Hong Kong has a reputation as a fast-paced city, but the formality of opening a bank account in Hong Kong can seem slow and old-fashioned for many expats. Online banking isn’t too speedy and a visit to a branch can be required to complete proceedings. Instead, skip the DIY approach and head straight to a branch with your documents.
Which Bank Should I Choose?
Hong Kong has a mix of international and local players. If you need to shift funds between countries choosing a bank that also operates in your home country can reduce costs associated with transfers and exchange rates. Popular banks among expats include Citibank, HSBC and Standard Chartered, and it’s also worth considering Hang Seng Bank, Bank of China (Hong Kong) and DBS.
Popular banks among expats are:
You may also consider:
Most common personal banking accounts in Hong Kong include checking, savings and multi-currency accounts. Credit cards can be linked to an account, as can an EPS card, which acts like a debit card. View the charges on credit cards, which can be high, and do not neglect to order a chequebook, since these are still frequently requested forms of payment in Hong Kong.
What Should I Bring?
Check with the bank you are applying with as each has slightly different requirements, however, it’s likely you will need:
- Passport Both are needed for joint accounts.
- Letter of employment, issued by your employer If you are in Hong Kong on a spousal visa you should apply at the same time as your partner.
- Hong Kong ID or temporary ID If you plan to open a joint account, you must both hold ID.
- Proof of address in Hong Kong A copy of your rental agreement or a utility bill.
- Copy of a permanent address in your home country Use your last address, or a relative’s who is still resident there.
- Social security number Required for American citizens opening accounts with American banks.
At the branch take a ticket and wait to be called. This can take 30 minutes or more in busy locations. A bank representative will check your documents and guide you through the set-up. Do double check you have brought all requested documentation or your application will probably be rejected and you will need to return at another time to begin the process again.
You need a nominal amount to open the account, around HK$1000 in most cases. Check bank charges on minimal monthly balances and consider having your wage paid into the account to avoid additional costs. If you bank with the same bank as your company you may be paid quicker.
With a dash of forward thinking, your process will be smooth and your new cards will be winging their way to you by post in a matter of days.
For more advice and help with moving to Hong Kong head over to our Living In Hong Kong section:
This article first appeared in Expat Living’s annual CityGuide. Get your free copy here!