Banking, Money and Taxes in Hong Kong

Given that Hong Kong is one of the world's most important financial centres, expats are unlikely to have trouble managing their finances in the wealth-driven Pearl of the Orient.

Basic banking in Hong Kong is safe, secure and straightforward. The slightly more complex private banking industry is the largest in Asia. The region is also very popular for its low taxes, making it easier for expats to save the dollars they work such long hours for.


Money in Hong Kong

The currency in Hong Kong is the Hong Kong Dollar, abbreviated as HKD or HK$. Each HKD is divided into 100 cents.

The Hong Kong dollar is available in the following denominations:

  • Notes: 10 HKD, 20 HKD, 50 HKD, 500 HKD, and 1,000 HKD

  • Coins: 10 cents, 20 cents, 50 cents, 1 HKD, 2 HKD, 5 HKD, and 10 HKD


Banking in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is home to many major international banks, as well as local Chinese institutions. Whether it is better for an expat to bank with an international bank or a local bank depends largely on individual circumstances, since both options have their pros and cons.

Nearly all banks have Internet banking facilities and offer credit cards. Most bank branches have employees who can communicate in English, although language proficiency improves in areas with large expat populations.

Opening a bank account in Hong Kong

Opening a bank account in Hong Kong is easy. The minimum amount necessary to open an account varies depending on the service provider and type of account being opened.

Those who already have an account with an international bank, such as Citibank, HSBC or Standard Chartered, often find it convenient to open a local version of their account once they arrive in Hong Kong. Among other things, transferring money becomes less of a hassle and more economical.

Other expats, especially those who don't have a bank from their home country represented in Hong Kong, prefer to explore local options.

New arrivals looking to open an account should consult the institution of their choosing in order to determine what documentation will be needed to facilitate the process.

ATMs

There are plenty of ATMs throughout Hong Kong, most of which accept international cards. ATM fees at local banks tend to cost less than their international counterparts.

Credit cards

Credit cards are widely accepted across Hong Kong, although cash remains the more common means of payment for smaller purchases in local shops. 


Taxes in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is well known for having extremely low-income tax rates. It has completely done away with sales tax, capital gains tax and VAT. Families with children are entitled to special allowances, and even wealthy single foreigners will never pay more than 17 percent in taxes. This is an important point to figure in when evaluating one's remuneration package.

Taxes in Hong Kong work differently for expats than in most other countries. In general, citizenship or residency doesn't influence the amount of tax that has to be paid. An added advantage is that salary taxes are only focused on income derived from business within Hong Kong, whereas income and assets from overseas are not liable to be taxed.

Expats should also investigate if their home country has a double taxation agreement with Hong Kong. If so, they are not liable to pay tax in both Hong Kong and their home country.

If at all uncertain, it's best to confirm these details with an authorised tax advisor, preferably one that knows the ins and outs of expat tax issues.

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