Banking in The Bahamas: Everything You Need to Know [2024]

bank in bahamas
Timothy Smith

If you’re considering moving to The Bahamas or living on the islands for a portion of the year, you might be curious as to how to set up an international bank account on the islands. Thankfully, banking in The Bahamas is relatively easy, as The Bahamas has several banks throughout its many islands, all specializing in different financial operations.

Whether you’re looking for the best banks for a mortgage or hoping to create financial stability and advice from experts, there are more than enough trustworthy banks in The Bahamas that provide a myriad of services.

The team at Better Homes & Gardens MCR Bahamas was born and raised in The Bahamas, so we understand the ins and outs of island living, including how to set up a bank account. In this article, we’ll guide you through everything you need to know about banking in The Bahamas. 

 

Why People Open Bank Accounts in The Bahamas 

Setting up a bank account in The Bahamas comes with several advantages for individual and commercial use. Here are some advantages of banking in The Bahamas. 

Pros of Banking In The Bahamas

There are several advantages for both Bahamian citizens and visitors to find a bank in The Bahamas. Not only does banking where you live help streamline your finances, but trusted banks can also provide helpful and needed resources. 

Stable & Reliable 

The banks in The Bahamas are known for their financial stability as well as their excellent management. Many investors and corporate companies rely on their bank’s expertise in the  local banking system. The banks’ resources and employees are known for helping their clients through some of the more complicated Bahamian banking and investing hoops, such as navigating The Bahamas Investment Authority and how to take advantage of the island’s tax benefits. 

Tax Incentives 

Another reason why so many people choose to do banking and pursue commercial businesses in The Bahamas is because the islands are a tax haven. A tax haven is a country or domain with low taxes and regulations. You don’t have to be a Bahamian citizen to receive these benefits, as long as you choose a Bahamian bank. 

The Bahamas requires no corporate income tax, capital gains tax, or inheritance tax, making the banking system in The Bahamas extremely financially favorable. It can be difficult to navigate the different systems and property taxes in The Bahamas, especially if you’re investing in real estate, which is why calling in a local expert can be helpful. 

Multiple Currencies 

Bahamian banks have the capacity and expertise to handle international currencies from different countries. If you’re planning to live in The Bahamas or simply wish to exchange your money, Bahamian banks can handle that easily. 

Privacy & Confidentiality  

Banks in The Bahamas are very well known for their privacy laws, as one could surmise from the distinct lack of taxes on private streams of income. The Bahamas government created The Bahamas’ Banks and Trust Companies Regulation Act in 2000, ensuring banking privacy on all ends. 

Similarly, every bank in The Bahamas has its own privacy regulations, as well as those enforced by The Bahamas’ government. The banks’ operating privacy laws ensure the utmost confidentiality of your financial information. 

 

Limitations of Bahamas Banking

Although there are several benefits to opening a bank account in The Bahamas, banking internationally can come with some limitations. 

Lengthy Processes 

The process of opening a bank account in another country involves several legal documents. The overall process takes about two to three weeks to process all the legal documents, create an account, and approve your application. 

Although this process is lengthy, it’s extremely user-friendly and manageable. 

Potential Language Barrier 

Because English is the national language spoken in The Bahamas, there can be a language barrier for non-English-speaking people looking to create a bank account. That being said, The Bahamas is a melting pot of many different cultures and countries. Even if you don’t speak English, you can likely still communicate your needs to your banker. 

Limited Physical Branches

Although Bahamian islands have several sprawling metropolises, there are a limited number of physical banks and ATMs throughout The Bahamas. Thankfully, many Bahamian banks have remedied that issue by providing their customers with easy-to-access online banking portals. 

 

Types of Bank Accounts in The Bahamas 

Finding the perfect bank for your financial needs can be a challenge. Thankfully, the banks in The Bahamas offer several different account types for all your banking needs. 

Offshore Accounts

The Bahamas has an extremely successful offshore financial service industry for offshore companies, or International Business Companies. These companies bank through The Bahamas to gain financial advantages, such as tax exemptions, optimum privacy, and minimum reporting requirements. 

The only stipulation is that companies with offshore bank accounts in The Bahamas can’t conduct business with Bahamian citizens. 

Checking Accounts

Because both Bahamian citizens and guests choose to create personal bank accounts in The Bahamas, many banks offer basic accounts, such as checking accounts. Some banks also offer checking accounts for companies, as well as individuals. 

Business Accounts

If you have a business in The Bahamas, you’ll likely need to open a business bank account with your local bank. Many Bahamian banks offer typical corporate banking options, which are an essential point for business. These bank accounts create financial management and payment structures, and streamline transitions. 

Savings Accounts 

Whether you’re banking for yourself or your commercial business, Bahamian banks offer business and personal savings accounts for their customers. 

 

Best Banks In The Bahamas

Every bank in The Bahamas offers a unique and specialized experience for all of their customers. Here are the best banks in The Bahamas. 

1. Central Bank of The Bahamas 

Central Bank of The Bahamas

The Central Bank of The Bahamas does not offer personal banking services, but specializes in legal tender and other governmental banking issues. The Central Bank keeps the country’s economy and cash flow stable, while also supporting economic and community growth throughout the island. 

2. Scotia Bank

Scotiabank logo

Often referred to as the ‘Best Bank in the Bahamas,’ Scotiabank’s offerings of multiple locations and account types make this bank extremely easy to work with, whether you’re looking for a personal or commercial banking option. 

The bank is renowned for its straightforward services and offers loans, mortgages, and financing for working capital. It’s the perfect option for many looking to bank in The Bahamas. 

3. Commonwealth

Commonwealth Bank logo

The Commonwealth Bank of The Bahamas also serves several different account holders, financial needs, and specialized saving opportunities. The Commonwealth Bank has several locations and ATMs located throughout New Providence, Grand Bahama, Abaco, and Eleuthera.    

Individuals and companies can use this bank for both personal and real estate services, including online banking, personal lending, debt consolidations, chequing, and loans. 

4. Citibank

Citibank logo

If you’re looking for an excellent international bank, Citibank in The Bahamas is a great choice. Citibank is a well-established global banking entity. The bank offers corporate and commercial banking options, including inverter solutions and business bank accounts. 

The Citibank of The Bahamas has played a key role in spearheading many Bahamian projects throughout its years. 

5. Royal Bank of Canada

rbc logo

The primarily Canadian Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) has a Caribbean department and several branches throughout The Bahamas. RBC is an extremely trustworthy bank, especially if you’re hoping to get a mortgage or loan. The bank also offers everyday banking services, including savings accounts, digital banking, and international transfers.

6. First Caribbean  

First carribean bank

First Caribbean International Bank offers a personalized banking experience for all of its customers. From savings accounts to loans, to general banking questions, this modern Caribbean bank offers several solutions. 

 

How to Open a Bank Account in The Bahamas

Once you’ve found the perfect Bahamian bank to fit your needs, it’s time to create a bank account. Here is everything you will need to do to open a bank account in The Bahamas

1.  Gather the Required Documents

 Many banks require proof of identity, confirmation of your current address, and evidence of your income. Clients who are not Bahamian citizens will need to bring a reference letter or bank statement as well. The required documents change, depending on the bank, so double-check that you have everything before setting up an account. 

2. Choose the Best Bahamian Bank

The Bahamas has many banking options, all of which present different perks and offerings. Whether you’re looking to invest in real estate or want to start your first savings account, choose the bank that best suits your needs. 

If you’re planning to move to one of the best places to live in The Bahamas, you may want to find a bank that specializes in mortgages and investments. If you’re more interested in business purposes, choose an establishment that has an array of business banking offerings. 

3. Choose your bank service

Once you’ve chosen your Bahamian bank, it’s time to find a bank account that fits your financial needs. Decide what kind of banking you’d like to do on the island. Whether you’re looking to set up a personal checking or savings account, or in need of more business-oriented financial services, there’s a Bahamian bank for you. 

4. Fill Out an Application

Once you’ve narrowed your search down and found the perfect bank and account type to fit your needs, fill out an application form on the website or in person. These forms go over your basic personal information, like your address, employment details, and other necessary information your bank requires. 

 

More About Banking in The Bahamas 

If you still have any questions regarding banking in The Bahamas, don’t worry. Here are the most frequently asked questions about Bahamian banking and finances. 

Which currency is used in The Bahamas?

The main currency used in The Bahamas is the Bahamian dollar, however, the U.S. dollar has the same value and is generally accepted throughout the islands. If you don’t wish to exchange your USD for a BSD, you won’t incur any transaction fees for currency exchange. However, if you choose to bank in The Bahamas, you may want to switch over to the BSD. 

Are there any specific regulations for banking in The Bahamas?

The Business License Act 2023 states that a business license is only required for people and entities who have an active business within The Bahamas. This does not include people who hold assets, but those earning an income from business deals happening within the country. 

Other than that, banking in The Bahamas is relatively uncomplicated. Certain banks might enforce regulations on international trading with investors, but for the most part, you shouldn’t run into any issues. 

Can a foreigner open a bank account in The Bahamas? 

You do not have to live in The Bahamas to open a bank account. However, you may need to meet certain requirements, including proper government identification, proof of funds, and tax information. 

 

Consider Investing in Real Estate in The Bahamas 

Once you’ve found the perfect bank to meet all your financial needs, it’s time to consider what kind of economic developments you can make in The Bahamas. One of the best investments you can make on the islands is through real estate. 

Whether you’re looking for a home on an exclusive private island, a luxury community tucked away from typical island life, or you’re hoping to rent out your house for a quick return, The Bahamas is a fantastic place to invest in real estate. 

No matter what kind of investment you’re looking to make, the team at MCR Bahamas is here to help you navigate the entire journey.

Invest in paradise and call MCR Bahamas today.

Banking in The Bahamas: Everything You Need to Know [2024]

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