Hello guys, I was wondering if anyone had any experience in opening a business bank account in Hong Kong. I’m getting all the paperwork ready to incorporate in Seychelles and open the bank account but the agency that is helping me says Hong Kong bankers are getting more picky. They are asking me for business ‘proof’ since i’ve always ran my sites as an individual I wonder if just proof of payment from ad networks is enough. If you have any advice it would be much welcomed.
I’ve been told that you can open a business there and pay 0% taxes as long as the activity is out of Hong Kong. I will also be interested in that
During the last couple years, opening a business bank account in HK has become increasingly difficult. Now, only certain banks will actually do this in practice.
To your question, business proof would be items like supplier and purchase contracts, business plan, etc. Anything that can substantiate your business as actively trading and ‘lower-risk’ in the eyes of the bank’s compliance department.
However, since you state that you have payment from ad networks - the nature of your business is likely as an online affiliate. Most Hong Kong banks would classify this as higher risk, more so with a seychelles company. Worse case scenario, you open the SY company and then cannot open the bank account in Hong Kong.
Your better bet would be to open a Hong Kong company OR to search for a bank account elsewhere. For instance I could set you up with a first tier bank in Singapore with a Seychelles company.
There is a list of different options to incorporate here: Incorporations.io that we made for this exact purpose, to help entrepreneurs decide on the best place to incorporate by comparing different options side by side.
Incorporation still incurs fees to get started and ongoing (accounting, filing returns etc). So considered those as taxes. Plus, it requires mental capacity to work through. You’ll want to someday repatriate the income into your personal pockets and this then exposes you to tax liabilities where you are. Being ‘outside’ of the system in your own state also could create future complications (social welfare, credit scoring etc). It’s very ‘cool’ to be offshore and it’s a natural entrepreneurial drive to minimise tax payments, but I think some nomads get lost in this. Make a lot of money first, then consider navigating this.
Yes, it is becoming increasingly difficult to open company bank account in Hong Kong. Proof of business and experience is a must. The best and most efficient way is to engage a local service provider who has experience in dealing with banks. This way, it saves you a lot of time, effort to identify the bank that is interested in your business. Also, the chance of getting the account opening approved is much higher. Of course, the downside is you have to pay an arrangement fee to the service provider.
Set up a Hong Kong company to conduct business offer many benefits. To name a few: tax savings as maximum corporate profit tax rate is only 16.5% (in some cases can be as low as zero); better corporate image as HK is one of the major financial centres in the world; very simple, easy to understand and flexible business system.
The Nomad Capitalist has a dedicated podcast to this topic - pretty informative and grounding.
It’s quite difficult for startups to open bank accounts in Hong Kong, also see this article: Hong Kong: The worst place in the world for a startup to open a bank account?. It depends on several factors whether or not your will have a hard time opening an account:
Age & size of your business. This is actually a very important factor. While many banks claim or people think that the reason it’s difficult is because of strict anti-money laundering policies this is is only part of it. Banks will be reluctant to go through their expensive due diligence process for a customer that won’t give them a certain amount of profit. Because HK banks are old fashioned, their processes are not always very optimized and cost effective and often it’s a commercial decision not to onboard a startup rather than a risk one.
Almost any bank will require you to be present for face to face meeting. If you are not physically present it is normally going to be difficult.
It is more difficult for non-residents, especially of certain nationalities, to open corporate bank accounts in HK
If you are running a (high) tech startup or new business, the bank may not understand the nature of the business and are reluctant to research. Even if your business is completely legitimate, you may be rejected simply because of a new business model or tech that is not understood by traditional banks.
If you do have troubles opening a bank account; you can check out Neat Business, that would allow you to open a business current account online, from anywhere.