How To Obtain A Business Registration Certificate

Getting Business Registration Certificate in Hong Kong

The BRC (Business Registration Certificate) obtained from the Inland Revenue Department’s Business Registration Office is a fundamental permit required for the registration of any business in Hong Kong. In addition, it’s the legal document that is linked to your company’s Tax Identification Number (TIN). The TIN must be clearly shown in the office as well as a proof of company incorporation. Besides, the fact that your business is in compliance with the Companies Ordinance and through this process you are contributing greatly to economic growth in Hong Kong.

To be registered, you will fill in a form online which is available on the government website or their business registration office and pay for the business registration fee. Take note that a business registration certificate is more than a mere formality, it is actually a legal necessity that, among others, ensures you deal with the Inland Revenue Department properly. To acquire the BRC, the company has to apply and receive it within the 30 days as the Companies Ordinance stipulates.

Business Registration Certificate Definition

The BRC is a formal compliance document that provides complete details of a business and it is mandatory for company registration in Hong Kong and can be obtained from the Business Registration Office after registering your business with it. The necessity of obtaining a business registration certificate as a part of successful company incorporation within the prescribed time limit should not be overlooked. Not addressing this issue can result in problems in the long run and will negatively affect the business operation. The Inland Revenue Department ensures that no business under its supervision will get away with lawlessness and the punishment will follow for those who do not comply.

In other words, what are the key stages of the business registration procedure? The procedure requires only filling the online form on the government website and depositing the stipulated business registration fee. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? That’s because it is! If one put adequate thought and consideration on the whole process, the registration process is not complicated and can be easily completed.

What is the Significance of the Business Registration Number?

The other important aspect of legality in your business is the Business Registration Number. It is your TIN (Tax Identification Number), which is one of the key elements in tax compliance, company secretary services and your business legitimacy in Hong Kong. However, the business registration number is not only used for this purpose as it is also used for filing annual returns. There are two types of companies that require annual registration fees. Firstly, local companies are required to submit the fee within 42 days after the latest anniversary, and secondly, public companies should do so within 42 days after the company’s return.

By possessing a Business Registration Number, you can benefit: 

  • Being the bridge from Hong Kong to Mainland China
  • Receiving preferential treatment from states with bilateral trade agreements 
  • Ensuring adherence to legal requirements
  • Protecting assets
  • Tax compliance

What Business Structure is Required to Have BRC?

There are no exemptions to the types of business that need business registration certificate from the business registration office and the Inland Revenue Department. It is a must for any company or enterprise that intends to make a profit, including local and offshore ones, and within the first month of commencement of the business.This includes:

  • Sole proprietorship
  • Partnership
  • Unincorporated body of persons
  • Non-Hong Kong company

Whether it is a partnership, an unincorporated entity, a corporation foreign corporation to do business in Hong Kong, or a non-profit organization, they all must be legally registered with the business registration certificate. In this regard, it is imperative to note down the issuing date of the certificate in order to keep renewing and meeting the necessary compliance with the incorporation statutes. A company secretary service can assist you with the non-financial part of financial administration and prevent you from getting overwhelmed.

What is the Right Time To Register A Business?

Whether you are going to set up a factory or open an online business, no later than 30 days after your Hong Kong company is fully registered you have to get acquainted with the process of the BRC application. In doing so, all of the businesses have to submit their applications within the given period, which might be slightly different for distinct types of businesses.

For example, a business that has a sole proprietorship or a partnership will need to apply for registration within one month of the start of the business operations. Likewise, foreign enterprises which are intending to start a branch in Hong Kong are also required to obtain this certificate within one month of their place of business establishment in Hong Kong.

Make sure you have all necessary documents ready for submission, such as:

  • Proof of Identity
  • Application Form
  • Incorporation Form
  • Articles of Association

Penalties for Non-Compliance of BRC?

Failure to obtain and maintain their business registration certificate can be costly and may have court and financial implications. These can be among other things such as fines and imprisonment.

These following penalties are quite severe for the violation. The maximum amount of fine and jail terms might be HK$5,000 and 1 year respectively. Moreover, the failure to comply with BRC regulations can be detrimental to your business functioning and might lead to the loss of business opportunities as a result of fines and penalties.

Display Requirement for Business Registration Certificate

There is a lot of more to getting your BRC than just securing it. It must be displayed prominently and visible at your work place. It not only shows your compliance with the required regulations but it also boosts your business credibility. The business registration certificate is the proof of the legitimacy of your business after all.

If you do not show your BRC, you may face fines and penalties which could be up to HK$5,000. Thus, it is not just the business registration certificate that should be obtained but also the business certificate should be properly displayed. However, what is the most appropriate way and location for the BRC to be presented? Let’s explore this below.

Where to display your BRC

The procedure for exhibition of your BRC is also not quite complicated. It is imperative that it gets an imposing location at the address where your business is located. This requires that it be located in the front part of the space that is easily seen and accessed.

What should be also paid attention to is that the commercial registration certificate is not used in electronic form. It will have to be printed out or made in a physical form of some sort. If you don’t have your BRC displayed properly and in a prominent place, you can be fined HK$5,000 and up to 1 year of imprisonment, so try to display it the right way.

Renewal of Business Registration Certificate

The BRC is not a single-step process it is a journey. Renewal is an ongoing task that it is needed to perform to ensure its validity. The business registration certificate will be valid for one to three years after the company has been incorporated. It is recommended that it is renewed one month before the expiry of the term.

Delay in renewal of the BRC will expose you to penalties that include a penalty of HK$300 for late renewal. If the permit lapses before it is renewed, you could be faced with additional penalties, court proceedings, and possibly be denied the chance to continue doing business in Hong Kong.

However, the question arises: what steps are taken to renew the BRC? In this regard, we will also give you the necessary details.

Timely renewal of BRC

Being up-to-date with registration certificate renewal is essential as far as the continuation of business activities is concerned. The renewal of BRC must be carried out every year, and no later than one month prior to the expiration date.

To renew your BRC, you will need to submit a filled out form along with the required documents and a crossed check either by mail to the address of the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) or in person at the IRD office with your old business registration certificate which will entice the IRD to issue a fresh demand note. It is the government that also sends notices and notifications for the renewal of the BRCs, which is very useful.

Nonetheless, I recommend you to make a reminder yourself every 12 months and not to forget about the coming deadline.

Business Details Update on BRC

As the business grows and expand, some details may evolve over time. It is important to update your business registration certificate whenever there are changes in the business details, for instance, when you have a new business address. Changing business details entails reporting to the Business Registration Office within one month of the alteration to ensure the validity of your BRC.

To update your valid business registration certificate, follow these steps:

  1. Visit the Office of the Business Registration in person with the old certificate or the digital certificate.
  2. Ask for a new demand note.
  3. Submit any changes in writing to the office’s attention within one month.

You should be aware that not keeping up your business registration certificate in the event of changes in the details of your business may lead to penalties and legal consequences.

Additional Licensing Process Considerations

As our main concern is the documents required for compliant business registration, you might still need some business licenses, permits, certificates, and approvals to run your business in Hong Kong. These types refer to money forms that are difficult to use other than the specified activities and usually come from the Hong Kong government.

To apply for these additional licenses and permits, you need to:

  1. Identify the necessary documents for the operation of your business by checking on the government website.
  2. Fill up the relevant forms
  3. Before you get your business licenses, ensure that you have registered your company respectively with the Companies Registry (CR).
  4. Conducting business activities in Hong Kong without the required permits is forbidden and may cause punishment like a fine and imprisonment.

Keep in mind that in Hong Kong the renewal period of various business licenses, i.e. the registration certificate of business, is not the same for each license type, so you should always check the official website for the renewal requirements for each license.

How FastLane Group Can Help?

At Fastlane, our team of experts has walked many companies through applying for and obtaining a Business Registration Certificate. Fastlane can also serve as your company secretary if you need assistance on various aspects related to business registration in Hong Kong. Having a professional and experienced firm on your side as a new company or business operating in Hong Kong can help you avoid the mistakes that many startups make.

Ready to learn more? Contact the Fastlane team today, and find out how our services can help you obtain your business registration certificate in Hong Kong—and much more!