Understanding Hong Kong Representative Office Registration

Understanding Hong Kong Representative Office Registration

Establishing a Hong Kong Representative Office is an adequate option for international business entities that are eager to explore opportunities in Hong Kong and the neighboring regions before taking on a big financial engagement. A Representative Office is known mainly as the promotional and liaison office therefore, doesn’t extend any activities that are beyond the promotion/liaison activities. Representative Offices cannot have any legal status in the country in which they operate and are not able to conduct any profit-making operations.

Key Points About Hong Kong Representative Office

  • A Representative Office has no legal standing and recognition and the parent company incurs all the liabilities that may come from the activities of the Representative Office.
  • Mostly, the name of a Representative Office has to be similar to the name of a parent company abroad. If the name is already in use in Hong Kong, the overseas company will need to find another name to be used for the Representative Office in Hong Kong.
  • A typical Representative Office functions as a cost center, which means it only has a few options for business activities like liaison, promotional work, as well as market research studies. It cannot enter into profit-making operations like engaging in business, concluding contracts, consultancy for a fee, undertaking shipment of goods, or negotiating a  letter of credit. If it wants to get involved in any exchange that leads to legal consequences, it is required to convert its business structure to a subsidiary company or a branch office.
  • The Representative Office may send a person from the parent company in a foreign country who will be stationed in Hong Kong and will supervise the activities. The Representative Office can hire a local-based team as its support staff.
  • A Representative Office may be established with no limit imposed on the initial registered capital requirement. 
  • It is not necessary to register Representative Office with the Companies Registry.
  • Corporate formalities like having a separate legal form, compliance with the annual reporting requirements, and filing of the necessary statutory documents are not obligated in Representative Office because they are unincorporated entities.
  • Representative Office are exempt from tax and are not obliged to file their annual financial reports with the Inland Revenue Department since it is a non-profit making entity. Meanwhile. Representative Office must obtain the Business Registration Certificate from the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) regardless of its objectives.
  • Generally, a Representative Office is treated as a temporary administrative office allowing the foreign company to explore suitability and do business in Hong Kong.

Registration Procedure

There are no registration conditions to be fulfilled with the Companies Registry that are needed for the legal establishment of a Representative Office in Hong Kong. The only requirement is that it has registered for a Business Registration Certificate under the Inland Revenue Department within one month from the day of commencement. The following documents are required during registration:

  • Submitting a completed application form.
  • Identification of the Representative Office’s chief officer in Hong Kong.

Upon receiving a complete set of documentation, the Business Registration Certificate will be processed for issuance. It will be given out on the next working day and can only be collected in person. The visibility of the Business Registration Certificate in your office must be maintained at all times. If the registered particulars of your business have changed, you have to inform the Hong Kong Inland Revenue Department in writing after and within one month of the change of the registered business particulars. The validity period for the Business Registration Certificate is either for 1 year or for 3 years and therefore they should be renewed one month before the expiry date on an annual basis or every three years.

Opening a Bank Account

The Hong Kong Representative Office is supposed to get a Business Registration Certificate from the Inland Revenue Department, thus a corporate bank account can be opened at any of the big banks in Hong Kong.

How FastLane Group Can Help?

Do you want to streamline your Hong Kong representative office registration process in line with regulations? FastLane is here to help! Our expert team ensures smooth setup and compliance, so you can focus on growing your business. Contact us today!

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