come in handy in the future, and with the DBS Multiplier also being a multi-currency account, I think there is definitely value in keeping it open beyond your tenure in Singapore.
In summary, you require a copy of your long-term visa, your passport, and either a payslip, letter of employment, or a utility bill in your name. This is based on my experience of opening a DBS Multiplier account, which is probably one of the better, and certainly more convenient bank accounts to have in Singapore.
As I did in Australia, I do intend to be a bank account slut to an extent, but the majority of bank accounts here have fall below fees which are effectively a monthly fee (or a “penalty” for not having enough money in your account). The fall below fees is what has really stopped me from bank account slutting so far – so you can’t say those fall below fees aren’t having any effect on my decisions here!
There also don’t appear to be the same plethora of unique benefits offered by the different banks here compared to Australia. Even in cases where there are unique benefits per bank, it is often possible to gain access to these promotions through Credit Cards (which, amazingly, I have been advised, can always have their annual fees waived, making them effectively fee-free cards) as an alternative.
I hope this has helped a foreigner open a bank account in Singapore! Let me know if you have any other foreigner-specific questions.