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Money Transfers for Expats in Singapore

Submitted: April 2014

There are no legal restrictions on capital flows to and from Singapore. As is generally the case for cross-border transactions, fees may apply. You can of course withdraw cash from an ATM in Singapore with your foreign debit card, but this option is both unfriendly and expensive. It should be viewed as temporary and best avoided.

In practice, the best thing to do in order to save money is to:

The easiest way to transfer money is to have an account in Singapore opened, and then to proceed with an international wire transfer. While this is the easiest way, this is not the cheapest option (see fees below).

If you’re not willing to make an international bank transfer, e.g. you’d rather go to a money transfer company or have a cheque cleared in Singapore, you would ideally need to have an account in Singapore before the money transfer, and possibly prior to coming to Singapore.

Money transfers and accounts in Singapore

Having a current account in Singapore opened can take some time, as you would need to provide proof of residence in Singapore. This is because such accounts are generally unavailable to non-residents, unlike savings accounts. Having an offshore savings account in Singapore before coming to Singapore will surely help in the money transfer process. However, you will likely need to open a current account as a resident when it comes to spending your Singapore dollars.

If you are wealthy enough, i.e. you’re ready to park at least SGD100,000 in Singapore, private banking would surely circumvent all the above described hassle. As in many countries, Singaporean private banks are happy to offer global currency accounts and checking accounts to non-residents. The problem is, this is still not necessarily the cheapest option.

Fees

You can generally transfer money free of charge and without restriction to another Singaporean account, but it’s worth checking with your bank. Further to this, ATM charges may (or may not) apply.

Your bank is likely to charge you for international transfers, although fees may vary. You might wish to check the applicable charges and restrictions at your Singaporean bank.

Alternatively, you can use the services of a money transfer company. To save money, you can also use a price comparison website specialised in money transfers.

Typically, your charges are largely passed on to the applicable foreign exchange rate. See Foreign Exchange for Expats in Singapore.

Cash control rules

There are no restrictions as to the amount of cash you can bring to, or take from, Singapore. However, you must make a declaration to the customs authority if you carry at least SGD30,000 (or currency equivalent) worth of cash when you cross the Singapore border.

Cash transfers include banknotes and coins, cheques, promissory notes, bearer securities, but not international wire transfers.

 

 




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