How to start a new bank account

Keeping in mind the need of a bank account for a business.

Opening of Hong Kong-based Bank Account Offshore Bank Account Opening

When you decided to incorporate a company in Hong Kong, have you ever been concerned with opening a bank account for your HK company? This is one of the points you need to prepare or pay attention to when planning your business in Hong Kong.

You must have a bank account for all business operations, listing out revenues, profits, and expenses. As the owner of a startup or SME, you must have a lot of questions regarding the bank account opening and you must understand this application process well in order to avoid delays or issues later. To understand and make sure you cover all needs for both your business and yourself, you may need help from a professional advisor. Startupr has already prepared some helpful information for you because we knew it is crucial to select the bank that suits you the most.

There are three options when opening a bank account for a Hong Kong company, let’s start the exploration as follows:

Hong Kong Bank Account (meeting in Hong Kong required)

Due to the changing of banking environments, and the implication of strict requirements on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing, it has not been that easy to open a Hong Kong bank account remotely compared to years ago.

To open a bank account in Hong Kong, the directors, significant controllers, bank account signatories and shareholders with 10% or more shares of the company would have to physically present in Hong Kong to meet with the banker in order to proceed with the bank account application.

Such requirements become compulsory due to the Due Diligence and KYC (Know Your Customers) under the Banking Ordinance and Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance.

Requirements

Please understand that all banks consider various sectors for company account opening: business nature, directors & shareholders backgrounds, their experiences in the business / field, sufficient business supporting documents (such as agreements, contracts, invoices etc.), the reason for having the bank account etc.

Even if the company is a startup or newly formed, all banks expect business owners to provide some evidence or documents showing that you are running or starting the business before having the bank account which is just for the usage of receiving or sending payments.

In case you decide to apply for a HK bank account with any one of the banks listed on our connection list (check the list of banks work with Startupr), we suggest all business owners meet at least one of the following conditions to increase the possibility of bank account opened:

  • The business is connected in a trade within Asia, ideally in Hong Kong and/or China.
  • The business is located at an actual office in Hong Kong with proof of the rental agreement with the company’s name on it.
  • The director or business owner has a working visa in Hong Kong or holding a Hong Kong Identity Card (HKID).
  • The director or business owner is living in Hong Kong.

In case you do not meet any of the above conditions, you can still attempt to apply for a bank account with one of the Hong Kong banks but you would need to provide substantial proof and justification for this case.

Startupr can assist in arranging a meeting with the banks in Hong Kong. If you would even like to prepare and proceed by yourself, you can read these tips: How to Prepare for Bank Appointment in Hong Kong.

Documents required

As mentioned above, sufficient supporting business documents are needed for bank account applications in Hong Kong. Usually business owners need to prepare the following documents for bank account application:

  • Company documents – including Certificate of Incorporation, NNC1 Incorporation form, Articles of Association, latest BRC. Annual Return and Company Particulars Report will also be needed if the company is registered for more than 1 year.
  • Resume (CV – Curriculum vitae) of Directors
  • Experience Proof of Directors – relevant experience (i.e. former employment contracts).
  • Identity documents (passport or HKID) and Proof of Address in English or Chinese of Directors – i.e. utility bill, bank statement, credit card statement issued within the last 3 months. This requirement is applied to all directors, significant controllers, bank account signatories and the shareholders with 10% or more shares of the company.
  • Bank Reference letter – get a bank reference letter with the company details issued by the bank if you have an existing bank account for your current business. It must be stamped and signed by the bank officer.
  • Business Supporting documents – the brief overview of the company, business description, business activities, sources of wealth / fund, names of the suppliers and customers of your business, estimated turnover and number of transactions etc.
  • Business Proof – Documents that confirm the engagement of the business like business licenses, invoice from suppliers, sales contracts, office lease agreement etc.

Moreover, if you have controlled or owned another company in related business besides this, you may also provide the business documents of the existing business as a supporting as well.

Startupr recommends that you give a detailed overview of your Hong Kong Company, and prepare all documents in paper format, then you are almost ready to provide and meet with the officer in the bank.

Preparation

The bank favors organized and well-prepared customers. Here are some points that would help you out:

Choosing a bank

There are many banks in Hong Kong providing different services and targeting different kinds of businesses. Startupr is glad to help you on arranging bank appointment with the following banks (it takes about 7-20 working days to have the appointment confirmed) in case you worry about how to make a bank appointment without hassle:

  • OCBC Wing Hang Bank
  • Bank Of China
  • Bank Of East Asia (BEA)
  • DBS Hong Kong
  • HSBC
  • Hang Seng Bank
  • Standard Chartered

Prepare all documents

The documents that are required have been mentioned above and they need to be presented when you are going for the meeting with the bank. You would be asked to provide sufficient documents and information to the bank about your company during the meeting.

We can assist you to arrange an appointment with certain Hong Kong banks. It takes about 7-20 working days to confirm the appointment.

Please make sure you have the bank appointment confirmed before booking the ticket for your flight to Hong Kong. You need to pay attention to the restrictions or requirements when entering Hong Kong.

Be ready with answers

Do not underestimate the bank officials and due diligence regulations, so keep the following answers ready:

  • What is your anticipated annual turnover?
  • What is your client base?
  • In which countries will you sell your products?
  • What is or would be the trading currency?
  • How many employees do you have currently?
  • What is your business address?
  • How long has your firm existed?
  • What is the nature of your business?

Startupr suggests you follow the business dress code and be punctual.

Also, you need to beware that the due diligence of Hong Kong banks is strict due to the requirements of related Ordinances. To enjoy the bank opening, here’s a tip: You need to have all the right documents and be prepared.

Bank Appointment with the Bank Officer

The appointments of a bank take about 1 hour, which is the time where the bank officer can know more about your business and plan by asking questions and reviewing all the documents. Afterwards, you and the officer would need to sign some forms or documents to proceed further the application.

Different banks may have different procedures, usually taking a minimum 2-4 weeks to proceed to the last stage of bank application. Please also keep in mind that the approval is the bank’s decision only. Startupr can only assist you in the process, but we are not responsible nor liable for any bank’s decision.

Opening of Hong Kong-based Bank Account

Advantages

  • Lower minimum account balance
  • Multi-currencies bank account
  • RMB trade settlement
  • Online banking available
  • Credit or debit cards available
  • Required for a PayPal account or similar payment gateways

Disadvantages

  • Cannot be opened online
  • More application requirements
  • Approval less certain

International Bank Account (online opening)

An international or offshore bank account is opened in a jurisdiction different from where a company is incorporated. We strongly recommend you open an offshore bank account for many benefits and advantages to you and your business. You can apply online without ever coming to Hong Kong.

An international bank account is opened in a country that is different from one in which the company has been incorporated. It allows you to operate through multiple currencies without depleting funds with currency conversion fees. It also lets you obtain debit or credit cards linked to various currencies, set up automatic bill payments, as well as enjoy discounted international payments and special investment opportunities.

A bank account outside Hong Kong is the key component for an international diversification strategy, shielding you from economic and political risk as well as capital controls.

Startupr Introduces Your Company (15 – 20 working days)

Many international banks prefer to address an account application through a licenced company services provider. If you choose the service where Startupr is your company secretary, we can assist you in this case. As your company secretary, Startupr already has most of the required documents and can flexibly assist the bank with its requests. We present your firm to the bank and help see your application through.

Documents required:

  • Company documents
  • Due Diligence documents (certified copies of passports and proof of address of all beneficiaries),
  • Business supporting documents (detailed business plan, invoice, agreement etc.)
  • Application and KYC Forms (different international banks may vary)

Banks we work with

This is a List of International Banks we are working with. All of them provide multiple currencies account for your business:

BankFee Initial Deposit Maintenance DepositTime to Open Bank Account^Fees & Charges
CIM Banque – Switzerland
Inward PaymentOutward PaymentMonthly Maintenance FeeApplication Fee
USD 15USD 3.5USD 40EUR 150
USD 10,000USD 1,00015-20 working daysFAQ
Fees and commissions
ABC Banking – Mauritius
Inward PaymentOutward PaymentMonthly Maintenance FeeApplication Fee
No ChargeUSD 60 – USD 75 (Flat fee) + overseas bank chargesUSD 30USD 100
USD 5,000Not required15-20 working daysPrice List
Europacbank – Puerto Rico
Inward PaymentOutward PaymentMonthly Maintenance FeeApplication Fee
USD 16 – USD 103USD 30 – USD 110USD 30N/A
USD 500USD 36015-20 working daysPrice List
Standard Chartered – Singapore
Inward PaymentOutward PaymentMonthly Maintenance FeeApplication Fee
SGD 10Min. SGD 15 – Max. SGD 50SGD/USD 50 for each accountN/A
SGD/USD 30,000. Other currency USD 10,000 equivalentSGD/USD 30,000. Other currency USD 10,000 equivalent2-3 weeks after video conferencePrice List
OCBC – Singapore***
Inward PaymentOutward PaymentMonthly Maintenance FeeApplication Fee
SGD 7.5SGD 43 – SGD 125SGD/USD 100SGD 372
SGD/USD 30,000SGD/USD 30,00015-20 working daysPrice List
DBS – Singapore***
Inward PaymentOutward PaymentAnnual Maintenance FeeApplication Fee
SGD 5 Per TT*Minimum SGD 20 + specific % of payment amountMinimally SGD/USD 40SGD 500 or SGD 2,500 **
SGD/USD 50,000SGD/USD 50,000 or 100,000 **1-2 weeks after meetingPrice List

All fees are for reference only and remain subject to change.

*TT charges comprises of 3 components – Handling Commission, Cable Charge and Commission in Lieu

** Application Fee: Minimally SGD 500 for operating/ trading entities; SGD 2,500 for investment / holding companies. Maintenance Deposit: an average daily credit balance of SGD/USD 50,000 for operating entities or SGD/USD 100,000 for investment holding companies.

***Personal visit required – Singapore

^ Upon completed compliance procedures

Update on October 2020: CIM Banque has changed their compliance requirements, please contact us at Startupr for more details. We can further assist you if you’re interested in opening a bank account in Singapore.

Offshore Bank Account Opening

Bank Account in Your Own Country (do it yourself)

You may find it useful to open a corporate account for your Hong Kong firm in a different country of your choice. To do so, you’ll need to submit an application along with a set of Apostille company documents (NNC1 Incorporation form, Articles of Association, Certificate of Incorporation, Business Registration Certificate).

These apostilled documents are available for $465 USD + $95USD DHL delivery cost. They can be delivered at your address within a few days. Once you have all necessary documents, simply call or visit the bank you have chosen for your business, which is very flexible.

Advantages

  • Travel-free (online) application
  • High approval rate
  • Multi-currencies bank account
  • Online banking available
  • Credit or debit cards available
  • Multilingual support team

Disadvantages

  • Higher minimum deposit (varies)
  • Higher tariff (varies)
  • Physical branch not available
  • Cheque book not available

PayPal

You can also enjoy the free PayPal business account introduction. It is an excellent package that includes:

  • Introduction to PayPal account manager
  • Dedicated support for PayPal business account opening
  • Express Paypal Business account setup
  • Bank Account linkage
  • Paypal merchant welcome kit
  • Paypal integration consultation
  • Discounted PayPal transaction fee

Keep in mind that PayPal requires a Hong Kong bank account.

Advantages

  • Lower fees for sending money abroad
  • Easy account opening
  • Fast – everything online
  • 100% guaranteed against unauthorized payments

Disadvantages

  • Private company unregulated by any federal banking rules. Able to freeze accounts without permission or approval if fraud is suspected.

Certification rule

All documents you present to a bank must be correctly certified by an independent person (notary public, bank or certified public accountant). Include also the name and contact details of the certifier.

Startupr can assist you on documents preparation – i.e. certified documents by CPA or a notary public.

Translation rule

All documents presented to PayPal must be in English. Any translation from other languages must be made by an authorized / certified translator. All requirements and regulations are for reference only and remain subject to change.

With the help of Startupr, you will receive assistance with the tasks mentioned above.

 

 

Opening of Hong Kong-based Bank Account Offshore Bank Account Opening

 

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.