Updated on 11 September 2019: Singapore is considered as the best alternative to Hong Kong in terms of banking services. Some Singaporean banks can accept remote account opening for selected business and corporate clients. details are here.
Updated on 16 July 2018: We found that some Hong Kong banks are more open to Hong Kong and overseas companies with non-Hong Kong residents directors and/or shareholders, details are here.
While we are offering Hong Kong bank account opening assistance to small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) from worldwide, we are frequently asked “Can I apply for Hong Kong business bank account for your company by myself?”, “Yes!” we answer, but “How?”
To speed your effort in the application process, here are some tips for you.
Step 1: Incorporate a Hong Kong limited company
Why? Although Hong Kong banks accept overseas company to apply for account opening, owning a Hong Kong company simply gives the sense of establishment in Hong Kong to the banks you are approaching.
Moreover, Hong Kong company is a low tax vehicle for conducting international businesses as, in the moment of writing, the first HK$ 2 million corporate profits is taxed at fixed rate 8.25% (16.5% on the remaining amount); the first HK$ 132,000 personal income of the director is tax-free; dividends income and capital gain are not taxed anyway; Hong Kong only tax on corporate profits and personal salaries which are sourced in Hong Kong.
Incorporation a Hong Kong limited company takes you generally 1 week when 3 workings day is spent on government process and 2 working days on postal of hard copy forms and documents from your side to Companies Registry (the authority of Hong Kong companies registration).
Unlike other offshore jurisdictions, you can handle the incorporation process by yourself. However, you need to fulfill the locality requirements of company secretary and registered office address on your own. If you can’t provide them for the government, hire a company registration agency firm (such as AsiaBC) and let them manage it all.
Step 2: Get ready of banks’ required documents
Hong Kong banks with business banking capacity have standard procedures to serve Hong Kong limited companies to open accounts. Generally, you, as the applicant of business account opening and proposed signatory of the account, you need to obtain the follow documents before you start the application:
For the Hong Kong limited company: Certificate of Incorporation, Business Registration Certificate, Articles of Association
For all beneficial owners of the account (the parties who are entitled to exercise or control 10% or more of either voting rights, share capital or profits):
- Nature person: Identification documents or travel documents, residential address proof, and tax residency
- Corporate body: Certification of Incorporation or incorporation documents, record of registered address, and tax residency
For the proof of business:
- Ownership and control structure chart
- Business operation information
- Product or service information
- Latest financial information
- Source of fund information
- Source of wealth information
Step 3: Make the account opening appointment with the bank
Business account opening is a lengthy process, prior appointment must be made in the banks so that the bank can assign a representative to meet you at a designated time slot and location. Kindly be reminded that any walk-in application will not be accepted.
You can submit the request of the appointment either online or call-in. Either ways, the banks need to receive the completed application form as well as the required documents copy from you to check your eligibility of application.
You would feel free to approach the following banks, some of them offer online appointment service. You should apply for accounts in multiple banks to save your time and effort since no bank service charge is applied in this stage.
Step 4: Visit to Hong Kong to meet the bankers
Once the application is accepted, the bank will schedule a meeting in Hong Kong with you. All bank must meet you and all beneficial owners in Hong Kong as a part of compulsory Know-Your-Customers (KYC) / due-diligence procedure.
The banks have their detailed checklist of required documents, you need to bring them to Hong Kong and present them to the banker. The documents must be in original or, if the original is not obtained, certified copies.
The meeting is critical in the approval of your account, it is formal and conducted in business manner. The banker not only need to check and collect the documents but also questions your information in the meeting.
It is wise to well prepare for the documents and informations before you leave you home country, additional supporting document and information is always welcomed to impress the banker.
In addition, you must prepare the payment cheque of minimum initial deposit and application fee for the bank and hand it to the banker on the meeting.
Step 5: Follow up the application
After the meeting, you should allow the banker to transfer your application to its internal staff for approval, you should contact the banker after one week to check if any supplementary information and documents are needed by their colleagues.
About the author:
AsiaBC is a business service providers rooted in Hong Kong, generally regarded as a top-notch hub of international business and financial services, offering banking assistance to overseas entrepreneur doing business in Hong Kong since 2009.