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With its striking skyline, vibrant culture and stunning cuisine, Hong Kong is known both as a great place for tourists, and an attractive expat destination. If you’re a frequent visitor — or planning a longer term move to Hong Kong — you may be considering opening a Hong Kong bank account.
This guide covers how to open a bank account in Hong Kong — and how to open a Hong Kong bank account in the US if you’ve not yet made the move overseas.
|📑 Table of Contents|
Yes. Hong Kong has a developed banking system, with a broad range of local, regional and global banks to choose from.
US citizens can open Hong Kong bank accounts — although the process is generally easier, with a bigger choice of products available, for applicants who are residents of Hong Kong with a valid Hong Kong ID (HKID) card.
Ultimately banks make their own decisions about who they offer account services to — some won’t be prepared to offer accounts to non-residents, or may have restrictive conditions for US citizens. However, by shopping around you’ll usually be able to find an account that suits you.
Many Hong Kong banks offer non-resident accounts which can be opened using your US issued proof of ID and address.
That means that you can open a Hong Kong bank account even as a tourist.
Many Hong Kong residents with an adult HKID are able to open bank accounts online. However, this service is often not available to US citizens, tax residents, or Green Card holders.
While banks can set their own account opening policies, US legislation (FATCA) requires extra checks when US citizens or tax residents open overseas accounts — and some banks are unwilling to put the extra processes in place as part of their online opening option.
If you can’t open an account online with a Hong Kong bank, you do have a couple of other options — open an account with a global bank before leaving the US, and transfer your account to their Hong Kong operation when you move, or choose an online provider which lets you hold, exchange and spend currencies including HKD.
As a US citizen you’ll usually have to visit a branch to set up a Hong Kong bank account. Here are the typical steps to take:
Step 1. Check out a range of Hong Kong banks and pick the right provider and account for you
Step 2. Gather the documents needed to apply for your account
Step 3. Make an appointment online to visit the branch of your choice
Step 4. Visit the branch to register your account with the help of a customer service agent
Step 5. Once your details have been verified, you’ll be able to start using your account
Broadly speaking, you’ll need the following documents in order to open an account:
If you’re an employee, you’ll also need to show your contract or a letter confirming your employment.
If you’re a student, you’ll need an official letter from your university or education facility in Hong Kong confirming your registration as a full-time student.
|💡 Any documents you provide which are not already in English or Chinese will usually have to be officially translated — check what the bank will accept before you attend your appointment.|
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 days.
The card makes it easier to use public services, get immigration clearance and even apply for a library card. It’s more secure than a passport and has a range of ingrained data to protect you from identity fraud. It’s also necessary if you want to open a business bank account.
Getting one is free and the process is very straightforward. You’ll need to book an appointment with the Registration Of Persons Office and take your visa, passport, application form and 2 passport-sized photos to the appointment with you. You should receive your HK ID card in around 10 days¹.
Most banks offer the same type of services such as current, savings, time deposit and payroll accounts.
However, if you already bank with a large international bank such as HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank or Citibank in the US, the simplest solution may be to talk to them about how to open a local account with their Hong Kong operation.
If you’re looking for a new provider once you move to Hong Kong, you have a lot of choices. Here’s a brief look at the 5 biggest banks in Hong Kong to help you find the right one for you.
HSBC² is the largest international banking group in Hong Kong — and a familiar global name. You’ll find a full range of account products and services including:
Standard Chartered³ is a British banking giant which has been operating for over 150 years, with a presence in Hong Kong for almost as long. As a global business you’ll find personal, business and cross border services including:
Citibank⁴ operates in over 160 countries, and serves 200 million+ customers. As you’d expect this US-founded banking giant offers a full selection of in person and online banking services which are straightforward and easy to use.
Hang Seng⁵ is part of the HSBC group, so it offers many of the same products and services. Here are some to look out for:
BOC⁶ is a good choice if you have a lot of dealings with mainland China and need an account and card which can be used for both HKD and CNY. Here are a few highlights of BOC (Hong Kong) services:
Depending on your bank, you may be faced with a number of fees and charges. You should go through your bank’s terms and conditions, so you’ll know what fees they charge and whether you can avoid them at all. Here are a few to look out for:
|Fee type||Typical Hong Kong bank costs|
|Minimum opening balance, maintenance or fall below fee||Some bank accounts have no monthly charges — but premium banking services tend to come with high minimum balance requirements and a fall below fee of 300 — 400 HKD/month⁷|
Out of network fees — which can be over 2% — may apply
International charges may also exceed 2% of the transaction value
|International payment fees|
Online international transfers can cost around 50 HKD + exchange rate markup
Payments arranged in a branch are significantly more expensive — up to 240 HKD depending on your account type⁸
|Check fees||Check books may cost 25 HKD for delivery|
|Early closure fees||Early closure fees may apply if you shut your account within 3 months — check the terms and conditions carefully|
Wise international payments use the mid-market exchange rate with no markups and no hidden margin — just low, transparent fees⁸.
Open your Wise account online or in the Wise app today, to send secure payments to 80+ countries. 50% of Wise transfers are instant⁹ — so your payment could get where it needs to be faster, and for a lower overall cost.
- Standard Chartered
- Hang Seng
- Bank of China
- Citibank > Service fee
- HSBC > Bank tariff
- The speed of transaction claim depends on funds availability, approval by Wise's proprietary verification system and systems availability of our partners' banking system, and may not be available for all transactions
Sources checked on 08.25.2022
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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