Starting a HSBC account in Hong Kong can be quite challenging and it can be even more challenging if you are a citizen of the United States. (I am American) However, if you plan to base your business out of Hong Kong; it is critical to have a bank account there as well.

The reason is that many banks, including HSBC does not want to open accounts for Americans because of the new bank secrecy laws passed by the Congress of the United States. It makes their work load quite high. I understand from their point of view.

However, they are the best bank in Hong Kong to have an account with because they have a global network of national banks.

How to open HSBC account in Hong Kong for business

What I had to do was visit Hong Kong, find a branch of the bank that would open an account for an American, go the paperwork and pay the deposit. It sounds a lot easier than it was in real life. Everything is easier said than done.

I stayed in Tsim Sha Tsui area and I just walked up and down Nathan Ave looking for the a branch. It was a few blocks and they turned me away. The next branch was the same thing. The third branch manager approved the account. I do not blame the branches that did not want a lot of extra of paperwork.

There was some paperwork that I had to do. I also had to have a letter that proved the address of the business. It also had to be in the name of the business, not my personal name. I had an invoice from Adorama that provided that.

The last thing I had to do was put $2,000 Hong Kong in the account. That is roughly $257 US Dollars.

That was it. I was done and I could enjoy my time in the city for the next few days. Pretty painless.

epa04718676 Customers use atm machines at HSBC’s City of London branch in Britain, 24 April 2015. HSBC are to consider moving their headquarters out of the UK to Asia, the company is to announce on 24 April. EPA/ANDY RAIN

Why the American citizen thing makes life hard?

Well, they do not want to do the work for you to have a HSBC account just because Congress wants to be nosy and demand access to any American’s bank account. I tend to believe the United States should not be allowed to tax on money made out of the borders of the nation. I guess they do not care what Peter Vandever thinks.

The other touchy issues was one of the bank managers that told me no wanted me to live in Hong Kong. I did not. Therefore, he would not open a HSBC account for me. I am sure the American citizenship thing did not make things easy, either.

My suggestion is if you are a US Citizen trying to open an account at HSBC bank in Hong Kong, make sure you plan to be in the city for a few days. You should not need it. (I did not) but it is smart to plan for trouble even if you do not need it.