Vanuatu international and offshore banks
International Banking Act No. 4 Of 2002
Vanuatu is a South Pacific island that is famous for fishing, small scale agriculture and import taxes. The economy is a nifty one with thriving dependencies on foreign business. This makes it an ideal place for offshore banking and a nice holiday. Samoa is the most recognized country in the vicinity with Solomon Islands, Fiji and New Caledonia the surrounding lands.
Banking System in Vanuatu
The banking hierarchy consists of the Reserve Bank, internationally recognized commercial banks, merchant banks, and an offshore banking sector. The commercial banks are allowed to conduct business with non-residents and they provide international services through a network of correspondents, consultants and branches.
The domestic banking system involves collaboration between two foreign owned banks and two locally owned banks. The pair of banks from each ownership scheme are supervised by the National Bank of Vanuatu, the Reserve Bank. Domestically operating banks would be known as local limited companies whereas offshore banks are known as exempted banks and they would use exempted companies.
There are two types of licenses namely; Financial Institution License and Banking License.
Financial Institution License prevents the operation of chequeing accounts, but permits most other banking services. Banking license includes and obliges the company to use the word bank’ in its name and allows the chequeing activities to be carried out.
Requirements for Opening a Bank Account
Vanuatu impose stringent requirements on foreigners seeking to open domestic accounts. They are less uptight about exempt banking accounts or offshore banking thus their status as a thriving banking center.
- Any mailed documents must be signed by Judge, Registrar or Certifying officer for authenticity
- Letter of Employment, Education Provider or Tax Assessment Notice
- Driving License, ID, Passport or Birth Certificate
- Utility bill to confirm address and residence
The banks vary in their requirements but keep in mind the disclaimer on Vanuatu.
Foreign Currency Transfers
Vanuatu generally trades in dollars. The remote nature of the islands ensures the basic and most common operation practices are observed. They may be open to Euros, but you could pay for the conversions whereas dollars are common from US, international business and Australia.
The home currency is the Ni-Vanuatu Vatu, which is denoted as VUV or VT. The most common exchange currency is to the Australian Dollar thus the ease of accepting American dollars or Canadian Dollars in rare cases. The exchange rates can be pricey for various currencies especially with exempt banking.
International Banking for High Net-Worth Individuals
Vanuatu is ripe for international business and offshore banking is one of its main money-makers. The exempt banking jurisdiction is great for those who wish to open International Business Companies and some banks even allow interaction with non-residents with residents for the best business deals. This is different from Belize and Cayman Islands that restrict business with locals.
The Reserve Bank further restricts offshore companies to not only have a physical address in Vanuatu but also vet their directors and managers subject to approval by the Reserve Bank. The banking charge is $5000 and allows for audits by external, qualified auditors as well as minimum capital requirements being suited to the proposed banking activity.
Large exposure and aggregate investment in shares issued by other companies determine the issuance of a license. The offshore companies can own shares in local companies even if they lack transactional authority or freedom. This is a more stringent banking jurisdiction, but high net-worth individuals will be catered to.
Banking Regulatory Authority
The Reserve Bank is the authority with the government overseeing the operations of commercial, merchant and Development bank. There is a Banking Supervision Department that enforces adequacy of liquidity, minimum capital requirement and risk management or loan classifications.
There exists the Financial Institutions Act and the International Banking Act that further govern the banking activities of the nation and its banks. They offer guidelines on Know-Your-Customer policies, relationship modules between banks and related parties as well as collaboration in policy making.
The Reserve Bank of Vanuatu however remains the major decision maker and as such offers the trickle down regulations to be enforced by the BSD and to be advised upon by the government through the legislative procedures which were last revised in 2002.
ANZ Bank (Vanuatu) Limited
Provides offshore banking solutions, products and services including, investment call accounts, international access card, international transactions and treasury services.
Bank South Pacific (Vanuatu) Limited
Provides a range of financial and banking products and services.
Provides international personal and corporate banking services.
National Bank of Vanuatu
Provides domestic banking services as well as services for international customers who require offshore banking.
Pacific Private Bank
Provides international clients with banking, investment, corporate and offshore services.
United Development Bank of Pacific (UDBP)
Provides international banking services.
Vantu Bank Ltd
Provides international banking services.