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An offshore bank account is often associated either with shady businesses or with a high level of financial sophistication. In practice, it is one of the ways to legally protect your assets and plan your tax situation accordingly. However, offshore banking is an important matter that reflect your business and private life and it requires dedicated attention by experienced professionals.
Not a one-man job
From the Channel Islands to Hong Kong and back, there are numerous jurisdictions in the world where you can benefit from a local offshore bank account. Depending on your needs, a qualified expert, often a tax advisor, will give you the most appropriate advice.
At first glance, it may seem that opening a bank overseas resembles quite a lot to opening one in your motherland. Just like the bank on the corner, the offshore banking institutions will also ask for personal details, such as your full name, date of birth, permanent address, citizenship, and occupation. You will also need to verify all that by providing some official documents among which your passport is just one of the many.
Many overseas banks nowadays are imposing requirements you may not be accustomed to in order to discourage money laundering, tax evasion, or any other illegal activities that are often related to offshore banking.
For instance, if you choose to open a bank account in Hong Kong, you need to do it in person. Opening a bank account from a distance is possible on rare occasions which your tax advisor will explain you in further details. In addition to that, many jurisdictions require you to verify your personal information by providing a recent utility bill or similar papers.
Further to that, many offshore zones ask for additional guarantees of a document's authenticity. Depending on the internal regulations, some countries require an apostille stamp which is widely-used certification mark, valid worldwide. Only a government office in your country is authorized to issue an apostille. Other jurisdictions do not call for it. In some places, only a notarized copy of the documents is sufficient.
As we already mentioned, many countries are under international pressure to stop / prevent illegal activities and money-laundry practices that are often associated with offshore centers. Therefore, it is no longer surprising that some offshore banks may ask you to provide financial reference documents from your current bank. If the origin of your funds is investment income, the bank may also require more information about your investments and where they are based. Your tax advisor will examine the situation in details and will advise you how to proceed further.
What is the role of your (tax) consultant?
The business consultant will conduct the bank introduction services on your behalf. He/she will help you to set up an offshore company, a trust, or simply to open a bank account in the jurisdiction that best suits your needs. The first thing the advisor would do is to carefully analyze your situation. After identifying your banking needs, he/she would conduct a detailed research of all the relevant banks that match your specific needs for your company formation in Hong-Kong.
Furthermore, the tax advisor would consult with you all the questions he/she may have following the research. Once you choose the bank based on your tax advisor's recommendations, he/she will provide you with all the necessary paperwork, application forms, contracts, etc. and will help you to fill them in correctly.
Afterwards, the tax advisor will conduct the so called due diligence to ensure that all the required documents are in completed as per the bank's requirements. Finally, your tax advisor may also open the bank account on your behalf. At a later stage, you may also require additional legal services on matters related to the offshore bank or your business in general.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: Wolters Kluwer TAA Limited has taken reasonable care in sourcing and presenting the information contained on this site, but accepts no responsibility for any financial or other loss or damage that may result from its use. In particular, users of the site are advised to take appropriate professional advice before committing themselves to involvement in offshore jurisdictions, offshore trusts or offshore investments.
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