If you’re new to the world of offshore banking, you may be concerned about bank safety. After all, years of propaganda have led many to believe that their money will simply vanish if they move it overseas. (Funny how the rest of the world still has access to their money.)

You may not know that almost every developed country has some form of deposit insurance for banking clients, for instance. Or, you may be surprised to learn that the United States was ranked as only the fortieth most stable banking system at the peak of the financial crisis.

While we do talk about emerging offshore banking jurisdictions that offer higher interest rates and will play a larger role in the future, those seeking conservative banking options will appreciate knowing the safest offshore banking countries.

Each year, Global Finance magazine publishes a report called the “50 Safest Banks”. We’ve analyzed the report and listed the offshore banking countries with the greatest number of the world’s safest banks. Other countries, like Norway, offer very safe banking, but don’t have as many banks topping the global list.

Of course, you should always do your own due diligence before opening an offshore bank account, but these countries have continually scored high markets from those in the know.

The five safest countries for offshore banking in the world

Canada has some of the safest offshore banks in the world

While Canada may not be “offshore” for some, it does have several of the world’s safest offshore banks.

5. Canada
For Americans, Canada might not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of “offshore banking”; nevertheless, it has some of the world’s safest banks. Unfortunately, those banks are often off-limits to Americans, especially the ones that pay more aggressive interest rates. While banks like TD Bank have made strong pushes into the US market and have been forced to spend an estimated $100 million to comply with FATCA, smaller Canadian banks have shut their doors to toxic American clients.

It’s a shame because — as sure as I am that Canada would roll over for the US government on a whim — they do have some of the safest banks, including aforementioned TD Bank (#11). Other contenders include Royal Bank of Canada, or RBC (#15), Bank of Nova Scotia (#21), the Bank of Montreal, CIBC, and others.

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Australia is fourth for world's safest banks

Australia has some of the strongest banks in the world and is a growing offshore banking destinations for Asians.

4. Australia
Some have gone so far as to call Australia the “Switzerland of the South Pacific”. I’m not sure I’d go that far, but I will say that many Asians — especially wealthy Chinese — are moving their money to Australia, as well as Singapore. The fact that some of that much is “hot” is a potential concern, but Australia’s banks do stack up well when it comes to offshore bank safety.

In fact, Australia controls four positions in a row on the “50 Safest Banks” survey, including National Australia Bank (#16), Commonwealth Bank of Australia (#17), Westpac (#18), and ANZ (#19). ANZ has made an aggressive push into many Asian countries, opening branches everywhere from Vietnam to Cambodia and beyond. Opening a bank account in Australia is possible, but banks there do think a bit like US banks, in many cases assuming only a resident would open an account there. If you call one of them, don’t be surprised if they ask when you’re moving to Australia.

Netherlands and the world's safest offshore banks

The Netherlands is not an offshore banking hub, but they do have several of the world’s safest banks.

3. Netherlands
The good news for the Netherlands is that it is one of the safest countries in which to bank. For us, its membership in the European Union is a bit troubling, particularly after what happened to Cyprus. However, on paper, bank accounts in the Netherlands are protected by bank deposit insurance for up to 100,000 euros, the EU minimum.

The country is home to three of the top offshore banks, including second ranked Bank Nederlandse Gemeenten, sixth ranked Nederlandse Waterschapsbank, and tenth ranked Rabobank.

Singapore and the world's safest offshore banks

Banks in Singapore are some of the safest banks in the world; their skyline screams banking unlike any other.

2. Singapore
Undeniably our favorite place to bank here at Nomad Capitalist, Singapore is home to some of the world’s best offshore banks. According to Global Finance, the tiny Asian financial center is home to three of the world’s safest banks: DBS (#12), OCBC (#13), and UOB (#14). By a separate account, OCBC is the “world’s strongest bank”. Singapore has built the best offshore banking center in the world by acknowledging one simple truth: capital goes where it’s treated best.

The fact that Singapore is the richest country in the world by virtue of this understanding is what makes it, in our opinion, a great place to bank. It is getting harder to open an offshore account in Singapore, but it’s still possible. The fact that so many wealthy Asians are ignoring Switzerland in favor of Singapore is an excellent sign that it’s the place to bank.

Germany has the world's safest offshore bank

Americans may be surprised to learn that they can open offshore accounts in Germany (albeit at low interest rates), which has the world’s safest bank according to Global Finance magazine

1. Germany
Germany is home to KfW, the number one safest bank in the world according to Global Finance. In all, Germany is home to six of the world’s fifty safest banks, including Landwirtschaftliche Rentenbank (#4), L-Bank (#5), NRW Bank (#8), and more. As one of Europe’s stronger economies, Germans take their banking system seriously. And while bank secrecy in Germany isn’t what it is in other German-speaking countries like Austria, or even Switzerland, Germans are concerned about things like capital controls.

It was the Germans that convinced the European Union to issue a high-value 500 euro bank note so they could more easily keep hard currency at home. Now that much of Europe is bankrupt, it seems German banks are more attractive. A few German banks accept foreigners, including Americans, but the accounts offered are typically general retail accounts with low, low interest rates and little option for currency diversification.

Amazingly, US banks showed an improvement in the most recent “Best Banks” survey, with two retail banks making the list at #31 and #41. That’s up from the previous survey in which not a single US retail bank made the list. Don’t get too excited, though; the two Chinese banks that made the list both beat out all US contenders.

With laws like FATCA ready to be fully implemented, Americans in particular should take caution to move some of their assets into safe offshore banks before it’s too late.

If you’d like to see my list of 56 banks in 18 countries that are not only safe banks, but easy to open a bank account with, then you’ll want to check out our article on the world’s best offshore banks.

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Andrew Henderson

Andrew Henderson

Andrew has been internationalizing since 2008, and has learned what works and what doesn't work when it comes to reducing taxes, increasing personal freedom, and creating wealth. Click here to work with him personally.
Andrew Henderson