How To Open An Offshore Bank Account In Hong Kong
In almost every case, you have to physically visit a branch of a bank in Hong Kong in order to set up an account.
The old days where you can just drop in and open an Offshore account with little more than your passport are long gone.
The only exceptions are made for people that have millions of dollars and a good banking history. Anti-laundering rules, plus a bias against people from countries linked with terror attacks, has made it harder and harder for non-national citizens to set up accounts in Hong Kong, especially if they want to do it remotely.
Why Set Up A Bank Account In Hong Kong?
You cannot dodge taxes with your account in Hong Kong, but you may be able to block local companies and people taking your money and your money may also be protected from local asset freezes.
A big benefit of saving and investing with a HK bank is because they often allow you to choose which currency you trade and save with.
You may keep your money in the Hong Kong dollar, or you may hold it in Yuan, which will protect you from the inevitable depression that the US is heading for.
The US dollar has long been considered stable, but nearing the end of the Obama presidency, the country is in $19,000,000,000,000 of debt (19 trillion dollars).
The US currency may be heading for a decline which is why you should hold some of your wealth in Yuan in a Hong Kong account.
Holding Hong Kong dollars is no different to holding US dollars, but many investors hold thousands of Hong Kong dollars under the assumption that the Chinese Monetary authority will peg the Hong Kong dollar to another currency, such as the Yuan, when the US starts to default on its debt.
Should You Use A OSP To Open An Account For You?
The choice is yours, but my opinion is that you shouldn’t use an OSP (offshore service provider). It is not viciously difficult to open an account in Hong Kong if you are going to live there. You can take up residency for three months and take in your home rental contract to open a bank account.
There are some reputable OSP companies out there, but the ones you find online for Hong Kong seem to be indiscriminately bad. Hong Kong seems to attract a lot of bad eggs with companies claiming they can save you tax fees and help you find the most anonymous banks.
They claim they have fantastic relationships with Hong Kong banks, that they have managers on their side, and that they are experts in anti-money laundering. I strongly suggest you do not put your money or information in their hands because it will be sold to identity thieves the second you click send.
Can You Establish Residency In Hong Kong?
For some people, it is easy. If you can do it, then do it for around three months and apply for a bank account. All you have to do is prove that you have lived in Hong Kong for at least three months and they will give you an account.
Hong Kong banks have mostly closed their doors to foreigners because of the increased amount of administration that is required.
The Corporate Account Loophole
One trick you may use in order to open an offshore account without actually having a residency permanent (or having to live in HK for 3 months) is to establish a corporate residency. Set up a new offshore business in Hong Kong and register it.
Once you have proven that your business exists, you are able to open a corporate bank account with most Hong Kong banks. After a few months of successful money flow in and out of your corporate account, you may apply for a personal account.
After that point, you may close your Hong Kong business (be it real or not), close your corporate account and keep your personal account.
Hong Kong Banks Do Not Need Your Money
If you are not a resident of Hong Kong, and you have traveled over there to try a few banks, you are probably in for disappointment.
Most of the people you meet will tell you that they do not need your money because they already have many investors in their own country that have large sums to deposit. Hong Kong has the most billionaires in the world, and as such, the banks are used to dealing with vast sums of money.
As such, don’t expect them to budge and inch for regular banking sums that you or I might make.
Even an American passport is not an asset because the banks do not need your money and due to the tax evasion crackdowns of the US government, US citizens are often considered more of a headache than a benefit as banking customers.
And it’s not just US citizens that are getting banking doors slammed shut; international rules and restrictions are so tight these days (especially after widely published tax evasion leaks such as the recent Panama Papers expose) that many banks are closed to foreigners simply to avoid the increased risk of penalization.
Get A Job, Get Temporary Residence Or Permanent Residence
If you can find a job in Hong Kong that requires you to stay there, then you may be able to stay long enough to get your own bank account.
If you can prove you have been living there for three months and you can prove you have a job that requires you to be in Hong Kong, then you may get your bank account.
If you can get temporary residence for whatever reason, then that will go a long way to helping you get a bank account. On the other hand, you could spend $1.29 million and become a permanent citizen of Hong Kong, which will entitle you to an ID card and ergo a bank account.
Does One Bank Make It Easier Than Another?
The official answer is no, they all make it very difficult for a non Hong Kong citizen to get a bank account.
However, anecdotal evidence suggests that the Hang Seng bank is more foreigner friendly, probably because it is a subsidiary of HSBC, which is a global bank.
If you are looking for an account with Hang Seng, you will need proof of address for the last three months, a first deposit of at least HDK5000, proof you pay bills in Hong Kong, and photo identification.
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Finally, if you do want to open an offshore bank in Hong Kong, do yourself a favor and check out local Hong Kong expat forums — it’s likely you can get the current work on how to best open an offshore account from people who are living there and / or people who have done it.