Think of opening a bank account in Hong Kong, here is a guide on everything you need to know from the documentation to using the account.
Preparing (conducting due diligence)
Preparations after deciding to open an account:
When you decide to open a bank account, the first most important step is identifying the right bank. The bank will determine the charges, ability to carry transactions conveniently and even interest rates.
Though there are more than 200 banks in Hong Kong, you will be surprised to know that only a few are ideal for non-residents. The minimum deposit and monthly charges are almost the same with most banks. Other important things to consider include wire transfer charges, and online services quality.
Preparation for a personal account:
Most Hong Kong banks will only demand proof of residence from a reputable local bank in your home country, plus a valid passport. Also, you must be from a non-blacklisted country (the country whose residents are not allowed to operate accounts in Hong Kong). Most western countries and developed nations in Asia are accepted. If you hail from the US, some banks will decline the application because of pressure from the US government for regular reports on its citizens which is very expensive.
Preparing for a business account:
Here, the requirements vary from bank to bank. In addition to the outlined requirements for personal bank accounts, the applicant has to answer a lot of questions about the business. The bank will want to get and know the following;
- Certified copies of business documents including the certificate of incorporation
- The business plan and its operational structure
- The experience in the same or related businesses
- Source of initial deposit and capital
- The main clients
- Targeted operational limits
- Expected transactional volumes
- The method of processing payments
- Office lease contracts
- Invoices and Contracts
A lot of information will be required to demonstrate that the business is genuine and not involved in fraud or malpractices that can cause unnecessary risks to the bank.
Premium bank accounts:
Unlike the common bank accounts, a premium account is relatively easier to open. You will need all the documents outlined when opening a personal bank account and a lot of deposit. Some banks require about 500 HKD while others might ask for as much as 10 million. The premium bank has the advantage of lower fees and a dedicated manager. Unlike with other accounts, the premium bank account offers better investment products as well as exclusive credit card services.
Once you have prepared all the documents that the bank requires, it is time to fly to Hong Kong and present yourself to the bank of choice.
How to open a personal account:
Several days before traveling, ensure to identify the right branch so that it becomes easy after landing in Hong Kong. It is important to ensure that on top of the required documents, you also have enough cash deposit. Some banks might also give you some time (mostly 24 hours) to wire the minimum deposit. It is, however, advisable to have the cash so that the process can be completed faster.
New bank clients are also encouraged to get Hong Kong phone lines. After opening your account, the bank will issue a debit card almost immediately.
How to open a business account:
Unlike with the personal account where you can simply pop into a bank, it is important to book an appointment for the case of a corporate account. Make a call about 3 days before visiting the bank so that an appropriate time can be allocated for you. During the call, the bank support will outline all documents that will be needed.
Then, you will also need to carry the total cash deposit. If the account is successful, you will be issued with a debit card. A lot of questions about the business will be asked. Therefore, you better plan for a full week’s stay in case additional info is needed.
Financial wallet services:
Though wallet services are not actual bank accounts, the functionalities are in many respects similar (receiving and making payments). It is important to get a wallet that supports payment services all over the world so that you can receive money even from third parties. Besides, the wallet should work well with the respective bank app and allow you to keep the cost of operations low.
Using your Hong Kong bank accounts
Once the selected bank opens an account for you, make sure to register with its online banking facility. Some might have specific apps for their clients. This should be done while still in Hong Kong so that the entire verification can be completed. Some banks complete the process with an SMS or a direct call. If there is an issue, head back to the bank and have it resolved.
Using the account for transactions and accessing cash:
Using the bank account is similar to the way you operate back at home. It entails checking the bank balance, having the app on the phone, and accessing your cash via ATMs. A good bank should allow you withdraw cash internationally. For example, you should be able to access your cash from any ATM with the logo of Cirrus or Visa among others anywhere in the world.
Paying bills in Hong Kong:
To clear local bills in Hong Kong, head to the Circle K store and ask the attendant for the PPS machine. Then, register your details using the ATM card to have personal PPS login. This is the portal that will be used to pay all the bills.
The local address:
While banks will require utility bills as proof of residence, a correspondence address should be easy to get without a hustle. Simply reach a mail forwarding service provider to get an address promptly.
Applying for credit from your account:
One unique thing about non-resident accounts is that they allow users to apply for loans. Some will issue points-earning cards which are very helpful for those with a lot of transactions. Since it is difficult to proof credit history, a security deposit will be required. This deposit will be added to your bank account after building credit history over time.
Well, the entire process of dealing with personal, corporate, or premium bank account might be overwhelming. It is, therefore, advisable to seek help so that you do not fly all the way to Hong Kong and find that the documents are not enough. Contact us for assistance in the project.