A Primer for Opening an Offshore Account in the UAE


Whether you’re looking to take your business offshore or merely move your assets, choosing the right financial services solution to meet your needs is critical. If opening an offshore account in the UAE is of interest to you, we have your primer with the details you need to make sure you can do so seamlessly.


What is an offshore account?

While we recently discussed the concept of an offshore company and business process offshoring, you can also take money out of your country of origin. In essence, offshore accounts are accounts in offshore banks. These banks provide the same types of accounts that you would find an onshore bank. However, the difference is that the bank account is in a country that's not the account holder’s country of origin. Many jurisdictions with offshore accounts offer no taxes on deposits and other benefits. Account-holders also generally do not need to go to the country where the offshore account is hosted to open it in person; instead, they would have to present documents certifying both the individual's identity, as well as their assets.


Why go with an offshore account?

While the misconception around anything offshore is that those making a move are looking to avoid taxes and regulations in their home countries, an offshore account has boons for those working beyond borders. For those who move around the world frequently, an offshore account allows you to keep the same bank account across many destinations instead of holding many bank accounts around the world. If your home country is facing political or economic instability, offshore accounts could offer you some stability because accounts in some jurisdictions protect up to a certain amount against financial insolvency. Another perk from these accounts is when you do so for investment purposes. By taking assets from your home country and bringing them offshore, you give yourself the ability to protect assets from seizure as a result of lawsuits or other legal procedures. The confidentiality many of the offshore accounts provide is also undoubtedly advantageous, as well as the opportunity that you receive from diversifying your assets.


What could be the potential pitfalls?

Regardless of the jurisdiction you end up opening your offshore account, you will need to present a series of documents proving your identity. You will also need to provide proof of your physical address because this will impact your possible domestic tax burden. As the scrutiny of these entities in the fight against financial crime has increased, you may be requested to provide evidence proving the documentation's authenticity.


Offshore business banking in the UAE

If you are looking to start offshore business banking and you are a citizen of the UK or any of the other countries we service, the procedure will depend on whether the account is a corporate account or a personal account. Another differentiator will be if you are a UAE resident or not. If you're not a resident, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will require you to certify documents. Plus, you will have to physically sign for your bank account's verification in the presence of the Banking Officer. In the case of opening a business account, you typically need to present identity documents, an overview of your entity's structure, the proof of address, and a list of signatories. They may also want to see details of your company's directors and a certificate of incorporation or trade licence. A lot of banks may also request to view a projection of your corporation's transactions and future profits, and information clarifying your activities. Offshore accounts can range from the essentials that would be your standard current account with online banking along with a savings account and currency services to choosing to go with offshore private banking. If you opt for the offshore private banking route, that means you would have a full suite of investment products and wealth management services. The entities offering these types of accounts range from offshore subsidiaries of major financial institutions such as HSBC, Lloyds and NatWest but local banks in the UAE like ADCB also provide them.


What are the best offshore business accounts?

If you are a resident in the UAE, you have a choice of more than 300 offshore accounts. Choosing the right account has implications for your financial health. Our team of offshore accounts and banking experts are here to help you whether your needs are for your business or personal finances. We'll give you tailored advice on choosing the right banking services provider for you or your firm. We'll also help you navigate the regulatory requirements in the UAE or the more than 60 jurisdictions where we operate worldwide, all the way up to successfully opening your account. Don't hesitate to contact us to start the process.  


Written by

Adrian Oton

CEO, Europe Emirates Group


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