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Picking a company name in Hong Kong

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The first important step before incorporating a local limited company is to pick a company name in Hong Kong. When it comes to picking a company name in Hong Kong, you want to make sure that all the requirements for registration are complete. 

You cannot take the risk of choosing a name that does not qualify for approval. You may need to file a new application if the first one gets rejected based on your incorrect company name format. So if the company name is so important, how should you go about it?

Picking a company name for registration

Language

 

You may choose a company name in either English or Chinese for registration in Hong Kong. However, the Hong Kong company name cannot be a combination of both English and Chinese. If you wish to pick an English name for your company, it must have the word “Limited” at the end.

 

You cannot use the word Ltd. Your Chinese company name should have the characters “有限公司” at the end. Refer to the ISO 10646 international coding standard for traditional Chinese characters. Since you cannot use simplified Chinese characters, the Dictionary of Ci Hai (辭海) and the Dictionary of Kang Xi (康熙字典) can come in handy to get a hang of it.

 

Unique

 

Of course, you cannot choose a company name that is already in use in Hong Kong. You cannot use a name that has been chosen by another company and is already in the process of being registered. Any name that it is the duplicate of a body corporate incorporated will not be accepted.

 

A name similar to a name listed on the Registrar’s Index of Company Names will be rejected. You may want to explore company names in the Hong Kong company name generator and check whether it is available for use with the Company Registry. A company name search through the Companies Registry’s Cyber Search Centre can be done to see if your proposed name is already in use. You could even use the Company Search Mobile Service for the purpose.

 

Government name

 

Hong Kong company name should not give an impression that it is connected to the government or any of its department. You cannot use a name that is opposed to public interest or offensive. Such names are easily rejected. The name is confirmed only when it gets an approval from the government without objection.

 

Additionally, you cannot use a name whose use amounts to a criminal offence in the Registrar’s opinion.

 

Other Company Name Restrictions

 

There are some words and expressions that may be treated as a form of similarity between a proposed name and an existing name. This includes such words as the Far East, FE, “and,” “&,” HK, HongKong, “Hong Kong.”

 

You should be careful enough to ensure that the name you propose for your Hong Kong incorporated company does not end up in a dispute. The idea is to ensure that it is not similar to any existing company name.

 

(a) The following are not considered when it comes to determining whether you have proposed a name similar to an existing one –

 

Adding the definite article as the first word of a name will not be considered. For example, BAC Limited is an existing name and adding “the” at the beginning to make it sound different will not help. The name will not be approved.

 

The same theory applies to adding certain words or expressions at the end, such as company, limited, and company, company limited, limited, and company limited, unlimited, and public limited company. 

 

No name with abbreviations of these words will be accepted. A name ending with characters “公司”, “有限公司”, “”無限公司, and “公眾有限公司”shall be rejected.

Avoid using space between letters, a mix of upper and lower case of letters, punctuations, and accent marks in the company name to avoid rejection.

Picking a company name for a foreign company

A non-Hong Kong incorporated company with a place of business in the special administrative jurisdiction of Hong Kong must apply for registration with the Registrar of Companies within one month of establishment in Hong Kong. The company will be registered as a non-Hong Kong company.

  • A “corporate name” in Hong Kong refers to a translated domestic name that a non-Hong Kong company registers with Companies Register.
  • A “domestic name,” on the other hand, refers to the name of a non-Hong Kong company that has been registered in its place of incorporation.

When you register your non-Hong Kong company with the Companies Register, the domestic name of the company is entered as the corporate name. However, the domestic name should not be in Roman script or Chinese. 

 

If the name is in Chinese or Roman, a certified translation in English or Chinese will be required. The translated name may use both English and Chinese. But it is important to apply for registration of the translated name as a domestic name where it is incorporated.

Why is prior approval required from the registrar

The registrar’s approval is required before registration if the name gives the impression that the company is connected with the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region or the Central People’s Government or any government agency or department.

 

The Registrar will approve of such a company name only where the company has a genuine connection with the government. Otherwise you cannot use such words as “Government”(政府), “Department”( ), “Bureau”(), “Authority”(委員會),”Federation”(聯邦),“ “Council”(議會), and  “Commission”(公署).“

  • If the name contains any such words or expressions that are specified in the Companies Order (Cap. 622A).
  • If you use a name that is similar to a name for which the Registrar has notified a name change under the Companies Ordinance (Sections 108, 109, or 771). The Registrar may require a change of name under sections 22 or 22A of the predecessor Ordinance.
  • If the Registrar finds that the name misleads about the nature of the company’s activities and might not be in public interest, they may call for a name change within the specified period.

Next steps

It is important to seek the advice of the Registrar and get their consent to use the proposed names before applying for incorporation.

 

So when it comes to picking a company name in Hong Kong, you cannot choose any name that you wish to. Certain restrictions and limitations ought to be watched out for to ensure you abide by the Company’s Registry’s requirements and name criteria.

 

You may be directed to change the name of your company if it is “too like” the name of another registered company name. In another case, if the Registrar receives a court order to restrain you from using the company name or a part of it, you must abide by the directive. Non-compliance may result in penalty.

 

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