Banks

St. Kitts & Nevis Bank Accounts: The Complete Guide for 2024

We’ve been helping Americans diversify their assets internationally since 1984. Over the years, we’ve developed a few favorite places for certain things. Switzerland has long been a favorite for offshore banking, simply because they keep adapting to be able to serve US clients.

But minimums can be steep. Nowadays, you’re going to struggle to open an account with a reputable firm for anything less than $500,000.

So what are some of the alternatives?

In this guide, we’re going to talk about St Kitts and Nevis and the options to bank there. Our firm has been doing business there for more than a decade. In fact, we have a sister company there called Fortress Trust that offers help with Nevis LLCs and Trusts.

St. Kitts and Nevis in a Nutshell

St. Kitts and Nevis is a two-island nation in the Caribbean that offers more than just picturesque beaches. It’s a country with a rich history that gained independence from the UK in 1983.

The official language is English, which makes it easy for US clients to get up and running quickly. The culture is a vibrant mix of African, British, and French influences, reflected in their festivals, cuisine, and daily life.

Economically, it’s a blend of tourism, agriculture, and offshore financial services — Nevis more so on the financial services side of things, with St Kitts itself attracting more tourism dollars.

The local currency is the East Caribbean Dollar (XCD) and is pegged to the US Dollar at a fixed exchange rate of 2.7 XCD to one USD. This economic landscape provides a supportive environment for offshore banking and investment opportunities.

Banking System in St. Kitts and Nevis

Generally, the banking system in St. Kitts and Nevis is well-regulated and robust compared to other places in the Caribbean. However, not as much as in more developed nations. This can be both a blessing and curse.

On the one hand, a lighter regulatory touch makes it easier to get started. On the other, the lighter regulatory touch has attracted negative attention from more developed countries who aren’t big fans of a place that doesn’t have onerous rules and complicated regulations.

Types of Bank Accounts

You’ll find much the same services as banking elsewhere.

That includes:

Savings Accounts

In St. Kitts and Nevis, savings accounts come in various forms: term deposits, fixed deposits, and target savings. These accounts offer a secure way to grow your money over time. Term deposits are typically locked for a specific period and offer higher interest rates as a result. Fixed deposits work similarly but may offer more flexibility in terms of deposit amounts. 

Current / Checking Accounts

Current accounts are ideal for daily transactions. They offer features like checkbooks, debit cards, and online banking. The main benefit is liquidity—you can access your funds anytime. Accounts are usually offered in USD and XCD.

Foreign Currency Accounts

Foreign currency accounts are perfect for those dealing in multiple currencies. Some banks in St. Kitts and Nevis offer multi-currency accounts in currencies like: 

  • Swiss Franc (CHF)
  • Canadian Dollar (CAD)
  • Euro (EUR)
  • British Pound Sterling (GBP)

These accounts help mitigate the risks associated with currency fluctuations, making them ideal for international business and travel.

Escrow Accounts

If you’re looking to buy property in St. Kitts and Nevis, banks will offer an escrow account service. These accounts hold funds temporarily while conditions of a sale are met. They ensure that both buyer and seller meet their obligations, providing a layer of security in real estate transactions.

Merchant Accounts

For international business, an international merchant account is quite important. They facilitate electronic and credit card payments, making it easier to do business both locally and internationally. These accounts often come with additional features like payment gateways and fraud detection, ensuring smooth and secure transactions.

Note that not all St Kitts and Nevis banks currently offer such services.

Major Banks in St. Kitts and Nevis

Bank of Nevis (BON)

BON offers a wide range of banking products tailored for the local market. It’s the oldest bank on the island and has been in business since 1985.

CIBC Bank (First Caribbean International Bank)

CIBC is part of a larger international network, offering robust security and diverse financial products. It could be a good option if you need services that extend beyond St. Kitts and Nevis.

Hamilton Reserve Bank

Known for its focus on private banking and wealth management, Hamilton Reserve Bank offers bespoke services tailored to high-net-worth individuals.

Republic Bank

Republic Bank is a well-established institution offering a broad array of services, including loans, savings accounts, and merchant services. They have extensive experience in the Caribbean market.

St Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla National Bank (SKNA)

SKNA is the largest bank in the region, offering a comprehensive range of services from personal banking to corporate finance. Its strong local presence makes it a popular option for residents, although not for expats.

Bank of New Innovation (BONI)

Once a subsidiary of BON known as Bank of Nevis International, BONI now operates independently and has rebranded itself as a “gateway bank to the world.”

International Merchants Bank (IMB)

One of the newest banks in Nevis, IMB’s focus is on trade finance, but it’s expanded its offerings to provide multi-currency accounts to individual and corporate clients.

Sun Bank

The newest bank in St. Kitts & Nevis, Sun currently operates as a digital bank. It plans to open its first branch in Nevis in the near future.

SPC Bank Ltd.

This is another new Nevis bank with an international license. It’s owned by Sovereign Pacific Capital, an international capital investment and wealth management company.

Sovereign Bank International

This is another newly licensed bank in Nevis. It’s owned by Sovereign Pacific Capital, focus is Treasury management services for businesses.

Here’s what to look for in the Best St. Kitts & Nevis Banks

Strong Financial Health: A good sign of a stable bank is its Tier-1 capital ratio. We generally look for a ratio above 15%, it shows that the bank is solid and can handle losses well. Private banks with no commercial lending exposure should have higher Tier 1 ratios: 20%-25% or higher. You can find this info in the bank’s annual report.

Proven History: A long history shows a bank can handle different economic ups and downs. Banks with many years of operation are often more reliable and safer.

Serves US Clients: Even though St. Kitts & Nevis is generally open to US and other foreign clients, some banks only work with local residents or foreigners with a residency permit. But several private banks (all on Nevis) specialize in international business.

Customer Service: Nothing can be more annoying than not being able to get help when you need it. While most banks in St. Kitts & Nevis offer courteous, professional service, it sometimes isn’t up to US standards. Before opening an account, get some feedback and trust your gut on whether any given bank can offer the service you expect.

How to Open a Bank Account in St. Kitts and Nevis

Required Documents

To open a bank account, you’ll need a valid ID (passport or driver’s license), proof of address (utility bill or lease agreement), and a completed application form.

Depending on the type of account, you may also need to provide investment details, references, and recent bank statements. For business accounts, additional documentation like business registration and financial statements may be required.

Step-by-Step Process

  1. Choose Your Bank and Account Type: Research and select the best bank and account type to meet your needs.

  2. Gather Required Documents: Collect all necessary identification, proof of address, and additional documentation.

  3. Complete Application Form: Fill out the bank’s application form accurately.

  4. Submit Documentation: Present your documents and application form to the bank.

  5. Verification Process: The bank will review your application and verify your documents.

  6. Account Activation: Once approved, your account will be activated, and you’ll receive all necessary account details and access tools.

Opening a bank account in St. Kitts and Nevis is a relatively straightforward process if you have all your ducks in a row. By following these steps, you can enjoy the benefits of offshore banking with ease.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who's the best type of bank client for Nevis banking?

Generally, the best client is someone with a connection to the country. That includes:

  • Being a citizen or (especially) a resident.
  • Having a passport from a member of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), a sort of mini-EU that allows visa-free rights to live and work within seven Caribbean Island nations.
  • Having a Nevis structure (Nevis LLC or Nevis trust).

If you don’t have any of these, banks on Nevis with an international banking license may be willing to open an account for you with a proper reason.

Are St. Kitts and Nevis banks safe?

St. Kitts and Nevis banks are generally small by international standards. Some banks are better capitalised than others. So it’s important to obtain the bank’s annual report and review it carefully before you open an account. Where they shine is if you need a local bank because you want to live there or you need a place to bank Nevis structures. (Banks in most countries generally won’t bank Nevis entities, although Switzerland and a handful of others are exceptions.)

What are the best banks in St. Kitts and Nevis?

It depends on your needs and your expectations. We suggest you check out the websites for the banks we’ve discussed to see if they meet your needs. Review their annual reports to assess their financial strength and verify that they accept international clients. At that point, you’ll be a position to make your decision.

What is the minimum amount required to set up a bank account in St. Kitts and Nevis?

The minimum varies. At banks that cater to local residents, the minimum deposit is only around XCD $100. At private banks on Nevis with an international banking license, the minimums are higher – in some cases as much as USD $50,000.

Which St. Kitts and Nevis bank is best?

There is no such thing as a “best bank” – it depends on your personal wealth protection goals and needs. Each bank has its unique strength and areas of specialization.

Several Nevis banks provide a range of services tailored to meet the needs of American clients.

Do St. Kitts and Nevis banks report to US tax authorities?

Governed by the provisions of FATCA, St. Kitts & Nevis has signed an information-sharing agreement with the United States. Details of your account will be reported to Uncle Sam.

In 2018, St. Kitts and Nevis also signed onto the Common Reporting Standard (CRS), which calls for similar data sharing with the tax agencies of more than 100 other countries.

Do St Kitts and Nevis bank accounts offer online and mobile banking?

It depends on the bank but generally, yes. Common features include:

  • Account Management: Check balances, transfer funds, and review transaction history.
  • Bill Payments: Pay bills directly from your account.
  • Currency Exchange: Convert funds between different currencies.
  • Secure Messaging: Communicate securely with your bank.

What does a St. Kitts and Nevis bank account have to do with their Citizenship by Investment program, if anything?

St. Kitts and Nevis offers the world’s oldest Citizenship by Investment (CBI) program. Established in 1984, it allows investors to gain citizenship through financial contributions to the country, or with a qualifying real estate investment. Once you acquire citizenship in St. Kitts and Nevis, you’ll find it’s easier to set up an account, especially if you do it in person.

Benefits of St. Kitts and Nevis Citizenship
  • Visa-Free Travel: Access to over 150 countries.
  • Tax Efficiency: No personal income tax, wealth tax, or inheritance tax.
  • Quality of Life: Enjoy a peaceful lifestyle in a tropical paradise.
  • Business Opportunities: Being a citizen can open doors to regional business ventures.
You can find more information here about the St. Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment program.

Can an American open a bank account?

Yes, Americans can open bank accounts in St. Kitts and Nevis. You will need to provide a copy of your passport, proof of residential address, and sometimes a reference from your current bank.

That said, bank officials will often want to see that you have some connection to the country. A structure, residency, or a passport are all valid reasons.

Do banks accept cryptocurrency?

St. Kitts and Nevis has some of the most pro-crypto laws and regulations in the world. And some banks may let you fund your account with crypto. But we’re not aware of any that will currently let you do business in crypto or hold crypto in an account.

Must I fly all the way to St. Kitts and Nevis to set up a bank account?

It depends. Services do exist to act on behalf of the client without the need of an in-person visit.

Is St. Kitts and Nevis a tax haven?

In one sense, yes. Nevis has favorable tax laws and regulations. And there’s no personal income tax. There is a corporate tax, but a Nevis entity doesn’t need to pay it unless its “mind and management” is St. Kitts and Nevis.

In recent years, the country has agreed to enforce international tax rules including the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) that sends information on US clients to Uncle Sam, and the Common Reporting Standard (CRS) that covers tax data exchange for more than 100 other nations.

Final Thoughts and Recommendations

Whether to open a St Kitts and Nevis bank account, or go somewhere else, is an important question that’s best answered as a comprehensive wealth protection plan.

That’s what we’ve been doing since 1984. If you’d like to see if we can help you reach your international goals — whether for asset protection, the desire to live overseas, or just to legally reduce your tax bill – please book in a free no-obligation discussion with one of our Associates and see if our services are right for you.

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We have 40+ years experience helping Americans move, live and invest internationally…

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We have 40+ years experience helping Americans move, live and invest internationally…

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