How to open a business bank account in HK
Here is some important information to make things easier for you.
Once you have completed the steps to registering your company in Hong Kong, you may start considering one of the Hong Kong banks for a corporate bank account opening. If you are still wondering about the process and everything else related to opening a corporate bank account in Hong Kong, please refer to the following important information and the list of Hong Kong banks. We hope to help you go through the bank account application with our hassle-free assistance.
Introduction to opening business bank account in Hong Kong
Every business owner can easily open a business bank account from many choices of banks. You may have already known that a large percentage of the companies in Hong Kong are small and medium sized enterprises, or SMEs if you had done your research about Hong Kong earlier. So many Hong Kong banks are providing services and products to match the needs of SMEs – internet banking and excellent cash management facilities are widely available among all banks in Hong Kong.
Setting up a Hong Kong business bank account is relatively straightforward in its procedures and standardized. It is essential for you to be aware of your needs or supporting, so that you can match the banks’ offers with your own or business needs easily.
How to set up a business bank account?
Opening a business bank account in Hong Kong is a very straightforward procedure, which takes a minimum of 2-4 weeks to proceed. You need to keep in mind that the shareholders, directors, significant controllers and bank account signatories (i.e. company manager) need to visit the bank in person for bank appointment during the application.
Here are some tips that would help for your preparation to set up a Hong Kong business bank account:
- First of all, you need to understand that each bank has its own requirements and procedures for the business bank account opening in Hong Kong. You are suggested to make a decision on applying with a certain bank and start preparing information and documents.
- You will find more tips form the section below “Documents needed to open an account” regarding the documents that are required for the account opening. Keep in mind that some documents are vital and compulsory for the application, which have to be prepared and kept ready before you visit the bank for a meeting.
- As you need to meet with the bank officer for one of the bank account opening procedures, if you are not living in Hong Kong, then you must fly to Hong Kong to present physically.
- It is better to hire an agency in advance to help you to gather all the required documents and even guide you for the process. It is not worth it to risk flying all the way to Hong Kong and finally realize you missed some important documents or procedures in your application.
- If you want to do it by yourself, you should call up the bank beforehand and book an appointment with them before you travel to Hong Kong or visit any branches. You will know about the documents that are needed for bank account application in Hong Kong, making it much more straightforward.
- You also need to present the documents related to your residence, your identity and any evidence of your business activity that includes the last banking history or the business plan.
- A few banks would even ask for these documents to be certified and/or translated if the language is not English or Chinese. You may also need to provide the documents regarding the significant controllers and beneficial owners of the business, even if they would not have any access to the account.
- The day you are going to the bank for a meeting of a bank account application, you need to take the company documents to show your business exists with proper registration.
To avoid surprises during your application process (which could run you weeks of unnecessary back and forth communication), it’s best to hire an agency (such as Startupr) with expertise to help you sort out the details and notify you of requirements in advance.
List of Hong Kong Commercial Banks
Hong Kong has a sophisticated financial industry and an extensive variety of well-known banks. All these banks offer most of the basic services and are slightly different in some specific parts. In general, you are likely to obtain something suitable for your needs amid the bigger institutions. Even though there are many banks in Hong Kong, the banks listed below are some of the best choices for you to open a business bank account in Hong Kong:
|Name of Commercial Bank||Website||Initial Deposit / Requirements|
|OCBC Wing Hang||https://www.ocbcwhhk.com/business-banking/en/index.html||HKD 50,000 (HKD 100,000 to waive the account monthly fee)|
|DBS Bank (Hong Kong)||https://www.dbs.com.hk/corporate-zh/default.page||HKD 20,000|
|Bank of China (Hong Kong)||https://www.bochk.com/en/smeinone/business.html||HKD 50,000|
|Bank Of East Asia||https://www.hkbea.com/html/en/index.html||HKD 10,000|
|Hang Seng Bank||https://www.hangseng.com/en-hk/business/||HKD 20,000 (HKD 50,000 to waive the account monthly fee)|
|Standard Chartered||https://www.sc.com/hk/business/||HKD 200,000|
|Citibank (Hong Kong)||https://www.citibank.com.hk||HKD 50,000|
We usually recommend foreigners or anyone who is not residing in Hong Kong to choose the following banks for higher possibility on bank account opening.
OCBC Wing Hang
OCBC Wing Hang Bank Limited (formerly Wing Hang Bank Limited) is a licensed bank with its headquarters in Hong Kong. It is the eighth biggest bank, if measured by total assets. Since July 2014, Wing Hang Bank has been a subsidiary of the Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation of Singapore (OCBC), an established and popular bank in Singapore.
It is easier to open a business account in Hong Kong with this particular bank whose initial deposit is HKD 50,000. With a minimum monthly deposit of HKD 100,000 the bank can waive the maintenance fee of HKD 500 per month. Despite the high initial deposit, the approval rates are comparatively high for the business bank account, which the bank account opening procedures can be done in 15 to 20 working days as the most optimistic case.
DBS Bank (Hong Kong)
DBS Bank (Hong Kong) is a subsidiary of DBS Bank headquartered in Singapore, which is a Singaporean multinational banking and financial services corporation. In 2003, DBS Bank merged the three banks, DBS Kwong On Bank Limited, Dao Heng Bank and Overseas Trust Bank, to form the current-well-known DBS Bank (Hong Kong).
If you are interested in DBS Hong Kong, you can apply for the business bank account online. After completing the online application form, you will get a response about the interview in two days usually. If you are eligible, you will be scheduled for an appointment with the bank.
This appointment can be undergone online via Skype where you would not have to visit the bank at all. And if the application is accepted, you would be couriered the related documents. However, please keep in mind that the request for the “Meet Online” eligibility depends on the criteria check or invitation by the relationship manager of the Bank, based on suitability.
Bank of China (Hong Kong)
Bank of China (Hong Kong) (BOCHK) is a bank with Chinese background, however, it is legally separated from its parent, Bank of China (BOC), although they maintain close relations in management and administration and co-operate in several areas. BOCHK is also the biggest member and a founder of the JETCO ATM and payment system, and the designated clearing bank in Hong Kong for transactions involving the Renminbi (RMB / CNH).
If you have business or planning to do business in China, BOCHK will be a good option for you as they are specialized in RMB transactions, which are also able to provide linked-up services in both Mainland China and Hong Kong. You have access to a vast range of banking services for businesses that are suitable for any company or industry at any stage. With a big network of branches and stable online banking, you will find its powerful supports on your business.
Bank of East Asia
Bank of East Asia, often abbreviated to BEA, is the largest independent local Hong Kong bank, and one of two remaining family-run Hong Kong banks. BEA provides Hong Kong banking and financial services company, headquartered in Central. BEA operates overseas branches in Macau, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, United States and United Kingdom.
With the well established Corporate banking and Personal banking services, you can apply for a corporate bank account started with an initial deposit of HKD 10,000, comparatively friendly to startup business. Same as other local banks, BEA provides online banking, current & savings accounts, debit (ATM) cards and cheque books. Meanwhile, if you have a business in Hong Kong and need a one-stop-service along with the MPF Services support, BEA is a good choice for you.
If you are living in Hong Kong or a Hong Kong Resident (HKID holder), you may consider the following banks which usually are more welcome to locals.
HSBC is a global banking superpower and is also one of the largest banks in Hong Kong. In this bank, you can use any of the two corporate current accounts – the BusinessVantage Plus or the BusinessVantage.
If you want to open an account in this bank, you would need to visit the HSBC business banking center in Hong Kong just once. When the bank account is approved, you would be able to operate it flawlessly with the payments cards, PINs, HSBC Token, and everything required just within a few working days.
Hang Seng Bank
The Hang Seng Bank is the second largest local bank in Hong Kong, and the HSBC group partly owns it as well. Hang Seng provides two different types of business accounts to suit the different kinds of businesses. They offer a lot of discounts to anyone who uses the internet banking services primarily. Moreover, Hang Seng also offers companies many other financial services like the investment tools and the loans.
If you are living in Hong Kong or have a big business connection in Hong Kong, you can try with Hang Seng to enjoy the well developed services and good discounts, which is the right one for a Hong Kong business bank account.
Standard Chartered is currently one of the Hong Kong SAR’s three note-issuing banks. Standard Chartered is a leading international banking group, with a presence in 60 of the world’s most dynamic markets, and serving clients in a further 85.
Being a famous international bank, Standard Chartered has its headquarters in Hong Kong. Also, the customers can easily and comfortably access the large branch and ATM networks across the region and the country. Along with this, there are two dedicated business banking centers of this bank in Hong Kong that can assist you to set up a Hong Kong business bank account.
Citibank (Hong Kong)
Citibank was founded as the first foreign bank in Hong Kong, dated back in 1902. Citibank is an unique banking partner for SMEs and mid-cap companies in Hong Kong offering comprehensive one-stop banking solutions. They provide clients a gateway to business opportunities in Greater China as well as over 100 markets worldwide through Citi’s extensive global network. Additionally, Citibank Hong Kong provides investment options in the form of bonds, mutual funds, insurance products, foreign currency trading and stock trading.
They provide 24-hour hotline support, SME information and networking events to keep clients abreast of the market, with accessible and free worldwide ATM withdrawal and Citibank Global Transfer. Citibank offers comprehensive one-stop banking solutions to SMEs and mid-cap companies with an annual sales turnover of US$10 million and above.
Documents needed to open an account
You are obligated to take some specific documents during your visit to the bank. Please do not just walk into the bank with empty hands and expect them to set up a Hong Kong business bank account for you.
All the banks have different requirements on documents. Basically, you need to bring all your company documents and your personal documents for all the banks for due diligence and KYC. Kindly keep this in mind that supporting documents should still be prepared by yourselves based on the requirements of different banks.
Here are some of the basic documents which commonly needed for every bank:
- A certified copy of the Certificate of Incorporation
- A certified copy of the Articles of Association
- A certified copy of the Business Registration Certificate
- A certified copy of the incorporation form (NNC1/NNC1G) and/or the latest Annual Return (NAR1)
- All 4 registers (of Directors, Members, Significant Controllers, Secretaries)
- Organisation Chart
- Share Certificates
- Your passport or Hong Kong identity card (for all directors, shareholders with 10% shares or more, signatories, significant controllers and UBOs)
- Your address proof – such as bank statements, utility bills, tax letters, driver license etc.(for all directors, shareholders with 10% shares or more, signatories, significant controllers and UBOs)
- Directors’ experience and CV (resume)
- A board of resolution approving the opening of the business bank account in Hong Kong.
- Business Plan in details
If you have any body corporate as director / shareholder
- A certified copy of the Certificate of Incorporation and Certificate of Incumbency (or equivalent)
- Organisation Chart depicts the percentage of the shareholdings
- Register of Significant Controllers
- Details of the ultimate beneficial owners
– if it is a trust, you would need to provide a certified copy of the declaration of the trust or trust deed with the complete details of the trustees, settlors, and beneficiaries.
Other Requirements than documents
The above requirements are not all the requirements that the banks need. You need to provide the following things along with the above-mentioned documents.
- Application fee – some banks waive this fee, but some banks may charge from HKD $400 to even HKD $10,000.
- Initial deposit – the amount can range from HKD $10,000 to even HKD $50,000, depending on the bank requirements.
Some banks may require you to purchase some insurance products or
- investment / loan services, each bank may vary.
Having all the required documents does not guarantee a bank account opened, which you should not be completely dependent on. Due to compliance strict, Hong Kong banks require higher due diligence on the bank account opening, each bank makes independent decisions whether the account is opened. There are many troubles these days on setting up Hong Kong business bank accounts, which their applications may be refused by the banks. Let’s see the following parts about the difficulties and some points you need to consider and pay attention to.
Difficulties with opening a Hong Kong bank account
More and more people are getting rejected for opening a business bank account in Hong Kong, which has been very disappointing for many. The refusals are mainly due to the standard of due diligence and KYC was increased by the FATF and other authorities of Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing, along with the FATCA regulations imposed globally. These changes imposed the stress of regulations and compliance on anti-money laundering among different industries in Hong Kong. Here are some of the reasons of disapproval on Hong Kong business bank account opening:
- No business or no plan to run a business, the trading history is NIL.
- Insufficient business supporting documents.
- Run a high-risk business, which is difficult to chase the source of payment, or receiving a lot of large bills, risky business nature, etc.
- No business or trading done within Asia.
- You live and do business steadily in other countries that are very far away from Hong Kong.
- Work or do business with the party or people in the sanction lists.
As you know the above mentioned points, you can increase your chances to be successful in opening a business bank account in Hong Kong by rectifying things in your business. The first tip is to target the adverts at Asian customers to gain their attention, and begin making sales within Asia.
Another tip is to make alterations to the financial structure of your business. For example, you can open a business bank account in the UK or any other country with the HSBC bank, and develop a six to twelve months of trading with them. This would give you a higher chance to be approved in bank account opening in Hong Kong.
Apart from these, if you are still encountering a refusal, it may be because the bank is not interested in your business. Hence, it would be a great option to try the other banks in Hong Kong. The banks like the OCBC Wing Hang, DBS Hong Kong or Bank of China (Hong Kong) have recently made it easier to set up a business bank account for those who are opening a business in Hong Kong. Give it a try, as you would be able to find out where you stand at least.
Traveling to Hong Kong
Now that you are aware of all the documents needed and the problems that might occur on the way, if you are ready, you may now consider flying to Hong Kong. Opening a business bank account in Hong Kong is relatively straightforward, in which every bank follows stringent procedures around account opening according to the Banking Ordinance and the regulations of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA).
Banks in Hong Kong prefer a physical presence of all the relevant parties during the process, and it is not possible to avoid visiting the bank for a meeting in Hong Kong when opening a business bank account.
Hong Kong business bank account application process online
On the other hand, you can try to apply online for a Hong Kong business bank account through some of the bank’s websites. However, you would still need to travel to Hong Kong and hand over the documents in person.
Advantages of Hong Kong bank accounts
There are many significant benefits of owning a business bank account in Hong Kong, although the preparation may take some time in advance. Let’s see as follows::
Note: the below-mentioned benefits are the standard ones for most of the banks in Hong Kong, however, not all the benefits are obtained in one bank, and not all the banks have the same benefits.
- Lower Minimum Bank Account Balance – The minimum bank account balance that is required by Hong Kong banks can be as low as HKD 10,000. If the balance is below the minimum requirement, a monthly service fee can be HKD 100 only. This basically depends on the bank’s policies and regulations. You can find it out by contacting or calling the bank directly.
- No Tax on Interest – One of the most excellent benefits is no tax on interest earned in the bank account.
- Convenient Access to Bank Account – With the help of internet banking, phone banking and mobile app, you can easily access the bank account anywhere in the world anytime. Along with this, it is more comfortable to view the transaction advice and the account statements through the internet banking and mobile app.
- RMB Trade Settlement – Effective from July 2009, the Hong Kong banks have been permitted to handle RMB (also known as the currency code “CNY”) agreement for cross-border trading with mainland China. The RMB Trade settlement would allow you to settle trade with the designated enterprises of RMB in mainland China. This gives a reduction in the cost of selling and buying RMB, while it gives an option to you for receiving and keeping the RMB trade receipts offshore.
- Free Capital Transfer – With the world’s most dynamic economy, Hong Kong is driven by the policies of free markets and free trade with no foreign exchange controls. Hence, there is no restriction on the international capital transfer, including transferring dividend or profit to your homeland.
- Secure Banking System – The banking industry is significant in Hong Kong, which also is reputed for having high-quality regulations. The identity of the account holder and their transaction information is also subjected to a very high standard of confidentiality. So, you can be sure that your data is in the right hands after opening a business bank account in Hong Kong.
Disadvantages of Hong Kong bank accounts
There are just two disadvantages, which are not essential when comparing to the advantages:
- Bank accounts in Hong Kong cannot be opened online / remotely.
- The approval rates are not high and less certain due to higher regulations.
If you follow the tips shared in the section “Difficulties with opening a Hong Kong bank account” above, you may increase the chances, and many have also been successful in this.
Alternative: Hong Kong Branch of Foreign Banks
Besides applying with certain Hong Kong banks, if you have a bank account in your own country and maintain a good relationship with the bank, you may check if they have a branch in Hong Kong. If so, you can make an appointment and apply for a bank account through your own bank in Hong Kong.
For example, KBC is an international bank which is based in Belgium, Czech, Hungary, Austria, etc. If you are a KBC client, you might ask KBC to contact KBC’s Hong Kong branch. They will assist you with opening a bank account. Yet, you need to have a Hong Kong company first and prepare other supporting documents.
Our list is very limited and covers certain banks, for more information please contact your local banks if they offer this type of service. We suggest you contact all your local banks in your country and ask them about this option.
Alternative: International Banks
With given freedom by the Companies Ordinance, you can choose the banks in your current residing country, or choose from the list of international banks outside Hong Kong. Besides setting up a bank account in Hong Kong, we strongly recommend opening a business bank account with an international bank since it gives you and your business many advantages and benefits. And one perk about this is that you generally are not required to come to Hong Kong at all.
With a multiple currencies international bank account and online banking service, you would be able to have round-the-clock and constant access to your account and finances from any part of the world. So, if you have tried all to set up a Hong Kong business bank account and still need a bank account for your business, open an international business bank account.
Open a Business Bank account in Hong Kong with us
After reading all this information, you know the pros and cons along with the needs and process of opening a business bank account in Hong Kong, and start to move a step forward. In case you have been refused a business bank account in Hong Kong, you may consider opening an international account.
Other than this, you may open a personal bank account in Hong Kong and still take advantage of Hong Kong incorporation and taxes. This could help some people out although it is not the best idea for everyone.
Choose and decide as per your needs and requirements, and if one option doesn’t work, you can always move onto the next!
All information on this page and/or on any pages of Startupregistry.hk is for reference only and remains subject to change. Startupr itself is neither responsible nor liable for any bank’s information or decision.