What should I know about domestic helper remittances?

Every year on June 16, we celebrate the International Day of Family Remittances. We take this opportunity to shed light on the process of domestic helper remittances and talk about why many feel compelled to work overseas, joining more than 200 million migrant workers who send money to millions more family members back home.

The main motivation for domestic helpers to seek employment overseas comes from the promise of better economic opportunities. Many of them face difficulties in their home countries, with some unable to pay for their child’s education or lacking the necessary resources to meet their family’s needs.  Unfortunately, local available employment options do not provide them with a reasonable salary to alleviate their situation. With places like Hong Kong offering higher wages compared to what was previously available, a chance to work overseas gives hope for a better future. As a result, they make the tough decision to travel abroad in search of work, often as the primary source of income for their households.

Understanding domestic helper remittances

A 2015 report by the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Bank found that remittances make up an average of 60% of a family’s household income. For some families, a domestic helper’s remittances are crucial for daily subsistence.

  • Remittances reduce poverty when they are used to purchase basic goods like food and medicine.
  • Remittances reduce vulnerability to external shocks caused by emergencies and natural disasters, therefore helping the domestic helper’s family to increase income and household savings.
  • Remittances add to investments in education, health, marriage, livestock, housing and other financial assets – helping families of domestic helpers to develop income-generating activities and improve their quality of life.

Employers who prioritize the financial literacy of their domestic helpers are helping them make the most out of hard-earned funds. Meanwhile, domestic helpers who share responsibility for financial decisions with their family members are better able to build a solid working relationship with their employers. Therefore, your support in enabling a domestic helper’s remittance makes a difference to their overall experience working abroad.

What are the requirements for domestic helper remittances?

There are a lot of verified transfer methods for sending domestic helper remittances. Anyone can initiate a money transfer abroad, provided they fulfill the service provider’s requirements.

Here is a list of possible requirements requested by money service operators and digital payment methods for domestic helper remittances. A domestic helpers would do well to have all of these on hand before planning to send money home.

  • Bank account
  • Identification documents, ex. HKID, Passport
  • Proof of address
  • Transfer method
  • Recipient’s details
    • Full name as it appears in an government-issued ID
    • Bank account details
    • Mobile number
    • Complete address

Note that there are requirements for domestic helper remittances outlined by the Joint Financial Intelligence Unit in Hong Kong. If a domestic helper’s remittance meets or exceeds HK$ 8000, they are required to produce their HKID, address, and telephone number to the remittance agent or money changer for verification.

Domestic helper remittances: Using a bank account

There are many options for a domestic helper’s remittances if both the sender and receiver have bank accounts. This makes international money transfers real-time and convenient. Beyond a domestic helper’s remittances, we highly recommend that helpers to open a bank account for savings. Doing so helps them to track their salary deposits and expenses regularly. While it is not compulsory for employers to guide the domestic helper in this process, we offer helpful tips on what you or the domestic helper should consider when opening a bank account.

Domestic helper remittances: WITHOUT using a bank account

If a helper’s salary is paid in cash, there are 2 methods that a domestic helper’s remittances can be processed without a bank account in Hong Kong. (Disclaimer: Fair Employment Agency is not affiliated with any money service operator or e-wallet services.)

1) Western Union

Western Union is an international money transfer service that can be used to send a domestic helper’s remittances electronically. For Indonesian domestic helpers, Western Union covers 95% of Indonesian bank accounts. The sender can choose to pay through a credit or debit card, bank account, and Tap&Go wallet. If the domestic helper does not currently hold a bank account, they also offer payment through cash which can be done in person through a Western Union agent location or a 7-Eleven convenience store.

2) AlipayHK

AlipayHK’s popularity as a mobile payment app has made it easier for a domestic helper’s remittances in Hong Kong.  The app allows them to transfer money overseas without queuing at a money service operator or paying hefty transaction fees. A completed ID scanning and live selfie verification are required before using the option for domestic helper remittance. The app offers exchange rates in real-time and users can top up their e-wallets conveniently through 7-eleven, Circle K, and more.

3) WeChat Pay HK

WeChat Pay HK offers an international remittance service called We Remit, which domestic helpers can utilize for remittance if the receiver also has a WeChat account. Similar to AliPay HK, identity verification is required before use and can be topped up at 7-eleven branches. Another option also allows users to top up their balance by linking the app to their credit card or bank account.

In addition to Western Union, AlipayHK and WeChat Pay HK, online service providers such as Wise and Instarem can be used to send a domestic helper’s remittance in Hong Kong Dollars (HKD) to other currencies, including Philippine Peso (PHP) and Indonesian Rupiah (IDR).

Sending domestic helper remittances: Practical tips

If the helper is preparing to send money back home, here are some practical tips for sending domestic helper remittances that you may wish to remind her of:

Sending domestic helper remittances through licensed remittance companies 

  1. The helper should have her HKID and cash ready before going to a licensed remittance company. It is important to check whether the remittance center is a licensed operator to provide domestic helper remittances through the government’s portal here.
  2. The helper should confirm the day’s exchange rate and transaction fees. It’s possible that fees and rates vary between different domestic helper remittance companies.
  3. The helper can choose methods available for cash pickup or receiving the money in the payee’s bank account.
  4. The helper should take care filling out the form with the payee’s information, reason for remittance and any remark. Once the remittance is sent, it is not reversible so the information provided must be accurate before submitting.
  5. After the domestic helper’s remittance is sent, the helper should collect the receipt with the reference number for later verification with the recipient.

Sending domestic helper remittances through e-wallet (AlipayHK)

  1. To use this service, the domestic helper should have a verified account on AlipayHK.
  2. For domestic helper remittances, AlipayHK wallets should be topped up with cash:
    • Visit any 7-11, Circle-K, Watsons, Fortress, McDonald’s and ParkNShop stores.
    • Tap “Top up” at the homepage, then tap “Top up”
    • Tap “Top up with cash”
    • Present the QR code to the cashier upon payment.
  3. Domestic helper remittances from AlipayHK can be transferred with the method of choice using the app.
    • Tap “Remittance” under Applications.
    • Choose the country where the money will be sent to, i.e. Remit to Philippines; Remit to Indonesia
  4. The helper can choose a method from the available choices for her remittance. Take note that a transaction fee may occur when choosing cash pick up at a remittance company or through a bank account.
  5. To send money back home, the helper can enter the remittance amount to be sent in the app. AlipayHK has a built-in calculator with information on current exchange rate and estimated total amount.
  6. The helper can enter the payee information, reason for remittance and any remark in the app. Once the remittance is sent, it is not reversible so the information provided must be accurate before submitting.
  7. The transfer can be completed by entering the app password for final verification.
  8. Successful domestic helper remittances will be confirmed with a notification.

Sending domestic helper remittances: factors to consider

Exchange rates

Before completing any domestic helper remittances, it is important for the sender to compare exchange rates offered by different service providers. This can make a significant difference to the final amount received by the payee or family member in the home country. Depending on the exchange rate used by the service provider, the payee can receive less money than expected. 

Transfer fees

These are additional fees that service providers charge to facilitate domestic helper remittance transfers. Online money transfer services usually have a fixed transaction fee compared to remittance agents, but take note that these fees can change without prior notice. It is best to ask and make sure that all fees are transparent before completing the remittance.

Processing time

The time it takes for the remittance to be received depends on the service provider, method of payment, and method of receipt. With domestic helper remittances, traditional bank transfers tend to take a few business days while e-wallets and remittance companies can transfer money instantly.

Transfer limits

Money service operators and e-wallets may have daily, monthly, or annual limits on the amount of money being transferred. In case of emergencies, it’s useful to know more than 1 method for a domestic helper’s remittances if the amount exceeds the service provider’s limit.


When looking for domestic helper remittance companies in Hong Kong, remember to verify that the money service operator has a valid license to protect users from fraud. The Custom and Excise Department’s Online Licensee Register lists all recognized money service operators in Hong Kong.

More about domestic helper remittances

The most preferred remittance method is not always the most convenient. Transfer amounts, receiving methods and processing times are all important factors to consider before a domestic helper is able to send money home. To be an effective manager, an employer must ensure that the domestic helper is aware of all their options, including the advantages and disadvantages of each.

We recommend using an e-wallet like AlipayHK to take advantage of its convenience. Domestic helpers do not need to queue at the remittance center and wait a long time before they can send money home. The exchange rates of AlipayHK are usually better than those of banks, but we still advise comparing the rates among other service providers so that they can maximize their remittances.

AlipayHK Remittance Fees

  • Philippines: Via GCash – no fee; Cash pick up and bank transfer – HKD 15
  • Indonesia: HKD 15

AlipayHK Remittance Limits – Philippines

  • Daily: HKD 5,000
  • Monthly: HKD 10,000
  • Annually: HKD 100,000

AlipayHK Remittance Limits – Indonesia

  • Daily: HKD 5,000
  • Annual: HKD 100,000

*Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. FEA is not affiliated with any of the companies listed in this article, and while the information herein are believed by FEA to be reliable, FEA makes no representation and/or warranty as to the accuracy or completeness of such information.

Last updated on June 20th, 2024

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