Banking, Money and Taxes in Singapore

One of the world’s major financial centres, Singapore gives expats access to leading banking systems with hundreds of local and foreign banking and financial institutions present in the city-state.

Needless to say, expats will find a full spectrum of services, from consumer banking, asset management and foreign exchange to dedicated insurance services and investment banking in Singapore.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore sets monetary policy and regulates the country’s banking and financial sector.

Money in Singapore

The unit of currency is the Singapore dollar, represented as S$ and abbreviated as SGD. One dollar is divided into 100 cents.

  • Notes: 2 SGD, 5 SGD, 10 SGD, 50 SGD, 100 SGD, 1,000 and 10,000 SGD

  • Coins: 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents and 1 SGD.

ATMs are located in most buildings and credit cards are widely accepted, though international cards will incur high transaction costs.

Banking in Singapore

With so many foreign and local banks in Singapore, expats will certainly not be at a loss for a reputable service provider.

It's important to consider the services offered, location and the ATM network available when choosing a bank. Furthermore, banks also charge different service fees and require different minimum account balances.

Opening a bank account 

It's  easy to open a bank account in Singapore, and the process can be completed in a single day. Accounts can be established at local bank branches, so there is no need to travel to a central branch.

English is the primary administrative and professional language in Singapore, so expats are unlikely to face a language barrier when it comes to managing money. 

Expats will likely need a copy of their passport, employment pass and a minimum deposit amount to open an account.

Taxes in Singapore

All expats working in Singapore are liable to pay income tax. The country’s well-regulated tax system is overseen by the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) which assesses, collects and enforces taxes, duties and levies. It's possible to file taxes either by submitting a paper tax return or by e-filing.

Singapore has double taxation avoidance treaties with a number of countries, so expats should investigate if their home country has such an agreement. This means that if they pay tax in Singapore, they don't have to pay tax to their home country.

Expats are considered tax residents in Singapore if their period of stay is equivalent to or more than 183 days in a year, or if they have Singapore Permanent Residency (SPR).

Non-residents are taxed only on income derived from or accrued in Singapore, and don't have to pay taxes on foreign income received in Singapore.

Personal income tax rates are generally lower than in other developed countries, with residents taxed between zero and 22 percent based on their income bracket.

Tax returns are based on the calendar year and must usually be filed by mid-April.