Hong Kong is home to many expats from the US and Europe. Social events within the community is a way for everyone to feel a little less homesick and is also a way to grow one’s network while staying in a foreign country.
It is a given that greeting gestures for westerners is different. So when the moment demands for it, How will you greet your next potential set of friends? You’re no doubt keen to make a good first impression, and you’re wondering how to go about saying hello. Will the impeccably groomed lady to your left plant a kiss on your cheek as she introduces herself, as she seems to have done to everyone else in the room? And will it just be one, or might she unexpectedly go for the double just as you pull back?
In this case, it’s best to adopt the Hong Kong default of a kiss on both cheeks when meeting and greeting. After a few months of living here, you will come to observe the different greetings practised by various nationalities. Context is crucial, however, according to whether people are amongst their own community or socialising in a mixed group of expats from any number of cultural backgrounds.
The French will say hello and give a kiss on each cheek while Australians are accustomed to just one. Touching is unlikely for Indians so a casual “hi” will suffice. On the other hand, Americans and Swedes who would usually hug their friends might rein in their natural tendencies to embrace those from different cultures. The Dutch, who at home kiss three times when saying hello to friends, would likewise scale back the effusion, whereas the British might just overcome their natural reserve and start kissing with gusto. This is where a homogenised greeting really helps to level the playing field.
Read through our blogs to find out more about life in Hong Kong as well as information on insurance for expats.
Opening a bank account in Hong Kong can be a bit of challenge for some. It all depends on which bank you deal with but these are the general expectations to take note.
Despite being known for its fast-paced way of life, when it comes to opening a bank account in Hong Kong expats may find it slow and old-fashioned. Online banking is not as fast as you’d expect and sometimes a bank visit is still required to complete the procedure, therefore it is still advisable to go straight to the branch with the complete documents. Places with a bigger expat presence and where opening a bank account may be more convenient are Central, Sheung Wan, and Taikoo Shing.
Choosing A Bank
As an expat who needs to transfer funds between countries, it makes sense to choose a bank that functions in both your home country and Hong Kong. This can also lessen charges that come with transfers and exchange rates. International banks that are popular with expats are:
- Standard Chartered
And these local Hong Kong banks are also for your consideration:
Choosing An Account
Checking, savings, and multi-currency accounts are the most common personal banking accounts in Hong Kong. You can link your credit card or an EPS card to your account and it will acts like a debit card. Checkbooks are also a necessity as they are a frequent mode of payment in Hong Kong.
Documents to Bring
Each bank may have slightly different requirements but these are surely what they will ask for:
- Passport (For joint accounts, both passports are needed)
- Letter of employment, issued by your employer (If you have a spousal visa you should apply together with your partner)
- Hong Kong ID or temporary ID (For joint accounts, both appliers must have an ID)
- Proof of address in Hong Kong (This can be a copy of your rental agreement or a utility bill)
- Copy of a permanent address in your home country (This is your most previous address or you can use the address of a relative who lives there)
- Social security number (This is required of American citizens opening accounts with American banks)
Once you’re at the branch you will need to take a ticket and wait your turn to be called. If it’s a busy time and location, it can take up to 30 minutes or more. Make sure you have all the required documents or else you application may get rejected and you’ll have to return and start all over again. Once a bank representative checks that you have all you need, you will be guided through the process.
To open your account, a nominal amount of around HKD1000 is needed in most banks. Check how much your bank charges on minimal monthly balances. You can also check if your salary can be deposited straight to your account to avoid additional charges and to get paid faster
As long as you’re prepared with the right documents and plan your bank visit at a time when it’s not too busy and full of people, the process will be quick and easy and your new cards will be mailed to you in just a few days.