Hong Kong’s status as a major hub of Asian trade has led to the region attracting newer populations, ranging from expatriate businessmen to families from mainland China. A frequent concern among mainlanders and expats alike is whether they can get access to the same banking facilities as native Hongkongers.
In the case of personal loans, a non-native’s ability to acquire one may vary depending on the requirements of a given lender. Many banks in Hong Kong share similarities when determining a person’s eligibility for a personal loan, be it of the instalment or revolving credit variety.
Loan eligibility requirements across different lenders are often set based on Know Your Customer (KYC) standards, designed to verify a client’s identity and minimise the risk of fraud. Before a person can be considered for a personal loan, most Hong Kong banks filter out applicants based on their age, residency status, and income. A majority of banks require loan applicants to be at least 18 years old, with slight variations such as Standard Chartered’s minimum age of 20.
It’s rather known that most banks in HK require loan applicants to be residents of Hong Kong. Almost all people who take up residence in the territories are issued a Hong Kong Identity Card (HKID), the most frequently accepted form of identification by banks. Some lenders, such as Citibank and ANZ, will go so far as to specify that applicants must be permanent residents. This can be a real sticking point for mainlanders and expats, who can take up different parts of the permanent/ non-permanent resident spectrum in the eyes of the Hong Kong government.
Only permanent residents with right of abode can hold a Hong Kong Permanent Identity Card (or Permanent HKID). Examples of permanent residents include native Hongkongers from before or after the establishment of the HKSAR, and naturalised citizens.
Proof of Residence
Alongside one’s HKID number, applicants may also be required to submit proof of their fixed residence in Hong Kong. What qualifies as proof of residence may vary from lender to lender, but the most widely accepted examples are utility bills or bank statements, bearing the applicant’s mailing address (not a P.O. box). Lenders like the Bank of East Asia may specify that the applicant must have held the same address for at least 3 months. In some cases, foreign applicants may be asked to submit proof not only of their residence in Hong Kong, but also of their permanent address back in their home country.
Because loan applicants are assessed based on their ability to repay their loans on schedule, banks often have a preference for full-time employees with a specifiable monthly income amount. Many lenders, like HSBC and Bank of East Asia, require applicants to have a minimum monthly income of HKD 5,000. Others, like ANZ, will set the minimum income at up to HKD 10,000 a month.
Some lenders will assess income on a yearly basis instead, one example being Standard Chartered’s fixed annual income of HKD 60,000 and above. Proof of income is often submitted in the form of an applicant’s aggregated payslips or bank statements.
Other Things to Consider
The HKID is the most widely accepted form of identification for loan applicants, though some banks may also permit foreigners to submit alternative IDs such as their passport or driver’s license. Aside from the basic requirements mentioned above, other lenders may ask applicants to submit additional documents based on their own set of standards.
Hang Seng, for example, requires individuals to submit their Business Registration Certificate if they’re self-employed. In the case of lenders like HSBC, the applicant’s assessment process may be streamlined if they already hold a pre-existing personal account with the bank.
If you’re a mainlander or an expat, the truth is that your chances of being considered for a Hong Kong personal loan may vary on a case-to-case basis. The odds tend to be more in your favour if you have a stable source of income and long-term residency status as acknowledged by the Immigration Department.
Even on the off-chance that you’re approved for a loan, you might not be able to enjoy low interest rates or high loan amounts as locals do, which is why you should choose your lenders wisely.
Interested in getting a personal loan? Use MoneyHero to compare personal loans offered by the most trusted banks in Hong Kong. Has this article helped you? Let us know in the comments.