Your guide to starting a business in Hong Kong

Panna Kemenes
23.03.22
2 minute read

Hong Kong can be a great choice for starting your company. The global leader in business and banking comes with a multitude of benefits.

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. 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.

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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.

The remainder of this guide will focus on limited companies.

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

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

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:

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

For incorporating a company in Hong Kong 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

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 years¹
  2. Levy to the Protection of Wages on Insolvency Fund - HK$250 for one year or HK$750 for three years¹

Pay registration fees with Wise

How long does it take to open a HK business?

If you’re planning to register a company in Hong Kong online, you’re in luck! Assuming all your documents are in order, and you’re approved, the process can be completed in under an hour. This includes getting your Certificate of Incorporation and Business Registration Certificate.

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. Using a banking alternative, such as Wise, can save you time and money.

The Wise Business account. For business without borders.

Old-world bank accounts only work properly in one country. They hold money only in one currency. And it gets expensive when you try to use them across borders. The Wise Business account solves all of this.

Now you can send, receive and organize your money internationally, without crazy fees or exchange rates. Just a small, fair charge when your money moves between currencies.

Sign up for free. Manage your
Hong Kong business finances with ease

You can exchange USD for Hong Kong dollars at the real mid-market rate, and then hold, manage, and spend from your Wise account.

Where can I find more resources to help me?

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


Sources:

  1. Business Registration Fee and Levy Table

Sources checked March 23, 2022.


This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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