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  • Writer's pictureJoe Woodhouse

Offshore; Such a Dirty Word

I am fascinated by the use of language.


I remember moving to Abu Dhabi 10yrs ago and the first thing I was told was to use the word international instead offshore.


International investments, international accounts.. Oh! Cross border was another one, cross border investments, cross border banking, cross border transfers.


It all means the same thing. I understand the rational behind it from a sales psychology as "offshore" sometimes conjures up images of Al Capone, Tony Soprano, Gary Barlow, or Jimmy Carr. 


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The dictionary defines offshore as “made, registered, or situated abroad”. In English: a country in which you don't live. 


So if you are from the UK, and live IN Saudi Arabia and have a bank account in Germany, that's offshore. Certain places are more geared to it than others and some countries have whole industries based on it, such as the British Isles (the IOM, Jersey, Guernsey)


So why even bother?


Here are 4 quick benefits of offshore, sorry, international banking, for expats. 


  1. Security - If you’re living in a country that you are do not have a passport for, at any point you could be asked to leave. The Middle East being a prime example, and I’ve come across so many horror stories where bank accounts get frozen and funds get locked. Have an account you can access anywhere in the world regardless of where you’re living.

  2. Tax - Nobody enjoys paying tax. Having an offshore account somewhere like the Isle of Man means you won’t be deducted tax on any interest or investment gain you make there. 

  3. Convenience - If you’re living abroad most banks in your home country aren’t much help, cards can get blocked, online payments get stopped when they realise you’re trying to transfer money from an IP address overseas. I could write a book on the issues I’ve had with my UK bank accounts over the years while travelling. If theres a possible problem, trust me, I’ve found it. An offshore account stops all this, plus if you're a serial expat and moved around a lot of countries it means you’ve got a constant account regardless of where you flit to next. 

  4. Multi-currency - I honestly believe this is more important than tax. Make sure you have accounts in different currencies, if you live in the Middle East EVERYBODY, and I mean EVERYBODY needs a US dollar offshore bank account, somewhere to hold money away from the GCC in Dollars. Plus, an account in your home currency as a minimum. 


So there you have it, Offshore, debunked.


Thanks for reading,




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