Resources / FAQ

How to start a business in Hong Kong?

There are six essential stages in setting up a business in Hong Kong. Here is a simplified overview of the process:

Step 1: Organizing the company’s structure

The initial and most crucial step for any businessman in Hong Kong is to choose the appropriate type of company. Hong Kong offers a wide choice of legal entities that can be established in the city, but foreign investors should bear in mind that certain industries and companies are subject to regulation and must adhere to specific rules. If you choose to work with our legal professionals in Hong Kong, you won’t have to worry about legal issues, as we can help you understand everything about foreign investment legislation.

Our Hong Kong law firm offers company formation services for Hong Kong-based companies or foreign branches and subsidiaries in Hong Kong. We can also assist you if you wish to acquire shares in existing Hong Kong companies or carry out corporate acquisitions and mergers.

If you intend to establish a company in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) and need assistance, our Hong Kong immigration experts can provide information on the residence permit application process.

You can find out all you need to know about these different company structures on our dedicated page.

Step 2: Choose a company name

The initial and foremost step is to choose a name for your company, which can be in either traditional Chinese, English, or a combination of both. To facilitate this process and avoid potential issues, consider the following recommendations:

  • Verify the availability of your chosen name on the Hong Kong Company Registry’s website. Alternatively, you can provide a list of names to your company secretary, who can conduct this check on your behalf.
  • Ensure that your company name is not already trademarked in another jurisdiction.
  • If you intend to use your company name as a trademark, take steps to protect it by registering it with the Hong Kong Intellectual Property Department.
For more comprehensive information on the registration of company names, you can refer to the guidelines provided by the Companies Registry.

Step 3: Select the Registered Address of Your Company

The registered address of your company is the address at which governmental departments will send correspondence. For this reason, it is common and recommended to use your company secretary’s address as the registered address for the company. The company secretary will alert you of any new mail sent to your company. Of course, there’s nothing wrong if you prefer using your office address as a registered address. However, in this case, be diligent in collecting your mail and remember to inform the authorities of Hong Kong each time you relocate your office.

Step 4: Appointing a company secretary

Every company in Hong Kong is obligated to have a local company secretary. This requirement serves a crucial purpose: the Hong Kong authorities need a designated point of contact for any inquiries related to your company. Consequently, the name of your company secretary is included in your company's registration documents.

The company secretary assumes the responsibility of ensuring that your company complies with the regulations governing its incorporation and ongoing operations in Hong Kong.

The roles and responsibilities of a company secretary for your business encompass various essential tasks, including:

  • Maintaining Company Records: This includes keeping records like the register of directors, the register of shareholders, share certificates, and the significant controller register up to date and in compliance with legal requirements.
  • Meeting Administration: Your company secretary will assist in organizing, preparing agendas for, and recording minutes of board meetings and annual general meetings, ensuring that these meetings are conducted in accordance with legal and regulatory standards.
  • Tax Filings: They will help with the preparation and submission of tax filings and ensure that your business complies with tax regulations.
  • Legislative and Regulatory Updates: Keeping a vigilant eye on changes in legislation and the regulatory environment that may impact your business. They will advise on and implement necessary actions to ensure compliance.

In summary, a company secretary plays a critical role in maintaining your company's legal and administrative compliance, ensuring that records are accurate and up-to-date, and providing support for important meetings and regulatory changes.

Step 5: Preparing the incorporation documents

In contrast to many countries, the process of incorporating a company in Hong Kong doesn't involve a complex array of documents. Instead, you only need to assemble the following:

  • NNC1 Incorporation Form: This form should be completed and signed by one of the shareholders. You can download the document for reference.
  • Identification Documents: Copies of the identification documents of the directors and shareholders. For Hong Kong residents, this would typically be the Hong Kong ID card, while foreigners should provide their passport.
  • Articles of Association: Typically, your company secretary will provide this standard legal document. The Articles of Association act as the company's constitution, outlining the internal rules governing the company's operations, including director appointments, share transfers, and financial matters.

Step 6: Submitting your application to the companies register

The process of incorporating your company is a straightforward procedure overseen by the Companies Registry. Incorporation documents can be submitted using one of these methods:

  • Online: Through Hong Kong's 24/7 Companies e-Registry.
  • Mail: By sending the documents to the address of the Companies Registry.
  • In-person: At the counter of the Companies Registry.

After submission, the Companies Registry will issue two key documents within 2 to 6 business days to confirm your company's incorporation: the certificate of incorporation and the business registration certificate. Both certificates can be collected in person at the Companies Registry or obtained electronically.

It's important to note that the certificate of incorporation is provided only once when your company is initially established, and it remains valid throughout the company's entire existence.

In contrast, the business registration certificate is valid for one year and must be renewed annually within one month following the anniversary of your company's establishment. Failure to do so may result in fines.

What you should know about the general conditions for entering Hong Kong

In most cases, individuals typically need a visa or an entry permit with a specific purpose when entering Hong Kong, unless they possess the right of abode. Visas are not mandatory for all foreign nationals, and in numerous instances, foreigners can stay in the Special Administrative Region without a visa for a limited period.

Individuals seeking to immigrate to Hong Kong must submit a visa or entry permit application, for non-visit purposes, prior to their travel to the Special Administrative Region. Different requirements and conditions are in place for Mainland China residents and residents of Taiwan.

Our legal professionals can furnish you with comprehensive information tailored to your nationality and the specific criteria for acquiring a transit visa.

Immigration entry permits in Hong Kong may be granted for the following purposes:

  • Employment: individuals can enter the Special Administrative Region for employment purposes when the job offer aligns with the standard employment conditions, and the applicant has a background that makes them a suitable candidate for the position.
  • Investment: applicable to entrepreneurs with the capacity to make a significant contribution to the economy through their investment value, job creation, and the introduction of innovative technology.
  • Study: prospective immigrants to Hong Kong can enter on a study permit once they have gained admission to an educational institution, post-secondary program, local course, or full-time study program.
  • Dependents: the spouse or unmarried children under the age of 18 of an individual (sponsor) who has been granted admission to Hong Kong for employment purposes are eligible to apply for a dependents’ permit.
  • Quality Migrant: designed for applicants who aspire to immigrate to Hong Kong through a specialized admission scheme, which relies on an achievement points assessment with a minimum qualifying score.

Is a visa required for entry into Hong Kong?

A visa is not mandatory for entry into Hong Kong, and individuals can utilize an identification document for their travels to the city. Nevertheless, specific visas are available for extended stays, such as those for work, study, or visits exceeding three months.

What conditions must be met in relation to employment?

The relationship between employer and employee is formalised by a written contract of employment. This contract must contain essential details about the nature of the job, responsibilities, working hours, remuneration and any additional benefits. Both parties must comply with the rules on notice periods. If you are considering hiring employees in Hong Kong, the lawyers at Plizz can provide you with valuable assistance.

What are the fundamental legal prerequisites that foreign investors must meet when seeking to make investments in Hong Kong?

Foreign investors in Hong Kong possess equal rights to establish companies as their local counterparts. The selection of a company structure and compliance with taxation, financial reporting, and auditing regulations are essential. Plizz legal professionals’ are well-versed in the legislation governing foreign investments and can provide you with detailed insights.

What is the process for handling business litigation cases in Hong Kong?

Business litigation cases in Hong Kong are typically heard in the Court of First Instance of the High Court. The process begins with the initiation of a commercial dispute through the submission of a writ of summons and a statement of claim. These documents are then delivered to the defendant, after which both parties engage in the collection of evidence during the discovery phase. The trial hearing represents the stage where both the defendant and the plaintiff present their arguments and evidence. It’s important to note that, in addition to litigation, alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation and arbitration are also commonly employed in Hong Kong.

What steps do I need to take to become a Hong Kong citizen?

Hong Kong citizenship can be obtained if:

  • You have lived in the city for 7 years and Hong Kong is your permanent place of residence
  • You are a Chinese national born in Hong Kong and meet certain criteria
  • You are a foreign resident with a Hong Kong parent (only for people under the age of 21).

One of our Hong Kong immigration lawyers can help you obtain citizenship in the city.