How to Open a DBS Account: A Full Guide - 2023
New to Singapore and looking for your first bank account? Or maybe you’ve been here for a while and simply want to see if a DBS account might suit you better than your present provider. This guide is for you.
We’ll introduce DBS, and look at a step-by-step guide on how to open an account, eligibility requirements, and the types of accounts on offer. We’ll also look at how sending international payments with DBS works - and how DBS overseas transfers compare against other popular banks, and alternative providers like Wise or Revolut.
Table of content
What is DBS?
DBS is a Singapore based financial services company, founded in 1968, and now considered to be one of the ‘Big 3’ banks in Singapore. It’s also got a large regional and global base, and is the largest bank by assets in Southeast Asia. Services on offer cover consumer and business banking, asset management, securities and treasury services.
In Singapore, DBS has also acquired POSB bank, and between these two brands which now work together, you’re never far from a DBS/POSB branch or ATM.
How does DBS compare with other options in Singapore?
Here’s a quick look at how DBS standard transfer changes and delivery times compare with a couple of other major Singapore banks, and an alternative provider - Wise.
|Provider||Total cost||Transfer time|
|DBS||Cable/telex charges 20 SGD + handling commission (5 SGD to 35 SGD) + exchange rate markup + any relevant agent bank charges||2 - 4 working days|
|Wise||Low transparent fee from 0.41% - payments use the mid-market exchange rate||50% arrive instantly, and 90% of payments arrive in 24 hours|
|OCBC||1/8% of the SGD equivalent of remittance amount + 20 SGD cable charge + exchange rate markup + agent bank charges as applicable||Payments processed through the SWIFT network typically take 3-5 working days|
|Bank of China (SG)||0.125% transfer fee + 30 SGD cable charge + exchange rate markup + agent bank charges as applicable||Payments processed through the SWIFT network typically take 3-5 working days|
As you can see, the Singaproean banks we’ve looked at have fairly high, and complicated fees when sending money overseas. With DBS you may qualify for a lower fee, depending on the destination you’re sending to - but even then you’ll need to pay a currency conversion cost, which can be tricky to spot.
Consider sending money overseas with a specialist service like Wise or Revolut instead - you’ll be able to generate an instant quote online or in their app so you can see which is your cheapest and fastest option.
How to open a DBS account
How you can open your DBS account will depend on the specific account and your personal circumstances. Some accounts can be opened online or in the DBS app - but this is far easier to do if you have Singpass or a full suite of local documents, including a Singapore proof of address. If you don’t have all of this handy, you may be asked to visit a branch in person to show your paperwork and get set up.
If you’re able to open your account in the DBS app it should be pretty easy to do:
Check your eligibility for the specific account you want
Download the DBS app and navigate to the More option
You’ll be directed to a page showing all the products you can apply for
Tap the one you want
Follow the steps on screen to enter your personal information, or link to Singpass to prefill the details
You may need to upload images of some extra documents, depending on your situation (more on that below)
Once your account has been verified and approved you’ll be ready to go
Your paperwork and a linked DBS card will arrive shortly by post
Can you open a DBS account without a Singapore address?
If you’re in Singapore but don’t yet have a valid proof of address, you may be able to open a DBS account with a foreign proof of address, and update it to a Singapore address later. However, as you’ll need a valid pass - like an employment pass or student pass - to get most DBS accounts set up, you’ll need to be a legal resident of Singapore already.
If you’re a non-resident and want a DBS account, you’ll need to talk to the bank directly. While some products - particularly investment products - may be made available to non-residents, there are also many which have restrictions which mean that overseas residents can’t access them. What you’re able to do will depend on your residence at the time of application.
The eligibility requirements to open a DBS account do vary based on the specific account you choose. For example, with the popular Multiplier account you’ll need to:
Be 18 or older
Be resident in Singapore, or be planning on becoming a resident
Deposit 3,000 SGD or more if you want to avoid service charges
The equally popular My Account is more flexible, with options to open without age limits or minimum balances. However, if one applicant is under 16, they’ll be asked to open a joint account with a parent or guardian, and may not be able to access the full range of DBS online services.
Once you’ve checked your eligibility, you need to pull together the paperwork needed. This varies widely based on whether you’re a Singapore citizen, permanent resident, or foreigner living in Singapore.
The easiest way to open a DBS account is using Singpass if you have an account. In this case the documents you’ll need to open a DBS account include:
No ID required if you’re Singaporean, your valid pass (employment pass or student pass for example) or Malaysian IC if you’re a foreigner
Proof of residential address if not shown on Singpass
Proof of tax residency if not Singapore or your home country
If you’ve just arrived in Singapore you may not have your work pass yet - but you might have an IPA (in principle approval) letter from MOM. In this case, you can use this instead of your proof of ID, but you’ll still need a separate proof of address. Proof of an overseas address may be accepted - but you’ll have to update to a Singapore address as soon as you’re able to.
If you don’t have Singpass, the documents you’ll need to open a DBS account include:
Your NRIC if you’re Singaporean, or your valid pass (employment pass or student pass for example) if you’re a foreigner
Proof of residential address
Proof of tax residency
How to open a DBS business account
DBS has a good range of business accounts, including services for SMEs and for large, established businesses and organisations. Your options will depend a bit on the business entity you have, but you can find day to day accounts for sole proprietors, partnerships, limited companies, clubs and charities.
The process for opening a DBS business account will vary based on your business and your own residency and citizenship. You may be able to get your account entirely opened online if you’re Singaporean or a permanent resident, and you run a company incorporated in Singapore, which is wholly locally owned. If this is not the case you’re still encouraged to start your application online, and a DBS relationship manager will get in touch to advise you of the next steps.
The steps to open a DBS business account are likely to include:
Select the right account for your business, and check you meet the eligibility requirements
Gather all the documents and information needed - which can vary based on your situation (more on that in na moment)
Go to the DBS business desktop site, locate the account and click Apply now
Follow the prompts to add your business information
If you’re eligible for online approval, this can be done without attending a branch. If not, you’ll need to wait for a call back from your DBS relationship advisor who can advise you on what’s required.
Requirements to open a business account
DBS has business account options for a wide range of business types, including foreign registered companies. However, exactly which account products and services you can access - and how you can set up your account - can vary widely depending on your situation.
If you’re eligible for online account opening, to open a DBS business account you simply need:
Your company’s UEN
The contact details of all account holders
If you are not able to open your account online, to open a DBS business account you’ll need documents including:
Passports of all directors and beneficial owners
FATCA and CRS forms
Proof of residential address for all directors and beneficial owners
Business paperwork, such as your partnership agreement if you’re in a business partnership
If your business is foreign registered you’ll also be asked to provide:
Letter of recommendation from an overseas DBS branch or another reputable bank
Certified business documentation
A letter from a legal representative confirming your entity is duly registered
Finally if one or more of the beneficial owners of the company are not Singaporean or permanent residents, you’re asked to complete a much more detailed form covering information like your source of funds, backers, and likely account usage.
How to send money abroad with DBS
By far the easiest way to send money abroad with DBS is to do so online or in the DBS mobile app. Some destinations even qualify for lower fees when you send online - although you’ll need to check the details when you set up your payment to be sure.
Assuming you’re registered for digital banking with DBS, here’s how to send money abroad:
Open the DBS app or log into your online banking on the DBS desktop site
Select Overseas Transfer
Follow the prompts to add the currency and amount you want to send
Check the rates and fees
Enter your recipient’s details
Confirm to complete the transfer
What accounts does DBS offer?
DBS has a huge selection of account products for both individuals, SMEs and larger businesses. For individuals, the most popular day to day account products are the multi-currency My Account and the Multiplier Account which lets you earn extra interest based on the way you use your account. There are also specific savings, time deposit, and foreign currency account options, depending on your needs.
Opening a bank account with DBS is very easy if you’ve got a local proof of address in Singapore, and a Singpass account. However, if you’re new in the country, or can’t use Singpass for any reason, things get a little more complicated - and may require a branch visit.
If you want an easy account you can open - even before you travel to Singapore - to manage SGD alongside a broad range of other currencies, take a look at digital specialist accounts like the Wise account. You can get set up without leaving home, and may find you can also get lower fees and better exchange rates when you transact internationally.
FAQs - How to open a DBS account
While DBS does offer select products to non-resident customers, you’ll find your options are limited, and you may not be able to work with DBS at all, depending on your location. Most accounts require a local proof of address in Singapore, and a work pass or similar document showing your legal status in the country if you’re not Singaporean or a permanent resident.
If you want an SGD account and don’t have a local Singapore address just yet you can also choose a specialist account from a provider like Wise or Revolut.
Yes. You can send money overseas with DBS online and in a branch. Some destination countries can access relatively low transfer fees, but standard pricing is fairly high and complex, and can include markups on the exchange rate used to convert your currency. Consider using a specialist like Wise instead - you may save money and get a better rate.
You can open a DBS account online if you have Singpass and a local proof of ID. If you don’t you’ll probably need to visit a branch to open your account.