You don’t always see ads on your TV suggesting you to open a foreign bank account. I think this is mostly due to the fact that governments don’t like it. They want to have a stronger grip on your money, especially if they are producing lots of red ink themselves.
So, as a part of making myself a global citizen, I decided to try opening a bank account offshore from within Russia.
First thing you need to know is that opening a foreign bank account is almost always a legal thing. Especially if you live in a civilized country. Governments try to put a red tape and hurdles like capital controls, FX controls and other things to make life more difficult, but this could be solved. At least I see it this way today.
Second thing you need to do is a research. The bank you’re going to work with should have a good reputation and a proper jurisdiction. After all, it would be located thousand miles apart and you don’t want to go to the local court there and hire an army of lawyers to get some of your money back. You would need an Internet bank, and you don’t need the bank that requires you to show up at their office to open an account with them.
A few days ago I filled the form on bank’s website. That was the first step. In response I was contacted by bank manager via e-mail and he provided a list of documents required.
You will be requested to provide some docs proving your identity (like a copy of your ID, probably translated and certified with by a notary), you would be required to sign a contract with them (I was given a three page contract that was written in pretty clear English language), then you will probably be requested to provide a Bank Reference (a document stating that you’re a good client with your local bank and they have no money laundering issues with you and your bank transactions). That’s a tricky thing. My bank doesn’t know how to issue this reference. Alternatively they might ask for a bank transactions log for more than 6 months to prove your stable relationship with the bank. That turned out to be easy to get. Finally they want to prove your residency status by providing any document from the list. Usually it is a bank statement with address or utility bill for the last month. That’s it. The only expense would be to certify translations and courier the documents to the bank. And the bank fee of course 🙂
Today I had a call with a bank manager. He asked me a few questions like my motivation is, how I heard about their bank etc. How much volume I plan to make in terms of transactions etc. He also went through the process of fund transfer and other technicalities. And I would not be doing a highly suspicious money transfer to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, instead we will be using intermediary bank account in Germany or Canada not to attract too much attention to these transfers. He also told me that they have a bunch of Russian personal and Corporate accounts and they have never had any issue with money transfers from Russia.
The bank doesn’t have a large required minimum for the account, but requires at least $500 for initial funding. The bank I’ve chosen doesn’t work with US residents. Any trace to US means you would be rejected to open a bank account with this bank. Dealing with US regulators became too much of a burden these days.
So, this week I’m putting all the documents together and sending them to the bank. Let’s see what’s going to happen next.