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Can you use Stripe Singapore if you’re not a resident?

If you’ve got a business in Singapore and you sell things online, you might be thinking about using Stripe for processing credit card payments. This Guide could not find a clear answer online to the question: Can you use Stripe Singapore if you’re not a resident? Or don’t have some kind of temporary resident status like a student visa or Employment Pass? There are a bunch of websites, including Stripe’s own documentation, that suggest it’s possible. However, let’s explore the multi-month experience I had with trying to activate a Stripe Singapore account for my business. May this save you some time and energy…

Do you need an NRIC or FIN to use Stripe Singapore?

As you go through the account activation process, everything is straightforward except it asks for your NRIC or FIN. The NRIC is like the US’s Social Security Number, and the FIN is a Foreigner Identification Number you’d get if you were working or studying in Singapore on a visa. So I asked customer support if it was possible to activate an account without one, since I was creating an account for my business, which is Singaporean. They forwarded me to a specialized team, which sent me a list of possible documents I could submit, including a passport. The issue was declared RESOLVED. Just one problem…

There was no way to submit my passport.

For a couple of weeks: I’d get an email that explained steps that didn’t work. The ticket was declared as resolved. Then I’d point out the steps didn’t work. Ticket reopened. They even setup a secure file upload at one point and I did upload my passport. But then nothing happened. Ticket reopened…

A timeline of support ticket opening and closing with Stripe Singapore Customer Support
Chat conversation with Stripe Customer Support says: Her Mark, thanks for your patience. I checked with our internal team and they confirmed that your passport should suffice for completing your KYC verification.

Yeah, you need a NRIC or FIN.

The issue here seems to be that Customer Support and Stripe’s online documentation are out-of-step with the account activation workflow on the dashboard. And the dashboard workflow takes precedence. The very first question I sent Support was explicitly to ask if I needed the FIN because I did not have one. It took three weeks of back-and-forth to get a message saying that, even if my business is in Singapore, I personally needed a FIN to open a business account: 

Chat conversation with Stripe Singapore Support explaining that a FIN is required to activate a business account

It is a bit stricter than one might expect. This probably makes life easier in the KYC department at Stripe Singapore. Who knows whether this will continue into the future. But especially if you’re thinking about taking your business and work more mobile, make sure you work through all of the limitations first. You might think a particular banking and payment processing arrangement is possible according to online documentation and advertising, only to discover it is not when it comes time for implementation.

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