Foreigner opening a bank account in Malaysia? Read more what options are available, documents needed to open a bank account and more
Planning to move to Singapore? Perhaps you’re thinking of setting up a new business there, or taking an extended trip for work. Whichever is the case, a Singapore bank account could be a useful thing to have.
Ideally, you’ll want to open a bank account in Singapore, while still in Malaysia. This’ll certainly save you time, as you can start using your new account as soon as you arrive. But just how easy is it to open a Singapore bank account from another country?
In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know on how to open a Singapore bank account in Malaysia. This includes the most popular Singapore banks to choose from and what documents you’ll need.
We’ll also look at an alternative - the Wise multi-currency account. It’s fast and free to open online, offers SGD bank details and is ideal for overseas payments.
But first, let’s focus on opening a bank account in Singapore.
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The short answer to this is yes - in many cases, banks will let you open an account in Singapore as a non-resident. This is largely because Singapore is a country full of expats, with a sizable population of foreign nationals. So, its banks are used to dealing with applications from non-Singaporeans.
However, opening a bank account in Singapore without actually setting foot there can sometimes be a little tricky. Some banks require proof of residence in Singapore, and/or a work or study permit¹.
The good news is that many major banks in Singapore operate across Asia, including Malaysia¹. This makes it far easier for Malaysian residents to successfully apply for an account.
Whether or not you’ll be able to open your account fully online depends on the bank. Some banks will let you at least start your application online, while others require applicants to be physically present in Singapore. You’ll need to check with the bank.
The option to open a bank account online may also depend on what documentation you have. For example, banks such as HSBC Singapore offer online application provided you have a valid National Registration Identity Card Number (NRIC) or Foreign Identification Number (FIN)². The latter is most likely to apply to you if you’re planning on working and studying in Singapore.
If your bank in Malaysia also has a presence in Singapore, you may be able to apply online or call up to arrange the opening or transfer of your account.
It varies from bank to bank, but most ask for the following documents¹:
- Work/study permit for Singapore
- Proof of residence (in Singapore or Malaysia)
You may also be asked for a referral letter from your existing bank in Malaysia, and perhaps even a secondary form of government-issued ID.
Singapore is a major banking hub, so you won’t be short of banks to choose from. If you’re looking for banks that are most likely to accept applications from foreigners/expats, it may be best to stick to the large multinationals like¹:
CIMB is probably one of the best banks to choose if you’re living in Malaysia but need to open an account in Singapore. This is because the CIMB Group is based in Malaysia, but also offers full consumer banking services in Singapore.
Here’s a quick run-through of the process:
- Head to https://www.cimb.com.sg/ and choose the account you’d like to open
- If you’re an existing CIMB customer, you can apply online via CIMB Clicks³
- Otherwise, click ‘Apply Now’ under the ‘New Customers’ tab
- Complete the online application process - your new account number should be issued right away
- Activate your account by transferring the minimum initial deposit (you’ll find this on the account details page)
- You’ll receive signup information for CIMB Clicks Internet Banking and you’ll be ready to go⁴.
CIMB Singapore requires foreigners not living in the country to provide a passport, proof of address and other supporting documents (i.e. work/study pass) during application⁴.
DBS only offers the option to apply online to Singapore citizens, permanent residents and foreigners with a valid Singapore work, employment or study pass⁵. If you have the latter ahead of your move, you should be able to apply online. Here’s an overview of the process:
- Head to https://www.dbs.com.sg/
- Choose the account you’d like to open - the popular DBS Multiplier account is most likely to suit the needs of expats.
- Click ‘Apply Now’
- If you’re an existing DBS customer, you can select ‘Use my iBanking login’ to start your application. Otherwise, select the option relevant to your circumstances.
- Unless you have a Singpass account, select ‘continue without Myinfo’
- Fill in your details and upload the required supporting documents. DBS requires foreigners to provide proof of address, the front and back of your Malaysian IC, passport, and a number of other documents⁵. You can see the full list here.
Otherwise, you may need to visit a DBS branch in person with your supporting documents.
Get personal SGD details without leaving Malaysia - Open a free Wise account online from anywhere in the world
Opening a bank account in another country can sometimes be a little complicated and time-consuming. Plus, there are minimum initial deposits to be met, and lots of paperwork to provide.
So why not consider an alternative? The Wise multi-currency account can be opened fully online, from Malaysia or anywhere in the world. It’s fast, convenient and there’s no need to visit a physical branch. Better still, it’s completely free to open an account and there are no minimum deposits or monthly charges.
Your new Wise account also comes with loads of brilliant perks. You’ll get a local SGD account number for free, along with account details for 8 other currencies (including MYR, USD, AUD, EUR and more). It’s like having multiple bank accounts all over the world, so you can receive money in the local currency without being stung by high currency conversion fees or poor exchange rates.
You can hold 40+ currencies in your account at once, and send money to over 150 countries for low transparent fees and the mid-market exchange rate.
You can also get an international Wise Visa debit card for just 13.70 MYR, for low-cost spending online or in 160+ countries.
Sources used for this article:
- Monito - Opening a bank account without proof of residency
- HSBC Singapore FAQ
- CIMB account for existing customers
- CIMB account for new customers
- DBS - required documents
Sources checked on 28.06.2022.
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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