10 countries with the safest offshore banks in the world

Written by Andrew Henderson

Last updated November 24, 2017

Dateline: Bogota, Colombia

If you’re new to the world of offshore banking, you may be concerned about bank safety. After all, some may still believe that their money will simply vanish if they move it overseas. 

You may not know that almost every developed country has some form of deposit insurance for banking clients 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 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 in global financial rankings. Here is our list of the most secure, stable banks for protecting your assets abroad.

10. Australia

Australia is one of the safest banks

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

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 money 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 ANZ (#25), Commonwealth Bank of Australia (#26), Westpac (#28), and National Australia Bank (#29).  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.

9. Canada

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.

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 (#19).

Other contenders include Royal Bank of Canada, or RBC (#23). Other reputable banks include Bank of Nova Scotia, Bank of Montreal, CIBC, and others.

8. South Korea

safest-offshore-banks-Seoul-South-Korea

This highly-developed Asian country tops many of our lists including the safest country in the world and appeared in our discussion on safe-haven currencies

South Korea is a country largely still unexplored by most Westerners and not usually at the forefront of discussions for nomads and offshore experts. However, this highly-developed Asian nation tops many of our lists including the safest country in the world and appeared in our discussion on safe-haven currencies.

We also wrote recently about South Korean residency and citizenship in this guide, for those interested in this “first world” Asian passport that also offers visa-free access to the United States.

South Korea comes in frequently on the top 25 list—with Korea Development Bank (#15), Export-Import Bank of Korea (#16), and Industrial Bank of Korea (#20).

Entrepreneurs and investors interested in banking in Asia in a culture that respects business and finance and offers the banking infrastructure needed to support that might want to look no further than these bank options.

7. Sweden

countries-with-the-highest-tax-sweden

Sweden tops our list out of European countries with the safest banks, but that comes with a certain drawback since it is also one of the highest tax countries in the world

Sweden is known by many as a bastion of security, safety, and order both in Europe and the world around. The Swedish passport is still rated #1 of all on our Nomad Passport Index and in terms of banking, the country comes in at #12 with Svenska Handelsbanken and others on the list including Nordea, Swedbank, and SEB, some of which may be recognizable for those who have traveled in Scandinavia.

Sweden is a remarkable economic and social success but with that comes certain drawbacks: it is the nation with the highest tax rate in the world, something which is a concern for those based there but which can be avoided through living elsewhere.

In terms of banking, Sweden may offer you the stability you are looking for in Northern Europe and with high English competency at every level of the process.

6. Singapore

Singapore and the world's safest offshore banks

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

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.

5. France

Countries with the safest offshore banks

Even though France is not a desirable destination for nomads when it comes to its tax policy and business regulation, it does take a 5th place on our list due to its safe banking

France is not a country we talk about often at Nomad Capitalist due to its lack of desirability from a tax-planning standpoint and generally bureaucratic, socialist-leaning ways.

One of the highest countries in the world for capital gains tax and income tax once crawling into 75%, the European Union founding power center still does come in at #9 and #21 on our list, with Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations hitting that top-10 spot.

You can also learn more about France’s potential want for the end of the US dollar here.

4. Luxembourg

Luxembourg is the second richest country in the world

This tiny European country is one of the richest in the world and is usually associated with stability and economic freedom. Though it ranks highly as a safe banking place, it does not work as an option for the majority of American entrepreneurs

Luxembourg, the small nation of half a million listed as one of the top 5 richest countries in the world, unsurprisingly holds a great reputation in banking security.

Unfortunately, for US citizens, Luxembourg may not be an option, as few Luxembourg banks accept US persons as clients.

Most firms do not do business with Americans. Luxembourg, however, tops our list of the top 5 most valuable passports for visa-free travel. The nation is generally associated with stability and financial expertise and thus is in good context here on this list.

3. Netherlands

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

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.

2. Switzerland

Safest Offshore Banks in the world Switzerland

Switzerland is a worldwide standard for “stability” in money for generations and Zürcher Kantonalbank comes in at #2 for safest banks.

Switzerland and banking are almost synonymous to anyone around the world.

This highly-developed multilingual European nation has become the global standard for “stability” in money for generations and Zürcher Kantonalbank comes in at #2 for safest banks.

Many have dreamed of having a “Swiss bank account” or taking advantage of the many financial benefits this non-EU nation and its currency the Swiss franc, despite it being pegged to the Euro. However, while Switzerland was once the only tax haven, it is now increasingly inaccessible for offshore purposes.

As we have discussed, Switzerland is no longer the universal answer for bank secrecy. Islands like Seychelles and Mauritius continue to give classic tax havens a run for their money.

Interestingly enough, however, Switzerland has no restrictions on the amount of cash carried into or out of the country. It is also an ‘old school’ choice for offshore gold storage. It remains one of the least corrupt countries in the world.

1. Germany

Germany has the world's safest offshore bank

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

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 banknote 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 interest rates and little option for currency diversification.

Thoughts for US citizens

Amazingly, US banks showed an improvement in the most recent “Best Banks” survey, with two retail banks making the list at #33, #40, and #43. That’s up from previous surveys where 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.

Andrew Henderson
Last updated: Dec 29, 2019 at 5:22AM

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29 Comments

  1. John

    I read somewhere that Canadian banks are less well capitalized than American banks. If so, wouldn’t Canada be an unsafe place to park your money?

    Reply
    • Indy

      I suppose it is politically more stable up there.

      In any case, interest rates for these “safest” countries (0.5% to 2.1%) ain’t the best.

      Reply
  2. Jordan Evans

    I’m looking for safe offshore payment processing (for selling my online product). Can anyone give me some ideas where to look?

    Reply
  3. Jordan Evans

    If you find a link, post it here, I will do the same.

    Reply
  4. larry

    you speak of resident in an overseas bank account, how can this be achived if not living in one of these countries ?

    Reply
  5. Eric

    Andrew;
    1. Are there any safe world class banks in tax free havens like Belize or Panama?
    2. What about safe stock investing firms in tax free havens? Most people with tax free haven accounts will likely want to invest in markets world wide. Have you created such a tax free haven list. Recently Interactive Brokers one of the better brokers rolled over to uncle SAM as it is a US based brokerage – so obviously any US owned or based brokerage firms are completely out of the question.

    Reply
  6. J

    Are there any safe off shore banks in April 2015 that NOT on the WATCA Foreign Financial Bank search List (FFI) of the IRS website. If so, In what country are they and what are the names of the banks.

    Reply
  7. Paul Giannotti

    As an Australian I can tell you that Australia’s banks are among the highest leveraged banks in the world. Several of the top four have higher leverage ratios than Lehman Brothers did right before they went down. Don’t know how much research is done here?

    Reply
  8. Goku Diego Ceciarini

    Please forgive my ignorance, i’m completely new on this world but i need to understand because i had sacrified 10 years of my life and now i have a small capital i want to securing. So the stupid qustion is…: Suppose i decide to open a bank account in Singapore but i choice a chinese bank suppose HSBC , is my capital safety bound to what will happpen to the economy of china or what’s the point? Thank you and sorry again.

    Reply
  9. Christopher Dunn

    I am a USA citizen, and FACTA makes it virtually impossible to open an offshore account.Virtually no bank in Europe will open an account to US citizens. If you are not US, go ahead. But US citizens have been effectively shut out of the world banking system because of FACTA. No bank in Europe will open an account for a US citizen due to FACTA, unless you have a special visa- marriage, retirement- and many restrictions apply. It is not per se illegal for a US citizen to open the account- but the penalties demanded by the US for non compliance with FACTA are so Draconian no bank will deal with US citizens, we have been boycotted- so don’t waste your time.factA only applies to US citizens, and took effect April 15, 2012.

    Reply
    • Mary

      I am European, can I open an account in the USA by chance ???

      Reply
    • Haq Khan

      Not just US citizens. Anyone paying tax in the US.

      Reply
  10. Biggles

    I am a 58YO Australian and have lived in Thailand 6 years. Whilst Australian banks have high safety ratings by many standards, their exchange rates are truly awful.

    Example: The AUD is now close to the last decades lowest, with the THB at about 24.5 via Thai Banks, and international fund transfer experts. Meanwhile, the Commonwealth Bank of Australian is doing business at 22.7. Thats a 1.8 THB difference. Big deal you say? If you were moving 800K THB into a Thai Bank Account to comply with Thailand Retirement Visa Regs, it would cost you near AUD$2589 more to do so with an Australian Bank. Lesson: Keep your cash in Australia if you wish where you’ll get 2-3% interest,, but never let them transfer it to other countries. Use someone else to do it.

    Reply
  11. Andy

    LIVE AND LET LIVE. But they want everything for themselves!
    This is the right site to make it known. There have been some scandals (see also the Cardinal Marcincus) about the fact that the Vatican through its offshore Bank IOR (Institute for the works of religion) makes money laundering on behalf of everyone, Mafia, Camorra, andrangheta, and narco-traffickers, while the Politicians make it difficult for citizens to open an account abroad. The politicians are puppets.

    Reply
  12. R Mitaxa

    Given that the Commonwealth has enacted laws that allow bank accounts that have been dormant for 2.5 years to be seized without notice, plus Australian banking fees are among the highest in the world as is tax, I would not recommend holding any account in Australia

    Reply
  13. daniel

    Good afternoon friend. I would like to present my case to you so that I can answer at the end only 2 questions and see if it is worthwhile to request the full advice.
    We are a family of 4 Venezuelans, 2 parents and 2 children, one that is going to start university and another one is going to start secondary, with a desire to emigrate to Spain due to the situation in Venezuela. My idea is to apply for Spanish citizenship once the 2nd year of residence visa is finished, which I already have initially. I have thought about this because I have the social security and healthcare that Spain gives me and the entire European Union. However, from what I have read lately about Spain, on the tax issue, and having several properties for rent in the USA whose live income, even though there is very little amount in dollars, I would like to know 2 things.
    The first is if you think it is convenient in my situation, apply for Spanish citizenship, to obtain the second recommended passport.
    The second is that taking into account that my income from apartment rentals does not reach $ 40,000 gross and after expenses do not reach $ 2,000 per month or 24,000 per year and sometimes much less, do this process of the flags, where could be more expensive both the trips for account opening, casual rents every 3 or 4 months where rental fees are generated, transfers by plane to change residence every 3 4 or 6 months. Or this called step of the flags is for people who generate much more money and therefore more convenient for them than for an average person like me.
    I would greatly appreciate your response to my case
    regards

    Reply
    • Jim

      If you own real estate in the US that you rent out, you should be easily be able to open a US bank account, and even a brokerage account if you so desire. That is probably your best option.

      Reply
  14. Robert

    As for Luxembourg, if I buy a residence there and actually spend time there, is that an acceptable workaround for your observation of: “Unfortunately, for US citizens, Luxembourg may not be an option, as few Luxembourg banks accept US persons as clients. ” ?

    Reply
  15. David Willoughby

    dear sir /madam I was thinking of opening an offshore account and have been told there are 3 to 4 codes that I must have before I could transfer money from it , ( codes ) insurance code , tax code , pin code. these are ones I can remember being told I must pay for before I can do any transactions from a account if I were to open an off shore account , so sir / madam I was just wondering if these codes are really needed and what the cost would be for them as well . thank you for your time .

    Reply
  16. Joe Dooman

    I’m an Australian and I live in Philippines, I have $15M USD and don’t know where to bank it,
    Is it better to use Australian Banks because I’m Australian, or better Singapore
    Please can you advise me.

    Reply
  17. Sue

    Can anyone tell me if the restrictions that offshore banks impose on US citizens opening accounts, also apply to UK citizens living as permanent residents in the US? My husband and I have lived in the US for 27 years, but have never taken citizenship and we’re looking to open an offshore account.

    Reply
    • Haq Khan

      Yes. One of the questions is do you pay tax in America.

      Reply
  18. carl

    which place on the list is uk – united kingdom ?

    Reply
    • Haq Khan

      Carl, virtually impossible to open a bank account in UK if you’re not a resident. You’ll need passport, driving license at least one utility bill.

      Reply
  19. Shasa

    I have a friend living in a restricted Caribbean nation, that hopes to immigrate very soon, and wants to know, if there is any safe offshore banks, still working with numbered accounts. (without registration of ownership details). If so, please recommend one or two. Thank you.

    Reply
  20. MariLLu

    Hi
    Please tell me how and in which banks i can open an account with IBAN in Sweden or in France. Thank you

    Reply
  21. Ronald Mund

    US citizen and left US in order to play poker on poker stars for a living as its still “illegal” in the US for online poker. I need a foreign bank account to be able to cash out poker $, but no US banks will allow online poker transfers. Any Idea what I could do for this??

    Reply
    • Stasa Momcilovic

      Hello Ronald, thank you for your comment!
      If you are interested you can send us your application and we’ll see how we can help you.
      Here is the link https://nomadcapitalist.com/apply

      Reply
  22. Tori

    Your article is very informative and useful to me. I am exploring the possibilities of creating offshore companies in the world’s early countries, the best countries for doing business. Thanks for sharing!ent

    Reply

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