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I have a question about how to open an offshore account (preferably Switzerland) from within UK. I am British, a resident of UK, British passport, no duel citizenship.

I have no intention of living or visiting another country for residence or opening this account! So I need to be able to open account remotely (online, post, Skype etc).

Requirements:

  • Needs to be free to open
  • No fees (or at least no maintance ones)
  • IBAN and/or SWIFT
  • Savings account or just somewhere I can store money
  • USD, EUR, CHF any of those currencies
  • Plastic card to use

Closer we can get to those requirements the better.

I am only looking to save around £100.

I am well aware I need to declare taxes in Self Assessment, this is not to hide money, but just to look "cool" the next time I do a business deal and someone sends me a wire transfer.

Thanks.

closed as off-topic by Chris W. Rea, Dheer, Victor, Nathan L, dg99 Aug 23 '16 at 20:23

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I think your best bet here would be HSBC. They will provide the required currencies, credit/debit cards, and very easy to use online banking transfers. This includes an online "Global Account View" which features all of your accounts on a single screen and allows you to "drag and drop" money between accounts.

Regarding fees, I suspect you will need to be a "Premier Account" holder in order to avoid any fees imposed on transactions such as money transfers and exchanging money between currencies. In my experience HSBC offers extremely good exchange rates when exchanging "large" amounts of money ( greater than $10,000 / GBP 5,000 ). Exchanging small amounts will carry a larger spread but still much better than most banks offer. In my experience, exchanging GBP 5000 will have a spread of about 0.50-to-0.75 percent, while exchanging more than GBP10,000 will have a spread of as little as 0.10-to-0.20 percent.

In order to qualify for a "Premier Account", if my memory of HSBC UK serves me correctly, you will need to have at least GBP 50,000 net across all of your HSBC managed accounts, including stockbroking and other investment accounts.

In order to open a banking Swiss account, you will need to travel to Switzerland and apply in person. You cannot open a foreign bank account remotely. With a foreign investment account, I believe you can open accounts remotely. For example, I opened an account with Fidelity Switzerland using my Fidelity UK account directly from the UK, however obviously Fidelity does not provide banking services so this is not of interest to you.

The simplest thing to do is to visit your local HSBC branch and discuss it with them in person. Other UK banks, such as Barclays, will also provide such services, but in my experience they are not as competitive on fees.

  • That makes sense, I have a JP Morgan Investment account which I could open remotely by sending physical passport through post, but a see a bank account is a different beast :-(. So it's impossible to open any savings accounts remotely? – k1308517 Aug 22 '16 at 17:55
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    @k1308517 That was my experience with HSBC and I'm pretty sure this would be the case with all banks. When I moved from London to Vancouver (5 years ago) I had to travel to Vancouver in order to open my Canadian HSBC account in person. Regarding your JPM account, my experience with Fidelity did not involve any need for sending physical ID. I just filled out a form. Mind you, this was many years ago (at least 12 years ago) and the rules may have changed. Offshore accounts have received a lot of bad press in the intervening years. – Nick R Aug 22 '16 at 18:31
  • Did the form not require you to send a photocopy of your passport? JP Morgan would have let me send a photocopy, however it would need to be notorised which would have cost me money. – k1308517 Aug 22 '16 at 19:04
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    @k1308517 Not as I recall. Correcting my previous comment, this was in the mid 1990's, so at least 20 years ago. This was long before all of the issues to do with terrorism and money laundering came to effect personal banking. – Nick R Aug 22 '16 at 19:14
  • Okay thank you. It's crazy how you could open an investment account back then so easily! – k1308517 Aug 22 '16 at 22:59

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