How to open an international bank account
An international bank account can be highly recommended when compared to opening a business bank account in Hong Kong.
You may be familiar with an international bank account, but do you know everything there to know about an international bank account? It is an account in a bank that is not located in the same country in which the company has been incorporated. This means if you are incorporating your company in Hong Kong, you can open an international account in a bank of some other country other than Hong Kong. And yes, this is perfectly legal and acceptable!
An international bank account can be highly recommended when compared to opening a business bank account in Hong Kong. An international bank account is something that would benefit not only you but also your company on an international stage. Other than this, you would never have to visit Hong Kong even after you have incorporated your business there.
Regardless of what you might hear people say about an international bank account, the international banking is absolutely legal and can be highly advantageous for some companies. So, turn a deaf ear to all those who are advising you otherwise. An international bank account type is more about legally diversifying your political risk by putting your capital funds in well-capitalized, and sound institutions where they are treated the best.
Moreover, there is no huge secret that it is becoming a hard thing to open a corporate bank account in Asia, so it’s best to have a backup plan. The success rate of opening an international corporate bank account is significantly higher for those, together with a sound business plan, when compared to others applying for a Hong Kong business account.
Here we will walk you through the processing and details of an international bank account, after which you can decide if you want to open an international bank account or a business bank account in Hong Kong.
How to set up a business bank account
If you did not know, many banks allow you to open an international bank account easily without any need of visiting the bank.This just means that you as a foreigner can comfortably open a bank account without the need to travel to Hong Kong at all or even the bank in the country that you are opening an account in.
Let’s have a look at the process involved of opening an international bank account.
At first, you would need to incorporate your company in Hong Kong, or share your idea with a great agency like Startupr and complete the process of getting the business incorporated and registered. After this, you can either look for the bank on your own or ask the agency to let you know about the banks out of Hong Kong where you can open an international bank account.
As per your business requirements and the activities that take place, the bank that suits the best would be shared with you by the agency. If you are searching on your own, you would have to understand well the transactions of the business and the nature of account that you would need, since all the bank accounts are not the same. Also, keep in mind that many international banks are keen to company introductions by agencies, as they may not openly accept a person’s corporate bank account request due to their due diligence policies.
Also, it is vital to understand that your company has to be incorporated and registered before you can move ahead with opening a Hong Kong international bank account. This is since you would need to present the documents to the bank during the process, without which you cannot open a business bank account at all in any bank.
For opening the Hong Kong international bank account, you would have to fill the online application for it. And the banks online would need you to fill all your credentials that include the personal details, provide details of your business background, give details on the intended business venture of your new company, and upload your company registration documents. These details are vital since it the reason why you are opening the bank account with that bank.
The staff at the bank would review the application and analyze everything to check if you are eligible for the business international bank account in their bank. If your application is approved, you would be contacted via the email mostly to arrange a brief video call with an officer at the bank for the process to begin. You need to be prepared for the call and for any questions that they might ask you during the call for opening the business bank account.
During the video call, your identity would be verified by the staff of the bank. Along with this, they would also discuss with you the details that you shared with them including the intended business activities for the new company that you just opened along and how much you would want to grow the company . They would also discuss the business background and the international banking services that would be required by the business as well as you.
After this has been done, you would now have to courier the bank account application documents including your genuine and valid copy of your passport that is certified and signed by a lawyer, CPA, or company secretary. If you have hired an agency to do the work for you, they would take care of getting the copies signed along with the company registration copies as well that needs to be signed and couriered too.
The bank would take about two weeks to process the application for the process of the bank account opening after they have received the signed application and the genuine certified copies that have been signed by the CPA of the company. Be patient during this time and make sure that you have sent all the needed documents to the bank. Most of the delays in opening a bank account is due to some missing document or overlooked detail during the process.
The bank would then provide the new international bank account details to you through an email and would request you to regulate the transfer of the funds to activate the account. After you have added the funds to activate your bank account, the bank would then send the internet banking device via courier so that you can begin to use it for the transactions in your business.
Overall, it is vital to take your time and make sure that you have been prepared properly before you submit the account opening application to the bank. Since the failure to provide the documents, or the required information can always lead to delays as well as a possible rejection of opening an international bank account for your Hong Kong company.
Documents needed to open an account
Don’t get nervous about the documents that are needed to open an international bank account as this bit is more formality and due diligence on the part of the bank. These are the papers that you already have or would get when you incorporate a company in Hong Kong.
Note: Not all the banks have the same requirements, but these are the most common documents that any bank can ask you to provide for the international bank account.
The following documents would be needed by the banks as you apply for the international bank account:
This is something that each bank account opening would need since you are opening the account for the business you just incorporated. The following documents would be required by the bank:
- Business Registration Certificate
- Certificate of Incorporation
- Memorandum and Articles of Association (M&A)
- NC1 form
All of these documents would be certified by the Company Registry of Hong Kong SAR, and their copies that are sent to the bank have to be signed by the CPA. The agency that you hire for the incorporation of your Hong Kong company would take care of this if you hire them for this service as well.
These documents have to be made ready by you. As in these are not the company registration or the other papers that have been mentioned above. It should outline your business, and include things like the business plan and what services you are going to offer.
These are vital as the bank would like to understand the nature of the business, and also how much experience you have in that field. This eventually would determine how long your business would exist and the possibilities of the business to reach a higher level along with the standard it can reach to, if possible. The documents needed here are:
- Received or issued invoices: After you have incorporated your company, you can make some invoices for your future customers, though there is no need to show any payment. The bank just wants to see if your intentions are serious and that you already have customers.
- Business Description: This has to be a paper that has everything described your business, just ensure that it has to be on the company’s letterhead and has to be dated and signed by the primary shareholder, or the director of the company.
- A business certificate of the previous firm: Any firm that you owned, or were a major shareholder of. This also includes any firm which you operated.
- A letter attesting to your professional standing: This is a letter that acts as a clear evidence of your professional standing and that is only if there is any.
- Agreement with the suppliers, if there is any.
- A reference letter from the previous bank that knows you and your business, if you had one.
These are the most obvious things that are needed when you open any kind of bank account and not just the Hong Kong international bank account. The main required documents are:
- Proof of Address: This can be either your driver’s license, any recent utility bill that shows your address and name.
Just make sure that you have kept all the documents prepared before you apply for opening the international bank account. And a tip for being successful is to call the bank before time so that you know exactly what you need to show them or send to them along with the application for opening the Hong Kong international bank account.
Advantages of international bank accounts
As mentioned above, there is more good than bad if you opt for opening an international bank account, else why would this be emphasised a lot here? So, that you understand the reason behind why it is said to be the best option, here are the main advantages shared below:
High Approval Rate
One main point that everyone considers when it comes to applying for an international account is the approval rate of the bank. There are a few bank that do not approve the applications for the business bank account easily or have a lot of requirements. But many banks have a high approval rate for the international bank accounts, allowing people from around the world to share the benefits of having a bank account in that country.
The very first advantage of an international bank account is that you would be able to bank in different currencies and even in the multi-currencies. This is a great benefit for people like you that have a financial commitment for each deal they make in more than one currency or nation due to your business in Hong Kong.
Flexibility for Accessing the Accounts
The international accounts have been designed to offer the customers with the maximum flexibility regarding the account usage. You can benefit greatly from this no matter where you are in the world as this means you can access the funds from ATMs or perform online transactions at any time. Moreover, there is the option for phone banking that has a great benefit as well, irrespective of the time zone you are in.
Political and Economical Stability
With the political and economic stability towards their assets, opening an international bank account would give you a much better security in a country that has more significant economically stable jurisdictions.
Higher Account Privacy
You would be able to enjoy a lot more of the account privacy by moving international since in places like Switzerland where the bank put a lot of emphasis on the confidentiality of the client’s information every time. So, for people who want to protect their assets from any unfair or speculative hostile behavior.
With a Hong Kong company that involves in business trades or transactions all over the world, it is obvious that you might be restricted with each country’s laws and regulations as you live there in terms of banking. Through the international account you can easily avoid these and be free where all the business transactions can be directed in that account without any trouble.
Privacy and Other Banking Services
If you opt to open an international bank account, you would be able to obtain the banking services that are not available in the domestic banks where the company is incorporated. These services include the special investment opportunities, discounted international payments, and low rates on loans. Other than this, you can be sure about the privacy where many banks offer more privacy of situations like taxes, or bankruptcy.
Disadvantages of international bank accounts
Yes, everything in this world has both good points as well the as the bad ones. So it is with the international bank accounts, where with all the advantages that you get as mentioned above, there are some disadvantages of it too. The following are the disadvantages of the Hong Kong international bank account:
Limited Financial Security
This does not contradict the advantage of the financial security mentioned above, but there are chances where a political turmoil, natural disaster, or an economic crisis can lead to the risk of you losing the money that you have deposited in that bank. Though this is not something that would be 100% certain, some people do consider it even though it may happen in any country around the world.
Inflexibility and Travel
Many people prefer to have a bank account locally due to the convenience and the fact that they can easily visit the bank as and when required. International banking issues can be taken care of via email and telephone, but there are many who might find this inflexible and inconvenient. And for them to travel is something that is tough due to the extra money they have to spend each time. This disadvantage is only for people who are not ready to explore the advantages of an international bank account.
High fees and deposits
Another thing about the international bank account is that many banks have a high initial deposit and an even higher monthly fee when compared to Hong Kong banks. This is not the case for all the banks, as there are a few who have a lower initial fee. However, some support and prefer wealthy people to come and open a bank account in their bank. Though this might not be an issue for many, but it is a major disadvantage for those who have a limited budget for starting up their businesses in Hong Kong.
Difference in Jurisdiction
Choose the account in the jurisdiction that you are familiar about, or ensure you are told about the bank account accurately by either a trusted person or the agency that you are taking help from for the Hong Kong company incorporation. This is since the rules and regulations are not the same in every country and it is better to understand them better than to fall into a trap.
Overall, it is very important to have a look at the terms and conditions of the bank before you blindly just walk into a bank and open an international bank account to regret later. This is one reason why it is better to hire an agency to take care of all this for you, but it is still recommended to read all the conditions.
List of International banks
Now that you know what you are getting into, you need to choose the right bank that would be perfect for the Hong Kong business transactions that you would have. There are two categories under this as well where, in one list of banks you would have to visit the bank personally, and in the other list of banks there isn’t any requirement of personally visiting the bank for opening the Hong Kong international bank account. Here are some of the banks that are recommended and preferred by many who open Hong Kong companies.
Hong Kong International Bank Account Opening (online application – no need to travel)
Opening an international bank account by just filling the online application and not visiting the place is possible in just a few decent banks. Some of them that are recommended to you are:
This is a bank in Switzerland that permits a person to easily open a Hong Kong international bank account in their bank. It has a low maintenance fee of $40 with a non-refundable application fee of $175. Obviously, since it has been mentioned that the international banks support the multiple currencies, this bank does the same thing. After the application has been submitted, your bank account would be opened within 15 to 20 working days.
Update on October 2020: CIM Banque has changed their compliance requirements, please contact us at Startupr for more details.
The Europacbank is a bank that is located at Puerto Rico and is another much recommended bank for a person who owns a Hong Kong business where it supports multiple currencies just like most of the other international bank accounts.
But this bank is much more preferred since it accepted the business bank account applications for those who own a company in Hong Kong. With a monthly maintenance fee of $30, the bank account would be opened within 15 to 20 business days of submitting the application to the bank online.
ABC Banking Corporation (Mauritius) is a fully-featured international bank. It offers savings and current accounts, corporate accounts, term deposits, call deposits, and short term fixed and floating deposits. They provide debit cards and online banking services for their clients. No credit cards are available at the moment. ABC Banking requires a detailed business plan – make sure it will be well-prepared.
Hong Kong International Bank Account Opening (personal meeting required)
Other than the easy method of opening an international bank account for your Hong Kong company online, there are many banks that would require you to visit them personally. There are many banks under this category but the most recommended banks that would be the best for your Hong Kong business are:
From the name, it is understood that the bank is a bank in Singapore. With an application fee of $372 and a maintenance fee of just $100 monthly, you can enjoy many benefits of this account along with the Multi-currency advantage.
The only thing in this account is that you would have to visit the bank in Singapore with all the required documents for opening is within 15 to 20 business days. Ensure that you call the bank to confirm the documents needed and to book an appointment so that you do not waste your precious time by reaching there and then doing this.
DBS is a regulated bank in Singapore and they are subjected to banking secrecy. The bank has also been named “Safest Bank in Asia” by Global Finance for nine consecutive years from 2009 to 2017. They offer Multi Currency Account for the customers. To open the bank account, you are required to have 50000 USD for the initial deposit.
After reviewing your company’s documents, they will arrange a bank meeting with the applicant and you can expect your account to be opened in 15 to 20 working days.
Other solutions for bank accounts
It is a common thing for many people to concentrate more on the company incorporation in Hong Kong, but there is something else that is very important, which is the bank account opening. Other than the Hong Kong international bank account, you can open a business bank account in Hong Kong as well or even in your country, depending on the best option that you got and the benefits you get according to your business needs.
In case you want to open an account in Hong Kong, the recommended banks that are used by many people who incorporate their companies in Hong Kong are:
- OCBC Wing Hang
- Standard Chartered
- Bank of China
Another solution may be to open a corporate bank account for your company in your home country. This may be beneficial as you would be more aware of the banks in your country and it would be more convenient for you. You can contact the bank for the documents required, and have your agency assist you with gathering the necessary company documents.
Choose the bank according to your needs, though a good choice to open a bank account can be an international bank due to the numerous advantages. Cross-check everything about the bank and do not forget to give them a call to book an appointment and confirm the documents required before you visit them, both on the online video chat as well as physically at the bank.
For the best guidance, the smartest method is to hire an agency who would take care of all these things, making sure that you get the best as per your business needs.