I wrote some how-to articles a few years ago on how to open bank accounts in various places for people who are residing temporarily or moving to a new country. I have a few I will start to post and this one was detailed and and I thought this one might be of interest.
Opening 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. You will need to 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.
Types of Bank 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. We all have a variety of what we need from a bank so here are A few of the most common types of accounts :
- Checking accounts allow you to do pre-authorized purchases on a reoccurring basis and to do your bill paying, shopping online and in store and daily basic shopping you need to survive activities. You can withdraw from an atm as well.
- Savings account- These are generally to hold money in to earn interest on your money that is in excess of what you use daily. You can withdrawal money from an atm as well.
- 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 in luck. You may be able to transfer your bank account to the Hong Kong branch. You will need all of the standard required documents that a bank requires like identification of course. You may need as well, 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 showing up in person. 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. It is always vital to read all terms and conditions when dealing with financial institutions.
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. This will teach you 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 ATMs.
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.
Can a Bank Account in Hong Kong be Opened by a Non-Citizen?
Because Hong Kong is such an international hub for many business activities many of the people of Hong Kong come and go. It is considered is a transient city for many people who reside here. Banks realize this and make opening a standard bank account in Hong Kong 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 in general. 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. An exception would be 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. Banks in Hong Kong are very secure and want to keep it that way. Be prepared to follow the rules as it is for your own protection and the protection of all of the banking institutions and their customers. You wouldn't want someone else to be able to bypass the rules that you had to follow to get a new bank account in Hong Kong.
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 drivers 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 that you can receive mail at and send mail from.
- A visa that is current and up to date
- If you’re working in Hong Kong, bring a letter stating your employment from your boss.
- For students, bring an official letter from your college stating that you are registered as a student there.
The HK ID Card
Getting an H K ID card is a really good idea so you can use a variety of services in Hong Kong. Here is a link to more information on obtaining a Hong Kong ID Card Get your Hong Kong Identification Here 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;
- Qualifies you for more Public Services then someone who does not have a HK card
- It Allows you to get a Library Card as it is required
- Clearance from immagration
- It is even more secure than using a passport
- Needed for opening a business Bank Account in Hong Kong
- Greatly assists you having your identity stolen 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.
- For FAQ go directly Here for FAQ on HK ID and Smart Idenity Card
Business Bank Accounts in Hong Kong
If you are in the beautiful city of Hong Kong for business reasons then you are very lucky to have the chance to work in such a gorgeous city. However be prepared to do more research and spend more time opening a business bank account Hong Kong. The process of opening a business account is more detailed than opening a basic or personal Hong Kong bank account. It used to be easy to open a business account here, however people got accounts in other countries to launder money, so they have had to crack down on who has access to business accounts.
Know Your Customer
The KYC or Know Your Customer rules are in place to make sure only legitimate corporations hold accounts. This is a company that explains it a bit. I have no affiliation with them but they explain it in good detail. Learn more about KYC 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 general Hong Kong area that it can be a tough choice to pick which banking beach to use. In fact, banking in Hong Kong is so popular, that there are over 250 branches in the vicinity. 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 located in Hong Kong, you are in luck. Continue using their services. The banks in the area sually have the same types of services with some variations. They all love new customers. There is usually incentives to open a new account, or keep your current bank if they have a branch in the area. Find the bank with the best incentives for opening a new foreign bank account if you are not a native of the area and this also applies to residents who were born in Hong Kong. Find the best incentives for the type of banking needs that you have.
Looking at the Largest 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 Big Bank
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.
This bank 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.https://www.sc.com/hk
Citibank hong Kong branches are easy to open. 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. You can transfer money for free between your home and Hong Kong accounts.https://www.citibank.com.hk/
Hang Seng Banking
This branch is part of HSBC so they have a lot of the same services and rates. They are a great bank for students. This is 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
The 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. This is a big ATM network in China all over. Overseas transactions have a low withdrawal fee and some transactions at grocery stores and department stores are free with the EPS sign. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_Payment_Services
Link here https://www.bochk.com/en/home.html
Fees and Costs
You always want to read the fine print on any type of bank account that you open. Depending on the bank you use, you could be paying any number of fees and you do not want an overdraft 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. Many banks require that you keep a minimum amount in the bank at all times. Make sure to keep an eye on your bank statements.
- Banks need to make money to service customers A monthly charge called a maintenance fee may be applied.
- Checkbooks are still used in Hong Kong on a frequent basis. This isn't common In some parts of the world. 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 apon time limit. Make sure to follow all terms that you agreed to when you sign up with a bank or hefty fees may come your way. Banks help us but they are also a business and personal accountability is necessary to ensure that they can stay open to continue to help hold our money for us.
- ATM fees can occur if you use a non approved ATM. You can use your own bank ATM for free. Sometimes you can even use others within a network of banks. For example, 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.