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.
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.
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.