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Setting Up Hong Kong Business, Banking
Banks & MPF (Pension)

Opening a Hong Kong Business Bank Account

This does vary from bank to bank but you must allow two weeks, possibly longer. The banks run checks mainly to ensure against money laundering. In addition to the Business Registration Certificate and other documents depending on what type of entity you incorporate, the bank will also require a certified copy of the application form. Apply for this when you get your “BR” (Business Registration certificate) from the Inland Revenue Department, you will be given the date of collection when you apply, there is a nominal fee to pay for this service. However, if your using an incorporation company or an accountant, this will be taken care of for you as part of the process.

The banks are always busy at the counter. You have the option to register for on-line banking, you can also deposit cheques and cash at the machines in the lobby. For cheques you get a scan of the cheque for reference. Intra-bank credits are available to draw on the next day; others go through the clearing bank and can take three to five days to clear. For cheques drawn against a foreign bank and more often than not drawn against a foreign currency, allow three weeks and there will be a nominal charge for the service.

The level of service is ok, but very polite; you could find yourself dealing with more than one person depending on the complexity of your question and the level of English of a particular member of staff. It can be very frustrating, try and resolve your problem on the day, going back can result in a different answer from the previous day.

I should mention the “company chop” no, it's not a cut of meat. It's an official “stamp” for the company. Also it can be used on chequebooks if you elect to do so. When applying for accounts or contracting in the name of the company, most suppliers will expect you to use one. If you're doing business with Chinese companies it is an essential tool when “signing” on behalf of your company.

MPF

Mandatory Pension Fund (MPF), for all employees as the name suggests. However as an expatriate you don't have to register for thirteen months, or not at all if you have an existing pension scheme in your home country. However there is nothing stopping you joining the scheme if you want too. Any local staff you employ must join your scheme within sixty days. The company must register with one of the recognised providers, normally a bank. A certificate will be issued and statements sent every month. The contributions are 5% from both the employer and employee. As of 1st June 2011, the salary band is $6,500HKD - $25,000HKD per month, above that the contribution is capped at $1,250HKD per calendar month. However, either the employer or the employee can make additional voluntary contributions to the scheme. Should you leave HK the fund can be cashed in, but this can only be done only once.

Insurance

As for insurance the banks also provide cover for a range of situations. The most commonly purchased is Public Liability covering any accidents in the office. There are some large insurance companies who may offer a cost advantage. My experience of the “agent” is that they are under huge pressure to sell and you could end up with something you didn't really want, so be cautious in your selection. Using a broker is a good alternative.

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