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How to open a bank account in Hong Kong
Your options are plentiful, but you may need a resident ID.
Planning a long stay in Hong Kong? A local bank account can make your time in this bustling city a breeze. Luckily, banks like HSBC, Standard Chartered and Bank of China offer account options, as do money transfer specialists for borderless transactions.
What are my options for opening an account?
The Pearl of the Orient isn’t as particular about who it allows to bank in the country. Most international banks offer accounts for foreign transactions. Though the process and required documents depends on your circumstances.
Setting up a bank account if you have a Hong Kong address
Required documents to open a Hong Kong bank account depend on how long you’re staying and whether you’re in the country to work or study.
If you’re staying fewer than three months, you need a passport, valid visa and proof of your Hong Kong address. For stays of 90 days or longer, you need a Hong Kong ID. If you’re employed in Hong Kong, you also need a letter of employment to prove your work status. And students must provide proof of enrollment.
With your Hong Kong ID card, applying for a Hong Kong bank account is as simple as providing a valid visa along with proof of your residential address — for instance, a bank statement, mobile phone bill or utility bill.
What is a Hong Kong ID?
A Hong Kong Identity Card is the official identity document issued by the country’s immigration department. It’s free to apply and offers easy immigration clearance and access to local public services.
Submit your application form in person at a Registration of Persons Office along with your visa, passport and two passport-sized photos to your appointment.
Setting up an international bank account
International bank accounts couple access to multiple currencies with lower foreign transaction fees and exchange rates. But most banks ask for large opening deposits and a high minimum balance for eligibility.
HSBC is the largest international banking group in Hong Kong and offers an online application for its international bank account. Provide the following information to apply:
- Government-issued ID
- Proof of residential address
- Proof of income
Standard Chartered Bank Hong Kong
The SCB Crossborder account offers free worldwide ATM withdrawals and free international transfers among Standard Chartered Bank accounts. To apply, you’ll need:
- Government-issued photo ID
- Proof of residential address
- Proof of income
Foreign currency accounts
Many online money transfer specialists offer foreign currency accounts — also called borderless accounts — that allow you to send and receive money among select foreign currencies. If you frequently transfer money overseas, you can likely find lower conversion fees, stronger rates and a more streamlined process than you’ll find at your local bank.
How to transfer money to your new Hong Kong bank account
Before you open your new Hong Kong bank account, consider your funding options. Traditional banks may offer the comfort of familiarity and security, but they typically charge high transaction fees and offer weak exchange rates.
Digital money specialists like TransferWise and XE have become popular choices for international transactions, offering multiple currencies to choose from alongside competitive rates and fees. If you plan to send money to Hong Kong, a money transfer service might save you money over your local bank.
What should I watch out for?
Europe, Australia and US passport holders often can open Hong Kong bank accounts in a matter of days. For other citizens, the process can take up to two weeks.
Also, due to strict anti-money-laundering legislation, it can be challenging to open a Hong Kong bank account from outside the country. One way to start the process before you arrive is to find an international bank with a foothold in Hong Kong, like HSBC. That way, you can visit a local branch after you arrive to complete any final steps.
Cosmopolitan Hong Kong is a financial hub that attracts businesses, students and tourists alike — and applying for a local or borderless bank account is as simple as providing the correct documentation and funding your account.
However, if you need money when you get to Hong Kong, consider sending money with an online money transfer company before you leave.
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