March 2nd, 2023 by Vivian Au July 27th, 2022 by Vivian Au
As one of the leading financial centers of the world, Hong Kong is the go-to business destination for foreign entrepreneurs.
For any business operation, banking services are critical since most require a line of credit and other facilities such as making deposits and sending remittances.
Thus, the banking sector in Hong Kong has been vital to the evolution of the region as a top jurisdiction for doing business.
In fact, seventy out of the top hundred international banks across the globe have a presence in Hong Kong. Twenty-nine of them also have regional headquarters in Hong Kong.
But how to pick the best one out of the various banks in Hong Kong?
This article rounds up the top choices you can consider and also provides you with an alternative if you don’t want to transact with traditional banks.
An overview of the banking system in Hong Kong
As an international financial hub handling a huge volume of external and domestic transactions, the banking system of Hong Kong is a highly regulated sector.
No business can accept deposits without obtaining a license from the regulator, Hong Kong Monetary Authority.
There are three types of deposit-taking companies in Hong Kong
These institutions can carry out all banking transactions as per the Hong Kong Banking Ordinance, including:
- Accepting deposits, regardless of the size of the deposit and its maturity;
- Opening current and savings accounts;
- Granting loans and collecting cheques;
- Freely using the term ‘bank’ freely in their names
Restricted license banks
These institutions are only permitted to carry out certain banking activities. They are primarily engaged in providing merchant banking and capital market services.
While they may operate both within and outside Hong Kong, they can only accept deposits of HKD 500,000 and above, regardless of the maturity period.
Licensed banks can own standalone deposit-taking companies that engage in commercial lending, securities business, and consumer finance.
They can accept deposits of HKD 100,000 or above with a maturity of at least 3 months.
Why choose banking services in Hong Kong?
The commercial banking system in Hong Kong is one of the best in the world. It is sophisticated and offers comprehensive one-stop banking solutions, making it immensely attractive for foreign and domestic businesses alike.
Hong Kong ranks among the top five financial centers in the world and is home to some of the most revered financial institutions.
In fact, three out of the top 10 banks in the world are Hong Kong banks.
What to keep in mind while evaluating Hong Kong banks?
Before you go ahead and open a business bank account with a Hong Kong bank, here’s what you should consider:
- Do you have relevant documents to prove your eligibility for a corporate bank account?
- Is the bank account opening process user-friendly? Can you do it online remotely?
- Does the bank provide mobile banking services?
- Can you resolve your issues through the customer service hotline?
- Do you have to maintain a minimum deposit in your account and pay a penalty if you fail to do so?
- Does the bank account support multi-currency options to manage your overseas transactions?
- What are the applicable fees for using ATMs within and outside Hong Kong?
- Do you have to pay additional fees to send money abroad or get it from overseas?
- What is the interest rate on deposits?
If you’re unsure about traditional banks and would like to opt for a more convenient option, opening a bank account online in Hong Kong could also be another option for your business.
Let’s take a look at the top 5 banks in Hong Kong that you should consider for your business.
Top 5 banks in Hong Kong to consider
1. Hang Seng Bank
The Asian Banker ranks Hang Seng Bank as the 4th best bank within the Asia Pacific region. In 2021, Asiamoney rated Hang Seng bank as the best Hong Kong bank for SME clients.
Hang Seng bank offers various services to serve its domestic and global clients. It includes:
- Commercial banking
- Private banking; and
- Personal banking
The bank also supports foreign currency business accounts and savings accounts.
Hang Seng Bank Fees
Here’s an overview of fees payable for various services:
Biz Virtual+ Account:
HKD600 (if you apply remotely)
HKD1,200 (if you apply through Business Banking Center)
Integrated Business Solutions Account:
HKD1,200 (whether you apply remotely or through the Business Banking Center)
- Initial deposit – HKD 20,000
- Telegraphic transfer
- Receiving a transfer – HKD 65
- Sending a transfer – HKD 85 (if the beneficiary account is with Hang Seng bank in Mainland China or Macau) and HKD 125 (if the beneficiary account is in Mainland China or Macau but with another bank or if the beneficiary account is in another country or territory)
2. HSBC Bank
Hong Kong and Shanghai banking corporation Limited or HSBC is one of the oldest banks operating in the region. On the basis of its balance sheet strength, the bank occupies 2nd rank in the Asia Pacific region, as per the Asian Banker.
It is the preferred choice of many HNI individuals and investors
HSBC Bank offers the following services:
- Commercial banking
- Retail banking and wealth management advisory
- Global private banking, and
- Global banking
HKD1,300 (if you apply through Account Application Center)
HKD2,250 (if an overseas HSBC branch facilitates the process)
- Initial deposit – HKD 10,000
- Telegraphic transfer
- Receiving a transfer – HKD 65
- Sending a transfer – HKD 100 (if the beneficiary account is in Mainland China ) and HKD 125 (if the beneficiary account is in any other country)
Citibank was the first among the international banks to offer services in Hong Kong. The bank is now synonymous with a strong global brand, catering to a multitude of customers.
It is a leading investment bank that also caters to commercial and private clients. Non-residents and ex-pats choose Citibank over others when looking for private banking services, largely because of no initial deposit requirements.
It also offers Citi Private Bank services for ultra-high-net-worth entrepreneurs.
HKD 200o (if you open a local company account)
HKD 8000 (if you open a company account for an overseas company)
- Initial deposit – NIL
- Telegraphic transfer
- Receiving a transfer – NIL
- Sending a transfer – fee waived for online transfers. Otherwise, it is HKD 200 for Citibank and CitiPriority clients and HKD 100 for CitiGold clients.
4. Standard Chartered
Established in 2004 in Hong Kong and with a presence in over 60 countries, Standard Chartered has become a preferred choice in the last few decades. It has been a trailblazer in providing a suite of digital banking products and services.
To keep up with the changing landscape, the bank also offers specialized banking solutions for customers in the ESG sector through sustainability loans, green mortgages, and other ESG derivative products.
Standard Chartered Account Fees
HKD5,000 (for an account of an overseas company)
- Initial deposit – HKD 1000
- Telegraphic transfer
- Receiving a transfer – Free for Priority Banking clients
- Sending a transfer – HKD 120 for Priority Banking clients and HKD 150 for others
5. DBS Hong Kong
With its headquarters in Hong Kong, DBS is another key player in the banking sector in Hong Kong. Over the years, DBS has been at the forefront of promoting sustainability in the Asia Pacific market through various corporate social responsibility initiatives.
Here are some key benefits that DBS Bank offers to SMEs:
- SMEs and startups in Hong Kong can opt for DBS BusinessClass
- There are various loan application schemes for SMEs
- The bank carries out swift credit checks in case of urgent financing needs
DBS Bank Account Fees
HK$1,200 – Local company account
HKD 10,000 – Overseas company account
- Telegraphic transfer
- Sending a transfer – HK$115 per transaction done through ideal banking services and HKD 200 per transaction if the transfer is via branch
- Receiving a transfer – HKD 65
Note – all fees indicated above are as of the date of publication. Please refer to the bank’s website for the latest fees.
Is opening a virtual bank account a better option for you?
While there are several attractive Hong Kong banks to take your pick from, opening an account may not always be a straightforward process.
Instead of remaining stuck in a loop of red tape and bureaucracy, opening a virtual account with a Hong Kong-based fintech company can be a better solution, especially for foreign companies.
For instance, Statrys offers a multi-currency business bank account in Hong Kong. The application process for such an account is extremely straightforward and you can complete it remotely.
A business account as such has all the features one would typically expect from a bank account, like multiple currencies or making local and international payments at a much cheaper rate.
If you are a foreign business, exploring your options of opening a business bank account in Hong Kong, reach out to Air Corporate.
We can assist you with setting up a new company and also with establishing your bank account.
The process is completely remote and less time-consuming, making it convenient for entrepreneurs and small businesses to operate effectively.
Can a non-resident open an account in a Hong Kong bank?
Anyone is free to open an account with a bank in Hong Kong.
However, depending on whether the account is for personal use or business use, certain restrictions may apply.
Which is the best bank in Hong Kong?
This would depend entirely on your expectations from the bank.
It is hard to pick a single bank in Hong Kong as each of them offers a unique suite of services, making them all strong contenders.
Is Hong Kong a good jurisdiction for banking?
The banking system in Hong Kong is extremely sophisticated, catering to the needs of modern-age customers.
Whether you want to open a personal account or a business account, there are plenty of options to choose from.
March 21st, 2022 by Vivian Au
Hong Kong is an attractive market for investors and entrepreneurs from all over the world, with China and the Asia-Pacific region right on its doorstep.
The city consistently ranks as the world’s freest economy as an international economic centre with excellent technology infrastructure. The administration’s pro-business attitude, tax incentives for startups, a productive legal system, and world-class tech infrastructure have all contributed to this.
The first step in taking use of Hong Kong’s potential is to establish a company in Hong Kong. Continue reading to learn everything you need to know about business registration in Hong Kong.
Benefits of business registration in Hong Kong
Before we go into the requirements of business registration in Hong Kong, it’s crucial to understand the advantages of forming a company in the territory. These advantages are listed below:
- The procedure of forming a business in Hong Kong is quick, easy, and inexpensive. After an application is approved, the Certificates of Incorporation and Business Registration (“the Certificates”) are usually accessible within four working days.
- Hong Kong, along with Singapore, has earned a reputation as the world’s most open jurisdiction.
- According to the findings of the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2019, Hong Kong is the best financial system in the world.
- In Baker McKenzie & Oxford Economics’ Global Transactions Forecast 2019, Hong Kong is ranked first in Asia-Pacific for IPO and M&A activity.
- Foreign investors can manage their Hong Kong-based company from anywhere in the world. They only require a local holding address rather than a physical address.
- Profits earned outside of Hong Kong are tax-free, but money earned in Hong Kong is subject to a 17 percent income tax rate on earnings exceeding 120,000HKD.
- Hong Kong is strategically placed in Asia, alongside many of the region’s most advanced business markets, such as China, Singapore, and South Korea.
- The city’s legal system is separate from that of Mainland China and is based on English common law. Hong Kong’s two main languages are English and Cantonese.
Types of business entity in Hong Kong
It’s critical to choose the right company type when starting a business in Hong Kong. The following are the main business types:
- Limited businesses are one of the most common options for companies forming in Hong Kong, , as limited companies are unrestricted in the activities that they perform.
- Tax exemptions on income derived from overseas operations are available to limited companies in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is therefore an ideal place for establishing a holding company or a corporate headquarters.
- In Hong Kong, there are only a few prerequisites for forming a company, including only one director and one shareholder (who can be of any nationality). The presence of a resident company secretary is also required.
- Limited companies are legal entities that can conduct business independently of their owners.
- Although corporate shareholders are popular, Hong Kong company law prohibits corporate directors.
- At their annual general meetings, limited companies must present audited accounts and tax returns.
- There are no limitations for minimum share capital. In Hong Kong, incorporating a limited company does not require government approval.
- The share capital of a company can be in any currency, including the USD, EUR, GBP, and HKD.
- Because branch offices are considered extensions of their parent corporation, they lack their own legal identity.
- A branch office is suitable for organizations who need to start doing business right away or for businesses that only sell in Hong Kong.
- The parent business bears both positive and negative financial consequences for a branch company.
- Hong Kong branch offices are allowed to conduct business within the parent company’s guidelines. They can only do business in Hong Kong if they have the necessary licenses.
- A Hong Kong branch office can open for business up to one month before registering with the Hong Kong Companies Registry.
- Within a month of opening a branch office in Hong Kong, overseas enterprises must register as a “Registered Non-Hong Kong Company.”
- In Hong Kong, branch offices are allowed to sign local sales contracts, invoice local consumers, and collect revenue from local customers.
- A Hong Kong branch office is not required to provide audited financial statements with its yearly returns and tax filings.
- In Hong Kong, a representative office is exempt from making direct sales.
- Representative offices in Hong Kong are only allowed to conduct market research and promote the parent company’s products.
- Companies with simply a representative office in Hong Kong must hire a local distributor or agent to offer their products and services to local customers.
- Due to the limitations in business activity, a representative office is excellent for enterprises intending to enter Hong Kong to conduct market research and investigate potential opportunities.
Understanding Hong Kong business registration
The Companies Ordinance of Hong Kong can help anyone who want to register a business in Hong Kong. This is an official document that outlines the legal parameters within which businesses can operate in Hong Kong.
Here are some other facts concerning Hong Kong company registration that individuals and corporations should be aware of:
There must be at least one individual director, with no limitations or restrictions on the director’s location or country. The maximum number of directors is also uncapped.
In Hong Kong, a limited liability company must have at least one shareholder and a maximum of 50. Shareholders are not subject to any residence requirements.
In Hong Kong, there is no minimum share capital requirement for registration. With this in mind, the most frequent approach is to establish a company with HKD 10,000 share capital. Because one share in Hong Kong has a minimum paid-up capital of HKD 1.00, this capital is represented by 10,000 ordinary shares of HKD 1.00.
Hong Kong levies taxes on a territorial basis. That is, registered companies only pay corporate tax on Hong Kong-based transactions. Furthermore, there is no withholding tax on earnings and interest, nor is there any collection of tax on social security benefits, nor is there any VAT sales tax.
In Hong Kong, there are two alternatives for profit tax rates. The first is the Single-Tier Corporate Tax System, which levies a 16.5 percent tax on assessable profits on corporations and a 15% tax on unincorporated businesses. The second alternative is the Two-Tier Profits Tax Regime, which lowers the tax rate to 8.5 percent for the first $2 million in assessable profits for both companies and unincorporated businesses.
A company secretary who lives in Hong Kong is required for any limited liability company. A company secretary serves as a company’s representative in Hong Kong, ensuring that the firm’s operations are conducted in accordance with local regulations. A company secretary is also responsible for keeping the firm’s statutory books and records.
After a company has been officially registered in Hong Kong, the owners, directors, and company secretary are responsible for ensuring that accounts are properly prepared and maintained. In Hong Kong, accounts must be audited by a certified public accountant every year. Audited accounts must then be submitted to Hong Kong’s Inland Revenue Department.
Opening a Corporate Bank Account
Companies that want to use reliable payment gateway providers like Stripe and PayPal should normally use banks in the same territory. The following documents are necessary to open an account in Hong Kong:
- Account application forms
- Corporate registration documents
- Copies of passports of major members
- Personal resume
- A bank reference letter of each major member
- A bank statement of each major member, or any related corporates
- Proof of business such as agreements, invoices, and contracts of the current company or any related one.
Documents needed for business registration in Hong Kong
Several documents must be prepared when registering a company in Hong Kong. These are outlined below:
Articles of Association
These are a set of rules that govern how a board of directors can run a business. It’s often viewed as a contract between employees members of the company and the company.
A company registration form must also be completed with the following information:
- The company name
- The company’s registered address
- An accurate description of the company’s main activities
- Details relating to the company’s shareholders, directors, and company secretary
- Copies of passports and proof of residence in their respective countries are required for firms having non-Hong Kong shareholders and directors.
- Copies of local shareholders’ and directors’ identity documents should be submitted if a company has local shareholders and directors.
- A copy of the parent company’s company registration documents is required in the event of corporate shareholders.
- Company directors’ responsibilities
- Total share capital
If any documents are provided in a language other than English, an English-translated document must be provided as well.
For any company trying to join the Asia-Pacific market, Hong Kong is one of the most important investment destinations in the world. The region’s advantageous tax system, world-class financial and technological infrastructure, and ease of company formation all contribute to this.
It is possible to form a company in Hong Kong in a few of days. There are simple rules to follow, including the presence of at least one director, shareholder, and resident company secretary. A corporate bank account is also essential for businesses.
February 28th, 2022 by Vivian Au
The Hong Kong Companies Registration Office (HKCRO) has introduced the concept of holding companies for people who have their business registered with the HKCRO but are not based in Hong Kong.
A company can be set up as a subsidiary, associate, or branch of another company, and these are known as ‘holding companies’.
The main difference between a holding company and an ordinary company is that it does not own any shares in its subsidiaries and therefore cannot control them.
It also does not issue any dividends or pays any tax on profits made by its subsidiaries.
Instead, it receives all the profits from its subsidiaries and pays income tax on them.
In order to form a holding company, you must first register your company with the HKCRO. You then need to apply for a license to operate as a holding company.
This will allow you to conduct activities such as issuing shares in your subsidiaries, making investments in other companies, and opening bank accounts.
However, if you want to sell shares in your holding companies, you will need to obtain approval from the HKCRO before doing so.
Common reasons holding companies are set up in Hong Kong
There are several reasons why you might wish to set up a holding company:
To protect yourself against insolvency
Many countries require individuals to hold at least one share in each company they run.
In some cases, this requirement applies even if the individual owns only a small amount of stock.
For example, in Canada, it is illegal for anyone without a minimum level of ownership to take part in the management of a corporation.
As a result, if someone becomes bankrupt, creditors can seize his assets.
By forming a holding company, you can ensure that your personal assets are protected.
To limit liability
Most jurisdictions impose strict rules on how directors of companies can be held liable for any financial losses caused by their actions.
These rules often make it difficult to sue directors for negligence. Setting up a separate legal entity allows directors to act independently of the company and limits their liability.
To manage multiple businesses
There are many advantages to having more than one business. You can use them separately or together. For example, you may choose to run your retail business during the day while running a different type of business in your home office at night.
Or you may decide to open a second shop near your existing store. This way you can increase your sales and develop new markets.
To trade internationally
Having a holding company gives you the opportunity to trade internationally.
If you plan to trade internationally, you should consider whether you need to register your company under the laws of the country where you are planning to trade.
In most countries, including Hong Kong, there are restrictions on trading outside the country where the company was originally registered.
When setting up a holding company, you should bear in mind that certain aspects of your business operations may change because of the structure of the holding company.
For example, the holding company must account for all of the income and expenses of its subsidiaries.
This means that the holding company needs to keep records of these transactions.
If you have already started operating your business, you may find it convenient to continue using your current corporate structures.
The following sections discuss the main options available when setting up a holding company.
Ensuring your holding company is compliant
One advantage of setting up a holding company is that it helps you comply with local regulations.
It also provides additional protection against bankruptcy.
In Hong Kong, there are two ways to set up a holding company:
1) Registering as an incorporated company, and 2) Forming a limited partnership.
Registering as an Incorporated Company
You can form a Hong Kong incorporated company through the Companies Registry.
This will give you full control over the company’s affairs.
However, you will lose some flexibility and face additional costs.
The benefits of incorporating include:
- Full control over the company’s finances and activities.
- Protection from creditor claims. When you incorporate, you become personally responsible for any debts incurred by the company.
- A ready-made credit history. As a registered company, you will appear on the list of approved creditors. This makes it easier to obtain loans.
- Better access to government services. Many government departments require that companies are incorporated before they provide public assistance.
- Easier access to capital. Investors will be willing to invest in a well-known brand.
However, incorporating is not always necessary.
There are other ways to protect yourself against personal liability.
For instance, if you want to operate your own business but do not want to take on the responsibility of being a director, you could set up a company as a sole trader instead.
Why set up a holding company in Hong Kong?
There are several reasons why people set up their own businesses in Hong Kong.
The Tax Regime
Hong Kong has one of the lowest tax rates in Asia. You only pay 15% corporation tax on profits made from your business.
This low rate attracts international investors who would otherwise prefer investing in Singapore or Malaysia.
Entrance into the China market
Starting a new business in Hong Kong allows you to enter the Chinese market without having to start at square one. You can use the advantages of the existing infrastructure and experience gained while operating locally.
Setting up a company in Hong Kong is relatively easy.
The process involves filling out forms and paying fees. After this, you can start trading.
Corporate structure benefits
A holding company gives you more freedom than a normal company.
In addition, a holding company offers greater protection against corporate insolvency.
For example, a company cannot go bankrupt unless all of its directors agree to liquidate.
If you set up a holding company, then you can appoint an administrator to manage the company’s assets.
This person will be able to deal with the company’s liabilities.
Incorporation cost and requirements
The registration fee varies depending on how large your company is. It ranges between HK$700 and HK$20,000.
Another requirement is registering the company’s name. This must be done within 30 days after formation.
If you decide to register your company under a different name, you will need to apply for a change of name certificate.
The time taken to complete the entire process depends on the number of shareholders. Normally, it takes about 1 month.
However, this may vary according to the complexity of the application.
Double taxation arrangement between China and Hong Kong
To attract foreign investment, Hong Kong introduced special arrangements to encourage multinationals to establish operations there.
One such scheme is known as the Double Taxation Agreement (DTA).
Under this agreement, the two jurisdictions have agreed to treat each other’s income equally.
They also share information regarding taxes paid by residents of both countries.
Stay compliant with local Hong Kong taxes and laws
You should be aware that any form of business activity in Hong Kong requires you to comply with the relevant legislation and regulations.
For example, you must obtain a license before carrying out certain activities.
These include selling alcohol, gambling, money laundering, prostitution, drug trafficking, and fraud.
You must also comply with the Anti-Money Laundering Ordinance.
This means that you must ensure that transactions involving cash are properly recorded.
You must also keep proper records of all transactions.
These records must be kept for a minimum period of 3 years.
Annual Return Filing Dates to Take Note of for New Business Owners
Hong Kong has 2 filing dates: April 15th and June 30th.
April 15th – Annual return date for companies incorporated prior to July 1st, 2006.
June 30th – Annual return date if you incorporate after July 1st, 2006
General characteristics of holding companies in Hong Kong
Holding Companies in Hong Kong offer many advantages. For instance, they allow you to avoid double taxation.
Furthermore, they provide greater protection from corporate bankruptcy.
In addition, they give you additional flexibility when it comes to dealing with the government.
However, there are some downsides to using them. You should be aware of these before setting up one.
Limited liability protection
One drawback of using a holding company is that it limits your personal liability.
In fact, you do not even need to pay any tax on profits made by the company.
This does not mean that your personal assets are safe.
You still have to pay taxes on dividends received from the company.
As mentioned earlier, a holding company enables you to save on taxes.
In particular, you can claim deductions against your earnings without having to declare the source of income.
Dividends and interest earned by the company are exempt from tax.
This exemption applies to dividends and interest paid during the first 5 years of incorporation.
It is important to note that dividends must be declared at least once every year.
Any dividends that are accumulated over more than 12 months are taxed at 20%.
A holding company is useful for several reasons. However, it has limitations.
Therefore, make sure that you fully understand the pros and cons before deciding whether or not to set one up.
February 7th, 2022 by Vivian Au
If you open a company in another country like the United States, you’ll end up paying 21% in corporate taxes. Or in Spain, you’ll pay 25%, 28% in New Zealand, or 31% in Canada.
And this doesn’t include the duties you need to pay for goods and services sold.
Running a business is undoubtedly expensive, and depending on where the business is operating, it definitely remains expensive because of local tax rules.
So it’s no surprise when we hear about companies moving their registration, or even their whole operations, to what we know as, Tax Havens.
Tax havens are a great way for businesses to minimize the amount of taxes.
At the same time, they can maximize the profits they make by taking advantage of the low tax regime that other countries offer.
It sounds simple enough, right? Who could say no to saving money?
One of the most popular tax havens in the world is Hong Kong.
It doesn’t tax corporate profits made outside the territory.
The local government encouraged foreign investment.
And the companies that choose to do business in Hong Kong will find a generous 0% VAT on goods and services sold.
However, while commonly known as a tax haven, Hong Kong is much more than that.
What is a tax haven?
Understanding how Hong Kong is more than a tax haven starts with understanding what really makes up a tax haven.
So, What exactly is a tax haven?
Essentially, a tax haven is an offshore country that offers foreign businesses extremely low to no tax rates.
Businesses registered in countries like Hong Kong, Luxemburg, or the British Virgin Islands usually don’t need to be physically present in these countries to enjoy tax incentives.
For example, if you register your business in Hong Kong, you will pay zero corporate tax if you don’t actually run your business from Hong Kong; or, if you do have operations in Hong Kong, you’ll only be paying between 8% and 16.5%.
Other than offering low tax liability, a tax haven must also have a politically and economically stable environment.
Why is Hong Kong considered a tax haven?
In 2020, accounting firm Price Waterhouse Coopers and the World Bank ranked Hong Kong as the world’s most friendly tax system, second only to Bahrain.
The corporate tax for companies goes from 0% for any business conducted outside Hong Kong, to a maximum of 16.5% for business in the territory.
There are no Value-Added Taxes on goods and services, no tax on dividends, and no customs duties on most imported goods.
In terms of salary tax, Hong Kong residents pay between 2% to 17% tax.
As well, any employees of a Hong Kong company who do not live in Hong Kong are not subject to salary tax in Hong Kong.
What makes Hong Kong different from other tax havens?
However, the anatomy of Hong Kong’s tax haven status comes from more than a simple tax reduction.
For one thing, Hong Kong is also well known for its ease of doing business, with companies registering their business in the territory without ever needing to go there.
As of 2021, Hong Kong has been ranked third in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index.
Hong Kong is also known as the gateway to China, and is a key port for goods to flow in and out of the biggest economy in Asia.
Generally speaking, foreign businesses who register in Hong Kong often times find it’s easier to set up a subsidiary company in Mainland China or other jurisdictions like Singapore or Vietnam.
Third, Hong Kong has one of the most friendly laws and policies for foreign investment.
In Hong Kong, foreigners are allowed to be the ONLY shareholder and directors of their company which a lot of countries don’t allow.
With more than 1.5 million companies registered and around 100,000 new companies each year for a population of only 8 million, the question is: what makes Hong Kong so special?
Well, the answer is simple – Hong Kong is more than just a tax haven.
Hong Kong is a go-to destination for businesses who wish to leverage the territory’s connections, influence, and status to drive their growth.
Let’s wrap up some major reasons Hong Kong is a popular business registration hub besides tax incentives:
- Hong Kong is located at the heart of China & Asia, situated as the gateway that allows foreign businesses to freely import and export goods without too many restraints. Registration in Hong Kong also serves to make further registration in nearby jurisdictions easier.
- Hong Kong is the only jurisdiction in Asia with no foreign exchange control system. What it means is that your company can easily receive and make payments in any currency and to any other country in just a few minutes.
- Hong Kong is home to many first-class banks and international fintechs. Options like our partners at Statrys often help new businesses open business accounts quickly, and remotely in just a few days.
- When new businesses just start in Hong Kong, they can then often enjoy the many subsidies and incentive programs provided by the local Hong Kong government.
- If you set up your company in Hong Kong, even if you never expect to do business there, you will end up sooner or later visiting the city. Hong Kong is a major air transit hub where many industries across the globe coalesce and put together some of the most important events and expos you won’t want to miss out on.
So is Hong Kong just a tax haven? Or is it more?
If you have a business idea that needs to get off the ground, start by registering your business in Hong Kong with Air Corporate today.
Our experts will walk you through the process, and with as little as $90, you could be taking advantage of all that Hong Kong has to offer.
January 21st, 2022 by Vivian Au
An annual general meeting, or AGM, is a key event for all Hong Kong companies.
Held once per year, the AGM provides a forum for company directors and shareholders to discuss the company’s performance and strategy.
It’s also an important opportunity to vote on key decisions and appointments.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what happens at an AGM meeting and why it’s so important for Hong Kong businesses.
The AGM is a chance for company directors and shareholders to come together and discuss the company’s performance.
This includes reviewing its financial results, discussing any major changes or challenges that have taken place, and setting future goals.
It’s also an opportunity to vote on important decisions, such as appointing new directors or changing the company’s registered office.
Why AGMs are important
Annual General Meetings are important because they allow shareholders to have a voice in the management of the company.
AGMs are required by law for all Hong Kong companies, and must be held at least once per year.
Here’s some things to note about AGMs in Hong Kong:
- The purpose of the AGM is to allow shareholders to discuss and vote on the company’s financial reports, as well as elect directors and other officers.
- Shareholders are also allowed to raise any concerns they may have about the company at the AGM.
- The AGM is an important opportunity for shareholders to stay informed about the company’s operations and make decisions that will affect its future.
How to call and hold an AGM
An annual general meeting (AGM) is a mandatory requirement for all companies incorporated in Hong Kong.
All public and private limited companies must hold an AGM every year, during which directors and shareholders can discuss matters of concern related to the company’s development and operations.
The meeting also provides shareholders with an opportunity to ask questions and cast their votes on resolutions put forth by the directors.
An AGM can be called by either the directors or the shareholders of a company.
The procedure for calling an AGM meeting is as follows:
- A notice of the meeting must be issued at least 21 days before the date fixed for the meeting.
- The company secretary must give the directors of the company a copy of all relevant documents relating to items on the agenda for discussion at least 14 days before the date fixed for the meeting.
- A list of members eligible to attend and vote at general meetings must be available for inspection by shareholders during an AGM.
- A report on the company’s affairs must be presented to shareholders at every AGM.
- The directors of a private limited company are not required to appoint an auditor or prepare financial statements for annual general meetings, but they should keep proper accounts and records of the business in Hong Kong.
- At least one director must be present at the meeting, and shareholders holding not less than one-tenth of the total voting power must be present in order to constitute a quorum.
- A majority vote is required for resolutions to be passed. If the number of votes cast in favor and against a resolution is equal, the chairman of the meeting may exercise his casting vote.
- Minutes should be kept by either an officer or member appointed at the AGM, and must be signed by them as soon as reasonably practicable after the conclusion of proceedings.
- If a meeting is adjourned, a notice of the next adjourned meeting must be given as soon as possible to all members entitled to receive it and within 30 days after such an adjournment takes place.
- The company secretary should keep written records of all business transacted at general meetings and provide these documents upon request to shareholders within seven days of the meeting.
- The company secretary must give notice of any adjournment made at an AGM, or a resolution passed during such proceedings, as soon as possible after it takes place and before giving effect thereto for members who have not yet received that information previously. >
- A copy of these notices should be filed with the Companies Registry.
The directors of a company are responsible for calling an AGM and ensuring that all relevant documents are prepared and circulated in good time to shareholders.
It is important that a quorum is present at the meeting in order to pass resolutions, and directors should be aware of their responsibilities under the law when it comes to holding AGMs.
Hong Kong companies must comply with the Companies Ordinance in order to hold a valid AGM.
The annual general meeting of a company is an important event in its calendar, as it provides directors and shareholders with the opportunity to discuss matters relating to the business’s development and operations.
AGMs must be held by all companies incorporated in Hong Kong, and there are strict laws governing how they should be conducted.
The Companies Ordinance outlines exactly what needs to happen at an AGM, from preparation through to ensuring adequate quorums for resolutions being passed during proceedings – which may include appointing auditors or amending articles of association that affect future decisions made within private limited firms operating locally here on HK Island (such as changing who has power over management).
Are you looking to incorporate your business in Hong Kong?
All your annual general meeting needs are taken care of if you choose Air Corporate as your company secretary.
December 30th, 2021 by Vivian Au
In order to change a company’s secretarial obligations, there are several conditions that have to be met:
- a new company secretary must be at least 18 years old (If the company secretary is not a business entity)
- all applications for a Certificate of Incorporation have to be submitted before the date when said business entity would be considered in default under section 183 of the Companies Ordinance (Cap. 622) and
- if required by the Registrar of Companies, an affidavit from the person applying to be named as the company’s secretary attesting that he/she meets all statutory requirements for being a company secretary.
There is also a change of address requirement which you need to change with both Companies Registry and Inland Revenue
Setting up a company is not something that you can do on the spur of the moment – change in circumstances or not, when you change your company secretary, it will be necessary to change other parts of your business registration at the same time in order to maintain continuity.
For both large and small companies this is an important process; even if the person wishing to change the name of their company’s secretary follows all of these steps perfectly, they may still find themselves in trouble with authorities like Companies Registry and Inland Revenue Authority.
When changing your company secretary, follow these steps carefully:
1) Change Name Details
This is optional, but if you intend to also change the name of your company, changing the company name is very first step when changing a company secretary.
In order to change a company’s name, there are several conditions that have to be met:
- The change of name must not result in unfair advantage or cause detriment to other parties
- All applications for change of name have to be submitted before the date when said business entity would be considered in default under section 183 of the Companies Ordinance (Cap. 622).
In addition, a change of name can only be done when an application for a change of corporate secretary has also been submitted simultaneously or before the change of name.
If you change your corporate secretaries, then change your company’s name as simultaneously as possible to remove any bureaucratic headaches.
2) Select a New Company Secretary
Your company needs to have a company secretary to be incorporated in Hong Kong.
Changing your company secretary doesn’t absolve your company of these requirements.
So, be sure you know who you want next to be your company secretary.
3) Update Change of Address
Update your change of address with the Registrar of Companies.
This can be done by sending in form COA2 or using an online application on their website.
The email address for them is [email protected] if after you send in form COA2 you still have no update showing up, then email them your company name, your old address, and your new address.
Also, when you are doing this step, remember to also change the address on file with The Inland Revenue Department (IRD) because they use the same services as the Registrar of Companies.
4) Amend the Articles of Association
The Board must always ensure that the Memorandum and Articles of Association are consistent with all current legislation.
If there is a change in legislation or any part becomes obsolete, then it is discussed by the Board and approved in order to amend the Memorandum and Articles of Association.
At this point, a new Articles of Association and Company Memorandum can be delivered for future corporate governance with the new company secretary.
5) File for a New Certificate of Incorporation
When you are setting up your corporation, there are many steps that need to be followed in order for the business entity to be legitimate.
Start by filing a certificate of incorporation with your Secretary of State or another corporate filing office.
This is generally accomplished with the help of an attorney who will also organize the subsidiary records, including, if necessary, a shareholders meeting to approve the issuance of shares.
Once these records are complete and filed with your Secretary of State or another office, all paperwork will be transmitted to you for your records.
The next step would be to file any necessary change name papers in foreign countries where you intend on doing business.
This is usually straightforward but does require a little more work on your part as you are essentially repeating step 1 but in foreign jurisdictions.
6) Update Your Bank Details
The Registrar of Companies and the Inland Revenue Department have a duty to ensure that all corporations file their returns on time.
For corporations that do not file their returns for a consecutive period of two years, the corporations will be struck off from the Registry of companies by operation of law after 28 days from the date of issue of notice by the Registrar.
In other words, a company will be dissolved.
So, once you’ve changed your company secretary, don’t forget to update your bank details.
Most companies are looking for a better experience with their corporate governance, including making a more digital one.
Change your company secretary to Air Corporate and start your digital corporate governance in style.
October 25th, 2021 by Vivian Au
If you own a registered company in Hong Kong, filing the Return of Remuneration and Pensions, also known as Employer’s Return, is mandatory under law.
This is the annual reporting of the amount of salary and all other benefits that your employees receive.
Here’s everything you need to know about how to file the return:
Employer returns are filed to the Inland Revenue Department through forms BIR56A and IR56B.
Form BIR56A serves as a cover letter to IR56B forms, and both need to be submitted.
These forms are directly sent by the Department.
The employer also needs to find the requisite number of Form IR56B corresponding to the number of employees on a roll.
Moreover, these forms need to be filed regardless of the employee’s income.
That’s why the employer must maintain payroll records to report how much do the employees earn accurately.
Apart from BIR56A and IR56B, an employer also needs to submit the following to report the earnings of the employees in Hong Kong:
- IR56E: When hiring a new staff
- IR56F: When the employer terminates the contract of an employee or upon the death of the employee
- IR56G: When an employee leaves Hong Kong for a substantial period of time or for good
Who’s an employee?
For the purpose of these forms, the term employee refers to persons employed by Hong Kong companies, including full-time or part-time employees; Hong Kong residents or non-Hong Kong residents; and persons who provide services in or outside Hong Kong.
It also includes all employees assigned or seconded to a Hong Kong company by the overseas holding company or subsidiary, including persons who provide services in or outside Hong Kong.
What are your tax obligations as an employer?
The tax obligations commence as soon as you hire the first employee.
Accordingly, you must maintain a record of that employee’s personal particulars, nature of employment, the designation in which the employee is employed, the cash remuneration provided, non-cash perquisites, employer’s and employee’s contributions to the Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF), or it’s equivalent.
Employers also need to maintain business accounting records, including payroll records, for at least seven years.
In case of any change in the employee’s personal details or terms of employment, the employer must inform the Inland Revenue Department as soon as possible.
Filing Form BIR56A and IR56B
Forms BIR56A, and IR56B should be submitted to the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) of Hong Kong annually.
Every year, these forms are issued by the Department on 1 April.
Here’s what you need to provide when you are filling up Form BIR56A:
- Company’s name and address
- Name of the officer who is filling up the Employer’s Return
- Number of IR56B forms filed up; and
- How the forms have been submitted: in hard copy, online, or a mix of both
Form IR56B should be submitted for the following employees:
- Employees (including laborers, whether daily paid or otherwise, and employees who have received remuneration through service company arrangements), whether resident in Hong Kong or not, whose total income during a financial year is more than HKD $132,000 (if employed for less than a year, a proportionately reduced amount).
- Directors, married persons, and part-time employees who are likely to have other income chargeable as Salaries Tax, regardless of their income and whether resident in Hong Kong or not.
- Employees of any non-Hong Kong company who were assigned or seconded to the company during the financial year for duties in or outside Hong Kong.
- Employees receiving pension during a financial year.
If there are any freelancers employed by a company, the remuneration paid to such freelancers should be disclosed in Form IR56M and submitted to the Inland Revenue Department.
For Form IR56B, the following details must be provided:
- Employee’s personal particulars
- Position/designation in the organization; and
- All salary, benefits, and pension received
Forms IR56B should be submitted in alphabetical order of surnames followed by other names and should be marked in numerical order.
While H.K. Identity Card No. of the employee is mandatory, passport number and place of issue can be provided in case the identity card number is not available.
However, the employer must inform the Inland Revenue Department once the identity card number is known.
What is the timeline for filing the forms?
The forms should be submitted within one month from the date of issue.
Keep in mind that when you receive the forms, you should complete them and submit them even if you do not hire any employees.
In that case, you should tick the Box “NO” in the form.
Similarly, the form should be submitted even if the business has not commenced or has ceased operations.
In case you are a newly incorporated Hong Kong company, Form BIR56A will be issued 3 to 6 months from filing your first audit, and it should be submitted within one month from the date printed on the form.
If you need more time to prepare the forms, you can submit a written request for an extension with the IRD.
Ensure to include the company name, file number, the year of assessment in question, the additional time you need, and the reason for the extension, along with necessary documentary evidence.
What’s the process of filing?
Once you have filled up the forms, there are different modes of submitting them:
Both forms in hardcopy or physical form: You can submit physical copies of the forms, provided they are downloaded from the website of the Inland Revenue Department or obtained from Fax-A-Form.
Moreover, such forms require wet ink signatures of the director, secretary, manager, as the case may be, prior to delivery.
BIR56A in hard copy and IR56B in soft copy: IR56B forms should be either on a CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, or USB storage device.
Downloading and using the IRD’s IR56B software to prepare the forms is mandatory.
The storage device with the soft copies is preserved by the Department as a source document.
E-filing services: You can either opt for online mode or submit the forms through mixed mode.
If you wish to go through the online mode, create an eTAX (Inland Revenue Department’s online services) account.
Such accounts can be also accessed by an Authorised Signatory such as director, sole proprietor, or partner.
The same person will need to sign the Employer’s Return.
You can either type in employees’ information on the IR56B forms and form BIR56A one-by-one online, or you submit a data file containing all the information.
From November 2018 onwards, the Department allows mixed modes for submitting the returns.
As per this method, you can submit IR56B or IR56F data files without using the Authorized Signatory’s eTAX / “iAM Smart” Account.
Any person designated by the employer can upload the relevant data files.
Once the data files are successfully uploaded, a Control List paper containing the Transaction Reference Number and QR code is generated by the system.
The same should be signed by the Authorized Signatory and submitted to the Department to complete the submission process.
Is there any penalty due to non-compliance with filing requirements?
Yes, as per the terms of the Inland Revenue Ordinance, if the filing requirements are not complied with, the Commissioner can invoke relevant punitive provisions, depending on the nature of the offense
The Commissioner may, at their sole discretion, initiate prosecution to assess additional tax (which is a form of penalty) in respect of the offense and also impose fine or order imprisonment.
As the director of your company, do you still need to file your own Employer’s Return?
Under the law, a company director is an employee of a company.
That’s why the details of your earnings and benefits should be submitted as part of the Employer’s Return.
Are you looking for assistance to handle the filing process?
Needless to say, there’s a fair bit of paperwork involved with filing an Employer’s Return in Hong Kong.
As a business owner, it may be a lot for you to handle, and that’s precisely where Air Corporate steps in!
We take care of all the formalities so that you can solely focus on growing your business.
Our digital company secretary services are specially tailored for entrepreneurs like you to make compliance a hassle-free process.
Speak to us today and let’s find out a way to help you.
October 20th, 2021 by Vivian Au
Hong Kong has been great place to set up an eCommerce business long before the demand for online shopping increased due to the pandemic.
E-Commerce sales in Hong Kong are expected to grow at an annual growth rate of 8.3% between 2021 and 2024.
The Hong Kong e-Commerce market has been rapidly growing in the past five years and is expected to grow even more.
This growth is attributable to the favourable economic environment and advanced technological infrastructure, increasing consumer confidence in online transactions.
This article outlines the many reasons Hong Kong is a great palace for e-Commerce businesses and why the business-friendly environment in Hong Kong makes such businesses thrive.
What is an e-Commerce Business?
E-commerce businesses are those that operate completely online.
The business model operates by trading goods online through the internet.
There is no physical store that customers can visit, so there is a huge focus on digital marketing to gain an edge over your competitors.
You can sell almost anything through an e-Commerce business, such as books, clothes, groceries, furniture or even provide professional services such as legal and accountancy advice.
Through e-Commerce, business owners no longer have to worry about the costs of maintaining a physical store and simply focus on managing orders and shipping the products to the customer.
1. Leading eCommerce Market & Business Growth Potential
Hong Kong has a thriving online market where the market volume for eCommerce businesses stands at nearly US 11 million by 2025.
This highlights the level of potential growth in eCommerce businesses in Hong Kong. Compared to other countries, Hong Kong is one of the best markets to run an eCommerce business.
Moreover, if you open up an e-Commerce business in Hong Kong, there is significant potential for your business to rapidly grow as you are not just limited to trading in Hong Kong.
You can easily carry out your business activities in Mainland China and beyond.
This is a huge opportunity to grow your business as China currently represents almost X% of the entire global eCommerce market.
2. Technology Driven / Advanced Technology Infrastructure
Hong Kong is one of the world’s leading digital cities where computers, smartphones, and internet usage are consistently higher than anywhere else in the world.
Hong Kong has been facing a rapid increase in internet usage as nearly 5.9 million people aged ten and above had smartphones in 2019.
Alongside personal use of technology, businesses are also heavily dependent on technology.
nother government study highlighted that nearly 38% of companies in Hong Kong had their websites.
As most businesses and consumers are familiar with technology and use the internet to complete their day to day activities, they are more reliant on doing things online, especially shopping.
This can be by ordering groceries, clothing, office equipment, school supplies and home furniture.
This increased demand and reliance on using technology provides a great market for e-Commerce businesses.
3. Favourable Tax System
If you are running an offshore eCommerce business, Hong Kong is the best option for you as you can relieve a huge financial burden in terms of taxes.
Being a highly popular low-tax jurisdiction, Hong Kong has been interesting for many entrepreneurs looking to set up an eCommerce company.
Incorporating your eCommerce as a company in Hong Kong will allow you to benefit from the following tax requirements:
- Corporate income tax of only 8.25% for the first HKD 2 million
- No capital gains tax
- No tax on dividends
- No sales tax or value-added tax
- No tax on any profits derived from outside Hong Kong
According to the international tax standard set by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Hong Kong is a ‘’white list’ country.
All white list countries have implemented the internationally agreed tax standard, which ensures transparency and security when running your eCommerce business.
4. Innovative Digital Banking
Hong Kong is one of the world’s financial hubs, has more than 70 of the world’s leading international banks present in the country.
Moreover, Hong Kong banks can easily approve applications relating to e-Commerce businesses.
While you can always open a local bank account, there are more convenient alternative fintech platforms in Hong Kong which you can use as a business bank account.
Consumers are also increasingly opting for more innovative digital banking means when shopping online such as paying through digital wallets and mobile banking applications.
Merchant Solutions highlights that more and more consumers prefer to shop on their mobile phones due to the ease that comes with online banking.
This trend is expected to grow, and e-Commerce businesses that take advantage of this and offer digital wallets that their customers use will gain popularity and continue to grow.
This is a huge benefit as it is expected that nearly one-third of all e-Commerce purchases in Hong Kong will be digital wallet transactions within the next five years.
Hong Kong is a country that is already taking the lead with digital banking and offering innovative alternative banking solutions which increase the demand and preference for online transactions and purchasing from e-Commerce businesses.
5. Strong Logistic Infrastructure
Hong Kong has a strong logistic infrastructure set up to meet the increasing demand for online transactions.
The surge in e-Commerce businesses can only be successful if logistics support such businesses.
Hong Kong can meet such demands as it currently ranks high in the World Bank’s global ranking of logistics capabilities and quality.
Moreover, Hong Kong has a well-developed transportation system and infrastructure, ensuring that shipments can be easily made when orders are made from an e-Commerce business.
These seamless supply chains have allowed Hong Kong to develop a great reputation within the eCommerce industry.
6. Easy Company Formation
The process of incorporating a company for your e-Commerce business in Hong Kong is extremely simple, easy and affordable.
All you need to do is gather the necessary documents and make an online application.
As long as you complete your application correctly, you should be able to incorporate your company in no time!
7. Easy Investment Opportunities
Due to Hong Kong’s strong business reputation due to its transparent regulations and tax system, investors are more confident to invest in e-Commerce businesses incorporated within the country.
Having easy access to such investment opportunities is a major reason why e-Commerce businesses thrive in Hong Kong.
Funding your business, especially in its early stages, is one of the hardest struggles for businesses.
Hong Kong provides a great business-friendly environment that gives investors the confidence that they will get a return on their investment.
Hong Kong has a great international reputation for carrying out business activities or even starting a business from scratch.
There is huge potential for online business models to thrive in Hong Kong, which is why you should take advantage of the benefits outlined in this article and start setting up your e-Commerce business.
Looking to open an e-commerce business in Hong Kong?
Register your company today with Air Corporate and we’ll get you approved in under 48 hours.
October 18th, 2021 by Vivian Au
As one of the world’s largest financial hubs, Hong Kong provides a great environment to start an eCommerce business.
The number of eCommerce start-ups is rapidly rising in Hong Kong alongside customer online shopping usage.
The market volume is expected to increase to $12,879 million by 2025.
If you are interested in registering an eCommerce business in Hong Kong, this article outlines everything you need to know to get started!
What is an eCommerce business?
An eCommerce business is a business model where companies and individuals can buy and sell their goods and services online.
There is no need to have a physical store as all your products and services can be bought and sold through your computer, phone or tablet.
There are three different types of eCommerce businesses.
Business to Business (B2B)
A Business to Business eCommerce business is one where goods and services are being sold from one business to another.
All transactions are carried out online between the business, making operations more efficient for popular B2B sellers such as manufacturers, distributors, and wholesalers.
Business to Consumer (B2C)
Another popular type of eCommerce is a Business to Consumer business.
It has become extremely easy and convenient for businesses to reach their target consumer base online through successful marketing and online campaigns.
Moreover, consumers are also fond of this model as they can easily make purchases from the comfort of their homes.
Consumer to Consumer (C2C)
Lastly, a Consumer to Consumer business is a business model where third party companies such as Vinted or Depop enable consumers to sell products to other consumers without any other business participating in the transaction process.
You would be engaging in C2C business activity if you sold a new shirt that you forgot to return online or sold home furniture that was not in use anymore on Facebook Marketplace.
The Step By Step Guide
The general process of setting up an eCommerce business in Hong Kong involves the following steps:
- Incorporating a company
- Open a virtual business account
- Open a business bank account
- Checking whether you need a business licence
- Learning about the eCommerce market
- Selecting a marketplace
- Organise bookkeeping and company maintenance
Step 1: Incorporate a Company
The first step to incorporate a company is to choose a business structure.
The most popular business structure in Hong Kong is sole proprietorships, limited liability companies and partnerships.
You need to understand each business structure so you can make the right decision for your eCommerce business.
A sole proprietorship is an unincorporated business entity where only one individual is the owner who pays income tax on all profits earned from the business.
It is one of the easiest types of businesses to establish due to the limited government regulation and the advantage of being your own boss.
Limited Liability Company
A limited liability company is a separate legal entity with limited liability for its owners if the business is ever in debt or needs to be wound up.
Since you are not personally held liable, it is fairly easy to raise capital and transfer ownership when necessary.
Here, you would need to have at least one shareholder and one director based in Hong Kong alongside a local company secretary.
A partnership is a business structure where two or more people arrange to run a business, manage its operations.
In this business model, all partners are entitled to a share in the profit and are liable for any losses.
All profits are divided between the partners, with each partner paying tax on their respective share.
Once you have chosen your desired company structure, the next step is to decide on a name for your business and incorporate it as a company.
Keep in mind that the name you choose for your online store does not have to be the same as the legal name of your business when you incorporate it.
After choosing your business structure and deciding on a name, all you have to do is complete the company incorporation application and submit the required documents to the Companies Registry of Hong Kong.
If you want a more in-depth insight into incorporating a company in Hong Kong, you can read our article on company registration here.
Step 2: Open a Virtual Business Account
Once your company has been incorporated, you have to think about how your eCommerce business will make and receive payments.
Opening a traditional business banking account is quite complex and may take a few months, which is why you should opt for a virtual business account.
There are many benefits of using a virtual business account which includes waiting less time to receive payments and make international transactions.
Step 3: Open a Business Account
To open a business bank account, you will need almost the same documents used to register your company as well as the certificate of incorporation, a registered business address, a copy of your business registration certificate, a business plan and your shareholder information.
Moreover, there are also many alternatives to opening a traditional bank account, especially for eCommerce businesses.
Multiple licenced money service operators also offer banking services specifically tailored for eCommerce businesses.
Step 4: Check If You Need a Business Licence
Depending on the nature of the business and the type of goods and services you offer, you will need to apply for a business licence before engaging in any business activity.
This is an extremely important step as operating without a business licence is illegal and could severely damage your business and its reputation.
Take a look at our article here to learn more about whether you need a business licence and how to obtain one here.
Step 5: Learn about the eCommerce Market.
Once you have successfully incorporated your company, opened a business bank account and obtained the necessary business licence, it is time to learn more about the eCommerce market before getting set up on a marketplace.
This is your chance to thoroughly research and understand the various online platforms available to you, their key features and services offered before making a decision.
Most eCommerce businesses operate through platforms like Shopify or BigCommerce.
Such marketplaces have multiple features which eCommerce businesses benefit from, such as inventory management and advanced reporting tools for accounting purposes.
You need to carefully research each marketplace and decide which one you will benefit the most from.
You could also run your own warehouse and directly ship orders to your customers.
However, this model has disadvantages as you will face a higher workload and be under a financial burden.
Another option is dropshipping, where you don’t store the products yourself, and the supplier is responsible for shipping orders to customers.
Here, you don’t have to worry about shipping and can direct all your attention towards marketing and building your website and brand.
Step 6: Selecting a Marketplace
After thoroughly researching the eCommerce market, you need to select a marketplace of your choice and get set up there.
This will depend on your eCommerce target audience and distribution strategy.
Once you have the basics sorted out, you need to apply to become a seller on the marketplace you have selected.
During the application process, be prepared to provide your business registration number and your business account number to authenticate your business.
Step 7: Arranging for Company Maintenance
Similar to traditional companies, an eCommerce business is also subject to annual compliance requirements.
These include filing profit tax returns after the first 18 months of business and filing an employer’s return of remuneration and pensions with the Inland Revenue Department of Hong Kong.
To meet such requirements, your eCommerce business must maintain business records regularly to ensure the business is compliant and avoid any confusion.
Setting up an eCommerce store in Hong Kong is an easy process that only requires a few simple steps.
However, you need to ensure that you have the right documents and have complied with the necessary regulatory requirements.
Need help registering your business?
Register with Air Corporate today and you’ll get approved in under 48 hours.
When you start a new business, getting your brand secured should be one of your primary goals.
You don’t want anyone else to ride on the success of a brand that you want to build with a lot of effort.
And one of the easy ways to do this is through trademark registration.
A trademark is a sign that distinguishes your goods or services from those provided by your competitors.
They are a form of intellectual property protection.
The tick sign of Nike or the name Coco Chanel is nothing but their trademark that makes these brands so memorable for the audience.
A word, phrase, symbol, design, or a combination of these associated with your business is your trademark.
When you register your trademark, it prevents others from copying it or misusing it.
In other words, registration provides you with legal ownership of the trademark.
This article tells you everything you need to know about trademark registration in Hong Kong:
Why register your trademark in Hong Kong?
When your trademark is not registered, it doesn’t get any protection under the Trade Marks Ordinance (Cap.559).
While you may still take actions under common law for passing off, you will have to establish your goodwill and how the misuse has caused financial losses.
So till you register the trademark, it is harder to prove that you are the owner of the mark.
Before you register your trademark
Every trademark application should fulfill a few criteria before the registration application is processed.
Here are a few important ones:
- Is the trademark distinctive? For a logo, word, or picture to be registered as a trademark, it should be distinct from the crowd. Commonly used words that are in no way associated with your business cannot be considered distinctive. As a result, such words cannot be registered as a trademark.
- Is it a description of your goods and services? You cannot register something as a trademark if it simply describes the goods and services or shows the quality, purpose. For instance: QUALITY HANDBAGS cannot be registered as a trademark.
- Is it a well-known term in your line of business? If the proposed trademark is a well-known term or representation in your line of business, you cannot register it. For example, ‘V8’ for vehicle engines cannot be registered as a trademark.
- Has someone else already registered or applied to register the same or similar trademark for the same or similar goods and services? If someone else has applied for registration or has already obtained registration for the same or similar trademark, your registration application will be rejected. Trademark law experts always recommend conducting a search of the trademark registry to check whether the proposed trademark has already been registered or if someone has applied for registration. Such searches can be performed on esearch.ipd.gov.hk.
Additionally, the Hong Kong Government doesn’t allow an applicant to use certain words as part of the trademark. These include:
- Power Bank
Trademark Registration Process
Applications for registering a trademark should be filed with the Intellectual Property Department of the Government of the Hong Kong SAR.
It can be filed online by visiting the Trade Marks Registry office.
Bear in mind that only such trademarks can be registered which are being used by a person or a company or are about to be used in the near future.
Here’s what you need to submit:
- Duly filled Trade Mark Form T2
- Personal details of the applicant
- Specification of the trademark you wish to register
- A clear image of the trademark you wish to register
- Claims, if any, for priority consideration of your application.
Once the Registrar receives the application, the examiner will review the application for any deficiencies and identify if any information is missing.
In case of any deficiency, you will be asked to provide relevant information.
However, you cannot make any major changes to the application at this stage.
The next stage is search and examination.
Once the deficiency check is completed, and the application is in order, the examiner will search the trademark records to see if the same or similar trademark has already been registered or applied for by another trader for the same or similar class goods and services.
The examiner will also check if your application satisfies the registration requirements under the Trade Marks Ordinance.
If the registration requirements are not satisfied, the examiner will raise an objection, and you will have six months to overcome the objection, which can be extended by another three months.
The examiner will indicate the steps you can take to overcome the objection to proceeding with registration.
Some of these options include:
- Filing an amendment to the application to remove the goods or services affected by the objection
- Providing evidence that your trademark has a distinctive character
- Filing an amendment to the representation of the mark
- Filing a consent from the owner of the earlier registered mark or application which prevents your mark from being registered
You can also file a hearing request to present all the evidence for and against the trademark wait for the hearing officer’s decision.
- If the Registry considered objections and overrules it or there were no objections to the application, then your trademark is accepted for registration. The Registry then publishes it in the Hong Kong Intellectual Property Journal.
- Anyone can view your trademark in the journal and file an opposition within 3-month from the date of publication. If that happens, you can either withdraw your application or respond to the opposition. If you respond, you will need to present evidence before the Registry and wait for the hearing officer’s decision.
- If no opposition is filed and the three-month period expires, the Registrar of Trade Marks enters the details of your trademark into the trademarks register and issues a certificate of registration. The notice is also published in the Hong Kong Intellectual Property Journal, but your rights as the trademark owner go back to the date of filing the application for registration. The registration is valid for ten years, and you will need to keep renewing it every ten years.
Cost of trademark registration in Hong Kong
If your application has no deficiencies or no objections/oppositions, the entire procedure can be completed within six months.
In other cases, it can take up to 12 months.
The application fee and application form provided to the Intellectual Property Department of the Government of the Hong Kong SAR is HK$1,300.
For each additional trademark class in the application, an additional HK$650 is payable.
Class in a trademark application refers to the types of services and goods for which you want to obtain a trademark.
Is international trademark registration possible in Hong Kong?
Trademark laws are unique to every country and there is no system to grant an international trademark.
If you want your trademark to be protected in Mainland China or Macau, you’ll need to file for it separately in such countries.
Are you ready to set up your business in Hong Kong and get your trademark registered?
Registering a trademark in Hong Kong can be a long drawn process and you might get overwhelmed with all the paperwork.
It is always advisable to get a qualified trademark lawyer on board who can help you navigate through these issues.
If you want to start your business in Hong Kong, but don’t know where to begin, Air Corporate is here to help.
Right from taking care of incorporation, registering your business, and providing you a virtual office address — we are here to sort it all out.
So contact us right away and let your dreams of doing business in Hong Kong come true!
Ready to trademark your ideas and IP in Hong Kong?
Register your business in Hong Kong with Air Corporate today and you’ll get professional advice and administrative help when applying for trademarks and copywrites.