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What is an offshore bank account?

Offshore Q&A » Offshore banking » Question 1

An offshore bank account is a term that refers to any bank account opened outside of the account holder's usual place of residence.

More often than not, people open an offshore bank account in one of those countries that specifically attracts non-resident depositors by offering banking secrecy, a tax-free environment, legal protections against overseas civil court actions and a sophisticated array of private banking services.

An offshore bank account can be opened in the name of an individual (personal account) or a company (corporate account). Many people form an offshore company solely for the reason of holding a bank account as this can substantially enhance their confidentiality.

Some offshore banks will open a so-called numbered account. A numbered account will offer a degree of additional privacy protection as it is maintained under a number (or a fictitious name) only; the actual account holder's name is protected by the bank and is never released on any correspondence, wire transfers, etc. Numbered accounts may be held by both individuals and corporations.

Banking offshore is not as troublesome as some people think. The majority of offshore bank accounts can be opened by mail; visiting your chosen banking haven in person is rarely necessary. Thereafter, most offshore banks will accept instructions given by phone or fax. Nowadays, many will even let you operate your offshore bank account online.

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