Hong Kong has been the world’s freest economy on the planet for the better part of three decades, and that reputation as a haven for entrepreneurship keeps it top of mind for those wishing to start a business in Asia. Beyond free economics, Hong Kong holds an enviable position as a gateway from the West to Mainland China, and it’s simple and low tax rates remain integral to its attractiveness for startups.
There is one final ace up Hong Kong’s sleeve to lure foreign entrepreneurs — you don’t actually need to live in Hong Kong to set up and run a successful business. In fact, you don’t even need to enter Hong Kong at all to open a business as a foreigner.
How Can Foreigners Start a Business in Hong Kong?
The e-Registry is the portal that allows foreigners to set up a business in Hong Kong completely through the internet. It should be noted however, in order to use the e-registry to set up a business in Hong Kong from overseas, you must register an incorporated company. If you wish to set up a sole proprietorship or a partnership, you must either be a Hong Kong resident or have an applicable work visa. You can read more about getting a Hong Kong work visa here.
Before you start your Hong Kong company incorporation journey, you should also choose a registered Hong Kong incorporation provider to guide you through the process. While the Hong Kong Government has made it as straight-forward as possible to start a company, there will always be portions of the process where you are better off having an expert help you. In fact, if you want to be able to set up a company without entering Hong Kong, we would recommend it as a necessity.
Let’s take a look at what you need to know to set up your own business in Hong Kong, without even stepping foot there.
Related Read: How to set up an offshore company in Hong Kong »
What Are the Required Documents and Set up Costs for Registering a Company in Hong Kong?
One consistent theme you’ll notice in Hong Kong is that the government makes it as convenient and hassle-free as possible to operate in all facets of business. That theme continues when it comes to incorporating a company, as Hong Kong is eager to continue to attract the world’s best entrepreneurs.
What Are the Steps for Incorporating a Company in Hong Kong as a Foreigner?
1. Choose a Company Name
The simplest of steps — pick a unique name for your company. The name cannot already be registered to another Hong Kong company, infringe on any existing intellectual property, or be obscene or objectionable in nature.
2. Choose Your Business Type
There are several kinds of business types available to register in Hong Kong, but to reiterate our previous point, if you want to set up a company without entering Hong Kong, it must be an incorporated company. If you are a large corporation, you can set up a public limited company, but most entrepreneurs will choose to open a private limited company.
You can read more about Hong Kong business types in our article What Are the Different Types of Business Entities in Hong Kong? »
3. Register Your Company
To qualify for your company registration as a foreign entrepreneur, you will need to appoint a Hong Kong resident to be a representative of your company as part of the Companies Amendment Ordinance of 2019. This representative is required to keep an up-to-date ‘Significant Controllers Register’ that may be inspected by law enforcement officers at any time.
You can then register your company itself online with the e-Registry, so you can do this part of the process online. To do this you will also need:
- Your company’s incorporation forms
- Copies of identification for directors and shareholders
- Proof of company’s Hong Kong office address.
For convenience and total assurance however, you will most likely want to use a trusted incorporation provider to do the registration process for you. This part of the process usually takes about two weeks.
4. Open a Hong Kong Corporate Bank Account
For the most part, opening a corporate account for your company in Hong Kong is the same as in any other country. You will want to make sure that your company is ready to operate, and has profitability in its business model. Show the bank that you are capable, trustworthy, and a legitimate investment for them.
Provide everything you can to make a good case for your company, whether it be financial figures, your online presence, or projected earnings.
Beyond that you will need to provide proof of business, registration certification and a completed corporate account application for your chosen bank.
The one big difference here of course is that as an overseas-based entrepreneur, you can’t just pop into a bank in Hong Kong. Again, this is where having a trusted company incorporation specialist is almost essential to assist you. A good incorporation provider will already have excellent relationships with all of the major banks, and will be able to expedite the bank process for you.
Conclusion — Where to Next for Starting a Hong Kong Company From Overseas
Compared to other countries, it is a relatively quick and simple process for incorporating a company in Hong Kong. What is fundamental to your success however, is choosing a trusted company registration service provider.
Given the fact that Hong Kong is such a hub of entrepreneurship, there is no shortage of incorporation service providers at your disposal. As with any service through, they will each be of varying quality.
Make sure you pick a Hong Kong company incorporation service provider that makes the process as seamless as possible. Shop around and find the best provider possible — from there you will have a hassle-free company incorporation process, and be operating in Asia’s entrepreneurial powerhouse in no time at all.
HKCR has an expert team of qualified accountants, bankers, and insurance brokers to help you ensure the success of your Hong Kong business venture.
If you have any questions about how your business can be a success in Hong Kong, please do contact us — it’s both our job and pleasure to assist.
- What are the 4 main steps for Hong Kong company incorporation?
- Choose a proper Company Name
- Choose the right Business Structure
- Register your company
- Open a corporate bank account in Hong Kong
- How many days does it take for a foreigner to incorporate a Hong Kong company?
- It takes an average of 5-7 days for a foreigner to incorporate a company in Hong Kong.
- What are the documents and costs required to set up a Hong Kong business?
- Incorporation documents — approximately HK$2,070
- Business Registration Certificate (government fee) — HK$250
- Allocation for a company secretary — HK$3,500
- Allocation for company’s registered office address — HK$2,000
- e-Registration handling fee — approximately HK$300 per officer
- What is Hong Kong government’s fee for foreigners to incorporate a company?
- It costs foreigners HK$1,700 to incorporate a company. However, this cost is waived in 2020/2021.
Let Us Help You Successfully Incorporate your Company in Hong Kong
Our experienced team at HKCR consists of advisors who can help you successfully set up your company in Hong Kong.