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A Definitive Guide to Business Registration Number in Hong Kong

Business Registration Number in Hong Kong


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What Is a Business Registration Number (BRN)?

A BRN is a unique number the IRD assigns to a business entity, this will act as its registered identification number. It is printed on the registration certificate issued by the Business Registration Office.

No matter the business structure, Hong Kong is a dream destination for entrepreneurs across the globe. Setting up a new business promises a host of benefits. But that doesn't mean you can land in Hong Kong and start doing business activities as you please. You must fulfill key requirements, such as obtaining a Business Registration Number (BRN) from the Business Registration Office at the Inland Revenue Department (IRD).

In this guide, you'll learn what is a business registration number, why it is important for you, and the process of how you can obtain it in Hong Kong.

What Is a Business Registration Number (BRN)?

As per the Business Registration Ordinance, anyone who wants to conduct business in Hong Kong or an activity to make a profit must register their business within one month of commencing operations.

This includes:

  • Non-Hong Kong company that wants to register in Hong Kong  or set up their representative/liaison office in Hong Kong
  • Companies incorporated in Hong Kong
  • Non-Hong Kong company that wants to rent out a local office

A BRN is a unique number the IRD assigns to a business entity, this will act as its registered identification number. It is printed on the registration certificate issued by the Business Registration Office. 

Every company in Hong Kong should display its business registration certificate (BRC) at its registered office address. The company should display a printed copy if the certificate is in electronic format. 

If you cease the operations of your Hong Kong business, you must notify IRD to cancel your BRC. To do that, you can either:

  • Fill up Form IRC 3113 to cancel your registration; or 
  • Send a letter to the Department along with the name and address of the business, your BRN, and the date you have ceased operations. 

Not obtaining BRN or failing to cancel your registration certificate attracts imprisonment and heavy fines.

Why is a Business Registration Number Required in HK?

BRN is not a permit or license for trade or regulating business activities.

It is a unique number the IRD assigns and functions as your tax identification number (TIN).

You need to refer to your BRN when filing tax returns, company returns, opening bank accounts, or even filing forms/documents issued by various local government authorities.

Take note that income earned from sources outside of Hong Kong can enjoy tax-exempt status, meaning they don't have to pay profits tax.

Difference Between BRN to CRN

As mentioned earlier, the BRN functions as your tax ID number, given by the IRD. On the other hand, the Company Registration Number (CRN) acts as your company's distinct ID, issued by the Companies Registry.

Similar to a social security number, the CRN is important for company formation, permits, obtaining business licenses and official papers, and handling legal matters. It's listed on your Certificate of Incorporation and remains valid throughout your company's existence. While the BRN identifies your company for tax purposes, the CRN serves as its identity for everything else.

To comply with Hong Kong's legal requirements, a business must possess both a BRN and CRN, emphasizing their importance in business operations. These numbers are necessary whenever business owners sign legal documents, such as bank account openings, lease agreements, or contracts.

getting a registration number for business

Format of Business Registration Number 

BRN is an 8-digit number. There are no special characters or alphabets used. 

Typically, the format of BRN is 1XXXXXXX – 000-04-11A. You can find it printed on your business registration certificate.

It is usually located at the bottom of the certificate under the title certificate no.

Source: Inland Revenue Department of Hong Kong (IRD)

Apart from BRN, the registration certificate also contains other information, such as:

  • The name and nature of your business
  • Date of commencement of business operations
  • Address
  • Whether it is incorporated by an individual or partnership
  • Date of issue and expiry of the certificate

The certificate does not include the details of the proprietor/partners of the business. You must obtain an excerpt from the business register to find relevant information. 

How Can Your Business Benefit from BRN?

Here are a few benefits of getting a business registration number:

1. Helps With Tax Compliance 

Your business registration number functions as your tax identification number. 

When filing your tax returns, you need to quote your BRN.   

2. Helps You Open Bank Accounts for Your Business 

A business registration number is important for your business's day-to-day operations, such as opening a bank account, borrowing business loans, and conducting other financial transactions. 

3. Simplifies the Management of Company Information

You can add your business registration number as a reference number when you submit official documents in connection with your business. 

This allows the relevant authorities to obtain information about your company without additional correspondence.

4. Creates a Unique Identity for Your Business 

Since it is a unique 8-digit number assigned only to your business, it helps distinguish it from other businesses in the market, especially those with a similar name. 

How to Get a Business Registration Number in HK

You can apply for a business registration number in Hong Kong in the following ways:

One-Stop Company Services

IRD made it possible to apply online using its one-stop service where a person can make a single application to incorporate their company with the Companies Registry and obtain business registration. 

  • If you are a local company, you can submit Form NNC1 or NNC1G along with a copy of articles of association for incorporation and Form IRBR1 as a notice to the business registration office for obtaining BRN. You also need to pay the applicable fees. 
  • If you are registering a non-Hong Kong company, you can submit Form NN1 along with relevant documents for incorporation and Form IRBR2 as a notice to the business registration office. 

You also need to indicate if the business name is different from the company name, the nature, and description of your business, the date of commencement of operations, and whether you want a certificate valid for three years or one year. 

You need to pay applicable registration fees. For non-Hong Kong companies, the fee is HKD 250 for one-year validity and HKD 3,950 for a certificate valid for three years.

Making a joint application saves you time as you don't need to commence business operations before applying for BRN. However, you must notify the Commissioner of IRD once you receive your BRN. 

However, this option is not available for businesses that want to operate as a sole proprietorship, partnership, or through a branch office.

Applying After Starting Operations

IRD also allows applications for business registration numbers after you have commenced operations. This option is available for all business structures including:

  • Sole proprietorship, 
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC),
  • Branch, subsidiary, or representative offices of a foreign/non-Hong Kong company  

You can fill out Form IRBR 37, pay the applicable fees, and submit it within a month of starting your business operations. You can submit the form in person to the Business Registration Office or apply online on the e-Tax portal website.

"Note: People can do a business registration lookup of a registered business from the Business Registration Office of the IRD using the eTAX service. They just need to enter the business's complete Chinese or English name and location."

For sole proprietors, the applicant must submit proof of identity, such as a copy of the Hong Kong identity card in case of local residents or a copy of a passport for foreign residents.

LLCs can submit a copy of their Certificate of Incorporation (along with a certified translation if the certificate is not in Mandarin or English). You don't need to furnish any identity documents to get the business registration number of a foreign branch office, subsidiary, or representative office.

Is that a lot of work you need help with? Opt for a hassle-free registration process with Air Corporate and incorporate your company within 48 hours.

Air Corporate can also help you get your business registration number and assist with other company secretarial services.

Type of business

Timeline for application

If your business is a sole proprietorship, partnership (except limited partnership fund)  or you are an unincorporated body of persons, a non-Hong Kong company or a branch of a non- Hong Kong company Within one month from its date of commencement of business. 

IRD rejects registration applications for businesses that do not exist or haven’t commenced their operations yet. 

If you are a limited partnership fund Within one month from its date of registration
If you are a company incorporated or to be incorporated under the Companies Ordinance  You can use the one-stop service from IRD that allows you to make a single application to incorporate the company with the Companies Registry and also obtain business registration certificate 


A business registration certificate in Hong Kong is proof that the business is duly registered with the Hong Kong government and has fulfilled the requirements for operation.

A certificate of incorporation is the birth certificate of your company —  it confirms that your company has come into existence as a standalone legal entity.

  • Choose your business's legal structure
  • Reserve your company name
  • Prepare required documents
  • Obtain business registration number (BRN)
  • Submit your online application
  • Verify director/shareholder identity
  • Pay the registration fees
  • Receive your certificate of incorporation

Once you successfully pay the business registration fee/levy online, you receive an acknowledgment with a Transaction Reference Number. This indicates that your submission was successful.

Hong Kong tax exemption means that certain earnings or transactions are not taxed. The law regarding tax system in Hong Kong operates on a territorial basis, which means you will only pay taxes based on profits made within or coming from Hong Kong.


Vivian Au

For many years, I worked at big accounting and company secretary firms in Hong Kong. I started Air Corporate to make the life of entrepreneurs and SMEs easy.

Vivian Au


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