Business licenses
in Hong Kong.

As a business owner, you are responsible for making sure your business has the proper business licenses and permits to operate legally. Let us help you determine which licenses you will need and also obtain them.

Business licenses in Hong Kong

What is a business license?

A business license authorises a company to operate in regulated industries in Hong Kong.

The requirement to obtain a license arises from not only the nature of your business activity, but also the use of certain assets or the intellectual property in your operations. Running your business without securing the necessary licenses first is illegal and may result in penalties and the closure of your business.

Business licenses & permits

Business licenses & permits you may need.

The government requires you to obtain a business license when you operate within a very specialised industry or an industry with a high level of liability. In Hong Kong, you will need one or more licenses if you operate in the following business categories:

  • Travel agency license

    When a business involves selling travel packages, tickets and accommodation to those who are travelling from Hong Kong to an outside destination or who are travelling to visit Hong Kong, a license is needed. The travel agency needs to comply with guidelines set down by the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau.

  • Employment agency license

    The Hong Kong Labour Department oversees the licensing necessary for employment agencies that recruit employees for other firms. The activities that need to be licensed include corporate headhunting, construction worker employment and domestic helper employment.

  • Education business license

    The Education Bureau of Hong Kong oversees the licensing of educational institutions to ensure a high quality of education is offered in Hong Kong by new companies coming into the sector.

  • Money lender licence

    To operate a money lending business, companies must first acquire a money lenders license issued by the Companies Registry. By definition, money lender services mean making loans to others that are distinct from banks and financial institutions and applies to both natural and juristic persons. An example would be secured and unsecured loans such as mortgage loans, consumer and corporate loans, vehicles, plant equipment leasing, credit cards, small and medium enterprises loans, cheque and invoice discounting, or loan syndication.

  • Money service operator licence

    A money service operator is a natural or juristic person operating money-changing or remittance services. Such activities require obtaining a money service operator license from the Commissioner of Customs and Excise.

  • Event management company license

    Depending on the event that is that you organise, you may require a range of licenses, from food and liquor sales licenses to a license to display advertising materials. Acclime can advise what licenses are needed for your event.

  • Restaurant license

    To operate a restaurant business in Hong Kong, you will need a general restaurant license. To obtain such a license, you need to have premises set up and rented as the licensing board will want to inspect the premises before issuing the license. If you intend to sell alcohol at the restaurant, you will then need a liquor license. Other permits may be required such as for outdoor seating or to serve certain food, like sashimi, sushi, oysters and other raw foods.

  • Certain trading companies

    If your business involves import/export of controlled goods (e.g. tobacco, animals or animal products, liquor, drugs), you will need to obtain a license from the relevant Government Authority.

  • Certain retail businesses

    Retail businesses that need licensing are those that sell specific products such as medical devices, Chinese medicine or live animals. The majority of retail companies do not need a license.

Single fee per license
Business license application process

How getting a business license in Hong Kong works.

Let us save you time and money and help you find and apply for the necessary licenses and permits you need to start running your business in Hong Kong.

Determining the licenses
you will need

We will conduct research and find out what licenses you will need to turn the lights on in your business.

Preparing and filing
the application

Once we know the required licenses, we will help you prepare the application and file it with the relevant government authorities.

License(s) acquired, you are ready for business

You receive your business license(s) and get back to work on your business. The processing time varies on the specific license type.
Ready to get started?

Let us guide you in making your company’s activities fully compliant, watertight and ready for business.

Non-binding & confidential
Not sure where to begin?

Schedule a free 30-minute consultation
on starting & managing your company
in Hong Kong.

Winnie Li, Acclime Director

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