Given that Hong Kong is one of the world's most prominent 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 region is also highly popular owing to 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, which is subdivided into 100 cents. It is abbreviated as HKD or HK$.
The Hong Kong dollar is available in the following denominations:
Notes: 10 HKD, 20 HKD, 50 HKD, 100 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 numerous local 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
It's easy to open a bank account in Hong Kong. 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 or HSBC, 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, may 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.
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 are widely accepted throughout 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 won't pay more than 17 percent in taxes. This is an important point to factor 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.
►See Cost of Living in Hong Kong for information on daily expenses
Are you an expat living in Hong Kong?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Hong Kong. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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