What is the Business Registration Process in Hong Kong

A Complete Guide For Business Registration In Hong Kong

Hong Kong as an investment magnet, a vibrant place that propel enterprises to achievements, not only in Asia but all over the world. Known for its business-friendly government and unwavering support for companies, Hong Kong has firmly established its position as a top financial center in the world. The position of Hong Kong has been confirmed as third in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index, justifying its pro-business environment.

Hong Kong business registration process is the process through which a business is legally registered with the Hong Kong government through the Inland Revenue Department. This registration is required for any legal person that is involved in commercial activities in Hong Kong, irrespective of its being a small or large company, partnership, or a sole proprietorship. It gives your business a distinct identification number and enables legal operations in the territory in question as well as helps in conducting several transactions, including tax-related obligations.

Now, Hong Kong being a strategic base for your startup is just one step away. The initial step is to register and incorporate your business in Hong Kong. The article is here to take you through the steps of business registration in Hong Kong.

Who Is Required To Obtain Business Registration?

The Business Registration Ordinance mandates the registration of the following types of businesses:

  • Activities that result in the production of income or money.
  • The clubs that offer members facilities in return for payment.
  • Hong Kong companies and overseas companies that are registered under the Companies Ordinance irrespective of whether they are currently carrying on business in Hong Kong.
  • Overseas companies with a branch or a representative or liaison office in Hong Kong.
  • Overseas companies which are not incorporated in Hong Kong but are involved in the renting of property situated within Hong Kong, whether or not they have a fixed place of operation in Hong Kong.

Employees working for a company are not considered to be engaged in a business activity, and thus they are not required to business registration.

Exemptions from Business Registration

Certain types of businesses are exempt from registration, including:

  • Businesses involved in agriculture, livestock breeding or rearing, or fishing, unless they are incorporated in Hong Kong or registered as foreign companies under the Companies Ordinance.
  • Licensed hawkers, except those operating stalls inside buildings.
  • Charitable institutions

Duration for Obtaining Business Registration

An unincorporated body of persons, a sole proprietorship or a partnership, a non-Hong Kong company or any company which has a representative or a liaison office in Hong Kong, shall within one month of commencing its business apply for business registration.

Companies incorporated in Hong Kong or registered under the Companies Ordinance need not make a separate application for business registration as the application for company registration also acts as the application for business registration. Ordinarily, the Companies Registry would issue together with the certificate of incorporation a certificate of business registration.

Companies that apply for business registration at the time of company registration must inform the Inland Revenue Department within one month if they intend to commence business operations. This notification should specify the nature and description of the business.

Applying for Business Registration

To apply for business registration, you have several options:

One-Stop Service: Use the one-stop company and business registration service which is offered via the e-Registry portal.

Online Application: Fill the forms for incorporating your company online through e-Registry. It will play another role of being your business registration application too.

Additional Services: Support the additional services of the e-Registry – E-Reminder about the filing of annual returns and the e-monitor service for various filing records.

Offline Application: Alternatively, you may wish to submit the appropriate application form depending on your business organization’s type. It is also essential to pay the application fees online when necessary.

Select the approach that will work for you to ensure smooth and quick start of your company’s registration procedure.

Business Registration Fee and Validity Period

A valid business registration certificate may either be for one year or for three years.

The registration fee for a certificate that is valid for one year is HKD 250 and HKD 3,950 for a certificate that is valid for three years.

What Is a Business Registration Number

Business Registration Number (BRN) is a unique eight digit number with the Inland Revenue Department assigns to a registered entity.

It also states the business registration number. Also called the Taxpayer Identification Number.

The amount noted can be quoted in any communication with any governmental agency whenever you file your returns.

Read Hong Kong Company Registration Number vs Business Registration Number

Advantages Of Business Registration in Hong Kong

Before we can go straight to the process of business registration in Hong Kong, we have to ensure that you understand the key advantages of doing business in Hong Kong first. 

  • Hong Kong and Singapore are regarded in the world as the most liberal and lenient jurisdictions. And these advantages make the business registration in Hong Kong so easy, rapid, economical, and comfortable.
  • With Hong Kong as your incorporated company, you can operate your business from any part of the world. You will use an agency to keep things professional and to enable growth in the long run by working with them in a daily routine. Therefore, if you hire the necessary experts, it will undoubtedly improve the growth of your business into a multi-national you ever envisioned.
  • Market planning is a core priority in any business since demand for the products ought to be considered through research. With a population of 1.3 billion, how does your product like a market? What Hong Kong boasts is that it is the most effective channel to Mainland China; there are over 1.3 billion people in the Chinese market who are now exposed to our products. In addition, this is also not the only task. After the completion of business registration in Hong Kong, your enterprise will be able to receive all the benefits from the trade agreements with more than 30 countries that have signed the preferential agreements with Hong Kong.
  • In spite of the fact that Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, this region enjoys a large autonomy which translates into running an independent administration. As the island possesses neither land for farming nor resources for industry, it has built up a business-centered economy in its stead. The government is equipped with all sorts of strategies, from simplifying the tax system to running incubation programs, to support your start-up after your registration in Hong Kong.

We can keep on and on; these are just a few benefits that you will get after business registration in Hong Kong. Now we will take you through the steps of registering a private limited liability company.

Valuable Information Regarding Business Registration in Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, all corporate activities are regulated by the Companies Ordinance of Hong Kong. It’s the purpose of this article to explain all steps, which is necessary to register a company in the Special Administration Region (SAR) of China. These details in particular are the requisites for the incorporation of the company in Hong Kong, the post-registration requirements, and the other essentials. However, here are the top facts that you need to know about company incorporation in Hong Kong.

Shareholders

Each Hong Kong company that is established as a private limited liability company must have at least one shareholder, with the maximum being 50. Shareholders do not have to be domiciled in the country of incorporation.

Directors

The Hong Kong Companies Ordinance specifies one as the minimum number of directors required to form a company. But remember, you can have there as many as you need. The company must have at least one director who can be either from within or outside of the nation (no restrictions/requirements on nationality or residency).

Company Secretary

The Limited Liability Company must have a company secretary who is a local resident in Hong Kong. The secretary is assigned to perform various statutory duties like maintaining the company’s statutory books and records. Another part of his duties is to ensure that the company is kept in line with the Hong Kong law.

Tax

By the time of starting a company in Hong Kong, it is demanded to make the tax payments. What are these duties? This two-tier profit tax regime was introduced in 2017 in Hong Kong as a measure to bring more transparency and simplicity in taxation and invite economic development. Under the 2-tiered tax system, the tax rate of profits up to $2 million is 8.5%. In addition to this, the profits tax for assessable income figures exceeding $2 million remains the same, at 16.5%. It is worth mentioning that Hong Kong is a territory friendly on businesses, which means that corporate taxes are to be paid only for businesses done in Hong Kong territory.

Ongoing Compliance

As soon as the company is registered in Hong Kong, you need to follow a set of accounting rules strictly. Every year, the company is subject to audit by a Hong Kong-based Certified Public Accountant. Following that, the audited accounts have to be submitted to the Inland Revenue Department.

What Documentation is Necessary for Business Registration in Hong Kong?

As a business operator, you must have all the documents ready and submit them to the Company Registry upon application.These documents are:

  • Articles of Association for your company. These are the rules and regulations that are clearly spelled out on how the company operates. This is evident by the way they illustrate how these tasks, such as the financial records handling and appointing of directors in the company, will be done.
  • Addressing the filled company registration form with the following statements.
    • Company Name: The official name of your company.
    • Registered Address: The physical address where the company is officially registered.
    • Description of Activities: A comprehensive description outlining the nature of the company’s operations and activities.
    • Details of Directors, Shareholders, and Resident Company Secretary:
    • a. Directors: Information regarding individuals appointed to oversee the company’s operations and decision-making.
    • b. Shareholders: Details of individuals or entities holding ownership shares in the company.
    • c. Resident Company Secretary: Information about the appointed individual responsible for ensuring compliance with statutory and regulatory requirements.
    • Documentation for Non-Resident Directors and Shareholders:
    • a. Copies of passports and proof of residence for non-resident directors and shareholders.
    • Documentation for Local Directors and Shareholders:
    • a. Copies of identity cards for local directors and shareholders.
    • Documentation for Corporate Shareholders:
    • a. Copy of the company registration for the parent company if corporate entities are shareholders.
    • Liabilities of Company Directors: Explanation of the legal responsibilities and liabilities borne by company directors.
    • Share Capital: Details regarding the authorized share capital of the company, including the types and values of shares issued.

If the particular statement is not in English, then indeed, the translated document in English should be provided.

Top Choices for Business Registration in Hong Kong

With this information on the necessary documents for business registration in Hong Kong, you can now proceed to get the task done. The best way for a company incorporation in Hong Kong is through the services of company secretary. The following is the process:

Apply for business registration through the agency

The Hong Kong authority has shortened the business registration process significantly, but the list of documents to be prepared is still very long. Besides, an important aspect is that some documents like the articles of association can be highly technical. The hardest part for people who are not in Hong Kong is the fact that they have to pay for expensive tickets plus they have to go through complex processes of maybe two flights just to get to the city. Selecting a business registration agency for Hong Kong like FastLane Group is the perfect alternative. It will facilitate the process for you to open a company without having to physically come to Hong Kong.

Benefits of Registering a Business in Hong Kong Via Agency

The company registration law permits people and businesses, especially those abroad, to use registered agents to incorporate. So what are the advantages of using the services of an agent for company registration?

Hong Kong company registration agencies are staffed by professionals who have gained much experience in business incorporation. Hence, you are confident that all the papers will be well done and registration process will be faster.

The agency will assist you in preparing even those documents that you would consider complex. For instance, how would you approach the Articles of Association? How about the memorandum of understanding, and the company’s activities? With an agency, you can concentrate on other things like making capital available to run the company while the experts take care of the documents.

An agency can be responsible for your organization’s secretarial function. Being probably the most important benefit of working with agency in regard incorporating the company in Hong Kong. Rather than blowing up a significant amount of money in a local newspaper job adverts and then going through interviews to get a Company Secretary, the agency can help you with this role. However, what is the necessity for spending more money on adverts when the agency is run by professionals anyway?

The address of the agency’s office can be used by your company. This also means that you do not have to run from one sky scraper to another in the downtown Hong Kong in search of an office. Through an agency, it means you can utilize its office, facilities, and expertise to manage your business in Hong Kong. This is a brilliant initiative, especially for the companies that do not have a lot of operations, or do not want to run their own offices in the city. It is also beneficial when you plan to enter the Hong Kong market in a step-by-step manner before expanding activities in the following months or years.

Utilizing the knowledge of the agency, you can get a clear idea of the new market. Since agencies are managed by committed leaders and also supported other companies to enter the market, you can use their experience to make the entry of Hong Kong Market easier.

How Can FastLane Help You?

If you are ready to obtain your business registration certificate, the best place to start is with an experienced agency that can help walk you through the process. 

At Fastlane, our team of experts has walked many companies through applying for and obtaining a BRC. Working with Fastlane can help you speed up the process and can help you avoid confusion or mistakes that can cost you time and money. 

Fastlane can also act as your Hong Kong company secretary – stepping in to help you through various aspects of business registration and legalization in Hong Kong. For companies who are just getting started operating in Hong Kong, having a professional and experienced firm at your side can help you avoid the pitfalls that many new companies or businesses fall into.

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!

Frequently Answered Questions

The majority of companies registered in Hong Kong are private limited companies. This is what you will need to do to open a limited liability company in Hong Kong.

  • Any individual or organization can register a company in Hong Kong.
  • At least one shareholder is required, regardless of nationality, who must be over 18 years old.
  • Similarly, at least one director is necessary, also over 18 years old, who can be local or foreign.
  • One person can hold both the roles of director and shareholder.
  • No minimum share capital is obligatory for company registration, but it’s common to have around HKD 10,000.
  • This share capital often consists of 10,000 ordinary shares valued at HKD 1.00 each, meeting the minimum paid-up capital requirement of HKD 1.00 per share.
  • A registered address is mandatory.
  • A company secretary, who must be a resident of Hong Kong, is required; alternatively, an incorporated entity acting as the secretary must have an office in Hong Kong.
  • The company must appoint a Designated Representative (DR) to assist with the Significant Controllers Register (SCR), a statutory role introduced in 2018, highlighting the necessity of professional assistance.

A company can be registered in a Chinese name, English name, or both. However, the name cannot contain a combination of Chinese and English letters. Furthermore, the name of the company with an English name should be with “Limited” at the end of it. If the name is in Chinese, the last name should have an English equivalent of the word “Limited.”

The most common case is that it will be only from five to seven working days to get the company incorporated. However, in case of abroad, it takes more time as logistics details such as signing and delivery of documents are required.

No, you don’t. With the agency that you hired registering your firm, you don’t have to book a flight to Hong Kong. All you need to do is to submit the necessary forms to the specified agency. However, it is likely that you might need to be physically present when opening a bank account.

Yes, you can. However, you must be doing the right process. This is where the company needs to apply for an employment visa for the employee. Such a visa needs to be approved by the Hong Kong officials.

In the role of a foreign entrepreneur who wants to settle in Hong Kong, your first step should be to get an Investment Visa. This Visa can be compared to an Employment Visa since it also follows the General Employability Policy. To this end, please note that obtaining a visa for investment is only possible after the company has been established.

Absolutely! In Hong Kong you have the option of registering your business under a name that is different from the one that you used at Companies Registry. This additional name will also serve as a branch of your main company and be given a separate Business Registration (BR) Certificate.

It should be displayed at the premises in which you are conducting your business. For the certificate to be authentic, the original form must be presented, which displays the business address and the amount of payment made. It is necessary to have a printed copy if you have received the issued certificate in e-form.

The most common case is that it will be only from five to seven working days to get the Business Registration Certification renewed. However, in case of abroad, it takes more time as logistics details such as signing. The registration certificate of your business is renewable either for a period of three years or annually depending on the type of registration certificate you have.

The business registration office sends the renewal demand note through mail. It is usually forwarded a month earlier before the renewal is due. After paying the registration fees, the demand note will be a registration. If you fail to get the demand note, contact the Commissioner of Inland Revenue Department within one month from the expiry of the registration certificate. Delivery of documents are required.

Book an appointment at the business registration office and bring your old business certificate along with you. You can request a demand note and pay renewal fees. If the business address has changed then you can fill the Form IRC 3111A.

A photocopy of the previous certificate and a crossed cheque drawn in favour of “The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region” should be posted to the business registration office. The new business registration certificate shall be received at your place of business. If you would like to change the address of the business, then you can add a note when you send the business registration certificate. A note should contain the business registration number, name of the business, information of both the old and new addresses, and the date of the move.

Your specific business may also require other licenses and professional qualifications to proceed with the operations. Visit Trade and Industry Department

Yes, it is possible to do searches of companies online via the Company Search Mobile Service of the Integrated Companies Registry Information System (ICRIS). The website allows the users to access the information concerning the registered companies and to check the documents filed with the Registrar of Companies.

In the event that the business was terminated, the Commissioner of Inland Revenue must be notified within one month of the cessation and Form IRC 3113 completed.