Broadly speaking, you’ll need the following documents in order to open an account:
- Your official ID, such as a passport or a HK ID card.
- Proof of address, such as a utility bill, a bank statement or a mobile phone bill (less than 3 months old).
- If you don’t have a Hong Kong address, proof of your home address (you can also use a relative’s or friend’s address).
- A valid visa.
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.
While opening a basic bank account is quite straightforward, opening a business bank account 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 now have to comply with tough Know Your Customer (KYC) rules.
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. In addition, you’ll have to attend a formal interview at the bank, in person. Business partners and shareholders with more than 20% shares in the company must also attend the interview.
You’ll need to take the following documents to your interview:
- Your HK ID card (if you don’t have a valid HK ID card your only option as a non-resident is to apply for a business account with HSBC.
- Proof of business if your business is already active (these include contracts, supplier invoices or even your company’s website).
- Official company documents, such as a business registration certificate.
- Proof of address, such as a utility bill or bank statement (less than 2 months old).
- A valid visa.
- A detailed and well-structured business plan.
If the original documents aren’t in English, you’ll need to get a certified copy translated in English. You can get your documents translated from one of Hong Kong’s many translation services.