How to Open a Bank Account in Singapore

If you’re moving to Singapore to live, study or work, you’ll probably want an account to handle Singapore dollars for everyday spending. If you’re already in Singapore and have a local proof of residence and valid ID paperwork, opening a bank account with a traditional bank isn’t too hard. However, if you’re trying to get a SGD account set up ahead of time - or if you simply don’t have all your documentation yet - it’ll be a bit tougher to open a Singapore bank account with a regular bank.

The good news is that you have options. If you want an easier onboarding process, with no need to visit a bank branch in person, alternative solutions like online accounts from Wise or Revolut can help. More on that later.

Learn more about Wise

What documents do I need?

Whenever you open an account you’ll need to provide some documents for identification. This is to comply with the law and keep customers and their accounts safe. 

In Singapore, the documents which are required - and the range of documents accepted - are different for a Singapore citizen or PR, compared to a foreigner in the country to live, study, work or visit. 

If you’re a foreign resident in Singapore you may have a Singpass account. In this case you may be able to apply for a bank account using Singpass and Myinfo, which automatically completes much of your application using verified personal data. However, in most cases you’ll still need to provide proof of residential address either manually online or in person.

If you’re not using Singpass to register your accounts, the basic requirements for a manual application are similar in all cases:

  • Proof of identity - a government issued photo ID such as your passport or Malaysian IC

  • Proof of address

  • Proof of legal status in the country (Employment Pass, student pass or long term visitor pass for example)

When it comes to proof of address, there are a range of documents which may be accepted, such as a local utility bill, bank statement or letter from your employer or school.

In the vast majority of cases, traditional banks will require you to have a local Singapore address to get an account. A couple of Singapore banks also offer accounts to non-residents, but in this case you may need an introducer to vouch for your trustworthiness.

Save the paperwork with alternative solutions like Wise or Revolut

Most traditional Singapore banks want to see a proof of Singapore address - and if you’re a foreigner in Singapore you’ll also need to provide your pass to prove legal residency in the country. That’s all pretty easy if you’re established here already - but tricky if you’re not yet in Singapore, or if you just arrived and don’t have all of your paperwork yet.

Alternative online providers like Wise or Revolut offer an easy online account opening process for convenience. Wise accounts can even be opened using your Malaysian proof of address before you move to Singapore, to get set up ahead of time and still access SGD bank details, to hold, spend, send and receive Singapore dollars. 

Different online providers have different account opening and verification processes - but in all cases you’ll find it’s easy to get set up online or through a mobile app, meaning you can get your SGD account faster, to hit the ground running once you arrive in Singapore.

Read our full Wise review to learn more.

How to open a bank account in Singapore

The exact process required to open a bank account in Singapore will depend on the specific bank - and also whether you’re a Singapore citizen or PR, long term resident, or non-resident. Singapore citizens and Permanent Residents can often open an account entirely online using Singpass and Myinfo. By using Myinfo to complete your application with verified documents, you’ll probably not need to visit a branch or upload anything extra.

Long term residents in Singapore, who hold a valid pass, may also have a Singpass account. However, in this case, while you can often use Myinfo to complete a lot of your personal information, you’ll usually still need to either visit a branch or manually upload a proof of address document.

The basic steps to open a bank account in Singapore are typically:

  • Research banks and pick the right account for you

  • Check eligibility and gather all the required paperwork

  • Apply online or in branch, and complete the verification process

  • Hand over your opening deposit to get your account up and running

Can I open a bank account in Singapore before arrival?

If you’re not a Singapore resident, you’ll likely find the account options open to you from traditional banks are more limited. In many cases as a non-resident you’ll need to take an extra step like having an introducer. Some accounts are available to people who plan to move to Singapore but have not yet done so - but in this case you’ll usually need to provide a local proof of residence in person at a branch as soon as you arrive, to get full access to your account.

If you’re looking for an easier, more flexible alternative to manage your money in SGD before you get to Singapore, check out an online specialist like Wise.

Which account is best in Singapore for foreigners? 

Let’s look at a review of the best bank accounts in Singapore for foreigners, featuring a couple of the biggest banks in Singapore and a couple of online providers for comparison.

ServiceWiseRevolut DBS*UOB*
Currencies covered54 currencies including SGD, GBP, USD and AUD28 currencies including SGD, GBP, USD and AUD13 currencies in the popular My AccountSGD in the One Account; up to 11 currencies in multi-currency account products
Open before you arrive in SingaporeYesOnly if you’re resident in the UK, the EEA, Australia, Singapore, Switzerland, Japan, and the USNoNo 
Open onlineYesYesVaries based on your personal situation

No - although non-residents can open in a branch with an introducer

Opening fee$0 $0$0$1,000 minimum deposit
Maintenance fee$0 Up to $19.99/month$2/month if you want paper statements$5/month fall below fee if balance is under $1,000
Online international transfersLow fee, varies by currencyFee varies by currency and payment value

From SGD account - 1/8% ($10 minimum - $120 maximum) + agent charges as required + 20 SGD cable charges + exchange rate markup

From SGD account - 1/8% ($10 minimum - $100 maximum) + agent charges as required + exchange rate markup

*Profiled accounts are DBS My Account and UOB One Account. Other accounts are available.

Go to Wise

Wise

Wise offers both personal and business multi-currency accounts which can be used to hold and exchange 50+ currencies, including MYR and SGD. You’ll be able to get a linked Wise debit card for easy spending, send payments to 80+ currencies, and get local bank details for up to 10 foreign currencies. 

Open your Wise account using your Malaysian proof of address - before you even head to Singapore, to get currency exchange which uses the real mid-market exchange rate and low, transparent fees which can make international transactions much cheaper than with a regular bank. Read our detailed guide on Wise fees to learn more.

Account types: Malaysian residents can open a personal Wise multi-currency account with no minimum balance or monthly fees to pay. You just pay a low, transparent fee for the services you use. Singapore residents can also apply for Wise business accounts.

Eligibility: Wise offers accounts to customers in a broad range of countries - simply use your home proof of address to get your account open and access a SGD balance. The exact account services available may vary based on location, so check the Wise website for more information.

Is it safe? Wise is registered with both the Central Bank of Malaysia, MAS and a range of other global bodies in the other countries it trades in. Read Is Wise Safe? to learn more.

Go to Wise

Revolut

As a mobile first provider, Revolut’s services are easy to use on the go - you can also log into the desktop site if you prefer. Choose a personal account for free or upgrade to a paid plan to unlock more features. All accounts can hold and handle 28 currencies, and some with options to budget, invest, save and exchange.

You’ll get a linked Revolut debit card for easy spending and withdrawals, and can also choose to open a Junior account for a family member if you’d like to. 

Revolut isn’t yet available to Malaysian residents, but you’ll be able to open your account easily online once you have a Singapore proof of address.

Account types: Standard account plans are free or you can upgrade to a paid plan for up to $19.99/month.

Eligibility: Available to customers with addresses in the UK, the EEA, Australia, Singapore, Switzerland, Japan, and the US.

Is it safe? Revolut is registered with MAS in Singapore, and is a trustworthy provider to choose

DBS My Account

While DBS has plenty of different accounts to choose from, we’ve highlighted the My Account as a popular and flexible option for people with a Singapore proof of address. You’ll be able to hold 13 currencies, and add in up to 150 banking services to tailor make the account in the way you need it. That means you can save, spend, invest and exchange all in the same place.

The My Account is available for individuals, but also as a joint account, including joint accounts for children where one account holder is a parent or guardian. This makes it a good teen account if you’re looking for a way to help your child manage their money safely.

Account types: DBS has accounts for individuals and businesses - the multi-currency My Account is one of the most popular personal account options 

Eligibility: Available to Singapore citizens, PRs and legal residents

Is it safe? Yes. DBS is the biggest bank in Singapore, and fully regulated by MAS.

UOB One Account

UOB is one of the biggest banks in Singapore, and has a full range of Singapore dollar accounts for spending and saving. If you’d rather manage your money across several currencies there are also multi-currency account options - while the SGD account we picked out to profile was the UOB One Account.

The UOB One account is a flexible SGD account which lets you earn up to 2.5% interest on savings, and 3% cashback on eligible card spend. Terms and conditions apply, including a 1,000 SGD minimum balance to avoid monthly fees. If you’re a non-resident, you might be able to open a UOB personal account if you have an introducer - but you’ll have to be in Singapore in person to get started.

Account types: UOB has a range of accounts including day to day use SGD accounts, and multi-currency accounts which let you hold and handle a range of currencies

Eligibility: Available to Singapore residents, or eligible non-residents with an introducer

Is it safe? Yes. UOB is an established bank which is regulated by MAS.

What are the costs

You’re unlikely to need to pay an upfront fee to open a bank account in Singapore. However, traditional banks often have minimum opening deposit requirements, and you might have to hold a minimum balance to avoid ongoing account charges. You’ll also pay transaction fees which can include:

  • Out of network ATM fees

  • International transfer fees

  • Receiving fees for domestic and international payments

  • Foreign transaction fees

  • Cheque fees if you have a chequebook linked to your account

  • Early closure fees

It’s worth looking at the fees associated with a SGD account from a traditional bank compared with an online specialist provider. Often specialists can offer lower fees and a more flexible account, with less restrictive terms.

Tips for transferring money

Some of the highest fees you’ll come across when you open a Singapore bank account may be the charges associated with sending and receiving international payments. If you’re moving your money across borders check out these tips to save:

  • Banks typically use a marked up exchange rate - compare the exchange rate you’re offered against the rate you find on Google to check

  • International transfer fees tend to be complex and include several different charges - make sure you’re clear of all that will apply

  • Review the terms and conditions of your specific account to check if it’s cheaper to send your payment online - this is usually the case

  • Don’t forget that third party fees - also called agent charges - may be deducted as the payment is processed, and can mean your recipient gets less than you expect

Compare the costs of sending money with a traditional bank against the fees and rates available from an online specialist provider. Often specialists have lower fees, a better exchange rate, and a faster delivery time compared to your normal bank.

Conclusion

Opening a bank account in Singapore is fairly easy if you’re already established here as a legal resident. However, if you’re a non-resident or a new arrival you might find you have to jump through a few more hoops to get an account with a traditional bank.

Another option - which may also save you money - is to go with an online specialist provider instead. Several online and digital providers let you open accounts using paperwork from wherever in the world you live, and access SGD bank details. That makes it much easier and cheaper to hold, send, spend and receive SGD - even if you’re not physically in the country yet.

Go to Wise

FAQ

Can a foreigner open an account in Singapore?

Yes. Foreign legal residents in Singapore can open accounts with all major banks. However, if you’re a non-resident or want to open your account before arrival you’ll probably need to choose a specialist provider instead.

How much do I need to open a bank account in Singapore?

If you shop around - or choose an online specialist - you’ll be able to open an account with no minimum deposit requirement. However, many accounts from traditional banks do have minimum deposit rules - and you’ll also need to maintain a minimum balance to avoid extra fees.

Can I open a Singapore bank account online?

This varies depending on the bank and your personal situation. Some regular banks do have online account application processes, but these may only apply to Singapore citizens and PRs - check with the specific bank if you’re unsure. Or you can choose an online provider, which will let you apply and complete verification from the comfort of home.

Can I open a bank account in Singapore before landing?

Usually you’ll need to be in Singapore already to open an account with a regular bank. Instead look at account specialists like Revolut and Wise for an account which can handle SGD which you can open in advance.

By Seyma Mektepli
Updated 12 August 2022