This is a complete guide to opening a bank account in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China. This guide also includes how to apply for a merchant account, credit, and transferring cash from your bank account in Hong Kong.
Preparing yourself for due diligence
The first most important step is selecting the best bank. This can be very tricky. However, you must be extra careful because it will affect the entire process of the rest of the account opening process as well as the future in the bank. Though there are very many banks, only a few of them are suitable for you.
The selected banks should be ready to open accounts for non-residents and have debit card services. Most of the top banks have same minimum deposit demands and provide online banking, foreign currency accounts, and cheques. It is very important to factor the regular monthly fees, wire transfer charges, incoming transfer charges, mobile application, and online banking.
Due diligence when opening a personal account
Banks demand that every client provides proof of address and a valid passport from a non-blacklisted nation. If you hail from western countries or a developed Asian nation, opening a bank account should not be a big issue. For Americans, the banks might decline to get you a bank account because of the pressure exerted on them by US administration and IRS. The US demands that banks declare all assets held outside the US by its citizens.
Due diligence when opening a corporate account
Though the requirements might vary from one bank to another, you will be required to provide every detail asked for when opening a personal account and additional business documents. Here, you have to be prepared to answer a lot of questions regarding the business.
For example, you will be asked about the business plan, its structure, personal experience, the clients, and transaction volumes. Most banks will also extend the inquiries to assess the source of initial deposit and capital as well as expected payment procedures. A lot of supporting documents will be required to authenticate what you have said. Think of putting together invoices, tenders documents, past clients, and other businesses linked to it.
Most banks have premium bank accounts that are easy to open compared to normal ones. You will need all the documents asked for when opening a personal bank account and proof of the sources of funds into the account.
Some banks will require you to deposit at least ½ million HKD while others might have a higher figure reaching 10 million. Despite the high deposit requirement, the charges are lower, and the accounts come with a dedicated manager, special credit cards, and premium investment opportunities.
Taking the right action
Once you have selected the right bank, prepare the due diligence documents and prepare for a trip to Hong Kong. To save money on your travel, carefully review the airlines operating the Hong Kong line. Though 2-3 days should be enough to make the application, it is important to plan for a full week stay should additional documents be needed.
- Opening the personal bank account: Prior to traveling to Hong Kong, it is important to select the preferred branch. The best banks are the ones on the Cause Way Bay and Wan Chai Road because most of the financial institutions operate from there. Therefore, if one declines your request, you can simply pop into the next one. Also, have the minimum deposit in cash alongside the supporting documents. It is advisable also to acquire a local phone number for easier communication when in Hong Kong. It will also assist you to avoid costly roaming charges.
- Opening a corporate account: To get a business account, it is prudent to book an appointment preferably 2-3 days earlier. When booking the appointment to the bank, you will be notified of the documents to carry, the location of the bank center. You must take all the required documents and initial deposit in cash. Clients are also allowed to wire the cash immediately after the account has been opened. Most banks provide debit cards that have two-factor authentication.
- The wallet services: Though these are not actual bank accounts, the functionalities border what the banks offer. The most popular wallets in Hong Kong include Neat and Tap & Go. They allow you to receive payments, hold money, and make payment. If you use Apple Smartphones or Tablets, Tap & Go can be accessed directly. Some wallets also accept payments from third parties.
Using your account
After getting the account in Hong Kong, it is important to register for online facilities with the details given by the bank. It is preferable to do this when in Hong Kong. This is because you can address any issue from the branch. After registering, ensure that all the details are correct. Some online facilities will confirm the details through a short text message or a direct call.
Using your bank account in Hong Kong is no different from the way you are used to back home. It is possible to check the balance, initiate transfers, or do anything online or over the phone.
The debit card that you get from the bank will work well in most parts of the world (only ensure that the bank ATM or processing machine bears the logo or Cirrus, UnionPay, or Visa).
To make local payments such as clearing bills, always ask for PPS machines. Then, register using the ATM card, and local phone number to get an account on the PPS site. From there, all the bills can be cleared fast and conveniently.
- Local address: Though banks will demand utility bills to get proof of address, you will get a corresponding address without the need for supporting docs. You can get a local address via an appropriate mail forwarding service provider.
- Applying for credit: One good thing when it comes to non-resident banking is the ability to apply for credit. Some banks provide mile-earning cards especially when huge cash transactions are done regularly. Since you lack a local credit profile, the bank will ask for a security deposit. However, this cash will be returned to your account after building a good credit history. Though every bank works with its rules, many will demand about 10% of minimum salary for that card.