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Offshore account:
What kind do I need?

Offshore Q&A » Offshore banking » Question 6

It depends. The choice of offshore accounts worldwide is fairly extensive, and the jurisdiction, bank and the type of account best suited your individual needs all depend on a number of factors. Consider at least the following:

Level of confidentiality you expect
from your offshore account

To begin with, a personal offshore account -- i.e. an account held in the name of an individual -- will satisfy people who seek a moderate level of confidentiality. Naturally, sound bank secrecy legislation is something to look for when choosing the haven where your offshore account is to be maintained.

An offshore numbered account, or an account held in the name of an offshore corporation, will offer a further layer of protection.

At the other end of the scale, anonymous banking facilities usually make use of appropriately-structured offshore corporations and nominees to completely shield the identity of account owners.

Offshore account purpose
and anticipated activity

Just about any good offshore bank can provide all the standard banking services you are used to at home, such as sending and receiving wire transfers, clearing cheques, issuing bank drafts and more.

Any half-decent offshore bank will also offer a good range of medium- to long-term investment products and services, for example certificates of deposit, bonds or mutual funds.

Frequent or time sensitive investing and trading, such as in commodities or currencies, calls for a choice of bank that can handle client instructions with particular efficiency.

If you anticipate your offshore account to be used for frequent banking transactions with the outside world, it is not just efficiency, but also your preferred bank's willingness to maintain such an account that must be taken into consideration. Many offshore banks favour private asset holding and investment accounts over those used for commercial trading operations.

If convenient access to funds held in your offshore account is a concern, look for a bank that can issue a credit, debit or ATM card for cash withdrawals.

Amount of funds you
expect to deposit

The size of your deposit will also influence the choice of an account. Although "going offshore" with less than a hundred thousand dollars rarely makes sense (value your time, effort and costs), a standard personal or a corporate offshore account can be opened with a mere US$ 5,000.

A few banks will open a numbered account for clients with as little as US$ 25,000 -- although most expect a far more significant amount of deposit. Individually managed investment accounts are usually available offshore to clients with at least US$ 250,000 - 300,000.

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