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How to Apply for a Business Bank Account for Non HK Residents?

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In terms of banking services, Singapore is regarded as the finest option to Hong Kong. Several Singaporean banks permit remote account opening for certain commercial and corporate clientele. Details may be found here.

We discovered that several HK banks are more accessible to HK and abroad enterprises with non-HK residents as directors and/or shareholders; further information is available here.

While we provide HK bank account opening support to SMEs globally, we are usually questioned, “Can I apply for an HK business bank account for our firm on my own?” We answer, “Yes!” but “How?”

Here are some pointers to help you speed up the application process.

Step 1: Form an HK Limited Company

Why? Although HK banks enable abroad companies to apply for account opening, owning an HK firm offers the banks you are approaching a sense of presence in HK.

Furthermore, an HK company is a low-tax vehicle for conducting international business because, at the time of writing, the first HK$ 2 million in corporate profits is taxed at a fixed rate of 8.25 percent (16.5 percent on the remaining amount); the first HK$ 132,000 in personal income of the director is tax-free; dividend income and capital gain are not taxed in any case, and HK only taxes corporate profits and personal salaries sourced in HK.

Incorporating an HK limited company typically takes one week, with three working days spent on government processes and two working days spent on mailing hard copy forms and documentation from your side to the Companies Registry (the authority of HK companies registration).

You may handle the incorporation procedure on your own, unlike in other offshore countries. You must, however, meet the geographical criteria for the company secretary and registered office address on your own. If you cannot present them to the government, employ a business registration agency (such as Stephen M.S Lai & Co CPA Limited) and let them do everything.

Step 2: Prepare the Banks’ Required Documents

Standard processes are in place for HK banks with business banking capabilities to assist HK limited firms seeking to open accounts. In general, as the applicant for a business account and the intended signatory of the account, you must gather the following papers before beginning the application:

For the Hong Kong limited company: Articles of Association, Certificate of Incorporation, and Business Registration Certificate

For all beneficial owners of the account (those with the power to exercise or control 10% or more of the account’s voting rights, share capital, or profits):

• Nature person: Identification or travel documents, evidence of residence, and tax residency

• Corporate body: Certificate of Incorporation or incorporation paperwork, registered address record, and tax residence

For business proof:

• Ownership and control structure chart 

• Business operating information for proof of business

• Product or service details

• Up-to-date financial data

• Fund information source

• Source of valuable information

Step 3: Make an appointment with the bank to open an account

Business account opening is a time-consuming procedure that requires a previous appointment with the bank so that a representative can see you at a certain time and location. Please keep in mind that walk-in applications will not be accepted.

You may request an appointment either online or by phone. In any case, the banks must receive a full application form and a copy of the relevant documentation from you to determine your application’s admissibility.

You are welcome to contact the following banks, some of which provide online appointment services. Because there is no bank service charge at this point, you should apply for accounts at numerous banks to save time and effort.

Step 4: Travel to Hong Kong to Meet with Bankers

When your application is approved, the bank will organize a meeting with you in Hong Kong. As part of the mandatory Know-Your-Customers (KYC) / due-diligence procedure, all banks in Hong Kong must meet with you and any beneficial owners.

The banks have a full checklist of needed papers, which you must bring to HK and give to the banker. The documents must be originals or certified copies if the originals cannot be obtained.

The meeting is necessary for your account approval; it is official and businesslike. The banker must not only verify and gather paperwork but also challenge your information throughout the meeting.

It is advisable to thoroughly prepare the paperwork and information required before leaving your native country; additional supporting documents and information are always appreciated in order to impress the banker.

You must also prepare a paycheque for the minimal initial deposit and application fee for the bank and provide it to the banker at the meeting.

Step 5: Follow up on the Application

Once you are done with the meeting, you should allow the banker to transmit your application to its internal staff for approval. After one week, you should call the banker to see if any more information or papers are required by their colleagues.

Author Biography

Stephen M.S Lai & Co CPA Limited is a business service provider based in Hong Kong, widely considered a top-tier hub of international business and financial services. Since 2009 it has provided banking support to foreign entrepreneurs conducting business in Hong Kong.