The definitive guide to living and working in the Cayman Islands
Oct 23, 2014
Money, Banking and Mortgages
|Last Updated: 5th June 2014
This section provides detailed information on Cayman banks; how to open a bank account whether for personal use or for a business; online banking facilities; what it takes to get a local mortgage and money transfer services available in Cayman.
Opening a Personal Bank Account
All banks in the Cayman Islands adhere to mandatory due-diligence requirements, meaning they will perform fairly extensive checks before opening an account for you to ensure that you are thoroughly legitimate and that no money is going to be laundered. Non-residents can open bank accounts in Cayman without visiting the Islands but they must submit multiple certified documents to prove their identity, a current overseas address, the source of funds and bank references along with their application. Local banks will often want legitimate rationale for opening an account for an overseas resident and it is worth noting that (for example) a US citizen who has opened an account in the Cayman Islands, will still need to declare the account to the Department of Treasury and declare any income earned on that account.
A bank will request some or all of the following information:
It is important to note that some banks will not offer chequing services to a new account holder who has just arrived on the Island. However, they will offer you a savings account and a debit card. If you change jobs while in Cayman, you must get a letter from your new employer stating your salary and submit this to the bank.
- A reference from your current bank, addressed to your bank in the Cayman Islands. This document must include how long you have banked with your home bank, the average balance maintained and the manner in which your account has been conducted. If the applicant has not had a bank account for three years, a professional reference addressed to the bank is required. The letter must be the original copy and if a husband and wife are sharing an account, they both must be referenced in the letter. If you are moving from another country, it is much easier to get this letter organised before you leave your home country.
- Source of funds and supporting documentation, i.e. job letter if source is salary or rental agreement if source is rental income.
- If you are coming here to work then a letter from your Cayman employer stating the commencement of employment, the amount you will earn and your position in the company.
- Valid forms of identification such as your driver's licence and passport (they will photocopy your documents).
- Your full name, residential address, phone number, nationality, date of birth, occupation and name and address of your employer.
Opening a Business Bank Account
For a company incorporated in Cayman, the bank or trust company will need the following information:
If you have been personally interviewed at the bank then you don't need a certification of identification. If there are more than a nominal number of shareholders, the bank requires identification and references for the principal shareholders, directors and officers responsible for the operation of the account. Companies incorporated in other countries require notarized documents to verify the bona fides of the company. The minimum opening deposit is CI$1,000 or currency equivalent.
- Full incorporation paperwork.
- Bank references from a current bank.
- A letter giving an overview of the business and reason for needing the account.
- Articles and Memorandum of Association.
- Register of Members, Officers and Directors certified by the registered office.
- minutes of the directors' first meeting also certified by the registered office.
- The identity of each ultimate beneficial owner, director and signatory and this must be supported by a certified copy of their passports.
- If the business is conducted within the Cayman Islands, a copy of the current Trade and Business license is needed.
- Professional reference from an accounting or law firm and a professional reference from an bank that indicates a good relationship of over three years.
- Proof of current address in the form of a utility bill for all beneficial owners.
- Nature and dollar volume of anticipated transactions including source of funding of initial and subsequent deposits.
- Bank paperwork duly filled out.
- All directors, members and signatories to supply all information needed for a personal bank account.
Butterfield Bank (Cayman) Ltd.
PO Box 705, Grand Cayman KY1-1107
Tel: (345) 949 7055 Fax: (345) 949 7004
Banking Hours: Butterfield Place Banking Centre (GT), Monday-Thursday 9am-4pm, Friday 9am-4.30pm; Midtown Plaza Banking Centre (GT), Monday-Friday 9am-4pm; Governors Square Banking Centre (SMB), Monday-Friday 9am-4pm and Saturday 9am-1pm.
Banking Centre Services: accounts, online banking, ATMs, credit and debit cards, currency exchange, wire transfers, bank drafts, utility bill payments, night deposit facilities, safety deposit boxes, standing orders, Saturday banking, mortgage services and loans.
Other Services Offered: credit references, home insurance, trust services, private banking and investment management.
Cayman National Bank, Ltd.
PO Box 1097, Grand Cayman KY1-1102
Tel: (345) 949 4655 Fax: (345) 949 7506
Branches & Banking Hours: Elgin Ave (GT), Camana Bay (SMB), and Buckingham Square on West Bay Road (SMB), Monday-Thursday 9am-4pm, Friday 9am-4.30pm; Centennial Towers (WB) and Countryside (Savannah), Monday-Friday 10am-6pm and Saturday 9am-1pm; Little Cayman, Mondays and Thursdays 9.30am-2.30pm; Cayman Brac, Monday-Thursday 9am-4pm and Friday 9am-4.30pm.
Branch Services: accounts, credit and debit cards, online banking, ATMs, loans, mortgage services, currency exchange, wire transfers, travelers cheques, bank drafts, utility bill payment, Saturday banking, safety deposit boxes, standing orders, merchant services and night deposit facilities.
CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank
PO Box 68, Grand Cayman KY1-1102
Tel: (345) 949 7300 Fax: (345) 815 2187
Branches & Banking Hours: George Town, Monday-Thursday 9am-4pm and Friday 9am-4.30pm; Regatta, West Bay Road (SMB) and Plaza Venezia, North Sound Road, Monday-Thursday 9am-3.30pm and Friday 9am-4pm.
Branch Services: chequing and savings accounts, credit and debit cards, currency exchange, wire transfers, bank drafts, utility bill payment, teller services, online banking, mobile banking, telephone banking, ATMs, loans and transfers.
Fidelity Bank (Cayman) Ltd.
PO Box 914, Grand Cayman KY1-1103
Tel: (345) 949 7822 Fax: (345) 949 4079
Branches & Banking Hours: Cayman Financial Centre, Dr. Roy's Drive (GT), Monday-Friday 9am-4.30pm; Fidelity Financial Centre (SMB), Monday-Friday 10am-6pm.
Branch Services: chequing and savings accounts, credit and debit cards, online banking, teller services, ATMs, currency exchange, wire transfers, bank drafts, utility bill payment, loans and transfers. Fidelity Bank also offers a money transfer service through Western Union at nine locations across Grand Cayman.
HSBC Bank (Cayman) Ltd.
PO Box 1109, Grand Cayman KY1-1102
Tel: (345) 949 7755 Fax: (345) 949 7634
Branch & Banking Hours: HSBC House, 68 West Bay Road, Monday-Friday 9am-5pm, teller services Monday-Friday 9am-4pm.
Branch Services: personal and corporate banking, local and international account opening, insurance solutions, mortgage services, loans, savings, investments, wealth management, internet banking, ATMs, credit and debit cards, cheque books, 24/7 call centre support, currency exchange, wire transfers, bank drafts, bill payment, standing orders, teller services and relationship management.
RBC Royal Bank (Cayman) Ltd.
PO Box 245, Grand Cayman KY1-1104
Tel: (345) 949 4600 Fax: (345) 949 7396
Branches & Banking Hours: 24 Shedden Road (GT), Monday-Thursday 9am-4pm and Friday 9am-4.30pm; Red Bay Branch (next to Grand Harbour), Monday-Friday 11am-6pm.
Branch Services: chequing, savings and term deposit accounts, mortgage services, loans, ATMs, credit cards, online banking, wire transfers, bank drafts and all commercial banking services. ATMs are available at various locations island-wide.
Scotiabank & Trust (Cayman) Ltd.
PO Box 689, Grand Cayman KY1-1107
Tel: (345) 949 7666 Fax: (345) 949 0020
Branches & Banking Hours: Cardinal Ave (GT), Foster's Airport Centre (GT) and The Strand (SMB), Monday-Thursday 9am-4pm and Friday 9am-4.30pm; South Sound, Monday to Friday 10am-6pm.
Branch Services: Full retail and commercial banking services, private banking, ATMs and online banking.
Online Banking & ATMs
All the banks offer online banking, but some are definitely more sophisticated and user-friendly than others. If online banking is important to you then it is worth asking about each bank's online capabilities. For example, some banks will only allow you to transfer funds between your own accounts, others will let you transfer funds to customers of the same bank without having to involve bank personnel and some will allow you to order international wire transfers online. All banks allow you to pay almost all your monthly bills, school fees and other random expenses online. Some banks may charge a small monthly fee to use their online banking services. Your employer may want you to bank where they bank to make it easier for them to pay your salary directly into your account each month.
ATM machines are available at almost all bank branches and at all the supermarkets. You can use another bank's ATM machines to withdraw money, but you will incur a fee of around CI$2-CI$3 for each withdrawal. Government charges 25 stamp duty on every withdrawal.
Getting a Mortgage
Any of the local Class A banks (as above) can lend money. It's sensible to shop around, however, as rates are getting more competitive and the percentage above prime (from 1%-5%) can be negotiated. The usual term for a mortgage is 20 years, although some banks will offer as much as 35 years. Most home-buyers will be asked to make a down payment of 5-10% or more as a deposit. There is no such thing as an interest-only mortgage in Cayman as there is in other parts of the world. Definitely ask if you can pay bi-weekly (thereby paying less interest), and check if the bank charges a penalty for early repayment. Various factors including profession, salary, employer and credit history are taken into account when determining terms, and also whether the applicant is Caymanian or an expat. Once newer residents have established a good financial track record here however, the banks may be willing to renegotiate terms and give a more competitive rate.
When taking out a mortgage it is also worth factoring in that you will be charged stamp duty on the money you borrow. Mortgages of less than CI$300,000 attract a 1% government stamp duty fee while for mortgages of CI$300,000 or higher, figure on 1.5%. If you are using an attorney they typically charge 0.5%, while the bank charges 0.5% on the cost of the mortgage.
If you think you will be here for a few years, buying can be a good investment, and you may pay less on your mortgage than if you rented the same property. However, always consider that when buying a property, the stamp duty is 7.5%, and when selling the property, real estate agents charge between 5%-7.5%, depending on the value of the house.
Money Transfer Services
Due to the number of foreign nationals in the Cayman Islands, there are numerous money transfer companies on the Island including; Fidelity-Western Union, Money Gram, Money Express and JN Money transfer. You'll find branches all over the Island in places such as grocery stores, gas stations, banks and even liquor stores. If you use your Western Union card it will cost the following to transfer CI$100. There will also be an additional 2% government tax added to the amount you are sending:
- USA - CI$9.99
- Jamaica - CI$6.99
- Philippines - CI$9.99
Fidelity - Western Union
Tel: (345) 949 7822 ext 4
Fidelity offers a money transfer service through Western Union at nine locations across the Island plus an online service.
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