I am totally happy to be out of my comfort zone and experiencing new things, but sorting out all the paperwork and formalities for a move like this is waaaaaay out of my comfort zone. Lucky for me, Braden has gone through everything before me, which has made it a lot easier. The big things I needed to get this transition sorted out were:
1) Obtain a Work Visa
2) Obtain a Hong Kong ID (HKID)
3) Set up a Bank Account
The Work Visa was the easiest part, because everything was processed on our behalf as part of Braden’s relocation. I had to sign a bunch of paperwork while I was still in Vancouver and mail the originals to Hong Kong, and I also had to send some current passport photos. What we didn’t know was that in order for my paperwork to start being processed (because I am a dependent on Braden’s Visa) he himself had to arrive in Hong Kong. As a result, the process took longer than expected, especially because the processing time included Chinese New Year and Easter. However, it all worked out and I was able to activate it by travelling to Macau in time for me to start work on time.
I could only apply for a Hong Kong ID once I received and activated my work Visa. Again, because it was part of the relocation, all of the paperwork was prepared for me. All I had to do was go to Immigration Services (there is one close to our house), submit the paperwork, and have my photo taken (it sounds silly, but I made sure my hair looked decent for the photo – I hate it when I have my hair in a ponytail and basically look bald for these photos) and fingerprints digitally scanned. Fun thing: when I applied for the HKID the lady said to me, “what is your job? Housewife?” I said, “no, I start my job next week.” She said, “okay, so housewife.” I then started to ask, “when I start my job next week, I will be —” but she shook her head and said, “housewife” and that’s what I’m listed as. So funny, but I guess it doesn’t matter. Anyways, less than two weeks later my ID card was ready to be picked up (it’s most straightforward to pick it up in person). I am now a Hong Kong resident and I’m expected to carry my ID with me at all times.
Once I received the HKID I could apply for a bank account (and get paid)! Braden’s research lead him to apply for an account with HSBC and so I did the same. To open an account I needed to go to a branch in person with 1) my passport; 2) my HKID; 3) proof of employment; 4) proof of residency; and 5) 2000HKD as a minimum initial deposit. I waited until I had the hard copy of my HKID; I think Braden did it with the temporary copy because he was in a rush to open the account so he could secure our lease. I also don’t think proof of employment was critical, but I had it ready because I didn’t want any delays. A good piece of advice our rental agent gave us was for Braden to put my name on one of the utilities when he was setting everything up. That was a great suggestion, as I would have had no way to prove my residency if he hadn’t been proactive with this step early on.
In Hong Kong, employees are paid once per month, usually at the end of the month. When you discuss salary terms it is usually per month. I had a tough time wrapping my head around that, especially combined with the currency conversion. Some places pay a salary of 13 Months, which is basically viewed as a year end bonus (but is not mandatory). When discussing salaries it is a good idea to ask whether it is for 12 or 13 months. Also good to know: tax is not deducted from each pay cheque; individuals are expected to save money and pay their taxes themselves at the end of the year. I am obviously not an expert on this AT ALL, but I do know Hong Kong has a much lower tax rate than Canada, which you can read more about here (I don’t expect anyone to click this except maybe my Dad).
I will be flying back to Vancouver in a couple days for a wedding (!!!) and will fill out “Hong Kong” as my residence – how strange! – and when I return to Hong Kong I can use my HKID to go through the Residents’ express line and scan my fingerprint as I go through. That will be interesting…