Offshore Merchant Accounts

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Libby James
Merchant Services Expert

Libby James is co-founder, director and an expert in all things merchant services. Libby is the go-to specialist for business with more complex requirements or businesses that are struggling to find a provider that will accept them. Libby is regularly cited in trade, national and international media.

Offshore credit card processing is popular for online merchants wishing to process payments outside of their registered business locations. Before applying to an offshore payment processor, it’s important to understand how accepting transactions using an offshore account works and the technicalities involved, as well as pricing. In this blog we’ll take a look at how to process payments offshore, allowing you to make informed decisions when it comes to choosing the best offshore merchant account.

What is an offshore merchant account?

An offshore merchant account it is a payment processing option available to businesses wishing to accept payments globally, as well as in the country the company is registered. 

In addition to geographical locations and restrictions, high-risk businesses unable to secure a merchant account in the UK are often able to acquire an offshore merchant account where required. These terminated and declined account have ordinarily run out of UK based options, meaning searching a little further afield. 

When it comes to offshore payment processing, an offshore merchant gateway or account gives high-risk companies flexibility when it comes to financial transactions as well as greater markets to explore. 

Offshore merchant services can be an effective alternative for businesses and offshore payment processing is becoming increasingly popular amongst high-risk merchants. It allows businesses with high rates of chargebacks, fraud, or bad credit to take advantage a less rigorous application process – with higher rates of acceptance.

Selecting from the range of offshore merchant account providers can be a complex process, and although it has its benefits it doesn’t come without its downfalls.

Below we’ll list the pros and cons of offshore merchant accounts for different high-risk companies.

Benefits of offshore merchant processing

  • Every country has different regulations and legalities, and when it comes to offshore high-risk merchant providers these need serious consideration. In the UK the main advantage of using an offshore payment company lies in the increased likelihood of approval for high-risk merchants that have failed to secure a merchant provider in the UK.
  • Offshore merchant services provide possible tax breaks so there’s often little or no tax on revenue received from offshore payments.
  • Largely, offshore payment companies have a more liberal approach to high-risk businesses and applications.

Disadvantages of offshore merchant processing

  • Higher rates are to be expected, especially with offshore payment processing compared to a standard merchant accounts.
  • Some offshore merchant service providers require a representative from the company to travel to their jurisdiction to open a merchant account.
  • Settling legal disputes can be difficult.
  • Damage to your company reputation as offshore merchant accounts can have negative connotations in the UK and you may find that business activity, including offshore merchant account credit card processing is monitored more closely by associated banks and authorities within the UK.

Offshore high-risk merchant account

Some businesses may benefit from an offshore high risk merchant account. The reason for this is that it may be difficult to obtain an account in the incorporated country due to being deemed high risk. Offshore high-risk merchant account providers may look at things slightly differently, meaning that although you are deemed high risk here you might not be in other areas of the world. Exploring offshore high-risk merchant accounts can also lead to tax advantages.

Finding suitable offshore payment providers

Finding the most suited offshore payment processor to your requirements can be a headache. First of all the likelihood is that you have never heard of the banks before, and when you start searching there are lots of different options available meaning it can be difficult to know where to start. 

Each acquiring bank will have its own criteria, which sets out the types of businesses and locations they will accept payment processing applications from. Before you decide which bank to apply for, check the following are acceptable;

  • Registered business location
  • Director country of residence
  • Customer locations
  • Business type 
  • Preferred currencies

As with any merchant account application, offshore applications are subject to underwriting before approval is confirmed.

Offshore merchant account instant approval

Some offshore payment service providers approve applications quickly, normally within 24 hours depending on when you can provide the requested paperwork. However, it’s important to find a suitable account for credit card processing offshore for the long-term, so be careful not to make rushed decisions just because you are in need. If you need advice on the most suitable offshore merchant account provider, speak to our experts today.


Applying for an offshore merchant account

It’s important to look into the relevant UK bank policies on receiving transactions from offshore merchant accounts before considering this as an option.

At Merchant Advice Service we are on hand to provide guidance and expert advice on this process, helping you to avoid any potential issues and make the right decision for your business.

To find out more, fill in our contact form and somebody will respond ASAP or, alternatively, give us a call on 0800 304 7875.

Offshore payment gateways

In addition to an offshore merchant account, to accept international payments online ecommerce merchants will need a suitable offshore payment gateway. The gateway provider will encrypt customer card details ensuring the transaction remains safe. To find the most suited offshore gateway provider, think about the following;

  • Does the payment gateway integrate to your website platform?
  • Will the offshore gateway work in the currencies you require?
  • What PCI DSS level is the gateway provider?
  • What methods of payment are enabled on the gateway? i.e do you need to accept Apple Pay etc  
  • Can your gateway provider work with your chosen offshore merchant account?

If you need a hand our offshore payments specialists can help.

Offshore Business Banking

We don’t just do card payments; our partners can assist with opening a bank account in preparation to accept offshore card payments. If you are a UK Director or have Directors overseas we can assist with finding you a suitable business bank account.


The Best Countries for Offshore Merchant Accounts

The best way of processing offshore payments largely depends on the risk related to your business and which countries your customers are located in. For example, lots of gaming and gambling merchant choose to use an high risk gateway provider based in Malta.

Merchant Advice Service specalise in supporting merchants who want offshore processing in the following locations;

  • Malta
  • Latvia
  • Cyprus
  • Europe
  • India
  • Nigeria
  • Brazil
  • Mexico
  • Argentina
  • Columbia
  • Peru
  • Chile
  • Ecuador
  • Pakistan 
  • Bangladesh 
  • El Salvador 
  • Guatemala 
  • Kenya 
  • South Africa 
  • Nicaragua 
  • Thailand
  • Malaysia 
  • Indonesia 
  • Vietnam 
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Libby James

Libby James Co-founded Merchant Advice Service alongside David Bird in 2016. Her finance background, coupled with retail and customer service experience, gave Libby the drive to bring transparency and non-biased advice to the world of merchant services. Having come from the heavily regulated mortgage and insurance industry, Libby found it puzzling that other financial sectors lacked regulation and transparency leaving customers confused and unable to make informed decisions when it came to accepting card payments. This was soon to become Libby’s obsession!

With the help of some of the industry’s best, Libby began to research acquiring banks, complex terminology/regulation, and the problems customers experience within merchant services and payment gateway markets. She spent years on sourcing solutions for complex clients, which previously others were unable to assist with. Libby established relationships with brokers and banks which would soon form the cornerstone of Merchant Advice Service. As a result Libby has been featured in high-profile publications across the web.

Libby is proud to be the entrepreneur’s champion, supporting start-up businesses regularly. Her industry insights can often be found on LinkedIn where she provides free of charge advice and money saving pointers. It’s safe to say she has her finger on the pulse of everything card payments related.

Libby speaks of her experience in founding and running Merchant Advice Service…

‘Merchant Advice Service is one of my greatest achievements to date. We help business owners to overcome card processing issues which can become detrimental to their business. We assist SME’s in finding suitable card payments solutions, helping them create their vision. Each and every day is different, exciting and fore filling. As technology advances I can’t wait to see the way in which the merchant services market advances, and I’m pleased that our business will play a part in educating company owners along the way.’

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