From all the information that can be found online, it can sometimes seem impossible to find the right answer. Choosing the right bank can be a stressful task, before you have even gone into the branch to open the account. From limitless bureaucracy to rookie mistakes, it can feel like a minefield that is impossible to get over So, we have compiled a checklist of what to do and what to bring to open up a bank account in Hong Kong, making the process a little easier.
Deciding on your bank and the type of account
Choosing the bank may be the biggest hurdle, but when researching, bear in mind a few factors. You may want to look for ATM networks, commissions, currency exchange rates and account holder benefits. Keep an eye on any hidden charges too. If you are thinking of opening a savings account, take a look at the interest rates offered by the banks to compare. The common types of bank account are checking, investment, savings and timed deposit accounts. Some of these can even be integrated. Once you have decided what your needs will be, you can check out what a bank can offer you. Some of the most popular banks with expats are HSBC, Citibank, Standard Chartered and Bank of China. Make sure that their packages fit to your expectations and what your usage will be.
What requirements do I need to fulfill?
As with most bank accounts anywhere in the world, the higher the minimum deposit per month, the more benefits you can receive. If your account is only to deposit your salary, then a simple checking account should suffice. You can also integrate this with a savings account, if you want to put some money aside. A timed deposit account allows you to save foreign currency over a monthly or yearly basis, by which you will earn interest on top of that. The same theory also applies to the local currency, so it is worth considering if you find that you are going to be dealing with two or more currencies concurrently.
Normally, the minimum amount you must deposit to open an account is HKD1000. Of course, some accounts may vary this, depending on the benefits applicable to you. Other than that, you will your Hong Kong address and ID, generally speaking. You do not need a Hong Kong residency permit or a tax number issued in Hong Kong. Proof of address and identification should suffice.
What documents will I need to bring?
You can apply for your bank account online, but you will be required to go into the branch with originals of your documents, plus photocopies. You may find it easier to skip the middle man and go directly to the branch. You should not need an appointment, but you may find that you have to wait quite some time to be served. Try locating a branch that is not in a busy thoroughfare, as you may have a reduced waiting time.
Bring photocopies of all your documents and make sure that everything is up to date and in order. You should bring your passport, a letter of employment issued by your employer, Hong Kong ID if necessary or if available, proof of address, and proof of your address back home (if permanent). If you are an American citizen opening an account at an American bank like Citibank, bear in mind you will need to provide proof of your U.S tax number. It might also be a good idea to keep a bank account open in your country of nationality or permanent residence. This works as proof that you will have enough money to open an account in Hong Kong and that your identity is secure.
The final steps
You should receive your cards within a week, although in some cases it can be a little less. Some accounts may also require you to sign additional declarations, such as how long you intend to open the account for or agreeing to a fixed minimum deposit per month. This is certainly the case with timed deposit accounts, which require you to sign an agreement based on the length of time you agree to hold foreign currency for. An important point to remember is that if you are applying for a joint account with your partner, you must provide all the necessary documentation and apply at the same time, in person. If not, your request for a joint account could be denied.
The process is really quite simple and should not take up a great deal of your time. Once you have your bank account open, you can start enjoying what the city has to offer.