How does Unique Business Identifier (UBI) impact HK companies

How does Unique Business Identifier (UBI) impact HK companies?

All entities in Hong Kong under the registrar of Companies will be required to use a Unique Business Identifier (UBI) on the Company Registry. Effective 27th December, 2023, an additional of 117 specified forms will be revised to align with this new requirement.

Understanding the UBI System

UBI has become adopted in many other economies around the globe for unique identification of legal entities involved in different commercial transactions like payments or regulatory interactions among others. It makes it possible for various departments of government as well as businesses to communicate and exchange information using one identifier, thus mitigating the risks arising from the use of different identifiers when trying to identify the same entity. UBI provides a chance for government to improve on its public service delivery capability, while it also offers a better way of handling institutions for regulation purposes.

Phases of UBI Implementation

The UBI will be implemented by the Companies Registry in two phases: phase one of the limited partnership funds, which started from the 1st November 2021, and the second, limited companies and all others, which commences simultaneously with the launch of the Companies Registry’s Integrated Companies Registry Information System on 27th December.

Phase One: Launched on November 1, 2021, Phase One focused on Limited Partnership Funds (LPFs).

Phase Two: Scheduled for December 27, 2023, Phase Two coincides with the launch of the revamped Integrated Companies Registry Information System (“Revamped ICRIS”). It extends UBI to various entities, including companies incorporated under the Companies Ordinance, open-ended fund companies, limited partnerships, registered trustees corporations, and other entities under different Ordinances.

Unique Business Identifier (UBI) impact HK companies

Understanding Your Entity’s Unique Business Identifier (UBI)

For entities with a Business Registration Number (BRN): Entities with a BRN, which consists of the first eight digits of the Business Registration Certificate number issued by the Inland Revenue Department’s Business Registration Office, the BRN becomes the UBI.

Entities without a BRN: Such as those exempted from registration under the Business Registration Ordinance, receive a dummy BRN based on their previous Company Number, CR Number, or Company Registration Number. Here’s how it works:

Local Companies without a BRN: A “C” is added as the prefix for the dummy BRN. If the converted number is less than eight digits, “zeros” are added to ensure a consistent format. For instance, a local company with a CR Number “12345” gets a dummy BRN as “C0012345.”

For more details, read here.

To facilitate the implementation of Phase 2 of UBI

The Registrar has revised 117 specified forms with effect from 27 December 2023, for the following major purposes:

  • Adopting the BRN as the UBI of a company or entity
  • A new structured format for reporting addresses
  • A revised format for reporting details of shareholders

There will be a transitional period of six months where both old and new forms will be accepted, except as follows:

  • Forms NNC1, NNC1G, NNC5 and NN1 have a shorter transitional period of four weeks i.e. only new forms will be accepted from 25 January 2024 onwards
  • Forms for open-ended funds do not have any transitional period

How can I obtain evidence on the change in identification number of my company /entity after the implementation of UBI

After the implementation of the Revamped ICRIS (on December 27, 2023), companies or entities may acquire evidence of their new identification number change from a Companies Registry Information Sheet. An image record of this information sheet can be obtained through the Electronic Search Services (ESS) provided in the e-Services portal of new Registry. This can be done using the “Quick Search > CR/BRN Mapping” function provided in the Electronic Search Services of the Companies Registry. For relevant charges, you refer to “Price Guide to Main Services” on the Registry’s website.

In addition to the Information Sheet, you can also find the corresponding Business Registration Number (BRN) of a company or entity by using the existing Company Number, CR Number, or Company Registration Number.

As an alternative, entities can apply for a Letter of Confirmation issued by the Registry as evidence, with an application fee of HK$130.

FastLane Group: Your Key to Embracing Hong Kong’s UBI

Hong Kong, as it adopts the Unique Business Identifier (UBI) system, stands to expedite business processes and reduce errors fact that ratifies its standing as a global financial center. For these transformations, businesses should also be ready and use the simplified business recognition through UBI for more success in their operations. Contact FastLane Group for company secretary service for your smooth business journey.