Company Set Up in Hong Kong
2020 Definitive Guide
This is a Definitive Guide on Company Set Up in Hong Kong. In this guide, you will find resources and useful information about Hong Kong Company Set Up by Foreigner, How to Register a Company in Hong Kong, Detail on the Process and Cost to Set Up a Private Limited Company in Hong Kong, most of all, there are essential tips for you to get a brilliant start here in Hong Kong.
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This definitive guide should give you most of the answers about Company Set Up in Hong Kong as a foreigner for a normal course of business, particularly for the engagement phase; enable you to choose a matching service provider in Hong Kong. Of course, for in-depth practical arrangement and detail operation that requires a case by case professional consultation, please do not hesitate to send us the enquiry under below message box.
HIGHLIGHTED GUIDE – There is another in-depth Definitive Guide on “Doing Business in Hong Kong” dedicatedly for you to obtain comprehensive ideas on why you should choose Hong Kong for business
Company Set Up in Hong Kong - ALL You Need to Know
Starting a Company in Hong Kong as a Foreigner?
Q: Can a foreigner set up a 100% foreign-owned company in Hong Kong?
A: Definitely YES!! Any expatriates, without Hong Kong permanent residency status, even you are NOT living in Hong Kong at all, and without Hong Kong identity card, YES, you can proceed to set up a 100% wholly-owned private limited company by shares in Hong Kong with yourself as the sole shareholder and sole director.
Hong Kong is one of the most popular jurisdictions welcoming new entrepreneurs and foreigner to start a business in Hong Kong, especially those looking for China and Asia opportunities, and those set up trading company for international trading business.
For a normal course of business, for example, trading (import and export) business, local retail shop, online translation services … etc., you don’t even need to apply for a specific license or restricting your company on one particular business, you can perform all these businesses under the same company, which is best for your entrepreneurs with several skill sets to set up multiple websites and trademarks for engaging in different businesses to maximize the profits.
Of course, there are more reasons that foreigners choose Hong Kong for company formation, for business enabling reasons, please feel free to take a look of our Definitive Guide on Doing Business in Hong Kong to see if your business plan would be benefited by starting a company in Hong Kong as well.
How to Conduct a Hong Kong Company Search?
To set up a company in Hong Kong, the first step, of course, is to check the company name availability of your preferred Hong Kong company through the online company search service by Companies Registry (www.icris.cr.gov.hk/csci/).
On how to conduct Hong Kong Company Name Search, Hong Kong Companies Registry has posted several guidelines onto its website, here below we have consolidated them for you
Too many materials to read? Save your time, we have highlighted some key points for you to avoid choosing a company name that the Registry might reject
Any duplicate company names with an exact match will be rejected, for example, “Fortune Access HK Limited” = “Fortune Access Hong Kong Limited”
All company name MUST end with “Limited” in English, while “有限公司” in Chinese to show clearly its limited liability status, also, any short form “Ltd.” will not be accepted
For English Company Name, Chinese characters, Arabic words or other non-English words cannot be combined into the company name for registration
The proposed company name, in the opinion of Companies Registry, it would constitute a criminal offence or is offensive or otherwise contrary to the public interest would not be registerable, for example, “Gamble Together Limited”, the word “Gamble Together” will likely be rejected by Companies Registry
A company name that is “Too Similar” to another company name, usually a trademark name registered in Hong Kong, either you will be requested to change the company name, or directly rejected by Companies Registry, or else, your company name will be replaced by the Registration Number of your company
Talking about Trademark Registration, be reminded that in Hong Kong, trademark registration is a separate arrangement apart from company registration, which is administrated by the Intellectual Property Department of Hong Kong (www.ipd.gov.hk/eng/trademarks.htm)
Also, we have prepared two blog posts in explaining the essentials information about a company which only takes several minutes reading
Of course, to avoid any headache, especially when your preferred company name already occupied, simply drop us an email at email@example.com with 3-5 company names in your mind, we will conduct company name search service to customers 100% FREE, even more, we will get back to you asap, together with other possible alternatives just in case the name already occupied.
Take away FAQ
Q1. How do I check if a company is registered in Hong Kong?
A1. Click this link to CyberSearch of Companies Registry. In Main Menu, under the top menu bar, click “Search” --> “Company Name”. Fill in the Company Name of that company in full into the company name box, and then click search. If such a company already registered, it will show the company name search result with company status as “Live”.
Q2. What should I do if there is a duplicate name already registered in Hong Kong? That name is very meaningful and related to my business in attracting customers.
A2. First of all, you cannot take that name. But you can register a similar name with a more meaningful word to enrich it as your company name. For example, if “Fortune Access Limited” is already registered, try registering the company as “Fortune Access Global Limited”, “Fortune Access 101 Limited” … etc.
Register a Private Limited Company in Hong Kong? Any Other Company Types?
Yes, there are other types of companies, but the private limited company is the most popular choice for doing a normal course of business in Hong Kong, where you can see the statistics for the past six (6) years for reference, over 99%.
(Data extracted from the website of Hong Kong Companies Registry - https://www.cr.gov.hk/en/publication/fact-stat/statistics/local-companies-incorporated/since-2014.htm)
For the benefits of setting up a private limited company in Hong Kong, as there are too many, we will discuss in the next topic. Below, we will briefly introduce different types of companies in Hong Kong for different purposes and needs of the business.
Private Limited Company – Minimal requirements where the same foreign person as the sole shareholder and sole director of the Hong Kong Company is sufficient, achieving a wholly-owned company with ease. Straightforward in setting up, even for exit (deregistration), best for a foreigner to obtain a reputable business identity for international business
Public Company – Any private company with over 50 shareholders automatically become a public company, and from thereafter, requires an annual filing of financial statements and auditors’ report. Setting up of a public company for business with plans of getting listed in Hong Kong Stock Exchange or for company needs funds for further expansion to issue advertisements offering any of its securities for sale to the public. For private company does not want the complex filing requirements of a public company, using a BVI or CAY shareholding structure to achieve both privacy protection and remain its status as a private company is a common practice
Guarantee Company – this is used for Non-profit organizations (NGO), Charitable Organization, Membership Organizations such as churches, trading associations, sports clubs. Generally, no profits distributed to the guarantors, instead, profits will be re-invested to help promote the objectives of the guarantee company in accordance with its article of association
Non-Hong Kong Company – any non-Hong Kong company established a place of business in Hong Kong is required to register a Non-Hong Kong Company in Hong Kong. In 2019, because of the launch of the Economic Substance Regulation, many offshore jurisdictions (BVI, SEY, CAY … etc.) companies have registered a Non-Hong Kong Company in order to obtain a tax status to fulfil the baseline filing requirement and as a transitional measure for the time being to avoid heavy penalties. For normal commercial trade and business purpose, it is better to set up a separate limited company as a subsidiary under the BVI or SEY holding company instead registering a non-Hong Kong company in considering the tax benefits and ease of administration.
Open-ended Fund Company (OFC) – As its name tells, this company structure is to serve as an investment fund vehicle and manage investments for the benefits of its shareholders having the nature of limited liability status and variable share capital in facilitating administration. The formation authority is Companies Registry, however, the main approval and regulatory body is the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) in Hong Kong
Unlimited Company – Sole Proprietorship (Single Owner) and Partnership (Multiple Owners) in Hong Kong, same as the person(s) carrying the business without separate liability status, registration only at the Business Registration Office, there is NO separate entity between the company and the owner(s), usually for local resident in Hong Kong for doing small business with low-risk (low liability), such as a small grocery store within a neighborhood or for taking up solo freelance jobs
Sole Proprietorship is the same as the owner, and that's why, when reporting tax, the owner will report the profit tax of the company under the same individual tax assessment form, please refer to this IRD Sample (Under page 2 - Part 5). Because foreigners do not have a personal tax status in Hong Kong, it is more complicated to set up a Sole Proprietorship in Hong Kong unless he/she obtained a Hong Kong Identity Card (HKID)
Representative Office / Liaison Office – Technically, this is NOT a type of company, yet, commonly used for the purpose of early-stage market research, feasibility analysis, or preparation of China or Asia expansion of International Corporations (NMCs). Although cannot perform any business (profit-making activities), with a rightful registration record and identity, it is easier for the staff in Hong Kong to perform the necessary liaison works, and act as the focal point representing the headquarter with a more formal presence. If any profit-making activity being detected, even marketing and sales support services only, such will be regarded as carrying on a trade or business in Hong Kong and the revenue will be taxable in Hong Kong.
In conclusion, private limited company in Hong Kong is the best fit for most of the commercial trade and business needs, while other types of structures are usually set up to achieve a specific purpose.
What are the Benefits of Registering a Company in Hong Kong?
Yes, tones of benefits!!! A Private limited company is the most popular type of company in Hong Kong because it has tones of benefits. That’s why many foreigners around the world come to Hong Kong registering a company in Hong Kong for any business in connecting all sorts of Hong Kong, China, and Asia business opportunities.
Low Tax – No. 1 Top Reason is, of course, the low tax regime. This one good reason already attracts many foreigners in choosing Hong Kong for company incorporation. 8.25% on first HKD2,000,000 assessable profit (profit after ALL deductible expense), thereafter at a fixed rate of 16.5%, still way lower than most of the jurisdictions.
Saving More Profits – other than profit tax obligation, there is minimal tax duties in doing business in Hong Kong, NO VAT, GST, Corporate Tax, Capital Gain Tax, Dividend Tax, Social Security Tax, Environment Tax … etc. Basically, the overall tax rate of Hong Kong companies is extremely attractive, especially suitable for a new business or start-ups saving more profits, which enables them catching a rapid expansion stage in securing the market position.
True Limited Liability Status – In China, if you are the sole owner of a limited company, even the liability of the company should be separated from the shareholder, yet, in practice, most of the cases are not true. Hong Kong, in contrast, for a private limited company by shares, even you are the only person as the sole shareholder and sole director of the company, the limited liability status is true and definite unless such liability is caused by a fraudulent act of the owner
Top Choice for China WFOE Set Up – Nowadays, Chinese is still the only official language in China, where foreign investment, especially by means of money in and out of China still with certain barriers, and therefore, the Gateway Status of Hong Kong creating an unique position for foreigners entering the China market while retaining sufficient protection and freedom, no matter at time of on-boarding, and that of exit procedure
Low (NO) Capital Requirement(FAQ#8) – You can register an HKD1.00 in 1 share capital company in Hong Kong, even you are engaging a restaurant business, where investment might cost you as least HKD1,000,000 for initial set up, there is no restriction to set up a 1 dollar company where you can make the money available in other forms, such as shareholder loan (convertible loan) with interest or find an investor to allow a much more flexible way in doing business, no need to worry about the locked capital difficult to withdraw
100% remotely set up is possible – for some on-shore jurisdictions, although online company registration portal is available, yet, in practice, a local arrangement is required. For example, Singapore company requires at least one (1) local resident director, which means ultimately, local presence is required, or else, an additional cost to hire a residential director will be charged
Hassle-Free Set Up, Dormant, Deregistration Process – Formation of Company, Business Exit, Deregistration are all straight forward and easy to apply, there is no specific restriction or government policy to restrain foreign entrepreneurs from withdrawing the company gains and profit leaving Hong Kong, simply follow the standard procedures will do
Freedom in Doing Business – There is NO object clause requirement for Hong Kong Company, unlike China company which only those businesses within the object scope are allowed. Company in Hong Kong does not requires to be restricted to one or two types of businesses, instead, can freely engaging into several businesses at the same time (Trading, Property Investment, Logistics Arrangement … etc.), where for specific businesses, for example, Travel Agency Business, simply apply for a specific license on top of the business registration is sufficient. Whether or not such particular business requires a license in Hong Kong or not, entrepreneurs can simply check it from Government Website for information. In 2019, Hong Kong remains the world freest economy and free trade with an economic freedom score of 90.2 as per the Heritage Foundation research.
Bi-lingual corporate documents – English and Chinese, are the two (2) official languages in Hong Kong, which enable you to use the corporate documents in most of the countries as holding structure and for business or investment around the world without any headache on translation matters. This single reason makes Hong Kong company a popular choice for foreigners in performing investment activities in any location where Chinese as the official language, such as China and Taiwan, at the same time maintaining a high level of beneficiary protection. On the other hand, best for China individuals and corporations in investing outward, and therefore, highly recommended in One Belt One Road investment project, especially for Joint Venture with China type of projects.
Legal Framework with Top-Tier Protection – Hong Kong adopts the common law system with the fundamental principles of “Rule of Law” provides a fair and sound legal framework for doing business in Hong Kong. No matter you are local residency or a foreigner, all are treated fairly under the law, where Consumer Protection, Contract Law Protection, Business Disputes, International Agreements and Treaties, Companies Law, all facilitate in businesses protection, therefore, Hong Kong company is widely accepted by global businessmen as a trusted business partner
Excellent Holding Structure – Hong Kong is one of the top choices for International MNC in establishing Asia Regional Headquarter, also for investment holding structure allowing the company to seek other investors and investment opportunities within the fast-growing regions in Asia. Further that, the holding structure can enjoy the Dividend Tax-Free, Offshore Territorial Source Principle of Taxation jurisdiction, and the free flow of capital for ease of shifting from project to project and diversify the investment risk.
World Recognition – Hong Kong is one of the Hague Apostille Members, which means the apostilled corporate documents of a Hong Kong company will be accepted by other member countries, which helps the process in investing with a wide range of locations with the same Hong Kong company to diversify the risk of investments, for example, some of our customers investing in property market have properties in China, New Zealand, Japan, United Kingdom and Hong Kong, where all under the same Hong Kong company as investment holding purpose, save a huge administrative cost in maintaining different companies for properties in different locations
DTA (Double Taxation Agreements) – The additional benefit of using Hong Kong company is that there is no Dividend Tax in Hong Kong and if you need to pay tax in your home country, you can enjoy the reduced tax rate under the comprehensive Double Taxation Agreement, making Hong Kong company an effective investment holding structure for multi-nation investors on Properties, Intellectual Properties, Technical Consultant Advisory Vehicle … etc., especially after the launch of the Economic Substance Laws in most of the offshore jurisdictions
Transparent Structure with Sufficient Protection – Yes, Hong Kong company search records would be obtained through company search, but not a free public record like UK companies, further than, Records of Significant Controllers, Ultimate Beneficial Owners although are mandatory, only in house record keeping is required, NOT a public record available for search, which provides a great protection on personal privacy. Furthermore, the accounting records, audited reports of Hong Kong companies are private records, where the public search is not available, unless, this is a listed company or a limited company by guarantee (Charitable Company, NGOs)
A Transitional Solution to Economic Substance – since 2019, after the release of the economic substance law in CAY, BVI, SEY and other famous offshore jurisdictions, Offshore Tax-Free (Tax-Haven) has come to the end. Maintain an offshore company MUST provide a tax residency proof (Tax ID) as filing support, which makes it a headache to many existing offshore companies, and therefore Hong Kong Company (Non-HK Company) become a transitional solution for the time being. Of course, afterwards, a case by case evaluation is still required to see whether the offshore company should be maintained or simply transfer the business to a Hong Kong limited company for a clear cut
If you have a business plan that is a multinational business, targeting customers from all around the world; instead of setting up a local business entity, try considering about setting up a company in Hong Kong, perhaps the benefits and potentials are much greater than restraining yourself in a local company. For more information and detail about the company set up in Hong Kong, please feel free to drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for a FREE consultation.
What are the regulatory bodies in Hong Kong on Company Formation?
Companies Registry is the main regulatory body on Company Formation in Hong Kong. Of course, there are other regulatory bodies in Hong Kong that administrate and in-charge of other aspects in relation to company affairs in Hong Kong, for example, tax duties, listing requirements …etc., where we will go through in here one by one
Companies Registry - The Registry administers and enforces most part of the Companies Ordinance in Hong Kong, in charge of registering local and non-Hong Kong companies and related statutory filing of returns. In general, the Registry is the first government authority you need to approach for all Hong Kong incorporations, where the first Business Registration Certificate will be issued by Companies Registry as well
For General Enquiry, you may contact the registry with the following ways
By Phone - (852) 2867 2600 / (852) 2867 2604
By Fax - (852) 2596 0585
By Post / In Person - Information Counter at 14th Floor, Queensway Government Offices, 66 Queensway, Hong Kong
By Email - email@example.com
Registry for Trust and Company Service Providers – This is a sub-unit under Companies Registry to cater the international standards on anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing ("AML/CTF"), in specific on the monitoring and ensuring the compliance of all the TCSP licensees in Hong Kong comply with the Customer Due Diligence and record-keeping requirements under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance, Cap. 615., in short, this is the Regulatory Body of all Company Set-Up Service Providers in Hong Kong
Business Registration Office – This is a sub-unit under the Tax Authority (Inland Revenue Department) of Hong Kong, mainly to handle the business registration of all Hong Kong companies. For Sole Proprietorship, Representative Office formation, you don’t go to Companies Registry, instead, you go directly to Business Registration Office for registration
Inland Revenue Department (IRD) – This is the Hong Kong Tax Authority, in-charge of all Profit Tax and related tax matters in Hong Kong. For newly incorporated private limited company in Hong Kong, round the 18th -22nd months after incorporation, the first Profit Tax Return (PTR) will be delivered to the registered office of the company for the first tax reporting, no matter the company has commenced business or not, then upon assessment, tax demand note will be issued for payment
The Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) – This is the regulatory body to regulate Hong Kong ‘s Securities and Futures Markets, that means, the Public Stock Market of all Hong Kong listed companies are regulated by SFC as well.
Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX) – The SFC is the leading role in regulating companies, while the HKEX is responsible under statute for ensuring on more practicable, day-to-day statutory duties of listing administrations and process in Hong Kong
The above are the main regulatory bodies in relation to set up and maintain a company in Hong Kong, of course, there are other government departments in charge of other aspects and business affairs on doing business in Hong Kong as well.
How do I Register a Private Limited Company in Hong Kong?
To register a private limited company in Hong Kong, you first need to complete your application (Form NNC1 – Specimen), then submit to the Companies Registry as per the instruction within, where the initial Business Registration Certificate will be issued by the Companies Registry upon the incorporation under the One-stop Company and Business Registration Service (FAQ#2)
To submit the application, you can choose either
For the approximate time frame of above-mentioned incorporation procedures and processes, we have prepared an infographic below for you. While for a full steps-by-steps outline of the application process, Companies Registry has stated it on its website, also available in a pdf guideline here. To highlight with, you will need a Hong Kong local Company Secretary, Registered Office, and a Designated Representative to complete the NNC1 Incorporation form, further information on the requirements to set up a company in Hong Kong are available in the next chapter.
One important point about Electronic Filing Submission is that you will only obtain electronic (pdf file) version of the Certificate of Incorporation and Business Registration, and no hard copy or printed version available from the Companies Registry. For companies that need the original hard copy corporate documents for apostille or notary public, we will recommend customers to select paper submission instead.
What are the Requirements to Set Up a Company in Hong Kong?
There are some basic elements for company formation in Hong Kong, and each of the elements has several mandatory requirements to observe when completion of the Incorporation Form NNC1 for a Private Limited Company by Shares in Hong Kong.
What are the basic elements for setting up a company in Hong Kong?
Company Name (English / Traditional Chinese or both)
Share Capital (Default HKD10,000.00 in 10,000 ordinary shares)
At least One (1) individual (natural person) Director
– Yourself is OK
At least One (1) individual / corporate Shareholder
– Yourself is OK
Registered Office Address in Hong Kong
A Company Secretary in Hong Kong (Natural Person / TCSP Licensee)
A Designated Representative in Hong Kong (Natural Person / TCSP Licensee) – Company Secretary can act for the same role
For local residency with Hong Kong connections, point 5-7 should be able to arrange, and therefore, some small local businesses will simply proceed company set up by themselves. Of course, the application usually requires some help from professional friends, but this should be the cheapest way to set up a company in Hong Kong and will get in touch with this in the next chapter.
For foreigners, it is more hassle-free to appoint a Company Secretary Service Provider (Registered Agent) to arrange the company formation and thereafter annual maintenance matters. How to choose a good provider? You can jump to the next chapter for the answer. If you wanted to more about the requirement of each element on Company Formation, below contents we will share with you one by one.
Company Name (Chinese)
Your Optional Choice (better to have one if engaging in China business)
An Optional Choice if you already have an English Company name
Should be a fair translation of the English Name or vice versa
MUST ended with the word “有限公司”
MUST be in Traditional Chinese
Registered Office Address
The Hong Kong address to receive all letters from Companies Registry and other Government Authorities
MUST be a physical address in Hong Kong
P.O. Box or “Care Of” address would NOT be accepted
Government officer on-site inspection of statutory records on random bases. Failure to present the records could be prosecuted
The company MUST keep sufficient Accounting Records for at least 7 years and Resolutions of the Company for at least 10 years at Registered Office Address or a different location being reported to the Companies Registry
If you pay for Registered Office Address service, the service provider MUST carry a TCSP license
Capital / Share Capital
The investment to the company in exchange for the shares of the Company as proof of ownership
MUST issue a minimum of One (1) ordinary share
NO par value and NO authorized capital in Hong Kong nowadays, all MUST be issued and paid-up capital
In the practical arrangement, default capital as HKD10,000.00 in 10,000 ordinary shares for a star-up company
Manage the business and affairs of the company
MUST have a minimum of one (1) individual (natural person) Director
Rest of the Directors can be an individual or a corporation
MUST be the age of 18 or above
NO constraint on Nationality or Residence, a foreigner living outside Hong Kong can be the Sole Director of a Hong Kong company
You will need the Passport or HKID and the Residential Address proof of the Director for completion of Form NNC1
May exercise all the powers of the company, multiple directors constitute as the Board of Directors
Owner (Founder, Member, Investor) of the company
Can be an individual or a corporation-
Can be the Sole Director of the company
Again, NO constraint on Nationality or Residence, a foreigner living outside Hong Kong is acceptable
All the shareholders add up together should hold 100% of the company (NO unissued shares / reserved shares)
Maximum of 50 shareholders, beyond that, automatically become a Public Company
You will need the Passport or HKID and the Residential Address proof of the Shareholder for completion of Form NNC1
To facilitate the statutory filing and regulatory requirements of the company, assisting the Director in conclusion of meeting minutes and resolutions
Company MUST have a Company Secretary
Can be an individual or a corporation
If a company has only One (1) director, the same individual / corporation cannot act as the Company Secretary of the company
MUST ordinarily reside in Hong Kong (with Hong Kong residential address) if the Company Secretary is an individual
MUST have its registered office or place of business in Hong Kong if the Company Secretary is a corporation
If you pay for Company Secretary service, the service provider MUST carry a TCSP license
New mandatory requirement since the launch of the New Companies Ordinance in 2019
Company MUST appoint One (1) Designated Representative
Can be an individual or a corporation
For an individual, MUST be either a shareholder, director or an employee of the Company, and must ordinarily reside in Hong Kong
For a corporate, an accounting professional, a legal professional or a person licensed to carry on business as Trust or Company Service Provider (TCSP)
To simply complete the NNC1 Form for Company Formation, it might not be too complicated. However, to ensure smooth registration, proper maintenance, and compliance of the Company, professional knowledge with relevant qualification is essential. Registers, Significant Controlling ownership chart, Resolutions, Records Keeping, and Preparation for On-site Inspection by Companies Registry, all are mandatory which should not be overlooked when thinking about DIY over delegate the work to a service provider.
Take away FAQ
Q1. Why the basic elements of Company Formation do not include “Business Scope” or “Nature of Business”?
A1. For Company Formation in Hong Kong, the default Business Nature of a Company is “CORP”, stands as Corporation, and the Company needs to file a separate form (IRBR200) to report the commencement of business to the Business Registration Office within one (1) month of the date of such commencement.
Q2. For “Business Description and Nature”, will my company be restricted on the business scope after I have reported it to the authority? If no, what is the purpose of this information?
A2. Hong Kong company can freely in engaging any business without restriction because there is NO object clause (FAQ#2) after the launch of new Companies Ordinance since 2018. Because the Form IRBR200 is to submit to Business Registration Office (a sub-unit under Inland Revenue Department – Tax Authority of Hong Kong), the information is mainly for reference concerning tax matters.
Q3. My Company performs multiple businesses, what should I write for business description and nature?
A3. You should write down the core businesses that contribute the majority potions of the profit of your company, any side businesses or once-off job with insignificant profits could be excluded.
What would be the Cheapest Way to Set Up a Company in Hong Kong?
The cheapest way to Set Up a company in Hong Kong, of course, is to arrange it on your own (DIY), which we shared the same answer in Quora in 2019 to provide a summary there. For the detailed guide, procedure and time frame, you can check it from our earlier chapter. As there are several local (Hong Kong) elements that you need to arrange the company formation by yourself, in this chapter, we will discuss the approximate cost and how you can achieve them.
First of all, the basic costs you need to bear mainly are the Government Fees which are
HKD1,720/USD221/EUR195 Application Fee of Incorporation
HKD250/USD33/EUR29 Business Registration Fee and Levy (Valid till 31 March 2021) - Previous fee at HKD2,250/USD289/EUR226
Then, as a foreigner, the tricky part would be those requirements in relation to a local address, a local person in Hong Kong, mainly “Registered Office Address”, “Company Secretary”, and “Designated Representative”, below we will go through them one-by-one
Registered Office Address in Hong Kong
If you have your own apartment in Hong Kong with long term lease, you may report your residential address as registered office address of your company and regard it as a home office
Of course, using residential address as registered office address might affect the corporate image, another popular option is to have Virtual Office Service (Kind of Basic Mail Receiving, Forwarding, and Secretarial Services), this service costs you around HKD400-500 per month depending on the service level, location of the office, and other top-up administration fees
Be aware that for this arrangement is only a service rather than an actual business location, the location of records of corporate documents should be at your actual business location in Hong Kong, perhaps your residential address, otherwise, just in case of on-site inspection by Companies Registry, you Company will be prosecuted without any mercy (please see below convicted case on January 2020)
Hot Desk (Shared Office, Day Pass, Coworking Space … etc.) is another popular option for foreigners to adopt, many of our China Sourcing and Trading customers would benefit from this arrangement. This is because they often travel back and forth between China, Hong Kong, and their home countries, they don’t need a fixed office which cost too much and not necessary, as an alternative, a Day Pass plus a Mail Box service, they can utilize this service for the basic business needs while saving the cost on Registered Office Address. The cost of a Hot Desk is about HKD2,500 or up per month depending on location and office facilitates
In this case, the Registers of the company will be kept in the Mail Box of the Shared Office, where your (Director/Shareholder) will be the designated representative. The office staff there will simply inform the officer of Companies Registry that you are out of the office and you will need to liaise with the officer directly
Compare to the HKD1,500 per annum (HKD125 per month) of Registered Office fee (CatcherBiz), the above costs are of course higher in view of the additional services being received. For start-up entrepreneurs that must acquire some basic office supports and facilities for operation, shifting the Registered Office Address to a centralized location is actually a cost-saving arrangement and more convenience in handling business affairs
Company Secretary in Hong Kong
Other than appointing a TCSP Licensee (Licensed Company Service Provider or Registered Agent) to act as the Company Secretary of your Company, a natural person with a residential address in Hong Kong can also act as the Company Secretary of your Hong Kong company
Let’s say you and your wife moved to Hong Kong together, and you are the sole Director and Shareholder of the Hong Kong company, your wife can act as the Company Secretary of your company because she is a natural person ordinarily resides in Hong Kong
Similarly, some of our customers established a local office in Hong Kong with a full time financial or accounting staff (An employee of your company), with the consent and permission of the staff, you can appoint him/her to act as the Company Secretary of the company, of course, an additional amount of salary usually required, and might not worthwhile compared to appoint a service provider
Be aware that the Company Secretary has the responsibility to ensure the company has complied with ALL the provisions of the Companies Ordinance. That means, in case of non-compliance, both the Director and Company Secretary might be prosecuted together, please see the “Obligations as Officers of a Company”
If you engage with CatcherBiz, we charge HKD2,000 per annum (HKD167 per month) for Company Secretary Service, let’s consider this as an insurance payment with all-rounded advisory service over the year to ensure the Company in compliance, most of our customers will keep the Company Secretary with us even they have full operation (office and staff) in Hong Kong
Designated Representative in Hong Kong
The beauty is that yourself being the Director of the Company can act as the Designated Representative (Dual Roles) as well as soon as you are ordinarily residing in Hong Kong
As per the FAQ#20 of Companies Registry, a Director, Employee(staff) or Member of the Company who is a natural person resident in Hong Kong can act as the Designated Representative of your Company
The key role of the designated representative is to escort and provide assistance relating to the company upon on-site inspection by law enforcement officers, such as inspection by Companies Registry or Inland Revenue Department. As such, the location of records MUST be a location that the government officer can reach the designated representative
In case the officer of Companies Registry cannot find the designated representative and unable to inspect the company records, the prosecution will be made due to non-compliance
Similar to Company Secretary, because the main purpose of Designated Representative is to handle inspection from Companies Registry, in view of the strengthening inspection frequency, many customers nowadays prefer to appoint the service provider with a fee (For CatherBiz, that is HKD1,000 per annum (HKD83 per month) instead of putting the risk of non-compliance with potential penalty of HKD12,000 up (equals to10 times – 10 years’ service fee)
Take away FAQ
Q1. I can set up the Hong Kong Company on my own, why I need a registered agent?
A1. Yes, I would say this is correct in previous years, before 2018. However, since the launch of the new Companies Ordinance, Companies Registry has strengthened the enforcement actions, where many cases are in relation to “Failure to keep the register of ….” which were caught at the time of on-site inspection
Q2. Okay, but the service charge for Company Secretary, Registered Office, and Designated Representative are just too high, cost us several thousand HKD before we having any business, can you explain?
A2. Yes, I would say this is correct that the cost is too high in previous years, let’s say before 2018. However, since the launch of new Companies Ordinance, mandatory Significant Controllers Register record keeping (6 years), together with the TCSP licensing regime, the workload to ensure full compliance of a Company has increased significantly. Nowadays, the profit margin only minimal, approximately, each of our staff requires to handle 80-100 companies per month in order to survive, and we don’t want to push it number further because it will certainly lower the service level, making our customers suffer at the end.
Q3. Our business is a small start-up online e-commerce store. Really wanted to have a cheaper company set up an arrangement at the beginning, what should I do?
A3. We have researched it for you as well, please take a look with this article “The Best Countries to Incorporate a Remote Based Company for Digital Nomads” by Remoter.net., Estonia company set up with the e-residence program is a hot topic in 2019. Of course, upon your business becomes mature, Hong Kong company may be your next vehicle to catch the new wave of growth.
Q4. I found from Google search with "company set up cost starts at USD99", would it be the cheapest price to set up a company in Hong Kong?
A4. For government fees, already over USD250, you can tell that the final price will certainly much more than USD99. Compare to extremely low cost, the best and most cost-efficient way to set up a company in Hong Kong is to engage with a service provider at a market price, seeking for a good discount or value-added service to best protect you from ending with a higher cost eventually.
To sum up, the cost to set up a company in Hong Kong is highly related to the quality of the professional service and advisory that you will receive. Similar to buying insurance, lower price insurance usually means less protection, insufficient coverage; a reliable Company Set Up service provider ensures your company from any potential risk of prosecution and penalties due to non-compliance.
If you are a start-up entrepreneur, the main focus should be on the business side, find a Company Secretary Provider that you can trust with business acumen is value-added in boosting your business development instead of burdening on your shoulder.
Hong Kong Company Set Up Cost (with CatcherBiz)?
The Market Price on Company Formation in Hong Kong is ranged around USD800~1,200 inclusive all government fees and disbursement (The “all-inclusive package”) during this period of HKD250 Business Registration Fee valid till 31 March 2021.
Our current price to set up a private limited company by shares in Hong Kong is USD925, similar to some of the service providers charging more or less USD800, where the courier fee and disbursement being charged after company formation. For the upper price side, some of the packages without any discount become nearly USD1,200.
Below is the full break down of our fee schedule for you to have a clear picture of all components of Company Formation Service in Hong Kong
Valid only till any company incorporated on or before 31 March 2021
Fee ONLY applicable to standard company structure
For the mandatory requirement to receive correspondence from the Government
Original price at HKD1,200 per annum, adding courier, delivery fee charges at cost
With effect from 1 March 2019, all Hong Kong companies are required to maintain Significant Controllers Register (SCR) with a designated representative in Hong Kong https://www.cr.gov.hk/en/compliance/prosecution.htm
Courier to main countries and cities with fee below HKD500 as per the latest HK FedEx rate table. Delivery within Hong Kong HKD80 by SF Express.
CatcherBiz can provide a FREE evaluation on the Successful Chance on Hong Kong bank account opening application, with our expertise comments in return
Confirm your order by completing the mandatory Due Diligence and KYC Process and paying 50% non-refundable deposit of the package fee
Our all-inclusive price is a good match for most of our customers as a hassle-free package with once-off payment so that you won’t be bothered to pay a small amount from time-to-time for small jobs and disbursements, wasting the money to bank charges.
FREE first year correspondence address in this package is because most of our customers will apply for a corporate bank account in the first year, where bank’s verification letter, security token, and other letters from the bank or correspondences will be received. To facilitate our customers during the start-up phase in Hong Kong, we think it is a better arrangement for a true all-inclusive price instead of charging this service fee separately. Furthermore, as most of the vendors and banks already adopted the paperless office, it is a free choice for our customers to keep the correspondence address service in the second year depending on the operation and business needs.
Of course, there are some extremely low prices offers in the market, for example, “Price of Hong Kong Company starts at $99 USD” or even lower. For government fee already over USD250, you can tell the final price will certain beyond USD99 and perhaps there are more hidden fees follow up after engagement. Company set up service provider is your first business partner in Hong Kong; CatcherBiz believes a transparent, trustworthy manner is more important in building a long-term relationship with you. Furthermore, there are more options and packages available, you can always find the package that best fit your needs and enjoy the best price and discounts.
This decision is up to you, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or input your email under below message box for any other things in your mind about company set up in Hong Kong, we will get back to you as soon as possible with a FREE 30 mins Skype consultation to ensure you enjoy having CatcherBiz as your first business partner in Hong Kong.
Who provides Company Set Up Services in Hong Kong?
There are different types of company set up service providers in Hong Kong, such as law firms, accounting firms, company secretary firms, business centres, business services provider, asset management firms … etc., although the services available often overlapping each other, the focus and professionals are different. Depending on your needs and purpose of setting up a company in Hong Kong, a matching partner could save you cost, time, giving you value-added supports in boosting your start-up phase process.
For CatcherBiz, we are a company secretary firm, focusing on helping foreign entrepreneurs and MNCs in catching business opportunities in Hong Kong, China (through WFOE set up) and Asia Region investment opportunities.
No matter what kind of service provider you choose for on-boarding, there are several key reminders for you as take away
Choose a reliable agent (How to choose a reliable agent) – Most of the company formation works completed remotely, however, the thereafter maintenance works last for a long-term (at least 1 year), a responsive, reliable, trustworthy agent is better than an agent offering you a once-off discount
Verify your agent (Check if your agent is a licensed one) – since March 2018, all company service providers MUST obtain a license for business (TCSP License), company registered through an unlicensed agent might be resulting non-compliance and even prosecution
Due Diligence, KYC (Know Your Customer), Compliance Process – even your agent is a licensed one, would the agent perform the mandatory “Know Your Customer” check complying with AML (Anti-Money Laundering) and CTF (Counter Terrorist Financing)? For example, asking you about Source of Fund, Nature of Business, and Ultimate Beneficiary Owners (UBO) for Significant Controllers Register? Although these checking works are ignoring and timely, which might upset the customers, failure to upkeep these mandatory requirements in accordance with the licensing guideline will be prosecuted which affecting your company and business eventually
Your agent is actually doing the work – some of the existing agents unable to obtain the license in 2018 but already in this field for a long history will simply outsourcing the company secretary works to another licensed agent, which means
Your agent is only a middleman, today, your company is handling by agent A, the next day, due to fee issues, your company will be shifted to agent B without notifying you
Even worse, due to multiply agents, missing filing deadline resulting unnecessary penalty, non-compliance issues due to missing company records, sudden raise of fee without prior notification could happen
Lastly, out of control, because you don’t have the direct contact with the agent that performs the company secretary works, you are unable to get back the company, leaving a mess with huge adverse impact to your business
Upon engaging with CatcherBiz, what company secretary services will I receive?
Basic thing is to act as the Company Secretary of your Hong Kong Company. CatcherBiz will prepare and maintain all mandatory company records of your Hong Kong Company in accordance to the Companies Law, such as Registers of Members, Registers of Directors, Register of Secretaries, Significant Controllers Registers, Ownership Structure Chart … etc.
Then, during the service period, ensure your Hong Kong company in good standing (complying to all the regulatory and legislative requirements), for example, reminding you on the filing of Annual Return, time to renew the Business Registration, reporting Profit Tax Return, Employment Return, and other necessary obligations on tax, accounting, and auditing on a timely basis.
Of course, we become your best partner in advising and handling any changes requests about your Hong Kong company, for example, allotment of shares, change of directors, change of shareholders, deregistration … etc., so that all these company affairs are confidently handled by us (CatcherBiz), where you can keep the focus on developing your business. Contact us at email@example.com for a chat, or input your needs in the above message box, let’s see how we could be your assistance, cheers.
Hong Kong Company Formation and Bank Account Opening?
Most of the company formation service providers will offer value-added service on bank account opening as a package. Under this session, through a series of Q&A, we would like to give you straight forward answers that customers concern the most.
Q1. Is Corporate Bank Account bundled with Company Set Up?
A1. No, two are separate matters, but usually, most of the company set up service providers can assist you throughout the application process.
Q2. Then, should we process the bank account application ourselves or we MUST join the corporate bank account service at the same time?
A2. If you are a foreigner, yes, we highly recommend you to join because nowadays, any new business in Hong Kong has difficulties on the bank account application in Hong Kong due to lack of business proofs for the compliance of the bank to approve the case. On the other hand, for any customers that have confidence in providing business proofs in accordance with the bank requirements, it is OK to proceed on your own. Below with a common list of business proofs that prefer by the bank in Hong Kong, you may take it as a reference (Source:- Hang Seng Business Account Opening Checklist)
Q3. OK, if we join the bank account opening service, does it means that the application of corporate bank account guarantees success?
A3. Honestly, we are not the bank; we cannot guarantee your application will be accepted 100%, yet, because we have rich experience and deep knowledge about the compliance requirements, especially about the AML & CTF concerns of the banks, we can help you in consolidating relevant materials and information about your business to confidently present to the bank side, resulting a much higher success rate.
Q4. If company formation and bank account application are separate things, then, why should I apply this service at the time of company formation?
A4. The main reason is that we can offer you a much better discount on the bank account opening service. Nowadays, for company set up, we, as a licensed service provider, are required to perform the necessary due diligence and compliance review before engagement, which most of the works are the same for that of bank account opening. Such that if customers proceed bank account opening right after company formation, we can save a lot of time and efforts in collecting information and materials in relation to your Hong Kong business, such as source of fund, certified true copy of passport & address proof ultimate beneficial owner(s), director(s) and shareholder(s) within three (3) months … etc.
Q5. How about I incorporate the company first, and then arrange the bank account opening application later, in the meantime, I will use my personal account for the business first?
A5. Although this is not prohibited, we do not recommend this approach because mixing your personal transactions with that of company will create an impression to the bank that you are trying to hide some of the business profits in your personal account; also, at time of profit tax reporting, the tax authority will pay special attention to your case.
If you are too occupied to come to Hong Kong for the bank interview, or you prefer to apply for the corporate bank account at a later time upon the business is ready to launch, we will recommend our customers to apply for a Neat account first. Neat is an alternative bank account solution available in Hong Kong that the whole application process and operation could be performed 100% online (NO Hong Kong physical presence is required), for detail, you may check with our Quora reply post, and feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for further assistance, or you can open a business account online by yourself.
Business License Requirement in Hong Kong?
For some specific businesses, a separate business license is required on top of the business registration here in Hong Kong, for example, money lending, restaurants, travel agency, education centre …etc., usually, this kind of business license is granted by specific government authority, issuing a separate license, permit or certificate as an official approval for that particular business to operate in Hong Kong.
To check whether your business requires applying for an additional business license, you can simply search it from the information page organized by the Trade and Industry Department. Of course, because the search engine mechanism is based on a “Keyword” search, just in case you type in a keyword that is not specific enough, the search result might not be accurate.
For example “Money Borrowing” or “Personal Financing” business in the search result with “No record found”, but when you type "Money Lending", it will show the relevant result of the licensing requirements to you.
To avoid missing out on the license application due to an inaccurate search result, it is always better to cross-check with your local agent for the concrete answer.
In general, most of the businesses do not require a specific business license; let’s say you are doing trading business in Hong Kong, unless this is controlled goods, you only need to arrange custom declaration for each log of goods, and any specific license does not require.
When you are ready to set up a company in Hong Kong, CatcherBiz is here at your service. Simply send us an email at email@example.com or drop your message under below message box to request a quote now and allowing your business to grow with the first trustworthy top-rated business partner.
Thank you so much for your reading, this is the end of the Definitive Guide on Company Set Up in Hong Kong, we hope the information suits you well. To enable your entrepreneur journey here in Hong Kong, below with the contact information of Main Government Authorities (Department) for Doing Business in Hong Kong so that you can obtain more supports and resources for a smooth commence of business with great success, cheers.
Contact Information of Main Government Authorities (Departments) for Doing Business in Hong Kong
Below with the list of government authorities that commonly come across with doing business in Hong Kong, the link will direct you to the official website of the authority and we also share the main contact and email for direct enquiry
Invest Hong Kong – assisting overseas and Mainland entrepreneurs, SMEs and multinationals to expand their business or set up an office in Hong Kong
Phone (852) 3107 100
Phone (852) 2867 2600 / (852) 2867 2604
Inland Revenue Department – Hong Kong Tax Authority, in charge of all tax matters in Hong Kong
Phone (852) 187 8088
Phone (852) 2961 6901
Immigration Department – Handle your VISA application, working holidays, application of Hong Kong Identity Card, Permanent Residency, and other Hong Kong entry matters
Phone (852) 2824 6111
Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) – Promote, assist and develop Hong Kong's trade, mainly in organizing international exhibitions, conferences and business missions to create business opportunities for companies. For sourcing product/service - here
Phone (852) 1830 668
Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation – The central hub in Hong Kong in promoting innovation and technology development, with R&D laboratories, incubator programs, investors connection services … etc.
Phone (852) 2629 1818
Hong Kong Monetary Authority – Government Authority to regulate the banking industry in Hong Kong, therefore, any complaint in relation to banking issues, this is the place to seek relevant assistance.
Phone (852) 2878 8196
Customs and Excise Department – Cargo Clearance, Customs Declaration, and other import-export matters, all information and related controls are available here, must save the link if you are in trading (import-export) business
Phone (852) 2815 7711
Phone (852) 3902 8637
Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) - regulate Hong Kong's securities and futures markets, including the Listed Stock Market in Hong Kong and all licensing matters on futures and securities (licensing requirement)
Phone (852) 2231 1222
Food and Environmental Hygiene Department – if your business is in relation to restaurant, CAFÉ, food or beverage trading, this is the department you need to visit. For licensing relation matters – here
Phone (852) 2868 0000
Hong Kong Productivity Council – An organization that provides different resources and supports to Hong Kong industries and enterprises, often provides free or low-cost seminars or programme for management
Phone (852) 2788 5678
Labour Department – provide employment services, promote labour relations, occupational safety and health, and employee rights & benefits in Hong Kong. For posting free job advertisements on local hiring - here
Phone (852) 2544 3271
Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority (MPF) – MPF is the basic retirement protection for Hong Kong local workforce. 5% of the salary will be contributed to the MPF on a monthly basis under a dedicated MPF account
Phone (852) 2918 0102
Official Receiver's Office - provides insolvency service to creditors and the public, in short, bankruptcy cases, no matter individual or corporate, all are handled under this office
Phone (852) 2867 2448
Below are the other government authorities on general affairs.
Phone (852) 2723 8787
Hong Kong Police Force – For emergency or to report a crime, please call (852) 999
Phone (852) 2527 7177
Email Online enquiry portal
Link of Contact information of each hospital is here
Phone (852) 2804 2600
Phone (852) 2921 2222
Phone (852) 2810 2770
Office of the Ombudsman – This is the city’s independent watchdog of public administration, investigate complaints about maladministration by the governments’ departments and agencies
Phone (852) 2629 0555
For any other government authorities that you need contact information or you think it is good to put other contact information here, please do not hesitate to let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org, your comment is highly appreciated.