DIY: How to open an offshore bank account in the Cook Islands
The Cook Islands banking system is among the four leading income producers on the Islands i.e., tourism, financial services, fishing and agriculture. The Cooks are the global pioneer of offshore finance business with laws devised to establish a regime of offshore banking, offshore trusts, international companies and partnerships by protecting foreigner's assets from their home country legal claims.
While it’s not illegal to set up a Cook trust, it should be noted putting money in such accounts does not eliminate one’s responsibility to pay tax on those assets. This basically means that you have to follow the tax laws that are in place. You cannot simply ignore them because it is an offshore account.
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What types of bank accounts are offered in the Cook Islands?
Different banks in the Cook Islands offer different types of bank accounts. The most common bank accounts include:
• Term deposit account which offers a good investment opportunity. You can choose to receive interest payments on an annually, half yearly, quarterly or monthly basis. You investments can also be automatically invested in your long term deposit account to grow your return.
• Saving accounts are also available which allows you to access your money as many times as possible with EFTPOS, making international transactions easy to conduct.
• Investment accounts account are the most popular when it comes to providing security and secrecy for your assets. These accounts also offer different investment products like bonds, mutual funds, stocks as well as silver and gold.
• Real estate accounts for protecting and transferring the value of your real estate to an offshore account.
What are the requirements to open an offshore bank account in the Cook Islands?
1. Some banks may require that you open an account under an offshore company. This is recommended to ensure your assets are protected.
2. Personal details like, name, date of birth, citizenship, address and occupation are required. However, it’s against the Cook law to identify the owner of the account and any information about them, or provide information about the value of the assets.
3. You will need a notarized copy of your passport
4. Some banks will ask for utility bill that shows your name and home address.
5. Some banks will also need a personal or professional reference letter
6. Finally, you will be provided with a legal trust deed.
Do you have to go to the Cook Islands to open a bank account?
You need not go to Cook Islands to open a bank account. You can open cash or investment accounts online and conduct transactions electronically without being physically present in Cook. Some banks accept notarized copies of required documents and original account opening forms via post or courier. While your money is safe from other people, you are given international access to your assets via Visa network like debit and wealth cards.
What are the average interest rates offered by Cook Islands banks?The interest rate varies depending with the account you have and the bank you go for. Here is a breakdown of the interest rates for ANZ, one of the banks in the Cook islands.
• Personal current account accounts $251 - $500 1.50% p.a., $501 - $2,500 2.50% p.a. and over $2,500 3.00% p.a.
• Term deposit account $500-$50,000 will earn you 4.30% p.a. for 12 months and $50,000-$100,000 has 4.5% for 12 months.
Do they offer offshore multi-currency account in the Cook Islands?
Cook Island offers offshore multi-currency accounts in global currencies like dollars and Euros making international payment efficient and secure.
Is there a minimum deposit requirement to open an offshore bank account in the Cook Islands?
The minimum deposit required depends with the bank and the account you go for. Some banks require a minimum of opening and operating balance of $500 for a Term deposit account and 0 balance for a personal account.