How to Set Up A Company in Hong Kong: Step by Step Guide

How to Set Up A Company in Hong Kong - A Step by Step Guide for First Time Entrepreneurs!

Looking to set up your company in Hong Kong but not sure how to go about doing so? Whether you are a local entrepreneur or a foreign investor, there are various critical steps you need to take note of when incorporating your new company – that is if you want to avoid any problems in the future!

Not to worry, our experts help to break down the essential tasks you need to complete (with tips on how to navigate some of them too!).

Step 1: Choose Your Company Name

As with establishing a company anywhere in the world, the first and most important step is to choose your desired company name!

What is unique in Hong Kong is that you can choose to register with an English name, a Chinese name (containing only traditional Chinese characters), or both! Interestingly, however, a name with combinations of both English and Chinese characters is not allowed.

For more comprehensive guidelines, you can refer to The Guideline on Registration of Company Names for Hong Kong Companies here.

Useful tip: Make sure you check your desired company name’s availability (via The Company Search Mobile Service) before registering – since no duplicate names are allowed to be registered.

Step 2: Determine the Type of Business Entity

Different types of business entities accord the business owner different levels of commercial liabilities, require different levels of legal structuring and responsibilities, and even how you file your taxes.

So, it is important to get this right from the start! 

For businesses set up in Hong Kong, there are 5 relevant types of business entities:

  • Sole Proprietorship: As the name suggests, the sole owner is the business and vice versa. While this makes it easy to incorporate (lesser paperwork, structuring, and requirements), the owner is NOT a separate legal entity and hence is exposed to all the liabilities of the business. Not suitable for large businesses.
  • Partnership: Suitable for two or more individuals to share the ownership of the company. The degree of responsibility can be divided between them and can be limited or unlimited.
  • Limited Liability Company: This is an entirely separate legal entity that provides the most amount of protection of the owner’s personal assets from the commercial liabilities of the business. Typically, the preferred choice of entity for most businesses.
  • Limited by Guarantee: Consists of members and not shareholders, who undertake a predetermined sum of money for the businesses. A preferred structure for charities, non-profit organizations, and other entities of similar nature.
  • Foreign Company Office: Already have a business registered somewhere else? Then all you need to do is to register as a foreign company office here!

Choose the one that suits your business needs the best!

Step 3: Obtain a Local Hong Kong Address for Your Company

Have a retail presence or physical office space? Skip ahead to the next step!

Are you an e-commerce business, a home-based business, or not physically based here? Nonetheless, to incorporate a business, you cannot get around the need for a local Hong Kong address.

So, what can you do? That is where virtual offices come into play! For a small fee, many businesses offer a virtual office service where they provide you with a professional business address which you can use for registering your business!

Step 4: Register Your Company

Now it is time to fill up some forms! Make sure you have all the information and documents on hand to make sure the registration process goes smoothly on e-Registry:

Local Companies

Non-Hong Kong Companies

·         Incorporation Form (Form NNC1 or NNC1G)

·         A copy of the company’s Articles of Association

·         Notice to Business Registration Office (IRBR1) – to indicate whether it elects for a 3-year certificate

·         Prescribed business registration fee and levy and other fees payable under the Companies (Fees) Regulation

·         Application for registration as Registered Non-Hong Kong Company (Form NN1) accompanied by the required documents

·         Notice to Business Registration Office (IRBR2)

(a) state whether the company has already been registered under the Business Registration Ordinance (Cap. 310) and if so, provide its business registration number;

(b) If not yet registered, indicate whether it elects for a 3-year certificate and state:

o   business name (if different from its corporate name)

o   description and nature of business

o   date of commencement of business

·         Prescribed business registration fee and levy and other fees payable under the Companies (Fees) Regulation

In all cases, to also have copies of the directors’, shareholders’ identification documents as well as proof of the company’s registered address.

Once the application is approved, you will be sent a Certificate of Incorporation and Business Registration Certificate via electronic or hard copy form!

Step 5: Set Up A Bank Account

Congratulations on the incorporation of your business! The next step now is to set up a corporate bank account!

Do some research across the various banks and decide on one that suits your business needs. While processes may vary across banks, the general process is as follows:

  • Provide required documents (e.g., incorporation and business registration certificates, proof of company registered address, passports of directors and shareholders, bank statements, etc.) to bank
  • In-person meetings with the bank officer
  • Corporate bank account ready for use

Step 6: Check if Your Business Needs Any Special License and Permits

As a business, you want to make sure everything you do is within the law. Make sure you make a final check to ensure you have all the relevant permits and licenses before you commence your operations!

If your business falls under the following categories, you probably need a license:

  • Import and export
  • Money services
  • Residential care homes for elderly
  • Health worker
  • Radiation apparatus or substances
  • Environment
  • Telecommunications
  • Liquor
  • Clubs
  • Food

Do a final check on your license and permits details over on this government website!

Ready to Set Up Your Company in Hong Kong?

Now that we have covered the key steps to setting up a business in Hong Kong, it does not feel that overwhelming anymore does it?

With most of the procedures able to be completed easily online, there is nothing to stop you from getting your business up and running today. Get started now!