14 FAQs About Business Registration in Hong Kong

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If you are doing business in Hong Kong, you need to obtain a business registration. This registration certificate makes your business official in Hong Kong.

It enhances your credibility and instills faith in your customers that you are carrying out business in compliance with the law. 

Let’s take a look at the various aspects of business registration and break it down for you. 

Who needs to obtain business registration?

The Business Registration Ordinance requires the following businesses to be registered:

  • Any activity that generates profits
  • Clubs that offer facilities to their members in exchange for a fee
  • Companies incorporated in Hong Kong and companies not incorporated in Hong Kong but registered with Companies Ordinance, irrespective of whether or not such company is currently carrying on any business in Hong Kong
  • A non-Hong Kong company with a representative or liaison office in Hong Kong
  • A non-Hong Kong company that has leased out its property located in Hong Kong regardless of whether it has set up a place of business in Hong Kong

An individual who holds an office or is employed by a company is not considered as carrying on any business.

As a result, such a person does not require any business registration. 

Certain businesses are also exempt from registration, such as:

  • Businesses that deal with agriculture, breeding, or rearing livestock or fishing, except if you have a company incorporated in Hong Kong or a non-Hong Kong company registered with the Companies Ordinance
  • Licensed hawkers carrying out their business except when the hawker stall is selling inside a building
  • Charitable institutions

What is the time frame for obtaining this registration?

If you operate as a sole-proprietorship, partnership, or an unincorporated body of persons, or you are a non-Hong Kong company or have a representative or liaison office in Hong Kong, the application should be made within a month of commencing business operations. 

For companies incorporated in Hong Kong or registered with the Companies Ordinance, the application for company registration is also an application for business registration.

Typically, the Companies Registry issues the registration along with the certification of incorporation. 

Companies that request for business registration simultaneously with company registration must notify the Inland Revenue Department within one month of commencement of business.

The notification is regarding the nature and description of the business. 

How can I apply for business registration?

You can use the one-stop company and business registration service. You can use the e-Registry portal to submit an online application for incorporating your company.

This application will also be considered as an application for business registration. 

The e-Registry makes filing a smooth experience by providing additional services such as e-reminders for filing the annual returns and e-monitor service to track the various filing records. 

Otherwise, you can fill up the relevant application form depending on your company structure and pay the required application fees online.

What is the registration fee and validity period?

It can either be valid for a year or for three years. 

Currently, the registration fee is HKD 250 for a certificate with one-year validity and  HKD 3,950 for a certificate with a three-year validity.

What is a business registration number?

This is a unique eight-digit number issued to a registered entity by the Inland Revenue Department.

The business registration certificate includes the business registration number. It is also known as the Tax Identification Number.

You need to quote this number whenever you communicate with any governmental agency, such as filing your returns. 

What happens if you don’t apply for business registration on time?

Failure to obtaining a business registration while conducting business is a punishable offense. You are liable to pay a fine of HKD 5,000 and/or face prison time for one year. 

If you apply for business registration 12 months after you have commenced business operations, you need to pay the fee for obtaining the business registration, along with the fees/levies for the current year and previous year.

Should the business registration use the same name as the Companies Registry?

No, you can obtain business registration for your company for a different business name. The additional name will be considered as a branch of your company.

 Accordingly, you will receive a separate business registration certificate for such a branch. 

Where do I need to display the business registration certificate?

It should be displayed at the address where you are carrying out the business. 

Ideally, the certificate in its original form, which includes the business address and details of the payment made, must be displayed.  

If you have been issued the certificate in e-form, display a printed copy. 

How can I renew my business registration certification?

Unless your business registration certificate is valid for three years, you need to renew it every year. 

The business registration office sends the renewal demand note via post. Usually, it is sent a month before the renewal is due.

Once you pay the renewal fees, the demand note will become a valid registration.

In case you don’t receive the demand note, make sure to write to the Commissioner of Inland Revenue Department within a month of the expiry of your registration certificate.

What is the procedure for renewing the business registration certificate in person?

 Schedule a visit to the business registration office and carry along your previous business registration certificate. You can ask for a demand note and pay the fees for renewal. 

In case you need to update the business address, you can fill up Form IRC 3111A. 

Can I renew the certificate via post?

Yes, mail a photocopy of the previous certificate along with a crossed cheque marked payable to “The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region” to the business registration office. 

You will receive the renewed business registration certificate at your business address.

If you need to update the records to reflect the change in business address, you can add a note when you mail the business registration certificate.

The note should include your business registration number, name of the business, particulars of both old and new address, and the date of the change. 

Apart from the registration, are there any other permits or licenses required for operating my business?

Depending on the nature of your business, you may need additional licenses or professional qualifications to carry out the operations.

For more information, please visit the website of the Hong Kong Trade and Industry Department.

Is there a way to access information about registered companies?

Yes, you can conduct searches online on the Company Search Mobile Service (CSMS) of the Integrated Companies Registry Information System (ICRIS). 

You can access the data about the registered companies and also check the relevant documents registered with the Registrar of Companies. 

What happens to the registration certificate if my business ceases operations?

You need to intimate the Commissioner of Inland Revenue within one month of cessation of the business and fill up Form IRC 3113. 

Final Words

If you want to run the operations of your business smoothly in Hong Kong, it is time to get the paperwork in place for obtaining the registration.

But doing this on your own can be overwhelming, and that’s why Air Corporate is here. 

Air Corporate can assist you in obtaining the registration certificate and also notifying the registration office in case of any changes in the particulars. Our team of experts clarify your doubts and simplify the process so that you can get your hands on the certificate without any hassle. Simply drop us a line at [email protected].

With Air Corporate, you can focus on your business. We’ll take care of the rest.

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