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Business registration in
Hong Kong

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The Business Registration Ordinance requires every person who carry on a business in Hong Kong, whether it is a sole proprietor, a partnership, a Hong Kong limited company or a non-HK company having business in Hong Kong, to apply for business registration (“BR”) within 1 month from the date of commencement of the business. 

 

If the registered particulars of the business have changed, the business operator has to notify the IRD in writing within 1 month of the change. The registered particulars are available for public information at a fee.

BR is, however, not for regulating business activities. Neither is it a licence to trade. Let’s look into the details relevant to your business.

"Business" required to be registered

Includes:

  • Any form of activity carried on for the purpose of gain, e.g. trade, commerce, craftsmanship, profession etc.;
  • Any club with facilities, services and exclusive club premises to its members;
  • Every company incorporated in Hong Kong or non-Hong Kong company that has established a place of business in Hong Kong, regardless of whether it is actually carrying on any business in Hong Kong; and
  • Every non-Hong Kong company that has a representative or liaison office in Hong Kong, or has let out its property situated in Hong Kong, regardless of whether it has established a place of business in Hong Kong.

However, a person who is only holding an office or employment is not regarded as carrying on any business and is not required to apply for BR.

When to register

A company incorporated/registered under the Companies Ordinance

  • Applications for company incorporation includes a simultaneous application for BR. The BR fee and levy has to be paid at the time of incorporation. The BR certificate will be issued together with the Certificate of Incorporation by Companies Registry.
  • When the company is registered by way of a simultaneous application, it has to notify the Inland Revenue within one month of the date of commencement of business. Other than the business commencement date, the company has to include the business description and nature in the notification, which would be reflected in the updated BR certificate.

Business carried on by Sole-proprietorship, Partnership and Unincorporated body of persons, Non-Hong Kong company, and Branch business

  • Within one month from it's date of commencement of business.

Business name

When you register your business, you may register a business name other than the company name registered with Companies Registry.  The registered additional business name will be treated as a branch of the business, and a branch BR certificate will be issued at a fee.

Display of certificate

The valid BR certificate must be displayed at the address where the business is carried on.  A valid BR certificate in original form to be displayed at the business address bears a machine-printed line showing the date of payment, the receipt number and the amount paid.  Where BR certificates are issued in electronic form under the one-stop company and business registration service, companies must display a printed copy of such certificates.

Renewal of business registration

For registered business, its BR Certificate has to be renewed annually (unless it is a certificate for 3 years). The BR office will usually send the BR renewal demand note by post to the business address approximately in the middle of the month preceding the commencement month of the renewal BR Certificate. 

 

For example, if the renewal BR Certificate will commence in May, the BR Office will issue the demand note in mid-April. Upon payment, the demand note will become a valid BR Certificate. If you do not receive such a demand note, you should inform the Commissioner in writing within 1 month of the expiry of your current BR Certificate.

Business registration number is the Tax Identification Number (TIN)

Business Registration number is a unique number assigned to a business by the Inland Revenue.  The Business Registration number comprises 8 numerals at the front of BR certificate number (e.g. 99999999-&&&-&&-&&-&). All the numerals of the BR number are used as the identifier equivalent to TIN for entities.

Obtain other permits or licences

Apart from BR, you may also need to apply for other types of licences or obtain the recognised professional qualifications for operating certain kinds of business. 

 

Please visit the website of the Trade and Industry Department for information on other licences, permits, certificates and approvals relevant to import and export operations and other business operations in Hong Kong.

Failure to apply for BR on time

Any person who fails to apply for BR commits an offence and is liable to fine and/or imprisonment.  Any person who applies for BR more than 12 months after commencement of business has to pay BR fee and levy for current year plus any fee and levy for back years.

 

Sleek can assist with BR and branch BR application, and notify the BR office of any change of particulars in the BR certificate.  Connect with us for any query regarding this article.

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