Starting an Event Management Company in Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s event management industry has witnessed exponential growth in recent years in line with the territory’s development as a global hub for trade and investment.

Owing to its strategic location and infrastructure, Hong Kong has emerged as a preferred destination for meetings, exhibitions, conventions and other world-class events. Today, Hong Kong is home to a large number of event management companies who professionally organize events and offer a wide range of event support services.

A large number of events such as entertainment shows, corporate events, exhibitions, carnivals, festivals, seminars and conferences are held each year in Hong Kong and the demand for event management companies continues to rise.

Hong Kong is one of the easiest places in the world to set up and operate an event management company. Setting up an event management company in Hong Kong involves only one major step – company incorporation. There is no business license requirement for operating an event management company in Hong Kong. However, depending on the type of activity that is being organized, event managers may be required to apply for certain activity-specific licenses or permits.

This guide provides an overview of the steps involved in setting up an event management company in Hong Kong and other information about licenses or permits that may be required for organizing certain types of events.

Incorporating a Hong Kong Event Management Company

Once you have decided to setup an event management company in Hong Kong, you must first register a Hong Kong company and obtain a Certificate of Incorporation from the Hong Kong Companies Registry. For details on how to setup a Hong Kong company, please refer to Hong Kong Company Formation guide.

Licensing Requirements for Organizing Events in Hong Kong

Depending on the type of event that is being organized, you may require one or more of the following licenses or permits.

Place of Public Entertainment License

  • A ‘Place of Public Entertainment License’ issued by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD), under the Places of Public Entertainment Ordinance, must be obtained to organize events to which the public has access, irrespective of whether the event offers free admission or paid entry. If the event is held on a temporary basis, a ‘Temporary Place of Public Entertainment License’ must be obtained. Examples of public entertainment events include:
    • A concert, opera, ballet, stage performance or other musical, dramatic or theatrical entertainment;
    • A cinema or laser projection display;
    • A circus;
    • A lecture or story-telling session;
    • An exhibition of pictures, photographs, books, manuscripts, etc.;
    • A sporting exhibition or contest;
    • A bazaar or market;
    • An amusement ride; and
    • A dance party
  • Individuals or organizations can apply for the Place of Public Entertainment License. The applicant must submit four copies of an application form to the FEHD along with fourcopies of the following supporting documents at least 42 days prior to the event:
    • Complete scaled metric layout plans showing elevations and sections of premises;
    • Block plans showing the location of the premises in relation to any adjacent lots, adjacent buildings and to public thoroughfares;
    • Drawings or diagrams showing the installation of any electrical, lighting, cooling, ventilation or mechanical apparatus at the premises; and
    • Location of all existing Fire Service Installations in the existing premises.
  • If the applicant is a corporation the following documents must be submitted:
    • Copy of Articles of Association of the Company;
    • Copy of Business Registration Certificate;
    • Certified true copy of Certificate of Incorporation of the Company;
    • Certified true copy of Notice of Situation of the Registered Office;
    • Certified true copy of the company’s most recent annual return;
    • A written resolution passed by the Board of Directors to authorize a person to act on behalf of the company to deal with licensing matters with FEHD; and
    • Notice of Acceptance of the Authorization signed by the authorized representative.
  • On receipt of the documents, the FEHD will conduct a preliminary screening of the layout plan and will dispatch a copy of the documents to the Buildings Department, Fire Services Department, Electrical and Mechanical Services Department, and Hong Kong Police Force for approval. Each of these departments will conduct separate site inspections to check the suitability of proposed premises for a public event.
  • Based on the feedback received from the respective Departments, the FEHD will then issue a letter of licensing requirements to the applicant.
  • An Application Vetting Panel meeting between the officers of the departments and the applicant will be held to discuss the licensing requirements.
  • Once all the criteria are fulfilled, the applicant must report compliance to the FEHD for verification.
  • On receiving the report of compliance from the applicant, the FEHD will conduct a final verification of the premises.
  • If the FEHD finds the premises to be satisfactory, it will issue the Place of Public Entertainment License on payment of a prescribed license fee by the applicant.
  • The Place of Public Entertainment License is usually valid for 1 month, 3 months, 6 months or 12 months. A Temporary Place of Public Entertainment License is usually valid for 1 month or less.
  • The Licensing fee varies from HK$1,790 to HK$17,830 depending on the validity period of the license.

Temporary Food Factory License

  • A ‘Temporary Food Factory License’ issued by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD), must be obtained in order to sell pre-cooked food at an event.
  • Individuals or organizations can apply for the Temporary Food Factory License. The applicant must submit a prescribed application form along with a copy of the proposed layout plan of the premises.
  • If the applicant is a corporation the following documents must be submitted:
    • Copy of Articles of Association of the Company;
    • Copy of Business Registration Certificate;
    • Certified true copy of Certificate of Incorporation of the Company;
    • Certified true copy of Notice of Situation of the Registered Office;
    • Certified true copy of the company’s most recent annual return;
    • A written resolution passed by the Board of Directors to authorize a person to act on behalf of the company to deal with licensing matters with FEHD; and
    • Notice of Acceptance of the Authorization signed by the authorized representative.
  • If the FEHD finds the application to be satisfactory, it will issue the Temporary Food Factory License. A Temporary Food Factory License is usually valid for 1 week.

Food Factory License

  • If the applicant plans to prepare, manufacture, further process or pack food for sale for human consumption off the premises, as in the case of take-away services, a Food Factory License must be obtained from the FEHD.
  • Individuals or organizations can apply for the Temporary Food Factory License. The applicant must submit a prescribed application form along with three certified true copies of the scaled metric layout plan of the premises.
  • If the applicant is a corporation the following documents must be submitted:
    • Copy of Articles of Association of the Company;
    • Copy of Business Registration Certificate;
    • Certified true copy of Certificate of Incorporation of the Company;
    • Certified true copy of Notice of Situation of the Registered Office;
    • Certified true copy of the company’s most recent annual return;
    • A written resolution passed by the Board of Directors to authorize a person to act on behalf of the company to deal with licensing matters with FEHD; and
    • Notice of Acceptance of the Authorization signed by the authorized representative.
  • Upon receipt of the application, the FEHD will dispatch a copy of the completed application form along with the proposed layout plan to the Buildings Department and the Fire Services Department for approval.
  • The FEHD, Buildings Department and Fire Services Department will conduct separate site inspections to check the suitability of the proposed premises.
  • Based on the feedback received from the respective Departments, the FEHD will then issue a letter of licensing requirements to the applicant.
  • Once all the criteria are fulfilled, the applicant must report compliance to the FEHD for verification.
  • On receiving the report of compliance from the applicant, the FEHD will conduct a final verification of the premises.
  • If the FEHD finds the premises to be satisfactory, it will issue the Food Factory License on payment of a prescribed license fee by the applicant. The license fee is calculated according to the gross floor area of the food factory.

Amusement with Prizes License

  • An ‘Amusement with Prizes License’ issued by the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority must be obtained in order to conduct amusement games that award prizes at events such as fun fairs, fetes, and bazaars. Note that the premises where the amusement games will be conducted must be issued with a valid ‘Place of Public Entertainment License’.
  • Individuals or organizations can apply for the Amusement with Prizes License. The applicant must submit a prescribed application form along with the necessary supporting documents to the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority. Details of game lists showing the number and name of prize giving games and a description of the mode of playing the games must be submitted along with the application.
  • If the application is found to be satisfactory, the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority will issue the Amusement with Prizes License within 1 month on payment of a prescribed license fee of HK$3,200 by the applicant.
  • The license is only valid for the duration of the event.
  • Once the license is granted, the applicant must abide by the specified license conditions.

Lottery License

  • A Lottery license issued by the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority (TELA) must be obtained in order to conduct a lottery at the premises of an event. The term lottery as defined by the Gambling Ordinance includes:
  • A raffle;
  • A sweep stake;
  • Any competition for money or other property which
    • Involves guessing or estimating the results of future events, or of past events the results of which are not generally known; or
    • Does not depend to a substantial degree upon the exercise of skill by the competitors; and
  • Any game, method, device or scheme for distributing or allotting prizes by lot or chance.
  • Individuals or organizations can apply for the Lottery License. The applicant must submit a prescribed application form along with the following supporting documents to the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority:
    • A sample ticket; and
    • A copy of the applicant’s Hong Kong Identity Card.

If the applicant is a corporation the following documents must be submitted:

  • Copy of Articles of Association of the Company;
  • Copy of Business Registration Certificate;
  • Certified true copy of Certificate of Incorporation of the Company;
  • Certified true copy of Notice of Situation of the Registered Office;
  • Certified true copy of the company’s most recent annual return;
  • A written resolution passed by the Board of Directors to authorize a person to act on behalf of the company to deal with licensing matters with TELA; and
  • Notice of Acceptance of the Authorization signed by the authorized representative.

If the application is found to be satisfactory, the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority will issue the Lottery License within 10 days on payment of a prescribed license fee of HK$3,165 by the applicant.

Trade Promotion Competition License

  • A trade promotion competition is defined as a competition or scheme conducted for the purpose of promoting a business or sale of a product by way of lucky draws. Organizers of trade promotion competitions must obtain a Trade Promotion Competition License from the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority.
  • Individuals or organizations can apply for the Trade Promotion Competition License. The applicant must submit a prescribed application form along with the following supporting documents to the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority:
    • A copy of the applicant’s Hong Kong Identity Card; and
    • Applicant’s particulars.
  • If the applicant is a corporation the following documents must be submitted:
    • Copy of Articles of Association of the Company;
    • Copy of Business Registration Certificate;
    • Certified true copy of Certificate of Incorporation of the Company; 
    • Certified true copy of Notice of Situation of the Registered Office;
    • Certified true copy of the company’s most recent annual return;
    • A written resolution passed by the Board of Directors to authorize a person to act on behalf of the company to deal with licensing matters with TELA; and
    • Notice of Acceptance of the Authorization signed by the authorized representative.
  • If the application is found to be satisfactory, the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority will issue the Trade Promotion Competition License within 7 days on payment of a prescribed license fee of HK$1,590 by the applicant.
  • Once the license is granted, the applicant must abide by the specified license conditions.

Other Licenses or Permits

Special Effects License: A ‘Special Effects License’ also known as a ‘Discharge Permit’ must be obtained from the Film Services Office (FSO) of the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority in order to use pyrotechnics or non-pyrotechnics special effects material to produce special effects during stage performances.

Lion Dance/Dragon Dance Permit: If you plan to organize a lion dance or dragon dance as part of your public event, you must obtain a ‘Lion Dance Permit’ or ‘Dragon Dance Permit’ from the Hong Kong Police Force.

Approval for Public Exhibition of Films in Hong Kong: Under the Film Censorship Ordinance, a film intended for exhibition in Hong Kong must be submitted to the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority (TELA) for classification or exemption.

Amusement Ride Permit: A ‘Permit to Use and Operate Amusement Rides’ issued by the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD) must be obtained before operating any amusement ride at events such as fun fairs or carnivals.

Private Mobile Radio System License: If you plan to operate portable transceivers on your event premises, you must obtain a ‘Private Mobile Radio System License’ from the Telecommunications Department of Hong Kong.

Animal Exhibition Permit: An ‘Animal Exhibition Permit’ issued by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department must be obtained in order to exhibit animals or birds at a public event.

You may require several licenses to organize an event in Hong Kong

As outlined above, you may require several licenses to organize an event in Hong Kong. However, you can obtain the licenses with ease and save on time and resources by hiring a professional services firm. Most firms are well versed with the various licensing requirements and can take care of the paperwork and obtain the necessary licenses on your behalf.

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