How to open a Bank Account in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is one of the largest cities in the world. It is also a huge financial center with a lot of opportunities to become successful. This is why so many people continue to move here on a regular basis. If you are planning to come here to live, you will need to get your finances situated and open a bank account in Hong Kong. Don’t worry, the process is not that hard and you don’t have to be a native-born citizen. Even someone visiting the country temporarily is allowed to open an account if you know someone who lives in Hong Kong.

Opening a Bank Account in Hong Kong

If you are planning on getting yourself a bank account in Hong Kong, you may be surprised at how simple it is to do in relation to other countries.You need to bring legitimate forms of identification that are not expired And paperwork that shows where you live, details will be explained further down.

Types of Accounts

There are a variety of different kinds of bank accounts you can open in Hong Kong. Depending on what you need from one, you have a few choices in how to handle your finances. A few of the most common types of accounts are:

  • Checking accounts to do your bill paying and daily activities
  • Savings account to earn interest on your money that is in excess of what you use daily
  • Timed deposit accounts for money you can wait to withdrawal
  • Investment accounts which also have time limits

Situations Where Your Home Country and Hong Kong Have the Same Bank

If you use an institution that has both branches in Hong Kong as well as your home country, you may be able to transfer your bank account to the Hong Kong branch. You will need all of the standard required documents  as well as photocopies of admissions to a university letter or an employment letter stating your intent to move to Hong Kong. In some instances, keeping a bank account in your home country may be necessary to prove you have enough money to apply for an account out of the country. Once you have moved, pick up your new ATM card from the branch in Hong Kong you plan on using as your primary bank.

Minimum Account Requirements

No matter where or how you set up your Hong Kong bank account, your ATM access code needs to be set upon person. Pick out a 4 digit code that you can easily remember. This is for your security. You also need to have the minimum deposit amount in your account. It is usually HKD $1000 in most places. Of course it can vary from bank to bank. It is required to be in your account within three days of setting it up.

Timed Deposit Account

You can apply for timed deposit multi currency accounts. You tell the bank how long you will purchase the foreign money for and sign an agreement to the terms. Be sure to read everything that you sign carefully.

More About ATM’s

Although you need to set the pin in person, your new ATM card will be ready for either pick up or delivery  within 3-7 days. There will be directions enclosed in the envelope the card comes in on how to activate and use it. Some things are different about ATM cards in Hong Kong compared to other countries. You can’t use your card at all ATM counters and you need to set up which services you can access. Examples of this are;

  • Account members of HSBC and Hang Seng Bank can only take out and deposit money and pay their bills in each other’s ATM’s.
  • All other banks can use their own ATMs as well as ATMs that have a JETCO sign.
  • Debit cards that have EPS on them can purchase in stores that accept EPS. If the card says VISA, it works as a standard VISA debit card.

Opening a personal bank account in hong kong (non-residents)

Because many of the people of Hong Kong come and go, it is a transient city. Many of the people there only stay from a few weeks to a couple years.Banks realize this and make opening a standard account fairly simple. If you are a member of the European Union or are American or Australian and have a passport, opening an account is quick. For all other countries, the application process can take 2 weeks.

Can I Open A Bank Account Online?

If it is your first bank account in Hong Kong, you can not open it online. However, if you already have one account, you may. There is strict laws regarding money laundering so there are rules in place to prevent it. Once you have internet banking set up, you can open as many accounts as you like. If your home bank is also in Hong Kong, you can do it online. Your local bank can assist you in the process and send all paperwork to Hong Kong for you. Be advised, do this at least a month in advance of moving. Once you get to Hong Kong, go to your bank to activate your account and it will be fully active within 15-20 days. Business accounts are different and much more strict. Even if you have a personal account in good standing, you must apply in person for this service.

Choosing an Area That Deals With International Clientele

There are areas in Hong Kong that have expats who are experienced in dealing with international accounts. Discovery Bay, Central Hong Kong and Mid-Levels are all good areas to choose a branch. The employees are used to handling customers from other countries and will be better at understanding your needs and language.

The following documents will be required to open an account:  

  •  Your government identification card or driver’s license. A passport or HK ID card can also be used;
  • Proof of where you live like an electric bill, phone bill, or a bank statement from another bank that is less than 90 days old.
  • If you do not have an address, you can use someone that is related to you or is a friend’s house;
  • A visa that is current
  • If you’re working in Hong Kong, bring a letter stating your employment.
  • For students, bring an official letter from your college stating that you are registered as a student there.

The HK ID Card

Getting an HK ID card is a really good idea so you can use a variety of services in Hong Kong. It is also necessary if you are over 11 years of age and will be staying in Hong Kong over six months. It lets you get more benefits such as;

  • Get more Public Services
  • Allows you to get a Library Card
  • Clearance from immigration
  • More secure than using a passport
  • Needed for opening a business Bank Account in Hong Kong
  • Protects you from ID thieves

They are free with the Registration of Persons Office. Book an appointment there, take your visa and passport with you. Fill out an application form, bring two pictures of you and you should get your card in 10 days.

Opening a business bank account in hong kong

The process of opening a corporate account is more detailed than opening a standard Hong Kong bank account. It used to be easy to open a corporate account here, however with the recent terrorists using accounts in other countries to launder money, they have had to crack down on who has access to business accounts. The KYC or Know Your Customer rules are in place to make sure only legitimate corporations hold accounts. Detailed information about the business and all partners in the company and employees are required.

Picking a Bank That is Right For You

There are so many banks in the area, in fact there is over 250. That can make deciding which one to do business with a tough choice. If you are already using a bank in your home country that is also locate in Hong Kong, you are in luck. Continue using their services. The banks in the area usually have the same types of services with some variations. They all love new customers so there is usually incentives to open a new account, or keep your current bank if they have a branch in the area.

Best Banks in Hong Kong

There are a few banks in Hong Kong that stand out due to being the biggest. They all offer different incentives to open an account. You can compare them to see which one may be the best fit for you.

  • HSBC is the biggest of the international banks. They offer an instant savings account which allows you to choose the currency and offers interest. If you don’t need it right away, there is a time deposit account with higher interest rates than a standard account. They offer a loan that is approved instantly and has a flat rate of .13% per month. You can borrow up to 12x what you make in a year.
  • Standard Chartered has incentives like mileage for flights and cash rewards for new clients. They have an integrated deposit account which lets you access all accounts easily. They also offer an ATM card with dual currency.
  • Citibank is easy to open and if you already have an account, you get Citigold status at the Hong Kong location. There is free ATM use from their banks world wide and you can transfer money for free between your home and Hong Kong accounts.
  • Hang Seng is part of HSBC so they have a lot of the same services and rates. They are a great bank for students because you get no monthly fee on your account and for three years after graduation, a free credit card. There is also overdraft protection and free currency withdrawals from your home country.
  • Bank of China is the best choice if you go to the rest of the country of China often. They are a part of Jetco and Union Pay, a big ATM network. Overseas transactions have a low withdrawal fee and some transactions at grocery stores and department stores are free with the EPS sign.

Fees and Costs

You always want to read the fine print on any account that you open because depending on the bank you use, you could be paying any number of bees and you do not want it to be a surprise. These are some of the fees you may find in a Hong Kong bank account.

  • A minimum balance fee if you are not above the agreed upon amount that is to be in the account
  • A monthly charge called a maintenance fee
  • Checkbooks are still used in Hong Kong on a frequent basis, if you get one there may be a delivery charge for the checkbook unless you give an address that is located in Hong Kong.
  • Early termination fees of up to HKD$200 if you close your account before an agreed upon time limit.
  • You can use your own bank ATM, and some within your network like Jetco but if you use a bank that is not in the approved network it can cost you between HKD 15 and HKD 20 per withdrawal.
  • International transfer fees can get expensive, costing you between HKD1 15 and HKD1 20 per transfer between accounts. Banks like Citibank offer free international transfers if you have an account in the same banking network. You also have to be careful of exchange rates that are unfavorable.

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