You don't need truck-loads of cash and shadowy third party associates to open offshore bank accounts, but the process does have to be planned carefully to ensure you get the best financial results. Offshore banking is now a legitimate and reputable business and most financial centres offering this facility are tightly regulated to ensure maximum security for investors. Even so, nothing is guaranteed in the world of investment so this is not an undertaking to rush into without researching it first.
Offshore accounts tend to follow the same pattern as other forms of investment - low risk accounts typically have lower returns whereas those with a higher risk can be more lucrative, but dangerous, for investors.
Striking the right balance between risk and return is essential for an expat bank account. An independent financial adviser (IFA) can be a good source of information on the best banks and jurisdictions for investing in. The International Monetary Fund publishes risks assessments of all the main offshore financial centres but the information is very detailed and will take some time to work through for an individual investor.
Proof of Identity
Once you've selected a shortlist of reputable banks that appear to meet your investment needs the next step will be to contact them to find out what their requirements are. Most will expect a minimum deposit of around £10,000 but some will have a much higher requirement. Offshore banks are now required to carry out stringent identification procedures before opening new accounts to combat illegal practices such as money laundering and tax fraud, so you will need to prove that you are who you say you are. This is normally done by supplying notarised or apostilled copies of identification and proof of residence documents.
The bank may also ask for some kind of financial reference from your current bank to ascertain your average balances and determine how well your account has been managed. Bank statements from the last six to twelve months will often suffice for this. To guard against illegal activity they may also want details on the type of transactions that will be passing through the account, in particular where the money will be coming from. If the funds are from salary payments a wage slip is likely to be sufficient proof. If they come from investments the bank may want further details.
Choosing the currency
One of the big decisions you will need to make is the currency the account will be held in. This can help to offset the damaging effects of an unstable domestic currency but may lead to foreign tax liabilities if not chosen carefully. It is common for offshore accounts to be held in multiple currencies but bear in mind the cost of transferring money from one currency to another. Again, the advice of an IFA should be invaluable in getting this right. All the paperwork will be worth it in the end when your investment is given the freedom to grow in the best conditions possible.
Whichoffshore provide professional expatriate information on many financial topics in order to help British expatriate make the most of their offshore savings and investments. For more information, please visit - http://www.whichoffshore.com/