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Hong Kong Business Registration Number and Company Registration Number

Hong Kong Business Registration Number Company Registration Number

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The Hong Kong Business Registration Number (BRN) and Company Registration Number (CRN) are essential identifiers for businesses operating in Hong Kong. The CRN, issued by the Companies Registry, serves as a unique identification number for a company, required for legal documentation and government records. On the other hand, the BRN is used for tax purposes and is necessary for filing taxes and conducting day-to-day business operations in Hong Kong.

In recent years, Hong Kong has become the place to start a business.

People worldwide flock to the city to take advantage of low taxation, economic growth, and the wide opportunity that Hong Kong offers to investors.

Before you begin, be sure that you understand the regulations, apply for all of the appropriate paperwork, and know what is needed to make your business a success.

Your initial step is to register with the Companies Registry to gain limited company status.

Next, to be accepted as a Hong Kong business, you must register with the Business Registration Office. 

When moving through the process, you'll find that two numbers are imperative when filling out all legal documentation.

Whether you're renting office space, opening a bank account, or signing contracts, you will need to provide both the company registration number and the business registration number. 

In this article we'll take a closer look at both the company registration number and the business registration number, explaining everything you need to know about these essential pieces of Hong Kong business.

Important News: The Business Registration Fee has been waived for 2021-2022!

Hong Kong Company Numbers: CRN and BRN

In Hong Kong, there is a strict line that separates a “business” from a “company.”

Therefore the company registration number (CRN) is completely different from the business registration number (BRN). 

Hong Kong Company Registration Number (CRN)

The company registration number can be found in the top left corner of your Certificate of Incorporation.

The Companies Registry is the one that issues company registration numbers. CRN is a seven-digit number, and this number is in essence your company's social security number.

It identifies your company and is required on all documentation for the business as well as any government record. Sole proprietorships and general partnerships are not required to have a CRN.

Hong Kong Business Registration Number (BRN)

The BRN is a different number than the CRN, and this number is used for tax purposes rather than identification purposes.

The business registration number will be required on all tax forms, like filing annual returns and day-to-day business operations.

Hong Kong businesses can apply for a BRN online, in person application is also allowed. Apply online at the Inland Revenue Department's website or download a form and submit it in person.

The documents you need to get a BRN in Hong Kong depend on whether you have a local or a foreign company.

The requirements for local companies are:

  • Incorporation Form (NNC1 or NNC1G)
  • Notice to Business Registration Office (IRBR1)
  • A copy of the Articles of Association (if applicable)

Meanwhile, requirements for non-Hong Kong companies are:

  • Form NN1, along with relevant documents for incorporation
  • Notice to Business Registration Office (IRBR2)

Both must pay a mandatory fee of HK$2,150 for a one-year certificate and HK$5,650 for a three-year certificate.

After the application form and additional documents are submitted, they are evaluated. The Companies Registry will then email you a notification upon the issuance of your business registration number.

If your company is accepted, you will then receive a Business Registration Certificate.

Under Hong Kong law, all overseas companies in Hong Kong must register with the IRD to conduct business, including those with a liaison office in the city, renting out their Hong Kong property, or establishing an office in Hong Kong (even if they don't do any business in the city itself).

The Hong Kong BRN acts as your tax identification number (TIN). The Hong Kong Inland Revenue Department must issue it before a business is allowed to open a base of operation in Hong Kong.

Once you've submitted the appropriate paperwork and your business is granted a Business Registration, you can identify the BRN as the first 8 digits of your Business Registration certificate number.

The format looks like this: 11111111-&&&-&&&-&&-&. The BRN is the number represented by the ones.

A BRN is mandatory for all businesses operating in Hong Kong, including non-Hong Kong company entities. Having a BRN ensures compliance with business registration regulations and allows legal business operations.

If you need to find the BRN of any business registered with the Business Registration Office of the IRD, you may do so by using the eTAX service.

Simply input the full business name, English or Chinese, as well as the location to see the company information. 

Note: Companies incorporated in Hong Kong (under the Hong Kong Companies Ordinance) are automatically considered active businesses and must get a BRN under the Business Registration Ordinance (Cap. 310).

What's the Difference Between CRN and BRN?

The company registration number is used as a functional company ID.

It is how the Hong Kong government can recognize your individual company for legal and government purposes.

You will use this for banking and business operations. 

The business registration number is a tax ID.

This is the number that will be used for filing taxes and tax-related paperwork.

Also, all businesses in Hong Kong must have a BRN number on their Business Registration forms and tax returns.

Although the primary function of each number is different, you will need both for any business-related paperwork. 

Are There Any Exceptions for CRN or BRN Requirements?

There are no exceptions for obtaining a company registration number if you are doing business in Hong Kong.

There are a couple of exceptions for obtaining business registration numbers, including the following:

  • Charity work. For this exception, your charity must be approved by the government, so be sure to file the appropriate paperwork. 
  • Breeding and rearing livestock, fishing, agriculture, garden marketing, etc. These exceptions are contingent on these activities not falling under a company heading or being part of an overseas company that does not require registration. Always check first to ensure that your business adheres to the proper standards.

The exemptions to the BRN are contingent upon other factors, so it is always best practice to check with local authorities, even if you think that your business might fall under the exemption heading. 

Where to Find a CRN or BRN?

Upon incorporation, any Hong Kong company will receive 2 essential documents:

  • Certificate of Incorporation: This document includes the Company Registration Number of your company
  • Business Registration Certificate: that one includes your company's Business Registration Number

You can search for your company's CR number on the website of the Hong Kong Companies Registry.

Your company's BR number can be found in the Business Registration Number Enquiry section of the Inland Revenue Department's website.

Please see below for a sample of Hong Kong company Certificate of Incorporation with the company's CR Number:

A sample Certificate of Incorporation document.

See below for a sample of Hong Kong Business Registration Certificate with the company's BR Number:

a sample of Hong Kong Business Registration Certificate with the company’s BR Number

The Bottom Line on CRN and BRN Numbers

Hong Kong is an ideal space for starting and running a business.

While there are multiple benefits to be enjoyed and regulations aren't as arduous as in many other countries, it is important to be vigilant about following local regulations to the letter. (Or, in this case, number). 

There are consequences for neglecting these regulations.

If you fail to register your business for a Business Registration Certificate, you are liable to receive a fine of up to HKD 5,000 and up to a year in prison. 

Remember that both numbers are necessary for a business operating in Hong Kong — company registration number for a business ID and business registration number for a tax ID.

So do your due diligence, file all necessary paperwork and required documents to receive a company registration number as well as a business registration number, and be cognizant of all pertaining regulations. 

Think you're ready to open a business in Hong Kong? Register your company with Air Corporate today for an effortless company registration process, and get approved in under 48 hours.

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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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