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Opening a Bank Account in Hong Kong

Updated on Monday 08th March 2021

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In order to open a bank account in Hong Kong, an individual will be required to provide a set of documents as well as follow through with any other requirements set forth by the chosen bank. These may include but are not limited to submitting minimum initial deposit amounts.
 
Deciding to work with a bank is an important step both for individuals who will take up employment as well as for those who are interested in Hong Kong company formation. For business purposes, the account needs to be opened as part of the overall incorporation process and one of our agents is ready to assist you during this stage.
 

How to open a bank account in Hong Kong for a company

 
In order to open a corporate bank account in Hong Kong the physical presence of the directors, shareholders, beneficial owners and nominee (if any) is necessary. Opening a corporate bank account in Hong Kong will take approximately two weeks. The documents required to set up a bank account for companies in Hong Kong are the certificate of incorporation or business registration certificate, the Articles of Association, proof of the business activity and experience in the sector. Considering each bank has its own requirements, invoices, business plans, reference letters or agreements with suppliers may also be requested.
 
Foreign citizens acting as shareholders or directors of the company must submit proof of their residency such as invoices that cannot be more than 3 months older and their passports.
 
Those who wish to open a bank account in Hong Kong for company formation purposes should take the following steps into consideration:
 
  1. Choose the bank: the first step is to choose a bank with which to work; this can be based on several criteria, such as the bank’s presence in other countries (for international businesses), the general account offer range, online and mobile services, and the bank fees;
  2. Prepare the documents: for corporate accounts, the company’s Articles of Association will be required and our team of agents who specialize in company formation in Hong Kong can help you draft them;
  3. Submit the application: the bank will require all of the company documents (for branches these will be the parent company’s documents in most cases) as well as the IDs of the company founders or representatives;
  4. Select the options: preferential pricing, financial assistance as well as other features may be available depending on the chosen account type; we recommend taking the time to select a bank account that seems suitable.
The documents required to open a corporate bank account in Hong Kong are the following:
 
  • - ID cards/passports of the company directors and shareholders;
  • - residency proof for Hong Kong directors, shareholders or nominee directors;
  • - copies of company incorporation documents like the Certificate of Incorporation and/or Articles of Association;
  • - initial deposit.
The needed documents may differ according to the specific requirements imposed by the bank. The initial payment can vary and some banks may allow for a certain period of time to make the initial deposit after the account is open. 
 
Companies in Hong Kong that activate in the online sector, namely e-commerce businesses, will also need to open a merchant account – a type of bank account that will allow them to receive and process debit and credit card payments. This account can be opened with the same bank or with a different one. one of our agents who specialize in company formation in Hong Kong can help you with more details.
 

How to open other types of bank accounts in Hong Kong

 
Foreign citizens working in Hong Kong and tourists may open a bank account in Hong Kong. Foreign citizens working in Hong Kong must present their identification papers and a sponsor’s letter of employment. An invoice as proof of residency will also be required.
 
A common and important requirement when opening an individual bank account in Hong Kong is to be physically present in the city and personally submit the documents to the bank. This requirement is simplified when using online submissions or mobile apps (when available) that use face recognition and for which photographs of the ID will also be provided. Thus, entrepreneurs or employees who are moving here for work or business-related purposes should take into consideration the fact that they will either need to travel to the branch to open a bank account in Hong Kong or follow the online procedures if available with their chosen bank.
 
All banks in Hong Kong provide a card for ATM withdraws and online banking services. Additionally they can offer mobile banking facilities, credit cards and the possibility of online bill payments.
 
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One of the important steps for those who open a bank account in Hong Kong for personal use is to select an account type that will suit their needs. It is useful to note that many banks offer standard options, along with advance or premier ones. While for the basic options there is no need for an initial deposit, the advance and premier types of accounts will, in most cases, demand that an initial payment is made. The bank is the one to decide the due amount just as well as the monthly account maintenance fees, which are also larger for advance or premier accounts.
 
Investors who wish to open a company in Hong Kong not in the form of a corporation but as a sole trader – the simplest business form available will also need to work with a bank. In this case, the identity of the business founder is not separate from that of the business itself, meaning that the banking options may interpose.
 
When investors open a bank account in Hong Kong for a sole trader they can reach out to our agents for more information about liability and running this type of business.
 
Find out more information about how to open a bank account in Hong Kong from our video:
 
 

Banks in Hong Kong

 
When they open a bank account in Hong Kong in 2021 for corporate or personal purposes, individuals have a number of banks to choose from. Many of these are international banks, with a strong presence not only on the Asia-Pacific market but also in other areas around the world.
 
Some of the most important banks in Hong Kong, from which individuals may choose when they set up the account, are the following: 
 
  • HSBC: this is one of the banks that offers the most attractive services for corporate and investment purposes; it has a wide range of services and it is present in many countries worldwide;
  • Citi: it is one of the banks that offers some of the most convenient services for individuals, however, it also focuses on commercial and investment banking; it is also a bank that scores well in terms of international services;
  • Standard Chartered: one of the banks that scores well in terms of digital offerings for clients in Hong Kong;
  • DBS Bank: another bank that is popular among small and medium-sized businesses because of the manner in which the services for these types of businesses are implemented;
  • Hang Seng Bank: this is a domestic bank that is client-oriented; HSBC Group holds a majority equity in this bank.
 
The classification criteria for the banks presented above are based on the Asiamoney best bank awards 2020 for Hong Kong.
 
Choosing the right bank depends on several factors such as international presence or a number of particular services that are offered as part of that bank’s special packages for businesses of individuals in Hong Kong. Some may choose a financial institution that has low minimum balance requirements or one that offers professional, high-end banking services (a criteria that may be important for international companies that choose to expand to Hong Kong). In addition to this, clients are relying more on digital banking options and the packages provided by banks for this purpose can be an important criterion. Finally, it is important to keep in mind that all banks have special policies for due diligence and clients undergo a verification before they can open a bank account in Hong Kong.
 
It is advisable to verify the particular requirements set forth by all of the banks listed above before committing to a choice in 2021. We remind investors that working with our specialists for company formation purposes can also include guidance and assistance for opening a corporate bank account, as needed. 
 

The banking sector in Hong Kong

 
Hong Kong is one of the largest financial centers in the world and it hosts numerous branches of foreign financial institutions. Hong Kong is also considered one of the top 10 largest banking centers in the world. In Asia, Hong Kong is the second largest financial center. Banking is one of the most developed industries in Hong KongHong Kong’s banking system is based on a three-level model that includes three types of banking institutions: licensed banks (also known as authorized institutions), restricted licensed banks and deposit financial institutions. According to the Hong Kong laws, only licensed and restricted licensed financial institutions can be called banks in the sense that they can accept deposits from the public. For this purpose, only licensed banks can take up deposits of any size while restricted license banks can only take up deposits from the public with a minimum amount, with no restriction on maturity. 
 
The Monthly Statistical Bulletin, provided by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, offers us the following data on the status of the banking sector:
 
  • - Licensed banks: at the end of May 2020 there were 31 licensed banks incorporated in Hong Kong and 133 outside of the city-state;
  • - Restricted license banks: at the end of April 2020 there were 12 restricted license banks incorporated in the city-state and 5 outside of Hong Kong;
  • - Deposit-taking companies: at the end of May 2020 there were 194 such authorized institutions as well as 43 representative offices;
  • - Hong Kong dollar deposits: at the end of April 2020, the total value of the savings customer deposits amounted to 2,718,969 HK$.

Company formation in Hong Kong

 
Our team of agents who specialize in company formation in Hong Kong offers complete assistance to those who are interested in opening a business. From the earliest steps – that also include choosing a bank and opening the corporate bank account, to the final registration procedures and license applications.
 
Opening a company in Hong Kong is a process that differs slightly according to the chosen business structure, however, it is useful to keep in mind that investors need to open a bank account in Hong Kong that will be used for the chosen structure, even if it is a sole trader (in which case the assets of the business are the same as the individual’s).
 
Below, we briefly highlight the main types of business forms available for incorporation:
 
  • Limited liability company: this can be public or private and the private one, the LLC, is the most popular business form as it is a separate entity from its founders and it offers protection from business risks;
  • Partnership: can be suitable for those who have shared business goals, however, the partners share responsibility and one of them is fully liable for the debts and obligations of the business;
  • Sole trader: the business form with the highest level of liability; there is no distinction between the business and its owner;
  • Foreign company: this can be the branch, however, foreign firms also have the option to set up a representative office in Hong Kong solely for non-commercial purposes (understandably, there is no need for a bank account for the representative office).
 
The list above includes only a short summary of the available entity types. Those who wish to know more can read out article on the limited liability company as well as other articles for the remaining business forms. You can reach out to our agents when you need more details on how to choose a business form and how to structure your company.
 
As a general rule, investors first choose the company type and its name. Opening the bank account is subsequent to this because the banks will ask for the company’s Certificate of Incorporation and proof of registration in most cases (and for branches the banks will also ask for the parent company’s Articles of Incorporation).
 

Reasons to invest in Hong Kong in 2021

 
Hong Kong is a top location to establish a company in the Asia-Pacific region and there are several reasons why it remains one of the main choices for investors who wish to expand to this area. We highlight some of these below.
 
Strategic location – Hong Kong is located near Mainland China and offers easy access to most of the markets in the Asia-Pacific region. Travel to and from Hong Kong and Beijing or Shanghai is facilitated and business owners have the convenience to travel back and forth in a single day. This can also be used by Chinese companies that wish to establish their headquarters in Hong Kong (because of the international nature of the city) and keep their manufacturing units in a Chinese city.
 
Easy of doing business – company formation in Hong Kong is simple and opening a bank account is also facilitated and only requires a few steps, as seen in this article.
 
Tax regime – the simple and low taxation regime is another reason why many investors choose to open a company in Hong Kong. A two-tier corporate income tax rate applies to companies: 8.25% on the first HKD 2 million assessable profits and 16.5% on the remaining assets (lower rates apply for unincorporated businesses).
 
The workforce is another plus for investors, with many local talented workers as well as foreign employees who choose to relocate to Hong Kong for the business opportunities. The Special Administrative Region is one of the locations in the world where it is easiest to find skilled employees, according to the Global Competitiveness Report 2019 issued by the World Economic Forum.
 
Good infrastructure – Hong Kong is well connected and it has a modern infrastructure that meets the demands of an ever-growing city. A number of industrial or business parks are located here and they provide complete facilities, along with reduced business costs. More information about the science and technology parks is available upon request via our company formation agents in Hong Kong.
 
All of these business-related reasons combined with good conditions for living and relocating make Hong Kong a preferred location to open a business. Some foreign entrepreneurs choose to relocate to Hong Kong altogether and once they choose to live here they discover that the city has a cosmopolitan lifestyle and mix of cultures and people who make up the uniqueness of the location.
 
If you wish to open a company in Hong Kong in 2021, our team can assist you throughout the needed steps, starting with choosing the business form, followed by opening a corporate bank account and the steps that follow for proper registration. Working with a local team of experts is an advantage, especially for those investors who cannot be present in the Special Administrative Region during the entire company formation procedure.
 
Our specialists in company formation in Hong Kong will help foreign investors in setting up corporate bank accounts. Clients can also contact us if they require help with the business registration procedure.

 

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