One advantage of Hong Kong is that it is not subject to much regulation. In comparison, Singapore is similar; however, Hong Kong can still be considered to be less so. While there is just no comparison with a country like China which is extremely regulated. So, if you want to operate an ordinary business in Hong Kong you need simply incorporate a company; no business licence required! That said, there are still some activities that are regulated. Want to find out which ones? Keep reading.
The few activities that are regulated are divided into two categories, namely products and services. Then depending on the business type you will operate, you will be required to apply for certain licences. Making the main list of business types that carry out regulated activities i.e. require a licence or permit are:
- Financial Services Provider
- Event Management Company
- Retail Store (depending on the type goods and services provided)
- Education Business
- Employment Agency
- Travel Agency
Is your intended business not listed above? Or perhaps you would like to find out more specifically what types of licences you need to apply for? Check out the Support and Consultation Centre for SMEs, a.k.a. SUCCESS, which offers a tool called the Business Licence Information Service. According to your selections, you will be directed to a list of licences you may need to obtain.
Note that even though applying for licences is not difficult, it is always sensible to engage the assistance of a professional who has a working knowledge of the process. But before moving forward with any licence application, while it might seem obvious, it is important to note that you must first have a duly incorporated company to be able to apply for one. After all, you can’t ride a bike unless you have one!
Meanwhile, even if the business activity you would like to carry out is regulated, once you have obtained the necessary licences or permits, in many cases you will find that there are not many more rules or regulations you will need to follow.
Aside from regulated but permitted activities, there are also activities which are forbidden. Again, it might seem obvious, but it is still important to mention, that activities such as dealing with weapons or drugs and prostitution among others would be deemed illegal.
All in all, whereas tax or social issues might be the obvious factors that draw people to Hong Kong to start a business, you may also consider Hong Kong because it is less regulated. In fact, it is among the least regulated countries in the world! So, whereas you might have been searching for regulations in respect of a type of business you want to operate, it is likely the reason you may have been unable to find them is that there simply are none. In other words, excluding a few business types, for the majority of businesses all you need to do is incorporate a limited company.
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