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The ABC rule of being an expat

If you come from Country A and live in Country B; then you should ALWAYS bank in Country C. 

There are many reasons for this rule, for example: -

  Better international banking facilities such as multi-currency accounts and VISA cards.
  Tax efficiency.
  Peace of mind and security (many local banks may not be secure).
  Common law (not for example Sharia law).
  Strong levels of investor protection.
  Better levels service and facility (such as mortgages for expats).

 This list of benefits of offshore banking goes on and on.

Given that the right offshore bank account is the foundation upon which all your wealth is built finding the right account for yourself is critical.

How do I choose the best offshore bank account?

Choosing the best offshore bank account depends entirely upon you.

Your needs and circumstances completely determine which offshore bank account is going to be best for you.

Sometimes this is a basic retail account such as HSBC Expat, Lloyds Offshore, Standard Bank Offshore, Barclays International or RBS International. 

Sometimes better facilities and services offered by Offshore Private Banks such as Nedbank Private Wealth, Julius Bear, Arbuthnot and Latham are better.

Somewhere in between these options are the hybrid trading/banking platforms such as Swissquote or SaxoBank.

Changing your offshore bank account once open can be like having your wisdom  teeth extracted so we recommend you take great care when choosing which offshore bank account to go for!

There are many offshore bank accounts available but the best tend to charge low, transparent fees, are domiciled in a trusted, common law jurisdiction with good investor/depositor protection and allow for investments and banking on the same online platform.

Please read our individual reviews to learn which accounts may be suitable for your needs.

Read our offshore bank reviews »

How can I open an offshore bank account?


Determine what type of offshore bank account you require.

You can use our offshore bank account reviews to help you choose.

Consider the charges, access, benefits and terms of each.


Determine if you are eligible for the type account offered. 

If you are unsure about this, or you want to check your eligibility for an offshore bank account, please contact us.



Asked Questions

Can British expats still open bank accounts?


Generally British expats should follow the ABC rule which allows them to protect and build their wealth as detailed above.

The rationale here is to:

  1. Ensure that your money is safe and secure. This may not be the case if you bank in the same country in which you work. For instance, the country where you work may have less well established regulations or the government and country itself may be unstable.
  2. Ensure that you can hold currency in a multi-currency offshore account. This means that you can deposit earnings and withdraw funds without being subject to FX charges or extra banking charges for international transfers.
  3. Allow for easy access to your funds no matter your location.
  4. You are not based in the UK, therefore you should not leave your funds exposed to UK taxes in the UK. This is not to say you should not pay UK taxes if you become resident again.

The offshore bank account forms the secure base for wealth creation and the local bank accounts in your home and host country are maintained with relatively low balances for the payment of routine bills and expenses.

Which offshore banks offer the best interest rates on deposit accounts?

Even the ‘best’ international personal accounts offer ridiculously low rates of interest on balances in the current economic environment. 

Therefore, if you hold a lot of money on account you’re probably best advised not to put that money into a basic international bank account.

Other options available to you include: -

  1. Using a bank which has an integrated investment capability.
  2. Buying money market instruments
  3. Dynamic cash management services from specialist firms in this area.
  4. Investing in a zero-commission offshore bond through which you can access multiple deposits without opening lots messy online accounts.
Can offshore bank accounts help expats buy property with international mortgages?

Getting a mortgage as an expat can be difficult.  Only recently NatWest and RBS scrapped mortgages for expats.

Having a strong bank relationship can make the difference between success and failure when trying to get a mortgage as an expat.  If property purchase is high on your list of priorities, it can really help to pick a bank that operates within this part of the market and is facilitate a properly backed loan and a reasonable rate of interest.

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