The Commonwealth of Dominica is a small, mountainous island in the lesser Antilles. Known as the “Nature Island of the Caribbean”, Dominica is a popular destination among holidaymakers and foreign investors alike. The nation’s Citizenship by Investment Program is particularly attractive for those looking to obtain a second passport. A common concern among investors is how the banking system in Dominica works. That’s why, in this article, we’re zoning in on the island’s financial sector – the different banks in Dominica, the products and services available, how to open a bank account, and more.
Overview of Dominica's Banking Sector
In Dominica, you’ll find about ten banks offering various products and services. Four of these banks are members of the Caribbean Association of Banks, which reinforces their reputation as reliable financial institutions.
Dominica banks allow their customers to open cheque accounts, savings accounts, and term deposits and will issue credit and debit cards. You can also take out car and education loans, mortgage loans, and business development loans. The main currency used in Dominica and the rest of the Caribbean is the East Caribbean dollar (EC$), with US$1.00 equal to EC$2.70. When opening a bank account in Dominica, the default currency will be the EC$, but you also have the option of opening a foreign currency account in euros, GBP, or USD.
Dominica - An Emerging Financial System
The Commonwealth of Dominica is an emerging financial system in the Caribbean. The financial market provides various investment opportunities, particularly in the service sector. These opportunities are mainly in eco-tourism, education, and information and communication technologies. Other investment opportunities exist in alternative energy and capital works related to reconstructing and constructing new tourist projects.
Dominica’s economic system is mixed, providing a variety of private freedom combined with government regulation and centralized economic planning. The country’s local laws do not limit foreign control in Dominica, meaning foreign investment in Dominica is not restricted, and foreign investors receive the same treatment as Dominica nationals. However, foreign investors seeking to purchase property for residential or commercial purposes must obtain an Alien Landholding License.
Regulatory framework in Dominica
Dominica’s financial sector is regulated in the same way that all members of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union are regulated – through the establishment of laws that are consistent with international best practices and the oversight of a regulatory and supervisory unit for financial services.
Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB)
The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) is the Monetary Authority for members of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU): Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Anguilla, and Montserrat. The ECCU is a development of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States.
The ECCB’s main objective is to maintain the integrity of the banking system and the stability of the Eastern Caribbean Currency. Part of the role of the ECCB is issuing a single common currency – the Eastern Caribbean dollar – which flows without restriction among its members, maintaining a common pool of exchange reserves, and having a Central Monetary Authority that determines the Union’s monetary policy.
Financial Services Unit (FSU)
The Financial Services Unit (FSU) is a department of the Ministry of Finance that regulates all financial services in Dominica. The FSU is one of the most stringent Regulatory Authorities in the Caribbean. A major participant in the offshore regulatory framework, the FSU regulates all offshore banks, buildings and loans societies, credit unions, development banks, gaming companies, insurance companies, money service businesses, and other financial entities. In addition to this, the FSU is the Money Laundering Supervisory Authority (MLSA).
Types of Banks in Dominica
There are over 15 banks in Dominica (including one indigenous bank and one development bank), some of which are local and some international. Most banks offer online banking, and some work with foreign clients while others do not. International banks that operate branches in Dominica include the Bank of Nova Scotia and First Caribbean International.
National Bank of Dominica Ltd: The National Bank of Dominica – or NBD – is the largest financial institution in the nation and has been recognized as an outstanding corporate body by the East Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB). The NBD has a network of ATMs and four branches on the island of Dominica. Its website offers up-to-date information on its products and services, such as mobile banking, online banking, loans available for personal and business banking, insurance activities, and more.
Republic Bank (EC) Limited: A leading financial institution in the Caribbean, Republic Bank provides services related to personal, commercial, and corporate banking. The Dominica branch is located in Roseau, with customers able to open different accounts, obtain credit and debit cards, and make use of online banking services.
Dominica Agricultural Industrial and Development (AID) Bank: As a subsidiary of NBD, this bank provides loans for agriculture, education, housing, tourism, and startup businesses, as well as energy-efficient and development-related funding.
EQIBank: Having launched in 2015, the bank is located in Dominica’s capital city of Roseau. EQIBank is an offshore bank that caters for individuals and businesses with global needs. It offers digital banking, personal and corporate banking services, investment, OTC trading, and wealth planning solutions.
Ferz Global Bank: An international financial institution that offers banking services to individuals and legal entities, Ferz Global Bank is regulated by the Financial Services United (FSU) of the Commonwealth of Dominica. The bank is adapted to the supervisory rules of the East Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) and offers products and services adapted to the needs of its international clients, including money market accounts, savings accounts, credit cards, personal and corporate loans, etc.
CBIC First Caribbean International Bank: The bank offers digital, personal, and business banking, credit and debit cards, corporate and investment banking, and wealth management services. The bank no longer has a branch in Dominica, but you will find branches in 12 locations across the Caribbean.
Bank of Nova Scotia: Scotiabank Dominica is a branch of The Bank of Nova Scotia that offers comprehensive retail and commercial services. A leading financial service provider in the region, the bank also offers electronic cash management services through its extensive network of branches across the country.
Caribbean Association of Banks
The Caribbean Association of Banks, Inc. (CAB) is the representative body and recognized voice for banks and financial institutions in the Caribbean. The organization supports its members by engaging in the worldwide network of similar financial establishments and endeavoring to shape policies and laws that affect the industry.
The following banks are members of the CAB:
National Bank of Dominica: As mentioned above, the bank offers personal and business banking services, including online and mobile banking, loans, credit and debit cards, and standard, WiseStart, and foreign currency accounts.
Commonwealth Bank and Trust: Established in 2009 and located in the island’s capital city, Commonwealth Bank and Trust provides a range of products to its clients, which include individuals and businesses. These services include deposits, loans, declarations, cash management, and business investments.
Paxum Bank Limited: Paxum Bank Limited is an international bank chartered in Dominica under the Offshore Banking Act No.8 of 1996, which allows international businesses that have non-resident corporate and personal clients to operate in the country. The bank is regulated by the Financial Service Unit (FSU) of Dominica and offers traditional personal and business banking services, such as online banking, loans, current and saving accounts, mobile banking, and more.
Dominica Agricultural Industrial and Development (AID) Bank: As you will have seen above, this bank is Dominica’s only indigenous development bank, and its core practice is to provide loans to the country’s various sectors.
Banking in Dominica: Services and Products
Retail banking – Also known as personal banking, this allows customers to manage their money, have access to credit, deposit their money securely, etc.
Corporate banking – Aimed at businesses, this type of banking deals with corporate financing, raising capital, asset management, merchant services, commercial loans, etc.
Investment banking – This service helps individuals and organizations raise capital, provides financial consultancy services, and arranges debt financing if necessary.
Digital banking services – With online banking, you can pay bills, check your account balance, receive account alerts, transfer money to other customers’ accounts and accounts at other banks, and make international transfers.
Offshore banking – Referring to international banks, companies, and investments, this service allows you to manage your financial commitments across various countries and regions by being able to conduct international business activities.
Opening a Bank Account in Dominica
Dominica citizens, residents, foreigners, and businesses can open a bank account in Dominica. You will need to provide documents proving the source of your funds, your identity, proof of residence, and the minimum required deposit. In addition to this, you are generally required to pay a non-refundable account opening fee, as well as maintenance fees.
Documents required – individuals
As an individual opening a bank account in Dominica, the documents required vary slightly depending on whether you are a citizen or not, and whether you open your account remotely or not.
Citizens must produce the following documents:
- Identity document (e.g., passport, social security card, driver’s license)
- Proof of residential address (e.g., utility bill, bank statement, driver’s license, proof of employment)
- Application for opening an account (must indicate personal data and information on sources of income)
In addition to the above, a bank reference must be submitted by Dominica citizens living abroad, Dominica citizens opening an account remotely, and foreigners.
Notarized copies of your passport and completed account application must be submitted by citizens opening an account remotely and foreigners.
Finally, a cover letter detailing your reason for opening the account must be provided by foreigners.
Documents required – companies
As a company intending to open a bank account in Dominica, you must provide the following documents:
- Company constitution
- Certificate of incorporation
- Certificate of Good Standing
- Resolution of the directors to open an account
- Establishment of account signatories
- Identification for all beneficial directors, owners, and signatories
- Bank references for directors
- Bank references for the company
- Completed application to open the account
How to open a bank account in Dominica
Opening a bank account in Dominica is relatively simple and much like opening a bank account anywhere else in the world. Banks in Dominica require clear and straightforward responses to their inquiries relating to topics such as your banking history (proof of holding an account with another bank for at least three years) or credit reference (in cases where you have no banking history, a credit reference confirming your solvency must be provided by a business acquaintance, friend, or lender).
You can open an account both in person and remotely:
Opening an account in person: You must visit the branch with your required documents and complete your application form. All applicants will undergo a banking due diligence check, which takes a few minutes for citizens and a few days for foreigners. Once you have passed the check, you must activate your account by depositing the minimum required amount (which can vary depending on the bank). Once these steps are complete, you can enroll in the online banking services offered by the bank.
Opening an account remotely: You must submit your application on the bank’s website, following which a banking due diligence check will be completed. Once you have passed the check, you must send the required documents – which must have been notarized – to the bank. With these documents, you can also send the minimum required deposit amount to activate your account. You can send them by mail or using a courier service. Once your account has been opened, you can register for the bank’s online banking services which will allow you to manage your account remotely.
Comparison of fees to activate a bank account in Dominica
National Bank of Dominica
Commonwealth Bank and Trust
Paxum Bank Limited
EC$300 (individual checking accounts)
EC$500 (company checking accounts)
EC$100 or $1,000 (individual savings account)
$1,000, €5,000, or £1,000 (company foreign currency savings accounts)
EC$5,000 (time deposits)
EC$10,000 (individual accounts)
EC$15,000 (company accounts)
EC$10,000 (individual savings accounts)
EC$500,000 (company savings accounts)
Comparison of service fees
National Bank of Dominica
Commonwealth Bank and Trust
Paxum Bank Limited
EC$10+ monthly for checking accounts (individual and companies)
Up to EC$150 annually for credit cards
No charge for debit card maintenance
EC$10 monthly for any account
No charge for account maintenance
Up to EC$50 monthly for credit cards
Restrictions on opening an account: Some banks have restrictions in place regarding the clients that can make use of their services. For example, Dominica Agricultural Industrial and Development Bank does not provide services for foreigners, while the National Bank of Dominica does not allow foreigners to open accounts remotely. NBD also allows corporate accounts to be opened only by companies registered in Dominica.
Finally, all banks in Dominica request more documents from foreigners looking to open an account in comparison to citizens. This is only one of the many benefits of becoming a citizen of Dominica, such as enjoying a favorable tax environment and visa-free travel to over 140 countries.
The most popular and straightforward way for foreigners to obtain citizenship in Dominica is to make an investment in Dominica through the country’s Citizenship by Investment Program. Under the program, investors can contribute a minimum of $100,000 to the Economic Diversification Fund (EDF) or make an investment of at least $200,000 in shares of government-approved real estate.
Visit our article, Dominica Citizenship by Investment – The Ultimate Guide by Experts, for more detailed information on the program.
Deposit insurance schemes are implemented by many countries to protect those who deposit money in their banks from any losses these banks may experience. It is important to know whether the country you are depositing money in has a deposit insurance scheme that will protect your investment.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Banks in Dominica
Can I open a bank account in Dominica as a non-resident?
Yes, you can open a bank account in Dominica, both personal and corporate, as a non-resident.
Are there minimum deposit requirements to open a bank account in Dominica?
The minimum deposit requirements to open a bank account in Dominica will vary depending on the type of account and the bank. For example, the amount can range between $300 for a checking account for an individual to $500,000 for a company savings account.
Can I apply for a loan from a bank in Dominica as a foreigner?
Yes, it is possible to obtain a loan from a bank in Dominica as a foreigner. Some banks in Dominica do not work with foreign clients, so it is recommended that you research which banks do and do not have such restrictions. International banks that operate in Dominica and work with foreign clients include the Royal Bank of Canada, Bank of Nova Scotia, and First Caribbean International.
What are the requirements for opening a business bank account in Dominica?
To open a corporate bank account in Dominica, the following documents are required: A certificate of incorporation from the company’s country of origin, a list of the business’s partners and shareholders, a certificate from the Dominican National Taxpayers Registry (RNC), the tax number assigned to your business, issued by the General Directorate of Internal Taxes (DGII) authority, and a commercial or industrial license issued by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.
What is the process for getting a mortgage or home loan in Dominica?
Dominica allows both residents and non-residents to obtain mortgages, however the process is more straightforward as a resident. As with any mortgage application, approval will depend on your credit rating and financial history. The processing time and documents required may vary depending on the bank you apply to. Generally, the documents required for your application include your latest income tax report, work contract or letter of employment, social security details and payments, etc.
Are there any special banking services for senior citizens in Dominica?
Banking services for the elderly may vary across different banks in Dominica. It may be beneficial to speak directly with your bank to enquire about any services they offer specifically for elderly clients.
How long does it take to open a bank account for a foreigner?
Opening a bank account in Dominica is a straightforward process that can take up to a few days for foreigners.