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Opening a Bank Account in Hong Kong

Opening a Bank Account in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a great stepping stone into the Asia-Pacific market — a low-tax, low-regulation business haven that has given many exporting businesses a leg up.

However, opening a bank account in Hong Kong is no picnic for non-residents. Consider this a warning. Fortunately, it’s possible — don’t worry, we’ll explain how.

In this article, we’ll explore the reasons why you should consider Hong Kong for your exporting business, the steps to opening a business bank account in Hong Kong, and what will be required of you as a non-resident.

This article at a glance:

  • Can I open a business bank account as a non-resident in Hong Kong?

Yes. Everyone can open a business account in Hong Kong.

  • How strict is Hong Kong with non-residents opening business accounts?

Hong Kong is stricter than most jurisdictions. However, that should not deter you from applying for a business bank account for your exporting business.

  • What should I consider when choosing my bank?

There are a few considerations you should think of when choosing your bank of choice, including bank reputation, services offered and charges you should know beforehand.

Can a non-resident open a bank account in Hong Kong?

Yes, a permanent resident or non-resident can open a bank account in Hong Kong. However, the process may be more complicated and time-consuming for foreigners compared to local residents. To open a bank account in Hong Kong, non-residents generally need to provide the following documents:

  • A valid passport or other government-issued identification.
  • Proof of address (e.g., a utility bill or bank statement) from your home country.
  • Business registration documents and licenses, if applicable.
  • A description of your business activities, if applicable.

Online banking is obviously the easiest method for international SMEs. While it is possible to open a bank account online, it is generally recommended to visit Hong Kong in person, as banks typically prefer to meet with the new account- holder face-to-face. Additionally, some banks may have specific requirements or restrictions for non-residents, so it is essential to research and choose a suitable bank that caters to your needs.

If you find the process challenging, you may consider seeking professional assistance from a business consulting firm or a lawyer familiar with Hong Kong banking regulations to help you navigate the process.

The process of opening an account typically takes a minimum of two to four weeks. That is if you do not face any issues with the bank’s account opening process. Opening a business bank account can be done by everyone, regardless of resident or non-resident. However, note that non-residents may be asked to provide additional verification documents for identification purposes.

For businesses wanting to open an account, you and your business partners will be required to show up in person at the bank for an interview with the bank representative. This includes directors, shareholders, beneficiaries, controllers and bank account signatories.

Here are the steps to follow:

Steps to open corporate bank account in Hong Kong

How to open a corporate bank account in Hong Kong

Let’s go over what you need to do. It’s a fairly standard procedure.

1. Prepare the documents that are normally required

  • Proof of identity
  • Proof of address
  • Business formation documents
  • Business proof

2. Keep additional documents on hand, especially if you’re a non-resident

  • Original copy of director’s passport
  • Original copy of the annual return
  • Proof of residential address
  • More business proof, such as name proof for each of the directors, authorised signatories, principal shareholders and beneficial owners. (The final list of documents will depend on the bank of your choice.)

3. Submit documents to your bank of choice

  • Submit all the necessary documents to whichever bank you’ve applied to.

4. In-person meetings and interviews with the bank representative.

  • Remember that all members of your management will need to show up.

5. Wait for bank approval and activate your bank account

  • After you’re done with the above, all you have to do now is wait for approval. If your application is approved, you can proceed to activate your account.

Additionally, you have the option to acquire knowledge on how to open a bank account in Spain.

Why Choose Hong Kong to Open a Corporate Bank Account?

While opening a corporate bank account in Hong Kong is no easy feat for non-residents, it still remains a safe and secure financial hub in the Asia region for starting a business.

Here’s why:

Territorial advantage

Hong Kong’s territorial advantage places it in close proximity to China, one of the world’s largest economic hubs. If you’re looking to expand your business into the China market, you’ll be glad to hear that they welcome foreign entrepreneurs and businesses from Hong Kong.

Infrastructure facilities

Taking into account Hong Kong’s extensive sea and air facilities including shipping, logistics and freight forwarding services, goods and services can reach your customers easily.

An advantageous corporate tax system

Hong Kong has one of the lowest tax rates in the world, which is an important factor in maximising your company’s overall revenue. Refer here for detailed information on the corporate tax rates in Hong Kong.

Low-tax, low-regulation economy

With its free trade policy, and no limit for foreign offshore investments, entrepreneurs can expect to receive the maximum amount of earnings from their trades and business operations.

Nonetheless, while Hong Kong can be advantageous for businesses, foreign entrepreneurs who wish to open an offshore business account in Hong Kong should understand that the process may not be as straightforward as doing so in their home country. It’s worth noting that the cost of living for international ex-pats and merchants in Hong Kong isn’t cheap, mainly due to the property prices and rentals that are sky-high due to space and land constraints in the country.

What Kind of Challenges Will Foreign SMEs Face When Opening a Bank Account in Hong Kong?

Hong Kong has always been stringent about its customers and corporate entities who wish to open a business account. Even more so if you’re not a Hong Kong resident. Entrepreneurs looking to open business entities in Hong Kong should be prepared to invest time and money during their application process, especially for business bank accounts.

Remember that we’re talking about a business bank account under your company’s name — not a personal bank account that you use to carry out business transactions.

📍 Tip: You should not use your personal bank account to handle business transactions. This could cost you when settling company accounting matters and corporate taxes.

Higher bank charges

To keep your account open, you’ll need a minimum bank balance of approximately $ 2,000 to $ 50,000, depending on your bank of choice. Other basic bank account charges include annual account charges and outgoing fund transfers. By searching for the bank you want to open an account with, you will be able to see the charges offered by each bank.

Hong Kong banks' preference for larger companies

As compared to small and medium-sized businesses, top-ranking banks in Hong Kong prefer to focus on larger businesses which are perceived as being low-risk. Although this may not always necessarily be true, startups and newly incorporated companies do face more difficulties when opening an account in a Hong Kong bank. Part of this can be attributed to the due diligence process for a new business, which we will cover in the next section.

KYC compliance and due diligence checks

Financial institutions are often a target for fraud and criminal activities, which forces regulators to impose tough anti-fraud laws and standards for KYC compliance. In order to make sure the client or customer is verified and trustworthy, more procedures have been set up, making it more complicated to open a new bank account. Thus, non-residents and foreign companies are often turned away due to the expensive diligence checks for opening an account. You have been warned.

You have to be physically present in Hong Kong to open an account

A Hong Kong resident is looked upon more favourably than foreign account holders, owing to anti-money laundering rules. You must be present in person at the bank to open a Hong Kong bank account. This won’t last forever. Many foreign entrepreneurs who have incorporated their offshore companies in Hong Kong are not based in Hong Kong — many are eCommerce businesses operated from anywhere in the world.

How to Choose Your Bank in Hong Kong

Choosing the right bank in Hong Kong can be a crucial decision, especially for business owners. Let’s look at some key factors to consider.

  • Type of bank: There are three main types of banks in Hong Kong — retail banks, virtual banks, and commercial banks. Retail banks cater to personal banking needs, virtual banks allow you to operate a bank account online, and commercial banks offer corporate banking services. Identify your requirements and choose accordingly.
  • Presence of international banks: If you prefer working with an international bank with a presence in your home country, Hong Kong has plenty of options. Major international banks such as HSBC, Citibank, and Standard Chartered operate in the city.
  • Banking fees and charges: Compare various banks and their fee structures, including account maintenance fees, ATM withdrawal fees, and charges for international money transfers. Look for a bank that offers competitive fees and charges.
  • Online and mobile banking services: Online banking has become essential for managing your finances. Check if the bank has a user-friendly online platform and mobile app, and if they offer features like real-time balance updates, online bill payments, and money transfers.
  • Customer service: Evaluate the quality of customer service offered by the bank, including the availability of English-speaking staff, response times, and the level of support provided.
  • Branch and ATM network: Consider the convenience of the bank’s branch and ATM locations, particularly if you require frequent access to physical banking services.
  • Account opening requirements: Some banks may have stricter requirements for opening an account, such as a higher initial deposit or proof of local address. Choose a bank with account opening requirements that suit your needs.
  • Interest rates and savings options: Compare the interest rates offered on savings accounts, term deposits, and other investment products. Opt for a bank that provides competitive rates and a range of savings options to suit your financial goals.
  • Additional services: If you need additional services such as credit cards, loans, or insurance, check if the bank provides these and if the terms are favourable.
  • Reputation: Research the reputation of the banks you are considering. Look for reviews, ratings, and testimonials from existing customers to help you make an informed decision.

By taking these factors into account, you can make an informed choice and select the right bank in Hong Kong that meets your business needs.

There are many bank options, how should you choose?

Hong Kong boasts many reputable banks, including DBS Bank, Citibank, Standard Chartered Bank and HSBC. We have listed out a checklist to get you started.

When choosing a bank to open an account with, consider the following basic criteria:

  • Bank reputation
  • Services offered
  • The minimum deposit needed
  • Minimum account balance you need to maintain
  • Internet banking, especially for non-residents
  • Monthly and annual administrative charges

What are the costs associated with Hong Kong bank accounts?

The costs associated with Hong Kong bank accounts can vary depending on the bank and the type of account you choose. Here are some common fees and charges you may encounter:

  • Account opening fees: Some banks may charge a one-time account opening fee, while others may waive this fee as part of their promotions or for specific account types.
  • Monthly service fees: Many banks have a monthly service fee for maintaining your account, which can range from a few Hong Kong dollars to several hundred. Some banks waive this fee if you maintain a minimum balance in your account.
  • ATM withdrawal fees: Using an ATM from a different bank or an international ATM may incur charges. Typically, withdrawing from your own bank’s ATM is free, but fees apply when using other banks' ATMs.
  • International transaction fees: If you frequently send or receive money from abroad or use your debit card for international transactions, you may be charged fees for currency conversion and overseas transactions.
  • Overdraft fees: If you overdraw your account or request an overdraft facility, you may be charged interest and fees on the outstanding balance.
  • Inactive/dormant account fees: Some banks charge a fee if your account remains inactive for an extended period, usually six months or more.
  • Early account closure fees: If you close your account within a certain period after opening (usually six months to a year), you may be charged an early account closure fee. Additionally, please ensure that your account’s closing balance is zero to avoid any potential charges or fees.
  • Miscellaneous fees: These could include fees for issuing a chequebook, replacing a lost or damaged debit card, statement printing, and other such services.

It’s essential to thoroughly research and compare the fees and charges of different banks and account types in Hong Kong before opening an account. Some banks may offer lower fees or waive certain charges for specific customer segments, such as students or senior citizens. Always read the terms and conditions and fee schedules before committing to a bank account.

Can I open a Bank of China Hong Kong account online?

If you’re opening your first account in Hong Kong, regrettably, you won’t have the option to do so online. This restriction is a result of the nation’s stringent anti-money laundering regulations. But once you have an account and access to online banking, you should be able to open additional accounts if needed.

To establish your account, you’ll be required to schedule an appointment and visit a bank branch in person. Some banks allow you to fill out an online application form beforehand, which may expedite the process slightly.

How to open a bank account in Hong Kong from the UK

Opening a bank account in Hong Kong online is not an option due to regulatory restrictions, which may complicate the process if you’re trying to set up an account before leaving the UK.

However, don’t fret — it’s still doable. If your home bank has a presence in both the UK and Hong Kong, such as HSBC or Citibank, you could (theoretically) open an account remotely.

To facilitate this, your local branch in the UK can assist you with completing the required paperwork and forwarding it to the corresponding Hong Kong branch.

Upon arriving in Hong Kong, simply visit your new branch to verify your identity, and your account will be ready to use.

Is There An Easier Method?

Yes. At Silverbird, we offer a global business account enabled with 30+ currencies, direct IBANs, and fast EU/US/UK transactions — so you don’t have to go through the trouble to open multiple ones. Our secure onboarding is 100% online, which means you won’t have to travel to a foreign country.

If you’re an international trader looking for a simple way to receive and send money abroad, start onboarding today.


What are the Top Hong Kong Banks?

Some of the top banks in Hong Kong include:


2. Bank of China (Hong Kong)

3. Standard Chartered

4. Hang Seng Bank

5. Citibank (Hong Kong)

6. DBS Bank (Hong Kong) Limited

7. Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (Asia)

8. The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited

9. China Construction Bank (Asia)

10. OCBC Wing Hang Bank Limited

How can I open a bank account in Hong Kong?

To open a bank account in Hong Kong, you typically need to provide the following documents:

1. Identification proof: passport or Hong Kong ID card

2. Proof of address: utility or mobile phone bill, bank statement, or tenancy agreement

3. Employment status: employment letter or self-employment proof

The specific requirements may vary depending on the bank and type of account you want to open. It’s recommended to check with the bank directly for their specific requirements and procedures.

Can foreigners open a Hong Kong bank account?

Yes, foreigners can open a Hong Kong bank account. However, the process may be more complex compared to residents. Most banks require a valid passport, proof of address (both in your home country and Hong Kong if available), and a reference letter from your current bank. Some banks may also ask for additional documentation, such as proof of employment or income.

It’s important to note that each bank has its own set of requirements and procedures, so it’s a good idea to research and contact the specific bank you are interested in opening an account with. It’s also recommended to open an account in person, as this can make the process smoother.

Can Americans open a bank account in Hong Kong?

It is possible for Americans to open a bank account in Hong Kong, but it depends on the policies and requirements of the specific bank. Some banks may require additional documentation or proof of residency in Hong Kong. It is recommended to check with individual banks for their specific requirements.

How many types of banks are there in Hong Kong?

There are three types of banks in Hong Kong: licensed banks, restricted license banks, and deposit-taking companies.

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