Montenegro Banking services, Business Environment
Montenegro has a modern and mature banking system with almost 20 banks. Here we will walk you through the main particularities of the banking sector in Montenegro. First, you must know that it is incredibly easy to open a bank account in Montenegro. All you need is a valid passport.
You may say that that’s not uncommon around the world. But when comparing it with the Balkan region, Montenegro is a beauty. For example, in Serbia, you need more than ten documents to open a bank account. Similarly, management fees are incredibly low. They usually are less than €1 per month. That’s also way beneficial than most European countries where doors are closed to non-residents, procedures are long and hard, and monthly and yearly fees are impressively high.
And, guess what: Montenegro isn’t part of the Common Reporting Standard. That means local banks don’t immediately disclose your funds in the country to foreign tax authorities, which gives you many amazing pathways for tax optimization.
However, wealth management and investment banking are still underdeveloped parts of the sector. Nevertheless, potential investors should pay attention to Montenegro because its growing potential, the luxury tourism sector development, and the CBI program may attract high net worth individuals that want to keep their money safe at an attractive, discrete, and secure jurisdiction. Furthermore, the system is developing as the country nears integration with Europe.
The Montenegrin banking system has been pretty stable since the 2010 debt crisis across Europe, and it’s a trustworthy system. Some of that is because all banks are private corporations. Even as its wealth management and investment services are underdeveloped, the healthy growth and reliable services they provide has led to a substantial increase of FDI in the sector, which is more than 20 %.
Part of this is because Montenegro has decent banking secrecy for European standards. Banks in Montenegro are not part of the Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) and Common Reporting Standards (CRS). That means Montenegrin banks do not immediately report account holdings to national authorities and foreign governments. However, if the country aims to gain its EU membership in 2025, it will have to be part of the AEOI.
So, yes, Montenegro doesn’t achieve the level of some offshore jurisdictions in banking secrecy, but it certainly offers a decent amount, although it may change soon.
Likewise, the government created a deposit protection scheme to give trust to investors. It guarantees reimbursement for customers if a bank failure occurs. The guarantee is of €50k, and liabilities are deducted from deposits before the refund. For example, if you owed €5k from a loan and had €20k in deposit accounts, the guarantee only covers €15k. Non-residents’ deposits are insured.
One of the things you must know is that you will need to open paired accounts: one for national transactions and one for international transactions. Funds you obtain or pay abroad will move to your international account. You can move money from that account to your national account to pay for your bills and expenses in Montenegro. Such transfers are usually free.
Opening a bank account in Montenegro is reasonably simple. You just need to select the right bank, prepare your documents, whether they are your personal or company documents, go to the bank to open your account, and that’s it. It doesn’t take more than a couple of days.
If you want to open a corporate bank account, the process is also quite simple. To open an account, the director of a company (or its representant via power of attorney) must submit these documents:
- Personal ID of those involved in the business (owners, partners, shareholders, directors, etc.), generally a notarized passport.
- If there are different owners, the one opening the account must show a resolution that grants him the right to deal with the company finances.
- Certificate of incorporation and incumbency and memorandum of association if the company is an LLC
- Articles of Association
Other banks may ask for additional documents such as:
- Business plan
- Customers list
- Suppliers list
- Expected cash-flow
Each bank has its own requirements for opening a corporate bank account. Opening a personal account is simple, but that’s not the case with companies. It may take as long as 14 days for non-residents. For a non-resident account, you’ll need to submit:
- A request to open a non-resident account with all the details of the entity
- Company registration certificate
- Certified copy of the passport of the owner of the entity or the power of attorney for the authorized person
- Certified copy of the passport of the authorized person
- Memorandum and articles of associations, both original and translated into Montenegrin
- Ownership structure
- Beneficial owner declaration
- Cover letter of the business activities of the company
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