How to open a bank account in Hong Kong: A Full Guide 2023
Looking to open a bank account in Hong Kong? If you’re a Hong Kong resident with a valid HKID you’ll find it pretty straightforward to open an account to hold and manage HKD. However, if you’ve just landed, or if you're still in the UK and planning everything ahead of your arrival, opening a bank account in Hong Kong with a traditional bank can be a bit trickier.
This article will help you understand how to open an account as a Hong Kong resident - or before you get there - including eligibility requirements and the documents you need. We’ll also look at some alternative options such as Wise or Revolut which may be more flexible ways to manage your money across Hong Kong dollars, pounds, and a broad range of other currencies. More on that later.
What documents do I need?
The main document that you’ll need to make opening a bank account in Hong Kong easy is your Hong Kong ID card (HKID). If you’re a Hong Kong citizen or resident aged 11 or over it’s mandatory to have a HKID - however, if you’re only staying for 180 days or less, if you’re still in the UK, or if you’re exempt from needing a HKID for any other reason you’ll need to find a different way to open your Hong Kong bank account.
If you don’t have a HKID you can still open a bank account with many Hong Kong banks. However, in this case you may not be eligible for online or mobile account opening, and you’ll need to provide some paperwork, usually including:
Proof of ID - like your passport with a valid visa or Hong Kong entry stamp
Proof of residential address
Some banks will also require additional documents such as proof of student status or employment, information about the source of your income and your tax details.
Save the paperwork with alternative solutions like Wise or Revolut
Set up an account online or in the provider’s app before you move to Hong Kong, to get an account which can hold and exchange HKD alongside a broad range of other global currencies. You’ll just need your photo ID like your passport, and your normal UK proof of address to get started.
Depending on the provider you pick you may also be able to access local bank details to get paid in GBP and HKD, as well as other currencies, with no fees. Everything is set up and verified digitally - making it far easier to hit the ground running once you get to Hong Kong.
How to open a bank account in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is a global financial hub, so it’s no surprise that many local, regional and global banks here offer online and mobile account opening options.
However, there’s a catch with many of these traditional banks - you’ll need your HKID to get started, and online opening processes may only be available for new customers. In some cases you’ll also have to be a Hong Kong resident at the time you apply - although HSBC does offer the option for HKID holders who are in the UK to set up accounts online, subject to meeting a range of other eligibility criteria.
If you have a HKID, applying online or in the bank’s mobile app should be easy:
Download your preferred bank’s app or go to their desktop site
Verify your HKID
Take a selfie to prove you’re the ID holder
Enter your personal details, following the prompts
Set up your account, including picking a password
Once your account is verified you’ll get all the information you need, plus any linked cards you’ve ordered.
If you don’t have a HKID you’ll normally need to visit a bank branch to open your account - in many cases you can make an appointment online in advance so you don’t need to wait too long on arrival. Take along your ID documents and anything else needed for the specific account type, so you can get your account up and running in one visit.
Can I open a bank account in Hong Kong before arrival?
Unless you already have a Hong Kong ID card, you will probably struggle to open a Hong Kong bank account before you arrive. If you need a way to hold and exchange Hong Kong dollars before you leave the UK, you may find you’re better off looking at a specialist account from a provider like Wise or Revolut.
Accounts can be opened online or in-app, and offer ways to hold, send and spend in a range of currencies including HKD. Use your UK proof of address and your normal ID documents to get set up before you travel.
Which account is best in Hong Kong for foreigners?
Ultimately the best Hong Kong account for you will depend on the type of transactions you need to make, and your personal preferences. Here’s a rundown of a couple of traditional Hong Kong banks as well as a couple of modern alternative providers, covering some key features and fees, so you can compare.
|Service||Wise||Revolut||HSBC Hong Kong||Hang Seng|
|Currencies covered||54 currencies including GBP, HKD, USD and EUR||30 currencies||Current accounts available in HKD, USD and CNY||HKD primarily - cross border services are also available|
|Open before you arrive in Hong Kong||Yes||Yes||If you have a HKID||No|
|Open online||Yes||Yes||If you have a HKID||If you have a HKID|
|Opening fee||No fee||No fee||Minimum balance requirements may apply||Minimum balance requirements may apply|
|Fall below fee||No fee||No fee|
HSBC Jade - waived
HSBC Premier - 380 HKD/month
|Fees vary based on the account you select|
|Maintenance fee||No fee||Up to 12.99 GBP/month||Fees vary based on the account you select||Fees vary based on the account you select|
|International transfers||Low fee, varies by currency||Fee varies by currency and payment value|
Online - up to 50 HKD
In branch - up to 240 HKD
Online - up to 65 HKD
In branch - up to 260 HKD
Citizens and residents in Hong Kong with a valid Hong Kong ID can choose between a range of account types depending on their preferences and priorities. If you’re not in Hong Kong yet you may prefer an online multi-currency account that allows for flexibility if you travel, send, spend or receive in a range of currencies, often with lower fees compared to a traditional bank.
We’ll take a look at these options in a little more detail now.
Wise specialises in international transfers, currency conversion and multi-currency account services for personal and business customers. Accounts can be opened online and in the Wise app, to hold 50+ currencies and exchange between them using the mid-market exchange rate with no markup. You can also send payments to 80+ countries and spend using your Wise international debit card in 170+ countries.
You can open a Wise account in most countries of the world, with your local ID and proof of address. Open while you’re still in the UK and you can hold a HKD balance to spend and send payments, even before you move.
Account types: Wise personal multi-currency accounts are free to open, with no minimum balance or monthly fees to pay
Eligibility: Available to non-Hong Kong residents - just use your UK proof of address to apply. Not all services and features are available in all locations - full details by location available on the Wise website
Is it safe? Yes, Wise is safe and FCA regulated in the UK and overseen by global bodies around the world.
Like Wise, Revolut isn’t a bank but it offers lots of ways to manage your money through its mobile app and desktop site. You can get a free account and card - or pay a monthly fee to unlock more features and get more transactions for free.
You’ll be able to hold and manage around 30 currencies, spend around the world, and get the mid-market rate when exchanging currencies up to limits set in your plan. This means that even if you pick a standard plan with no monthly fee you could spend currencies you hold without limits, and withdraw in foreign currencies including HKD up to 200 GBP/month - all with no extra fees.
Account types: Personal and business accounts available. Standard plans are free for both personal and business customers. Or you can upgrade to a paid plan for up to 12.99 GBP/month
Eligibility: Available to UK residents and people living in the EEA, Australia, Singapore, Switzerland, Japan, and the US
Is it safe? In the UK Revolut is authorised by the FCA for all its activities. It also holds a European banking licence for the EU
Chances are you’ve seen HSBC in the UK - but this global banking giant also has a huge presence in Hong Kong (in fact, it was originally called the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation). If you have a HSBC account at home, this may be an obvious pick, especially if you already qualify for one of the HSBC premium account packages, as your privileges will transfer over to the Hong Kong account.
HSBC has a range of account types, but you’ll need a HKID to open one online - otherwise, you’ll need to pop into a branch once you get to Hong Kong to get your account set up.
Account types: Broad range of accounts, including current accounts in HKD, USD and CNY from HSBC Hong Kong and expat banking options for non-residents
Eligibility: Hong Kong residents can open a local account, if you’re not in Hong Kong yet you may be advised to open an expat account with HSBC international. Depending on the account you pick there may be a required minimum balance
Is it safe? HSBC is one of the largest banks in the UK and a major global brand, fully regulated in the UK and around the world.
Hang Seng has a full range of account types, as well as additional services like loans, investments and business support. There are day to day accounts to manage HKD, as well as premium service options for higher wealth individuals who hold more in funds with the bank. If you have your HKID already you can get your account set up online in many cases, but if you don’t you’ll probably find you have to visit in person.
Account types: Full range of account services and connected financial products
Eligibility: You’ll usually need a Hong Kong ID or valid passport, plus a proof of local address. Some accounts have minimum balance requirements
Is it safe? Yes. Hang Seng is a large and established bank which is licensed to operate everywhere it serves
What are the costs
You may well find you can open an account for HKD for free, with low or no monthly charges to pay. However, there are usually transaction fees to consider, and if you’ve selected an account with a minimum balance you’ll also need to watch out for fall below fees which can be very costly. Here are some key charges to consider when you choose the right account for your needs:
Monthly maintenance fees - or fall below fees
International payment fees
Foreign transaction fees when spending or withdrawing with your card
Credit card costs including cash advances and interest
Chequebook and cheque cashing fees
Account dormancy or early closure fees
Specialist online providers like Wise or Revolut can often provide lower overall fees, with no minimum balance. Depending on the account you select you may also find there’s no monthly fee to pay, either - just transparent transaction fees when you use your account.
Tips for transferring money
If you’re planning to relocate to Hong Kong the chances are that you’ll need to send money internationally while you make the move. This can be costly - but you don’t always need to stick with your regular bank to send an international payment. Online specialist services can be just as reliable, and may also have better rates and cheaper fees.
When you next send money overseas, here are a few things to watch out for:
Compare the exchange rate you’re offered against the mid-market exchange rate to see if a markup is being used
Check the fees for different transfer types - arranging your transfer online is usually cheaper than doing so in a bank branch
Ask about third party charges which can push up the overall costs significantly
Compare the overall costs of sending your payment with your regular bank against a specialist service like Wise to see if you can save.
If you’re moving to Hong Kong - or even if you’re just a frequent visitor there - a Hong Kong bank account may be a good way to manage your money day to day and cut your overall costs. However, without a HKID and a local Hong Kong address to hand you may find it a bit tricky to open a HKD account with a traditional bank.
If you don’t have all the paperwork you need - or if you just want to compare your options to find a cheaper and more flexible account - check out online specialist alternatives like Wise and Revolut instead of relying on a regular bank. You’ll be able to set up an account from the UK - without even leaving home - to hold and exchange HKD and spend easily on a linked card.
Yes. However, you’ll normally need either a HKID or a valid passport with a visa or entry stamp, plus a local address to get started with a traditional bank. Check out online specialist services instead if you need a more flexible alternative.
There’s no opening fee for most Hong Kong bank accounts, but you might find you have to hold a specific minimum deposit - or pay a high fall below fee.
If you have a HKID you’ll be able to open a Hong Kong bank account online pretty easily - if not, check out alternatives like Wise and Revolut to get started before you even arrive in Hong Kong.
Before you have a local address you’ll probably struggle to open an account with a traditional Hong Kong bank. Use this guide to compare a few options, including alternative online providers, to see which might suit your situation.