Registering your business in Hong Kong may seem daunting when you are just starting out, but the Registrar of Companies offers comprehensible steps and resources to guide you along the way. Here is a step-by-step guide for those looking to start or expand their business in Hong Kong.
Registering a business is a necessity when it comes to starting your own company or entering the Hong Kong market, due to legal and tax requirements. According to a government press release, the results of the 2021 Annual Startup Survey conducted by InvestHk demonstrated that the number of startups registered increased by 68.5% since 2017, employing 13,804 individuals – an increase of 118% compared to 2017. The Hong Kong government has also committed HK$100 billion to startups of all varieties, from anti-epidemic to FinTech.
Hive Life has simplified the business registration process to make it easy to follow and complete.
There are certain minimum requirements to set up a company – namely, you must have one director, one shareholder, and a company secretary. However, one person can also fill all of these roles. A registered office address is also needed. If you do not have a physical office, you can also register a virtual office address.
Setting Up Your Business
There are generally two kinds of companies you can register in Hong Kong – a private company limited by shares and a company limited by guarantee. The former is more common and registration for this business structure will be discussed in this article.
A limited company by shares is a legal entity separate from any one individual, including its owners. This means it must comply with different laws, namely, those of the Company Ordinance. A Hong Kong company has all the powers of a natural person. It is worthwhile to note that every member of the company has a duty to ensure that the company is compliant with all provisions of the Registrar of Companies.
Once you decide which type your business falls under and have fulfilled the minimum requirements, you must choose a name, for which there are some limits and restrictions. You may choose either an English name, a Chinese name, or an English and Chinese name. There is no way to reserve a name, and it is thus necessary to check that there are no same or similar names on the register, as this would prevent a company from being incorporated.
There are many companies which offer supporting services such as Osome, a startup which specialises in incorporation for foreign and local clients and handles routine tasks so you can focus on growing your business.
How to Apply
The third and most important step is to deliver the actual application. This can be done in-person at the Shroff office on the 14th floor of the Queensway Government Offices, or electronically through the e-Registry. The fee is dependent on the type of company you are setting up.
Required forms include the Incorporation Form (Form NNC1), a copy of the company’s articles of association, and a Notice to the Business Registration Office. It should take between 1 and 7 days for the company to be incorporated once the application is submitted.
The application must follow all requirements of the Companies Ordinance, otherwise it will not be processed or approved, so make sure to double check everything to ensure your company is incorporated.
Obtain Permits and Licenses
It may be the case that your business needs additional permits or licenses, for example, if you are planning on serving food or alcoholic beverages. Find out what requirements your specific type of business has in terms of permits, licenses, and certifications here.
Businesses must be registered for taxes within one month of the commencement of operations. Please note that the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) will not accept applications from businesses that have yet to exist or have yet to commence operation. The person or people with proprietorship or partnership must submit the application and produce proof of identity. Regardless of the nationality of the proprietor(s), the business must be able to prove that they commenced operations in Hong Kong, and not overseas. This can be shown by the business registration notification form.
Given all of the above, to register your business for taxes, you must fill out an application form, pay the business registration fee and levy, which varies depending on what you are attempting to register, and provide proof of identity. To obtain the forms, they can be picked up at the Revenue Tower or received by mail following an inquiry to the email address [email protected]. It is worth noting that forms downloaded and printed are not eligible for application – they must come from the Inland Revenue Department directly.
To submit your application, you can either do so in-person in the Business Registration Office on the 4th floor of the Revenue Tower on 5 Gloucester Road in Wan Chai, by post to P.O. Box 29015, Gloucester Road Post Office, or online via eTax. If you are planning on applying online, you must first apply for an eTax password to be able to sign the forms on the Internet.
Now that you have the tools and know-how to register your company in Hong Kong, why not take a look at the city’s top venture capital firms to raise funding for your startup?