It’s a well-known fact that Hong Kong stands close to the pinnacle of global business banking with hundreds of reputable institutions to its name. But seeking entry, especially for foreigners, can be quite hard due to strict screening protocols and requirements for signatory presence.
Thus, arming yourself with adequate knowledge is crucial to getting your bank account started in this country. In this article, BBCIncorp will walk you through the registration process and useful tips for opening a Hong Kong bank account.
Opening a bank account in Hong Kong: Is it difficult?
In 2021, Hong Kong held on to the top 3 in Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI). Without any doubt, Hong Kong is among the most reputed jurisdictions in the world for its image as an international financial mecca. Particularly, Its extensive network of banks and effectively transparent regulations are outstanding points.
Therefore, the reputation of banks in Hong Kong is well recognized, for instance, HSBC. As reported by HKMA, Hong Kong has more than 70 of the largest 100 banks in the world, with nearly 30 multinational banks establishing their regional headquarters in Hong Kong.
Thanks to this, Hong Kong becomes one of the top pick offshore banking jurisdictions for foreigners. Having said that, notwithstanding, registering Hong Kong bank account for foreigners is often met with some challenges.
Many ex-pats and non-residents, especially those with newly incorporated companies often face some difficulties when opening a bank account here. In addition, some common problems are:
- Due diligence procedure in Hong Kong;
- Possible required in-person appointments;
- Significant impact of a company profile on the eligibility of bank account opening;
- Long processing time for the bank’s approval since banks in Hong Kong are extremely protective of their financial services.
Additionally, each bank can apply different criteria in evaluating the appropriateness of your case.
Applicants can also be denied access to opening accounts with Hong Kong banks due to their nationality, business activities, etc.
How to open a bank account in Hong Kong
In this section, we’ll provide key factors of bank account opening in Hong Kong for you to consider.
Understand the fundamentals of Hong Kong bank account opening
As a new client, you must be confused about the registration process and requirements to start a bank account in Hong Kong.
Moreover, in this high-profile country, opening a bank account requires a high level of verification and security, especially for Hong Kong corporate bank accounts. To clarify, below are some key highlights in relation to Hong Kong bank account opening that you need to know:
- Possibility to open a bank account for foreigners in Hong Kong
Whether you are a Hong Kong resident or non-resident, it is eligible to open a business bank account.
However, foreigners may be subject to more additional requirements for verification/identification purposes, compared to local residents.
- Separate account types for individuals and business entities
From the perspective of an account holder, you may choose:
(1) Personal bank account type: Applicable for any individual person who wishes to open a bank account in Hong Kong
(2) Corporate bank account type: Applicable for Hong Kong limited companies or overseas companies in Hong Kong
- Required documents for opening a bank account in Hong Kong
Below are some documents you need to prepare for the Hong Kong bank account opening
- 4 steps to set up a typical Hong Kong bank account
(1) Collect required documents (*)
(2) Submit documents
(3) Process on-boarding/Have a meeting with the bank officer
(4) Activate bank account
Hong Kong set out strict anti-money laundering regulations.
Under the guidance of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and in line with international best practices, all Hong Kong banks need to check due diligence on both new and existing customers before granting approval.
Note that requirements for this process may be varied, depending on your bank of choice. Moreover, setting up a corporate bank account has more requirements than opening a personal bank account.
In addition to knowing the KYC obligations, non-resident enterprises are required to attach additional documents like proof of business activities.
Also, a personal interview with the bank’s representative for bank account opening is possibly compulsory. All directors, beneficial owners, and shareholders with no less than 10% or other pre-specified rates of the company shares must participate.
In the meantime, the complete account opening process in Hong Kong can normally take up to 15 working days.
Applying for a business bank account can be a real challenge if you’re just starting out and have no substantial trading proof.
For an exclusive summary of the background, problems, and solutions for business banking application context, check out our latest Case Study: Business Banking Application For Startup.
- Fee and charges associated with bank account registration
The table below fully summarizes different types of deposits, as well as payable fees for you to consider.
Remember that fee requirements may vary depending on your choice of bank.
|Types of deposit/charge/fee ||Payable amount (for reference only) |
|Initial deposit ||HKD 10,000 – 50,000 |
|Minimum balance ||HKD 50,000 – 500,000, otherwise charge of HKD 200 on a monthly basis |
|Processing fee ||Up to HKD 10,000 |
|Appointment meeting fee ||HKD 1,200 – 1,350 |
|Order of international credit card ||HKD 30,000 – 50,000 |
|Foreign transfer fee ||HKD 115 – 120 |
|Early closure fee ||HKD 200 |
Open a Hong Kong bank account online
Some say foreigners cannot open a bank account remotely in Hong Kong. In reality, overseas customers may have several ways to open bank accounts in Hong Kong.
Yet, the in-person visit requirement for opening a Hong Kong bank account creates difficulty and inconvenience for foreigners. Furthermore, all applicants (and relevant company directors) wishing to open a bank account in Hong Kong must be present for the application interview in Hong Kong.
Having said that, opening a bank account remotely is still possible with the following solutions:
Non-residents can opt for “branch application” as one viable solution to minimize the complexity. They can find an international bank with a foothold in Hong Kong (HSBC for example).
In this way, they can visit the bank right in their home country to fulfill all the needed paperwork before arriving in Hong Kong to complete the final steps for the opening process. Do note that only some banks provide this option, and the individual branch has its own policy regarding this matter. So you should better consult your desired bank or a trusted banking introducer to get everything sorted out first.
What makes a digital account really stand out for overseas customers is the fact that it allows remote registration for account opening. Modern technologies would be effectively utilized to streamline the traditional process and everything completely done online.
By all means, some most recommended fintech companies that offer high-quality digital account opening services are Neat, Airwallex, Wise, or Startrys.
During COVID-19, some Hong Kong banks allow businesses to open their corporate bank account without a direct presence in Hong Kong. Still, the case may vary depending on each bank’s policy at that time and your business circumstances as well.
In any event, you should engage a professional service provider in Hong Kong who will help them to get everything done in advance with the Hong Kong bank account opening.
Open offshore bank accounts for Hong Kong companies
If you are planning to form a company in Hong Kong and wondering about the difficulty of opening a bank account there, you are recommended to think of offshore bank accounts.
In general, opening a bank account is one of the key requirements for incorporated companies in Hong Kong. However, Hong Kong companies are NOT compulsory to own a corporate bank account in Hong Kong. Instead, they can register a bank account in other countries.
Overall, because of its good reputation, Hong Kong companies are typically welcomed in most foreign countries, allowing them to easily open a bank account.
How BBCIncorp can help you open a bank account in Hong Kong with ease
BBCIncorp has a broad partnership network with both local and international banks in Hong Kong, which offers the best banking solutions for your needs.
We guarantee a one-time fee for multi-bank support – with our premium package, you can get up to 5 times of bank applications, or till the account is opened successfully, whichever comes first.
In case you fail to register with your initial bank of choice, we’ll continue to support you with other viable options in Singapore, the BVI, Belize, and other jurisdictions.
At the moment, Hong Kong companies are not required to open a local corporate bank account. Thus, you may want to consider overseas bank accounts for your Hong Kong companies.
If you’re new to the concept of corporate banking and don’t know where to start, feel free to visit our Banking Support to get the full list of banking options, guidance, and practical advice.
Or, if you’re looking for an all-in-one package for Hong Kong Company Formation & Business Bank Account Opening, we can offer customized pricing that perfectly fits your styles and budgets, no hidden charges guaranteed.