Business Registration Certificate in Hong Kong: Everything You Need to Know
When you decide to open a company in Hong Kong, the first step is incorporating it in line with the Companies Ordinance guidelines. But to start running your business, you will be required to also register it with the Business Registration Office of the Inland Revenue Department for a business registration certificate (BRC).
In this article, we will tell you everything about business registration certificate and business registration in Hong Kong, including, what it is, how to register, and renewal.
Hong Kong Business Registration - What is a Business Registration Certificate?
Before we can get into deeper details of BRC, let us look at the definition. A business registration certificate is a document issued by the Business Registration Office showing details of a company and is one of the main requirements for running a business in Hong Kong. If you have a business in Hong Kong, you are required to apply for a BRC within 30 days of commencing operations. If the details of your business change, you are also required to notify the Business Registration Office within 30 days so that an appropriate update is done on the registry.
A BRC shows the following details:
- Business name
- Nature of business
- Business address
- Type of business
- Date of business commencement
- Expiry date
- Certificate number
Which Businesses are required to have BRC?
For some investors, one question that lingers in their minds is: "Does my company operations really require a BRC?"
Here is a list of businesses that require a business registration certificate to operate in Hong Kong.
- Any type of organization or activity done for the purpose of making profit. Good examples include commerce retail enterprises, professional services providers, and craftsmanship.
- Clubs offering facilities and services to its members for a fee.
- All companies that are incorporated in Hong Kong. Note that this includes those that do business in Hong Kong and in other jurisdictions.
- All Hong Kong companies with representatives in Hong Kong, irrespective of whether they have a registered address or not.
However, if you are an individual employed in a business organization in Hong Kong, you are not required to go for a BRC.
What is the Best Time to Register for BRC?
If your company is incorporated and registered under the Hong Kong Companies Ordinance, here are the best times to register for BRC.
- When applying for company incorporation: This means that BRC process runs simultaneously with your company registration. It also implies that you will receive the certificate of incorporation together with the business registration certificate.
- If you get the business registration certificate together with the certificate of incorporation, the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) still requires you to notify it in one month.
When making the notification, the details to include are the date when the business commenced, description of the business, and the nature of notification. These are the details that will be reflected in the updated BRC.
If your business takes the form of partnership, sole-proprietorship, branches, or unincorporated body of persons, the registration should be done within one month from the date of commencing operations.
A Brief about BRC and Business Name
Many people opening businesses in Hong Kong often ask: “Must the business registration certificate carry the name that a company is registered with?” The answer is, “no.” When applying for a business registration certificate (BRC) in Hong Kong, there are two ways to go about the name to use:
- Using the name that is in the certificate of incorporation.
- Branch BR certificate is applied for when we need to register an additional physical place where the company carries out business.
The Business Registration Number
A business registration number is a unique identifier that is issued by the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) to a registered enterprise. It consists of eight numerals and is clearly displayed in the business registration certificate (BRC). You will need this number all the time when dealing with different government agencies, such as filing annual returns with the IRD.
Display the Business Registration Certificate well for Inspection
Once you get the business registration certificate in Hong Kong, you are required to clearly display it in your place of operation so that any officer from different Hong Kong administration departments can see it. Note that the certificate should be displayed in its original form. Displaying the certificate also comes with additional benefits, including the following:
- A well-displayed certificate indicates to your customers this, “see, my business has complied with all regulations and, therefore, ready to offer you the best services/products."
- Interested business partners will be able to see that you are a law-abiding investor. This could help to build interest in working with you and ultimately spur your business growth.
- It is a good way to demonstrate your legitimacy to staff working in your company.
Make Sure to Also Get Other Crucial Business Licenses
Hong Kong administration emphasizes that a business registration certificate is not a full guarantee to trade. Rather, it is one of the statutory requirements that you need to operate your business in Hong Kong. So check what other types of licenses that the business requires to operate in Hong Kong. For example, businesses in the following niches require additional licenses:
- Financial services
- Catering and hospitality
- Technology such as app development
You can check Hong Kong Trade and Industry Department to see all the permits, licenses, approvals, and certificates that you might require to operate your business in Hong Kong.
Penalties for Non-Compliance and Other Risks
If you fail to apply for a business registration certificate in Hong Kong, it is an offense that attracts hefty fines and/ jail terms. Besides, if you apply for BR after more than one year, the Business Registration Office will require you to clear the fee for current renewal, all the fees for the years that you have not complied, and any penalty that might be imposed therein.
Penalties are not the only risks that come with non-compliance. Your business is likely to find it difficult to file tax returns, which could even mean a bigger problem with IRD. Furthermore, you are likely to lose business because other traders will want to see the BRC before starting to work with you. So, you better ensure to apply for BRC on time to make the business operations smooth.
Why You Should Use Agency for Business Registration
Now that we have shown why BRC is one of the most important documents for your business to run smoothly in Hong Kong, the next thing is applying for it. So what is the best option? The smart way to apply for a business registration certificate in Hong Kong is by using an agency. So why the agency?
1. Agencies Help You to prepare all the Documents Needed for Registration
When you contract an agency, it will help you to prepare all the required documents and submit them to Business Registration Office. This is very important because you get the opportunity to concentrate on building the business as professionals handle the registration process.
2. If You Contract an Agency early, it can also help you with Business Incorporation
If you are planning to open a business in Hong Kong, it is important to think ahead and look at all the requirements, such as business registration certificate, that you will need along the way. If you contract an agency early enough, it can help you to navigate through the tedious incorporation process. Later, the agency can also help you with BRC, bank account opening, and could also serve as your company secretary in Hong Kong.
3. It is a Perfect Way to Enhance Your Decision-Making Abilities
For most offshore businesses in Hong Kong, success is based on the decisions they make. The best decisions that can spur growth should be based on recent market trends. Since most agencies have been in the market for many years, they understand its dynamics and can help you to make the right decisions.
4. Agencies Comprise of Experts Ready to Support Your Business for success
As the agency helps you to get the business registration certificate, it will be an opportunity to learn the best strategies for exponential business growth. The agencies have helped other businesses in the past and know what works and what doesn’t. Therefore, a good agency will support your business until it achieves the anticipated success.
When it comes to running a business in Hong Kong, company incorporation is only one of the main steps. You also need to get a business registration certificate from the Business Registration Office in Hong Kong. The certificate shows that your business is legitimate and allows you to do all the activities that it’s licensed to do. To make the process of applying for the certificate straightforward, make sure to work with a professional agency.
FAQ: Business registration in Hong Kong
What is a business registration certificate?
A business registration certificate (BRC) is an important document that all businesses operating in Hong Kong are required to have and display in their offices all the time. The certificate is used to indicate that the business is legitimate. It captures the following information about your business:
- Name of the company
- Company location or address
- The type of your company
- The nature of the business done by the company
- When the business commenced operations
- The date of business registration certificate expiry
- The business registration number
How do I get a business registration certificate in Hong Kong?
You get a business registration certificate in Hong Kong from the Business Registration Office. This is done by completing form IRBR 37 and paying the prescribed fee on the registration office’s website. If your company was registered through the one-stop company and business registration service, and the details of the business copied to the Companies Registry, your BRC will be available in two days after the date of incorporation.
What is the best way to get your business registration certificate?
The best way to get your business registration certificate is using an agency. This makes the process easy, direct, and cheap. When you work with an agency, it will not only help you to apply for the CBR, but will also come in handy to help you with company incorporation in Hong Kong. Furthermore, it can serve as your Hong Kong company secretary and assist you when applying for a bank account. More importantly, an agency can help you to avoid mistakes that other companies make, especially when getting started in the Hong Kong market.