Hong Kong corporate bank account
Healy Consultants Group PLC assists our Clients with opening a multi-currency corporate bank account in Hong Kong. It is possible for both locally-incorporated and foreign (I e. non-Hong Kong) companies to open an international bank account in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong banking options
- Hong Kong is one of the world’s leading banking centres ranked 3rd in the Global Financial Centres Index in 2019. The country has more than 71 of the world’s biggest international banks, and a foreign exchange (FX) volume of US$274.6 billion per day;
- Hong Kong banks do not require foreign companies to possess a local entity to set up an account. However, it has become increasingly difficult to open offshore company bank accounts, as banks have tightened their requirements;
- For both onshore and offshore companies, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority requires each signatory, shareholder and director to have a one hour face-to-face interview with a bank officer as part of bank AML/CFT obligations. Unfortunately, even if our Client travels to Hong Kong to meet the bank, there is no guarantee that the bank account will be opened;
- The best international business banks in Hong Kong that we recommend include: i) HSBC‘s (offshore business bank account); ii) DBS; iii) Citibank; iv) BNP Paribas; v) Deutsche Bank and vi) United Overseas Bank. Of the many available international banks in Hong Kong, HSBC provides the best business bank account;
- We recommend the following local banks in Hong Kong: i) Bank of East Asia, ii) Dah Sing Bank and iii) Hang Seng Bank;
- Below is a sample of six main banking options in Hong Kong:
- On average, Hong Kong banks take two to three months to issue corporate bank account numbers.
Requirements for opening a bank account in Hong Kong
- Hong Kong companies that wish to open a corporate bank account are typically required to submit the following documents: i) notarised proof of residential address and identity documents of directors in English; ii) certified corporate documents; iii) notarised business address proofs in English; iv)a copy of the UBO’s personal bank statement for the previous three months; and v) Latest audited financial statements (if any);
- Hong Kong banks have tightened their account opening procedures, especially for foreign companies. The same applies for merchant accounts for companies that do not have any local Hong Kong customers;
- Hong Kong banks now require Hong Kong companies to have more local substance before they will approve a multi-currency corporate bank account. Examples of local substance include i) business relationships with Hong Kong customers ii) a physical office in Hong Kong and iii) employees in Hong Kong;
- It has also become challenging to open bank accounts for startups and, small or medium-sized businesses. Because Hong Kong banks are not hungry for business, they show more interest in those companies that can prove high annual turnover;
- Foreign companies are also required to submit i) a business plan with details of the company’s product and services; ii) examples of contracts and invoices generated by and for the newly-incorporated company; iii) recent proof of address of the bank signatories (in English); iv) notarised copies of passport and address proof of all bank signatories and v) a bank reference letter for the bank signatories;
- The bank account opening application can be advanced only after the bank signatory visits the bank branch in person;
- Some Hong Kong banks like HSBC, prefer to communicate directly with our client and will not put Healy Consultants Group in the loop for security purposes. In this case, Healy Consultants Group will assist our Client to prepare quality answers to the bankers questions and requests.
Legal considerations and FX control
- Hong Kong operates under the AML/CFT regime, which requires its banks to comply with the legal and supervisory requirements set to establish safe financial systems and regulations to avoid and identify money laundering and terrorist financing;
- Hong Kong is compliant with the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, FATCA. Banks and other financial organisations are obliged to exchange information on financial accounts held directly or indirectly by US nationals;
- The Hong Kong government imposes no limits on the inflow or outflow of funds for remittance of profits, debt services, capital, capital gains and returns on intellectual property or imported inputs. Shares in exchange traded funds through a brokerage account are exempt from stamp duty;
- The currency used by Hong Kong banks is the Hong Kong Dollar, which is pegged to the US dollar. Hong Kong Money Authority has set the upper and lower guaranteed limit (US$1:HK7.75-7.85) since 18 May 2005.
Healy Consultants Group PLC’s Hong Kong corporate bank account opening strategy
- Healy Consultants Group PLC will prepare a quality business plan for our Client’s review then use the same to i) secure multiple banks’ confirmation they welcome a formal application from our Client’s business and ii) maximise the probability of successful multi-currency corporate bank account approvals;
- Our Client visits Hong Kong to meet multiple local banks to open multi-currency corporate bank accounts;
- Healy Consultants Group PLC’s staff will meet our Client in Hong Kong and accompany our Client to each bank meeting (click link);
- The bank’s In-house Legal and Compliance Department may revert multiple times for additional documentation and information from i) each bank signatory / director / UBOs of the companies as well as ii) our Client’s business and transactions;
- If a bank declines to board our Client’s business, Healy Consultants Group PLC will immediately inform our Client and action back-up banking solutions;
- All going well, in an average of three months following application submission, Healy Consultants Group PLC will secure multiple multi-currency corporate bank account numbers for our Client’s Hong Kong company;
- Thereafter, Healy Consultants Group PLC, or the banks, will courier mails and e-banking tokens to the bank signatory, who is expected to activate the internet bank account, with Healy Consultants Group PLC’s assistance if needed;
- After corporate bank account numbers are secured and, if required, Healy Consultants Group PLC will assist our Client to appoint more new shareholders and directors. However, the banks will usually only approve them as bank signatory after a face-to-face meeting and the review and approval of a bank signatory application;
- Healy Consultants Group PLC’s standard fee to assist our Clients secure a Hong Kong corporate bank account for an existing Hong Kong or foreign company amounts to US$5,950. If our Client also wants us to register the entity, then our fee is US$4,950.
Hong Kong bank account opening requirements
- For high risk businesses such as trading of luxury watches, high end jewellery and precious stones, some international banks may require our Client to first open a premium private bank account and deposit at least US$200,000 (HK$1.5 million) for 1 year, before a corporate bank account application can be processed;
- Unfortunately, the opening of a premium private account does not guarantee a positive outcome for the corporate bank account;
- Standard bank charges include i) one-time account opening fee; ii) monthly account maintenance; iii) monthly balance fall below fee; iv) internet banking maintenance. Each bank applies different transaction costs depending on the type of incoming/outgoing fund transfer. Refer to the table in this section for a comparison of Hong Kong banks.
Alternative option - Opening a corporate bank account in Singapore and/or MalaysiaHealy Consultants Group PLC recommends these banks: i) RHB Singapore ii) OCBC Bank Singapore iii) SCB Malaysia iv) OCBC Malaysia.
Opening a corporate bank account in Singapore/Malaysia for a Hong Kong company requires the following:
- A physical meeting between the relationship manager and all bank signatories;
- Compulsory supporting documents even if the business is a start-up including i) contracts or letters of engagement with prospective clients or email correspondence evidence ii) contracts with suppliers iii) director’s resume to prove experience in the business and iv) reference letter from a potential client or lawyer (supported with email correspondence)
- Engaging a professional service provider will increase the bank account approval success rate. Our fee for this service is US$4,950;
- During our Client’s travel to Singapore or Malaysia to meet the bank officer, we will also implement this travel policy.
Healy Consultants Group PLC can assist to open a quality corporate account for your company. Our Banking Team will effectively and efficiently liaise with bank authorities to shelter our Clients from administrative challenges, and secure bank account approval in a timely manner.