How to open a bank account in Hong Kong

Zorica Lončar

If you’re looking to experience Chinese culture, but aren’t ready to leave the West completely just yet, Hong Kong is the place to be. It’s one of the most vibrant and dynamic cities in the world, with a friendly expat community.

If you’re planning to work or stay in Hong Kong for any length of time, you’re going to need a bank account.

In this guide, we’ll show you exactly how to open one. We’ll cover everything from fees and charges to the best banks for non-residents, plus the documents you’ll need to open your new account.

We’ll even look at alternatives such as Wise which could save you a bundle when managing your money internationally.

So, let’s get started.

How to open a bank account in Hong Kong as a non-resident?

You don’t need to be a permanent resident to open a bank account in Hong Kong¹. You should find the process straightforward, particularly if you’re an EU, US or Australian passport holder.

Otherwise, you may need to provide slightly different documentation and the process can take up to 2 weeks to complete¹.

It’s important to remember though that different banks have their own requirements for non-resident applications, as well as offering different products.

Can I open a bank account in Hong Kong online?

If it's your first account in Hong Kong, unfortunately, you won’t be able to open it online². This is due to the country’s strict anti-money laundering rules. But once you have an account and are set up to use online banking, you should then be able to open other accounts if you want to.

Instead, you’ll need to make an appointment and attend a branch of the bank in person to set up your account. Some banks let you complete an online application form in advance¹, which can help to speed things up a little.

How to open a bank account in Hong Kong from the UK

As you can’t open a bank account in Hong Kong online, this can make it a little more difficult to get your new account set up before you leave the UK.

But don’t worry, it’s not impossible. If your home bank has branches in both the UK and Hong Kong, you may be able to open your account remotely. Key examples include HSBC and Citibank, which have a presence in both countries.

Your local branch in your home country will be able to help you complete the necessary paperwork and send everything to the Hong Kong branch³.

Once you arrive in Hong Kong, just visit your new branch to confirm your identity.

What documents do I need?

Broadly speaking, you’ll need the following documents in order to open a bank account in Hong Kong⁴:

  1. Your official ID, such as a passport or a HK ID card;
  2. Proof of address, such as a utility bill, a bank statement or a mobile phone bill (less than 3 months old),
  3. If you don’t have a Hong Kong address, proof of your address in your home country
  4. A valid visa.

If you’re working in Hong Kong, you may also need to show your contract or a letter confirming your employment².

If you’re opening a student account, you may need an official letter from your university or education facility in Hong Kong confirming your registration as a full-time student.

HK ID Card

You’ll need an HK ID card if you’re over 11 years old and plan on staying in Hong Kong for more than 180 days⁵.

This smart card is an official identity document issued by the Immigration Department of Hong Kong. It has a range of security features and ingrained data to protect you from identity fraud. You may also need an HK ID card to open a business bank account in Hong Kong⁶.

Applying for your HK ID card is free⁷ and the process is pretty straightforward. You’ll need to book an appointment with the Registration Of Persons Office and take your visa, passport, application form and recent photos of yourself to the appointment with you⁸.

It usually takes around 7 working days⁹ for identity card applications to be processed.

What about opening a business bank account in Hong Kong?

While opening a basic bank account is quite straightforward, opening a business bank account in Hong Kong requires a bit more work.

There was a time when Hong Kong was one of the easiest places in the world to open a business account, with no limits on the transfer of international funds. However, in an effort to crack down on money laundering and terrorist money movements, all major banks in the country now have to comply with tough anti-fraud laws and due diligence processes.

Non-resident businesses now have to give banks very detailed information about their proposed business and all company partners and employees, at the account opening stage.

Some banks will let you start the process online, by filling in an application form. But to finalise the process, you’ll have to attend a formal interview at the bank, in person¹⁰. Business partners and major shareholders in the company may also be required to attend the interview.

You’ll need the following documents for your application¹⁰:

  1. ID documents for directors and shareholders - such as passports or HK ID cards. If you don’t have a valid HK ID card, you may still be able to apply for a business account with a multi-national bank like HSBC.
  2. A resolution by the board of directors, approving the opening of the account and giving one person authority to handle the application with the bank
  3. Official company documents, such as a business registration certificate, articles of association and/or the certificate of incorporation
  4. Proof of address for directors and shareholders, such as utility bills or bank statements (less than 3 months old)
  5. A valid visa
  6. A business plan, explaining the nature of the business and outlining projections for expenses and revenues for the next 12 months.

Some of these documents will need to be certified by a public notary, accountant or lawyer¹⁰. And remember that different banks have their own requirements, so it’s worth getting in touch to check what documents will be required.

Which bank is best for my needs?

Hong Kong has over 250 banks² to choose from, which can make selecting the right one a little overwhelming.

If you already bank with a large international bank such as HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank or Citibank in your home country, the simplest solution is to stick with who you know and open a local account with them in Hong Kong.

Here’s a brief look at the 5 biggest banks in Hong Kong to help you choose the right one for you.


HSBC is one of the largest international banks in Hong Kong, and also has a presence in 67 countries worldwide¹¹ - including the UK.

One of the best options for non-residents at HSBC is its Hong Kong integrated bank account³. This offers access to a wide range of products, services and benefits. For example, credit cards, insurance products, deposits, investments and foreign currency exchange.

You can apply for this in your home country, by making an appointment at an HSBC International Banking Centre (IBC) or designated local branch.

Standard Chartered

Standard Chartered Bank also has a presence in both Hong Kong and the UK, making it a convenient option for expats and new arrivals.

Its Integrated Deposits Account¹² allows you to manage all your current and savings accounts from one place, and also gives you access to a full range of foreign currencies. You’ll need an HK ID card to open this account though.


Citibank offers one of the easiest accounts to open from overseas. The bank has a presence in the UK, and from there you can start the process. The bank will help you open a checking or savings account before you arrive, and pre-arrange an appointment at a local branch for when you land in Hong Kong¹³.

If you’re an existing Citigold customer, you’ll be able to apply for a Citigold or Citigold Private Client account in Hong Kong¹⁴. Once you’ve visited a branch to finalise the application process, an online banking account and Citibank ATM account will be provided for you.

Hang Seng

Hang Seng is part of the HSBC group, so it offers many of the same rates and services. It has around 220 branches¹¹, and a headquarters in the Central District.

Along with a range of prestige and wealth management services, Hang Seng offers a useful Daily Banking account. This offers everything you need in an everyday current account, including easy access to credit facilities¹⁵ if you need them.

Bank Of China

BOC is a good choice if you have a lot of dealings with mainland China. They offer the best services if you want a renminbi (Chinese yuan) account.

But if you’re just looking for everyday banking services, you can open a simple Current Account at Bank of China. This has quite basic features, including branch banking, monthly statements and free cheque books, but it’s a decent account to start with.

What are the costs associated with Hong Kong bank accounts?

Depending on the bank, you may be faced with a number of fees and charges. This is why it’s a smart idea to go through the terms and conditions carefully before opening a bank account in Hong Kong, to avoid any surprises or unexpected costs.

Maintenance and minimum balance fees

Most banks charge a monthly fee, called an account maintenance fee. This is often around 50 to 150 HKD¹. However, you can sometimes avoid this fee by keeping a certain balance in your account. Some account types, such as very basic bank accounts, may not have any maintenance fees.

You’ll also need a minimum balance to open your account, which is usually around 10,000 HKD.² Your balance must remain above this minimum, as otherwise a fee will be charged on top of your monthly maintenance costs.

Early closure fees

Some banks may also charge an early closure fee if you close your account before a given time period expires.

For example, Standard Chartered Hong Kong charges an early closure fee of 200 HKD if you close your account within 3 months of opening it¹⁶.

ATM fees

Banks won’t usually charge you to use their own ATMs in Hong Kong¹. Customers with Citibank can also use Jetco ATMs free of charge¹⁷.

Using another bank’s ATM will usually incur a service charge, which can vary between banks.

International transfer fees

International transfer fees vary between banks, but you can expect a fee of around 120 HKD¹⁶ to send money overseas.

And while some banks, such as Citibank, do offer free international transfers if your account is with the same banking group¹⁸, you’ll still need to watch out, as you might be getting an unfavourable exchange rate.

Sending or receiving money internationally? You could save more with Wise

If you regularly send money overseas and you’re concerned about cost, why not give Wise a try?

With Wise, you can make international transfers to and from Hong Kong without losing money to high fees or poor exchange rates. There’s only one small, transparent fee to pay to send money worldwide, and no sign up or monthly charges to worry about.

Best of all, Wise offers the real mid-market exchange rate, helping you keep even more of your hard-earned money in your pocket.

Join Wise today

After reading this guide, you should be all set to apply for your new Hong Kong bank account. It’s much easier if you already live there, but don’t worry if you’ve not yet arrived - it just means a couple of extra steps and a slightly slower process. Good luck with your move to Hong Kong!

Sources used for this article:

  1. Inter Nations - banks and taxes in Hong Kong
  2. Ship It - how to open a bank account in Hong Kong
  3. HSBC - banking in Hong Kong
  4. HSBC - account application
  5. Prism - HK ID Card
  6. Hongda Service - how to open a business bank account in Hong Kong
  7. - fee tables
  8. - identity cards
  9. - registration/replacement
  10. Statrys - business bank account in Hong Kong
  11. Corporate Finance Institute - top banks in Hong Kong
  12. - integrated deposits account
  13. Citibank - global banking
  14. Citibank - account opening
  15. Hangseng - daily banking
  16. Standard Chartered - HK service charges
  17. Citibank - atm network
  18. Citibank - service fee

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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