Hong Kong is a hotbed of financial activity with a delightful mixture of Chinese culture mixed with many freedoms associated typically with the West.
Whether you are planning to visit the city yourself, wish to enter into business transactions there, or want to benefit from some pretty great business tax benefits, you will want to have a Hong Kong international bank account.
While the process used to be quite simple and remains so if you are in the city itself (especially if you have a U.S., EU, or Australian passport), increased amounts of money laundering and other nefarious activities have caused restrictions that make it nearly impossible to acquire an account remotely.
Well, what do you do then if you need to set up an account buy either have no plans to visit the city or need to have it set up in advance to assure that you will be well taken care of in a worst-case scenario?
Here is what you need to know to handle this complicated situation.
Why Hong Kong?
Well, first of all, hopefully not for money laundering since that is what has made it so difficult, to begin with.
In all seriousness though, there are many benefits to having an account in Hong Kong.
If you intend to visit and stay for any serious length of time, it’s helpful to have access to an account so you can handle transactions and keep your money secure during your time in Hong Kong.
The option to have credit and debit cards for transactions makes purchasing easier, especially since you will have the proper currency established and ready to use in your account.
One of the greatest benefits to having a Hong Kong business account is that interest is tax-free, allowing you to reap the maximum advantage of your savings account.
Also, international capital transfer is free and easy to do since the city has so many various industries.
As the industry is so prevalent and flourishes, Hong Kong has a solid economy that invites businesses to want to participate and pursue investment opportunities.
This reputation extends to the banks, which are high-profile and known to be secure for money storage.
Plus, they offer many online options which make it easy to manage and maintain an account from anywhere in the world.
The only issue is getting that first account set up, especially if you’re remote.
After that, it’s pretty easy to create additional accounts.
The Traditional Way to Remotely Open Accounts
This first way is not an entirely online option (hold on, it’s coming!), but it is important to know in the event you run into any difficulties or decide that you prefer this method over the completely online technique.
This method is not going to be a valid option for businesses, by the way, as the restrictions are far more strict, but it will allow you to set up before your visit if you intend to travel there and can speed up access to your account upon your arrival.
As the whole reason that it is difficult to start your first account remotely is due to a need to prove your identity, there is a loophole of sorts that can allow a third party to identify you on your behalf.
The key is to locate a bank that has a physical location both in Hong Kong and in your general location.
Once you locate a viable bank (and you should shop around among options to find the best choice), then you need to set up an account with them.
HSBC is a popular choice, but there are certainly other options.
The purpose of this is that they will verify all of your pertinent information to prove your identity through this process.
Since they have holdings in Hong Kong and have already verified your identity to ensure you are not a money launderer, you can then have them set up a “branch application” to help you get an account over there.
If you’re very fortunate, a bank that you already have an account with will fit that criteria and simplify the process further.
Once your account is set up, merely stop by to verify your identity and you are good to go.
There may still be a waiting period when setting up your account, so make sure that you do so about 30 days before you plan to travel to the city.
At last, the wait is over.
In the past, there simply was no way to set up an account in Hong Kong online once those restrictions were set in place, but fortunately, the internet has evolved considerably since then and there are always creative entities that find new ways to solve problems.
If you are unable to visit the country yourself to verify your identity, the key is still to have a third party perform this procedure for you.
Hong Kong Banks
First, investigate whether there are options available right now in Hong Kong that allow you to complete the process online.
Due to Covid-19, there have been some banks that have relaxed guidelines enough to allow remote accounts to be created without having an actual physical presence there at the time.
If that is the case, then that is a great option as it allows you to deal directly with the bank in question.
A new market has opened that will allow you to set up an account in Hong Kong completely online without having to travel anywhere in person.
Digital account companies such as Statrys, Neat, and Currenxie have established protocols that allow them to identify your identity and set up an account in Hong Kong on your behalf, allowing you to handle everything via the internet.
Often these accounts are active quickly and the process has a lot of benefits that make everything easy since they do the majority of the work for you.
As always, shop around to determine which service is appropriate and offers the best value for your needs.