How to start business in Hong Kong

06.03.17
3 minute read

As a record-holder for the world’s freest economy for the past two decades, Hong Kong can be a great choice for starting your company. The global leader in business and banking comes with a multitude of benefits, like it’s rank above the USA, UK, and Japan as the least corrupt nation on the globe.

Most importantly, opening a business in Hong Kong is relatively easy and cost-effective. As a foreigner you can own 100% of your business in Hong Kong, and you may be the sole director and shareholder. Attractively, Hong Kong is also a great gateway for establishing your business in China or other Asian nations.

Read on to learn more about the processes, timing, and fees for starting a business in Hong Kong.

What types of companies are there in Hong Kong?

Opening a foreign business in Hong Kong is generally restricted to one business type: a Limited company. However, if you already have a business elsewhere, there are a couple of other options.

Limited Company

A limited company is the most common business type in Hong Kong. Since it’s officially incorporated in HK, you’ll enjoy all the same tax benefits as resident entrepreneurs do, including the free trade agreement with China.

Branch Office

If your company is already registered somewhere else, you can open a branch office in Hong Kong. This type of office is not independent from its parent company, and comes with a distinct set of limitations.

Representative Office

A representative office is the most limited way to establish a presence in HK. Representative offices can’t be engaged in any profit-making activities, meaning you may not make or sell goods or services in Hong Kong. This type of office is best if you’re planning to open an office for a non-sales based branch of your company, like support or marketing staff.

For the remainder of this guide, we’ll focus on limited companies.

What's the process for choosing a name for my business?

Before you can begin the process, you’ll need to choose a name and ensure that it is legally available in Hong Kong. You can find a full list of Hong Kong’s registered company names online.

What's the process for opening my business in Hong Kong?

The process for opening a business in Hong Kong is fairly simple, as outlined below:

Submit application for incorporation online through Hong Kong’s  24-hour Companies E-registry.

For that you’ll need:
1. Incorporation form or form NNC1 (you can download the NNC1 form online)
2. A Notice to the Business Registration Office, or form IRBR1 (you can also download the IRBR1 form)
3. A copy of your company’s Articles of Association

Apply for business registration (simultaneous).

When you apply for incorporation, you’ll also be automatically applying for business registration.For that step, you’ll need:
1. Your business registration fee - Generally HK$2000 for one year or HK$5200 for three years
2. Levy to the Protection of Wages on Insolvency Fund - HK$250 for one year or HK$750 for three years.

How long does it take to open a HK business?

If you’re registering your business online, you’re in luck! Assuming all of your documents are in order and you’re approved, the entire process, including getting your Certificate of Incorporation and Business Registration Certificate, can be completed in under an hour.

If you mail your documents, you can expect your Certificate of Incorporation and Business Registration Certificate to be issued within four days.

What about a bank account?

One thing you'll need to do to get your business started is open a bank account in Hong Kong so that you can start funding your venture. The process is fairly straightforward for personal bank accounts, although opening a business bank account requires a bit more paperwork.

Where can I find more resources to help me?

If you have further questions about how to set up a business in Hong Kong, visit the Government of Hong Kong's Resource to Setting up Your Business has set up a website with all of the necessary information for getting registered.

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