Opening an offshore merchant account can be a fairly difficult process and finding an appropriate bank or third party offshore merchant account provider can be equally difficult. It is important for a merchant who wants to open an offshore account to find one that is based on the services or goods they offer and cater to the size and structure of their company. Owning this type of account is legitimate and legal, however the account holder must declare any interest made from the offshore account.

What is an Offshore Merchant Account?

To determine if your business needs to open an offshore merchant account it can be helpful to know what they are. An offshore merchant account is an account opened on behalf of the business or merchant in a country different from the physical address of the business. Offshore merchant accounts are commonly opened for a variety of reasons including tax benefits, taking advantage of competitive interest rates and privacy laws.

A merchant account is necessary for a business to accept credit cards, but if you sell antiques, tickets to the hottest concerts or adult pleasure products, your industry is considered high risk due to the frequent cases of fraud. American merchant account providers will not provide a merchant account to businesses that are deemed high risk.

Why Open an Offshore Merchant Account?

Although offshore merchant accounts are not as common as many other types of merchant services account, they are opened on a fairly consistent basis. High-risk industries such as gambling, pornography and pharmaceuticals have to open offshore merchant accounts as the risk liability is too high to open a merchant account in America. Entertainment ticket issuers, some retailers and travel companies are also frequent offshore merchant account holders.

Offshore merchant accounts are opened as a way to find relief from tax debt or to pay less in taxes as well. For companies that do not qualify for tax abatement in the US, they can often pay less in taxes than they would here.

Depending on which country you open an offshore merchant account in, the privacy laws will differ from place to place. Privacy and disclosure laws are quite stringent for American merchant accounts and some businesses prefer to be more discreet for the sake of their customers. An offshore merchant account provides the discretion needed.

Which Offshore Account Provider to Choose?

Finding a reputable offshore account provider can be challenging and it is a field ripe for scam artists just waiting to get their hands on your business’s funds and your customer’s sensitive information. It is much easier to get away with fraud when the company being scammed is thousands of miles away. A good offshore account provider will ensure acceptance of all major credit cards, technical support and processing of multiple currencies. They will also provide encrypted security for their client’s information and implement as advanced measures against fraud as possible.

A reputable provider will also offer regular account reports in order to track your deposits, any charges or fees incurred against the account and to watch for any irregular activity. It is essential, before signing any contract with an offshore account provider, to take the time to read all fine print and ascertain the exact charges that will be levied against the account and why it is charged. One of the biggest red flags when looking for a provider is their account cancellation policy. Many reputable companies will waive the termination fee while dishonest providers will have exorbitant termination fees. Researching all you can about a potential provider can prevent you from falling victim to a scam. Websites like can be a good place to start when beginning your search.

Offshore merchant accounts have a more complex approval process and requirements than a standard merchant account due to the high risk nature. Offshore accounts take longer to be approved and often require the business has been established for at least two years, makes more than ten thousand US dollars a month and has exhaustive requirements for any website attached to the account.

If you are ready to open an offshore merchant account or learn more about them, visit and feel confident you are making the best decision for your business.

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