If you are looking to transfer money from one Hong Kong bank account to another, you will need to know your beneficiary’s bank code, branch code and account number.
This information is required to complete a transfer in Hong Kong Dollar, US Dollar, RMB or Euros between two Hong Kong bank accounts. So, for your transfer to go smoothly and end up in the right bank account, it is fundamental to provide the correct information when your transaction is initiated. Sending funds incorrectly can result in bank recovery charges as well as waiting periods to retrieve the funds.
What is a Hong Kong bank code?
Simply put a Hong Kong bank code is a 3-digit number assigned to a particular bank or financial institution in Hong Kong. Similar to how sort codes are used in the British and Irish bank systems, a bank code is used to identify a specific bank when transferring money between banks in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong bank codes operate under the Clearing House Automated Transfer System (CHATS).
This system is managed by Hong Kong Interbank Clearing Limited, a private entity that is conjointly owned by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) and the Hong Kong Association of Banks.
CHATS ensure real-time gross settlements for the transfer of money between banks in Hong Kong.
What this essentially means is that transactions are not subject to any waiting period and are settled between banks immediately after they are executed. As opposed to other clearing systems where settlement is subject to bundling or netting of multiple transactions being made between two banks.
What is a branch code?
A bank code distinguishes each Hong Kong bank, while a branch code recognises a specific branch under a bank. As for bank code, each branch code is a 3-digit number.
For instance, HSBC’s bank code is 004. HSBC has numerous branches spread across Hong Kong, each one of these branches will have its own branch code associated to it. Their main branch in Central is identified by branch code 770.
Account number in Hong Kong
There is no standardised format for account numbers in Hong Kong, which is the cause of much confusion and mistakes in relation to payment instructions.
First of all, account numbers in Hong Kong vary from 6 to 9 digits depending on the banks. So difficult to know if the account number of your beneficiary is valid.
To complicate things, Hong Kong banks have different policies to identify account numbers granted to their clients. Some don’t distinguish account number and branch code in the bank account details provided to their clients but include the branch code as part of the account number.
Again, using HSBC as an example, account numbers provided to clients are made of 12 digits; however, that includes the branch code, as shown below:
In this example, the branch code is 812, followed by a 9-digit account number. That means if you are asked for your HSBC branch code, you must detach the branch code from the account number and use it independently. Confusing, right?
In conclusion, what you must remember is the following:
- The processing of payments in Hong Kong under CHATS requires a bank code, a branch code, and an account number
- Bank code is always a 3-digit number
- Branch code is also always a 3-digit number
- Account number is a 6 to 9 digits, and some banks include the branch code in the account number they provide to their clients.
How to find your bank code
It is indispensable to have the right bank code before proceeding with a transaction from your bank to your beneficiary’s bank account. The same can be said if the you are expecting to receive money.
Having the right bank code will ensure that money is sent safely from one bank account to another, saving you both time and money in the long run. Keep in mind that banks will charge you for inaccurate payments and to retrieve the funds transferred. We recommend checking with your bank and beneficiary if the bank code you have is accurate before sending your money.
Looking for a Hong Kong bank code? Find it in this updated list of Hong Kong bank codes, by Hong Kong Interbank Clearing Limited.
Looking for a branch code? You may want to check this tool developed by Finclan: https://finclan.com/hk/hong-kong-codes
Check out our guide if you need more information about payments in countries other than Hong Kong or for international payments.
About the author
Jonathan Cusimano is Head of FX at Statrys. With nearly a decade of experience in banking and Fintech, Jonathan has advised and assisted many SMEs in their FX hedging and treasury management strategies.