2. How can I set up a sole proprietorship, partnership or limited company? Do I have to obtain a business registration certificate from the Inland Revenue Department and register with the Companies Registry before commencement of business?
The Business Registration Ordinance (Cap. 310 of the Laws of Hong Kong) requires every person who runs a business in Hong Kong, whether it is a sole proprietorship, partnership or limited company, to register the business at the Inland Revenue Department within one month from the date of commencement of business, and to display a valid Business Registration Certificate at the place of business. For more information about the application procedure, the relevant charges and a sample application form and certificate, please visit the website of the Inland Revenue Department.
Incorporation of a limited company
In addition to obtaining a business registration certificate, a limited company must also be registered with the Companies Registry by submitting all of the relevant documents (including the Memorandum and Articles of Association) and paying the prescribed fee. For more information about how to register or incorporate a limited company, please visit the website of the Companies Registry (or call its hotline on 2234 9933). The contents of the Memorandum and Articles of Association should follow the requirements that are stipulated in schedule 1 of the Companies Ordinance.
It is important to note that a limited company only comes into existence on the date on which its Certificate of Incorporation is issued by the Companies Registry.
Rather than setting up a new limited company, you can purchase a ready-made limited company (also called a "shelf company") from a company formation agent. After paying the prescribed service charge, the agent will arrange to transfer the shares of the selected company to you (and any other shareholders who may be involved) and handle the relevant documentation. You are recommended to consult a certified accountant or qualified solicitor before you buy a shelf company.