To open a bank account, individuals need identification (like a passport or Hong Kong ID) and proof of address. Corporate accounts require more extensive documentation, including incorporation documents, business registration certificates, and details of company structure.
Hong Kong offers a personal bank account and a corporate bank account for both locals and non-residents. However, non-residents may face additional verification requirements.
You can open a Hong Kong bank account remotely by using the 'branch application' option or using the virtual bank option to complete your application entirely online.
With traditional banks, opening an account can take up to 15 working days, depending on the bank's approval process. Virtual banks may offer a quicker setup, with some claiming to open accounts in as fast as 3-5 days.
A report in 2023 also shows a 1.7% increase in deposits with authorised institutions, indicating how the country maintains its strength in the financial and banking world.
Whether you plan to visit the city or wish to do business in Hong Kong, the country offers diverse local and international banks to cater to your banking needs, regardless of your residency status.
This article explains the process of opening a bank account in Hong Kong, detailing account types, requirements, the online procedure, and common questions such as duration, residency status requirements, and fees. We also conclude with an alternative solution for your business in Hong Kong.
Let's begin with the steps to open a bank account.
Step 1: Choose a Bank Account Type
There are two primary types of bank accounts you can open in Hong Kong: a personal bank account and a corporate bank account.
Any individual can open a personal bank account. However, opening a corporate bank account applies to entities such as limited companies, sole proprietorships, partnerships, or offshore companies in Hong Kong.
Given that each bank may have its own policies on the types of entities accepted, it's advisable to review the information on your chosen bank's website or reach out to them in advance.
💡 Tip: Avoid using personal accounts for business purposes. Here are 6 reasons why you shouldn’t use personal accounts for business.
Step 2: Decide Which Bank To Use in Hong Kong
Choose a reputable bank that aligns with your specific needs. Each bank offers different packages for both personal and corporate accounts. Prioritise researching their offerings, fees, terms, conditions, and eligibility requirements.
Here are some popular banks in Hong Kong to consider:
- DBS Bank (Hong Kong) - DBS is a leading financial services group in Asia, offering a comprehensive range of services such as consumer, SME, and corporate banking solutions. They provide quick account activation, third-party integrations, and various account types. However, note that their eligibility criteria can be complex.
- HSBC Hong Kong - Ranked second on The Asian Banker's list of robust Asia Pacific banks and is one of the largest banks in Hong Kong, HSBC offers a global presence, a user-friendly mobile banking experience through the HSBC HK mobile App, and a comprehensive range of financial services, including personal, commercial, and corporate banking solutions. However, a drawback is the potential for higher fees.
- Hang Seng Bank - A prominent domestic bank in Hong Kong with customer-focused banking, investment accounts, and wealth management services catering to individuals and businesses. However, despite offering both local and global services, the bank has a somewhat limited global presence, and there may be restrictions on accessing certain services from other countries.
- Bank of China (Hong Kong) - The Bank of China (Hong Kong), or BOCHK is authorised by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority to issue Hong Kong dollar banknotes and boasts a robust network connecting Hong Kong and Mainland China. However, a potential drawback is a language barrier for English-speaking customers
Step 3: Prepare The Required Documents to Open a Bank Account in Hong Kong
After choosing the type of account to open, you should be able to find an application form corresponding to the selected account type on the bank's website or at a bank branch, where you can see the specific required details.
Additionally, there should be information detailing documents and proofs you need to provide to complete the verification process.
The documents required to open a bank account in Hong Kong may include:
For Personal Bank Account
- A Hong Kong identity card (HK ID card) or a passport (for a non-resident)
- Travel documents
- Hong Kong proof of address, such as utility bills or lease agreements
Depending on personal situation and banking services needed, banks may require additional information apart from the primary requirements mentioned above. Specifically, this may include employment proof or income proof for non-residents or newcomers. However, you should be informed regarding its usage and further evaluation by the bank.
For Corporate Bank Account
- Incorporation documents, including but not limited to Business Registration Certificate, Article of Association, Record of Registration, Certificate of Incumbency, and Partnership Agreement.
- Registered office address (current business operation address)
- Details of company structure, such as beneficial owner identification document
- Details of directors and shareholders
- Other business-related details, such as business plan and organisational chart
- Bank statements (from recent 6 months) and bank reference letter (dated in 3 months)
Likewise, some banks may require additional information for further evaluation or risk assessments, such as applicant background checks. You will also need to state your purpose for opening a corporate Hong Kong bank account and the nature of your business activities and business operations.
Although these requirements are among the primary standards for banks in Hong Kong, keep in mind that there can also be other additional verifications as each bank's regulations vary.
Once all the documents and information are prepared, submit your documents to the bank with the representative you are in contact with or see if your bank accepts online document submissions.
🏭 Considering an offshore bank account but not sure which country is best for your business? Explore the top 11 countries to open an offshore bank account.
Step 4: Enter the Onboarding (Pre-approval) Process
After document submission, your chosen bank should notify you of the application's progress.
Particularly when opening a business account, you may be asked to meet with a bank officer for additional verification, such as for KYC obligations, proof of business activities, etc.
After ensuring everything is in order, the last step involves activating your Hong Kong bank account, including any associated internet banking and mobile banking services. Your bank will provide instructions on how to complete this process, which typically involves making a deposit.
💡 Tip: While the specific steps may vary depending on your chosen bank, the general process is as outlined above.
How Long Does It Take to Open a Bank Account in Hong Kong?
With traditional banks, the process duration can vary and is ultimately dependent on the bank's approval process.
Residents can quickly open personal accounts on the same day. For non-residents, it might take a few days up to 15 working days. For business accounts, the processing time may extend up to 2 to 3 weeks.
However, opting for a virtual account with a virtual bank or neobank, which operates entirely online, generally takes a shorter time, although it still depends on factors such as your business structure or the number of shareholders if applying for a business account. Some providers claim to open an account as fast as 3 - 5 days without the need to visit Hong Kong.
Can I Open a Bank Account in Hong Kong as a Non-Resident?
Yes, you can open a bank account as a non-resident in Hong Kong. However, depending on the country that you're from and your chosen bank, there can be additional requirements in the verification process compared to permanent or non-permanent residents.
Fundamentally, you will need an identification document such as a passport with at least six months of validity remaining and proof of residential address. You may also be asked for proof of income, such as a payslip or employment contract.
Essentially, each bank has its own set of requirements and procedures, so it would be ideal for you to conduct your research on a specific bank you would like to open before approaching them.
What if My Bank Account Opening Application Is Rejected?
In cases where your application is rejected, your bank of choice should provide reasons for why your attempt to open a bank account is unsuccessful.
You can always request your bank to re-examine your application, however, ensure you check the Bank Review Mechanism before making the request.
How Does the Banking System in Hong Kong Work?
According to the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), a corporation must be granted a license to be considered a bank.
The Hong Kong banking system maintains a three-tier system for any licensed corporations that are granted status as deposit-taking institutions.
The three-tier system consists of:
- Licensed Banks: This type of bank has no restriction on using the word "bank" and can provide current and savings accounts while maintaining any size of deposits and collecting checks drawn and paid in by customers.
- Restricted License Banks: This is an institution that can take any maturity deposits of HKD 500,000 and above while being able to engage in merchant banking and capital market activities.
- Deposit-taking companies: These companies are often owned by or associated with banks. They engage in consumer finance, commercial lending, and securities while being able to take any maturity deposits of HKD 100,000 and above within at least three months of the original term of maturity.
The HKMA sets out strict anti-money laundering regulations for all of its banking corporations, and thus, Hong Kong banks need to verify all information and check due diligence before granting any customer's approval. Therefore, opening a business bank account in Hong Kong could be challenging.
Bank Fees & Charges
Opening a bank account in Hong Kong comes with fees, and for some banks, you will be required to make initial deposits.
Each bank offers different fee structures, and some may or may not have additional charges for a certain service. Be sure to check with the bank of your choice for these components before setting up an account.
Some of the bank's fees may include:
- Initial deposit: HKD 10,000 – 50,000
- Minimum balance: HKD 50,000 – 500,000. Most banks charge a monthly maintenance fee of around HKD 200 if you cannot meet their minimum requirement.
- Processing fee: from as low as HKD 200 up to HKD 10,000
- Credit card: administration fee of HKD 300 or more. For international credit card orders, prices can range from HKD 30,000 to HKD 50,000 (this may vary depending on your bank of choice).
- Foreign transfer fee: HKD 15 – 120
- ATM withdrawal fee: HKD 0 – 25
- Closure fee: HKD 200 (when closed within 3 months of opening). Early fee closures may vary.
Note that the above is a reference to the types of deposits and amounts most banks in Hong Kong offer. This may vary depending on your bank choice.
How to Open a Hong Kong Account Online
There are two ways to open a bank account online.
The first method involves the traditional approach of setting up a branch application remotely. However, while you can initiate the process online, a visit to a physical branch for identity verification is usually required with this option.
The second option is to open an account entirely online through digital banking, such as virtual banks.
Let's explore both methods in more detail.
This method is not entirely online, but it can be useful if you run into any difficulties or decide that you prefer this method over the completely online option.
Using the branch application method, you can begin the application remotely before visiting the bank of your choice that is established and has a branch in Hong Kong.
For instance, if you're a non-resident who chooses to set up your bank account with HSBC, you can prepare the required documents and complete an application in your home country.
Finally, when you arrive in Hong Kong, all you need to do is visit one of the branches of HSBC and verify your identity. Oftentimes, this process simplifies the complexity of setting up an account as a foreigner; however, before your account is set up, it may take up to 30 days.
Virtual banks are not banks, but financial technology companies that offer a safe option for online banking with robust securities.
With virtual banks, you can open accounts entirely online via instructions within an application or a web app. There are verification procedures similar to the traditional way of setting up a bank account, such as the KYC (Know-Your-Client) process.
📖 Tip: Explore the difference between virtual banks and traditional banks and the best virtual banks in Hong Kong
Alternative Solution: Statrys
Statrys is a fintech firm based in Hong Kong, focused on improving the banking experience for SMEs and entrepreneurs across Asia. Currently, Statrys has over 3,500 SMEs using their services.
Although Statrys is not a traditional bank, it holds a Money Service Operator licence in Hong Kong, and it offers business accounts for businesses incorporated in Hong Kong, Singapore, and the BVI.
Notably, Statrys received the "SME Payment Solutions of the Year - Hong Kong" award at the 2023 ABF Retail Banking Awards. Lastly, Statrys also provides additional services such as company incorporation in Hong Kong and Singapore and free invoicing software.
|Statrys Key Services
|Multi-Currency Business Account
|Hold, receive, and send money in 11 currencies: USD, HKD, CNY, AUD, EUR, GBP, SGF, JPY, CHF, NZD, and CAD.
|Business Account Opening Requirements
|Must be incorporated in Hong Kong, Singapore, or the BVI.
|HKD 88 (with a dedicated account manager)
|Customer Support Channels
|Website, Live Chat, Email, Phone, WhatsApp, and WeChat
|Swift Payments & Tracking
|Send local payments in 14 currencies: HKD, AUD, EUR, GBP, IDR, INR, KRW, PHP, SGD, THB, TRY, USD, and VND
|Physical and virtual cards
|FX Rate and Fee
|Competitive exchange rates with fees as low as 0.1%
|Free Invoicing Software
|Create, manage, and send invoices efficiently
|4.6/5, based on 253 reviews
Why should I open a bank account in Hong Kong?
Owning a bank account in Hong Kong offers significant advantages, including easy international transfers and low tax rates.
Is it difficult to open a bank account in Hong Kong remotely?
Can I open a bank account online in Hong Kong?
Which bank account is the best to open in Hong Kong?