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Best Banks in Cyprus for non resident SMEs

zeeoffshore

New member
What are the best banks in Cyprus for non resident SMEs in terms of requirements, fees, online banking system...? I heard that Bank of Cyprus and Hellenic Bank are good. Which banks do you recommend based on your experience?
 

Sols

Entrepreneur
Requirements are the same. The KYC procedure is standardised and very rigorous. It's hard work but still doable to open non-resident business accounts in Cyprus, provided you operate a legitimate business.

Fees are all available online, so just look them up and compare. Make sure you are looking at the fees for international business, as those tend to be higher than domestic clients. What your costs will be depends on what the account is used for.

Online banking is pretty decent across all banks. No major differences from what I've seen.
 

Admin

Forum Moderator
Staff member
I don't share the opinion that it's still possible to open bank accounts online with the Cyprus banks for non-resident business. But hopefully you can proof me wrong and you will be able to open an account there if you proceed this way.
 

Sols

Entrepreneur
Many thanks for your feedback! But I heard that some banks don't deal with SMEs
I see what you mean now by requirements. It's going to come down to what your business does, who the owners are, amounts turned over, currencies and countries involved, and so on. The overall profile and risk of your business matters a lot.

If you are a small company, your options are limited to Bank of Cyprus, Hellenic Bank, Alpha Bank, and AstroBank (formerly Piraeus). They are usually content with a few hundred to a few thousand EUR initial deposit. You would probably not be welcome at for example RCB. They are very selective when it comes to foreign companies.

While the banks mentioned will and do onboard non-resident companies, you need to show that it's a clean, legitimate, and preferably low-risk business that will bring value to the bank. And you will need to go via an introducer. Most law firms and accounting firms in Cyprus are introducers to at least one bank (usually Bank of Cyprus).
 

zeeoffshore

New member
Hi. Many thanks for your feedback! You mean it's better to apply through a law / accounting firm? Any idea how much they charge for this service? Do you recommend any specific firms?
 

Admin

Forum Moderator
Staff member
While the banks mentioned will and do onboard non-resident companies, you need to show that it's a clean, legitimate, and preferably low-risk business that will bring value to the bank. And you will need to go via an introducer. Most law firms and accounting firms in Cyprus are introducers to at least one bank (usually Bank of Cyprus).
May I ask, when did you opened an account in Cyprus the last time? I mean for a new CLEAN business which is owned by a foreigner and not resident in Cyprus?
 

Sols

Entrepreneur
Hi. Many thanks for your feedback! You mean it's better to apply through a law / accounting firm? Any idea how much they charge for this service? Do you recommend any specific firms?
You will be 100% rejected if you don't apply through an introducer. The normal fee is a few hundred euro.

May I ask, when did you opened an account in Cyprus the last time? I mean for a new CLEAN business which is owned by a foreigner and not resident in Cyprus?
Just to be clear, I don't open bank accounts for anyone. I'm not a service provider. But I know of people who have done it successfully as recently as a few months ago. If memory serves, it was a Bulgarian company with Bulgarian founders and they ended up with Bank of Cyprus.

Not all new companies are the same. Some are more interesting to banks than others. If the founders have a proven track record, a bank may accept the risk of taking a start-up if they are reasonably confident it will turn into a lucrative business. I guess the hardest part is getting enough of the bank's attention to explain your case.
 

Admin

Forum Moderator
Staff member
Just to be clear, I don't open bank accounts for anyone. I'm not a service provider. But I know of people who have done it successfully as recently as a few months ago. If memory serves, it was a Bulgarian company with Bulgarian founders and they ended up with Bank of Cyprus.
This is very interesting. I have not heard of anyone that had success in the past to open an account with the Cyprus banks to get a new account there. Some of my business friends had accounts there for centuries and got rejected because of the construction / setup of the business i.e. Belize, Seychelles corps mainly.

When they applied again with a Cyprus setup they all got same info, the company has to be local to get an account there. If this Bulgarian corp got a bank account with Bank of Cyprus which seem to be impossible to open accounts with for such entities then something else may have played a role.

But if you say so, I'm suprised and will have to dive deeper into it.
 

sullyferdinand

Active Member
I see what you mean now by requirements. It's going to come down to what your business does, who the owners are, amounts turned over, currencies and countries involved, and so on. The overall profile and risk of your business matters a lot.

If you are a small company, your options are limited to Bank of Cyprus, Hellenic Bank, Alpha Bank, and AstroBank (formerly Piraeus). They are usually content with a few hundred to a few thousand EUR initial deposit. You would probably not be welcome at for example RCB. They are very selective when it comes to foreign companies.

While the banks mentioned will and do onboard non-resident companies, you need to show that it's a clean, legitimate, and preferably low-risk business that will bring value to the bank. And you will need to go via an introducer. Most law firms and accounting firms in Cyprus are introducers to at least one bank (usually Bank of Cyprus).
even with introducer, is it still possible to open a bank account in cyprus WITHOUT economic substance? i dont think its all about the ''value'' you will bring to the bank, as far as i know central bank in 2018 put several restrictions to the bank industry for non-resident companies
 

Sols

Entrepreneur
even with introducer, is it still possible to open a bank account in cyprus WITHOUT economic substance? i dont think its all about the ''value'' you will bring to the bank, as far as i know central bank in 2018 put several restrictions to the bank industry for non-resident companies
If we take the word "possible" to mean "not impossible", then it's still possible. It is however much harder than before.

The circulars from the Central Bank were aimed at shell companies, regardless of where they are incorporated. They do not instruct banks to avoid all non-resident companies.

An effect of this has been a massive reduction in accepted non-resident companies, largely because you can't place your average Seychelles IBC with a Cypriot bank in 99.99% of cases anymore and those constituted a big chunk of the corporate accounts that used to be opened.

In theory, a company can still open a bank in Cyprus if the company has substance in its home country (and as long as that home country is reputable, effectively meaning EU and a handful of other jurisdictions). But many banks in Cyprus will reject it unless it's a very good business case, due to the inherent risks of taking on non-resident companies combined with now also having to ensure that the foreign company has an economic substance there.

The definition of shell company used by the Central Bank is a company with no physical presence or economic activity in its country of incorporation. Notably, though, economic activity can include holding companies (stocks, tangible and intangible assets), companies created for trades/mergers, group companies acting as treasurer, and any other convincing economic activity.
 

kkein

Active Member
@Sols thanks for the interesting insights.
What's your opinion regarding private banking in cyprus? something reliable and cheap for basic operations (account keeping fees, no negative interests within reasonable amounts, possibility to withdraw cash at the counter).
Some advice RCB. But a semi-russian bank.. hmm.... considering that Cyprus is probably still in the triangle of the russian mafia Moscow Belgrade Nicosia, this sounds like asking for troubles.
BoC then? or what?
 

Sols

Entrepreneur
I'm not sure any bank in Cyprus fits your requirements. As a non-resident customer, they place you under their IBU (International Banking Unit), which has higher fees than domestic customers.
 
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