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Business Registration Certificate (BRC) in Hong Kong: Everything You Need to Know

Business Registration Certificate (BRC) in Hong Kong: Everything You Need to Know

Business Registration Certificate

Hong Kong, a thriving trade hub, has consistently attracted investors and entrepreneurs looking to connect the West and the East. Its appeal is undeniable: a business-friendly environment, enticing tax benefits, and an English-speaking setting have propelled it to the top as the world’s freest economy for 25 consecutive years.

Assuming you are ready to launch your business and take advantage of Hong Kong’s prospering economy, you must first complete one step: register your company with the Business Registration Office of the Inland Revenue Department to receive a Business Registration Certificate (BRC).

Almost all businesses, regardless of structure, are required to obtain their BRC within 30 days of the commencement of commercial operations. This article is essential for anyone planning to start a business in Hong Kong — we will provide an in-depth look at what a BRC is, who needs it, the registration process, and the implications of non-compliance.

Want to register a business in Hong Kong? Contact us at InCorp today

What is a Hong Kong BRC?

The BRC is essential for any entity aiming to establish a business presence in Hong Kong. Issued by the Business Registration Office of the Inland Revenue Department, the BRC is your business’s official recognition and legal authorisation to operate in Hong Kong.

Who Needs a BRC?

In Hong Kong, nearly all businesses must obtain a BRC to operate legally. This requirement applies to a wide range of business types, including:

  • Sole Proprietorships: Individuals running a business on their own.
  • Partnerships: Businesses owned by two or more individuals.
  • Limited Companies: Both private and public companies registered in Hong Kong.
  • Non-Hong Kong Companies: Foreign companies with operations in Hong Kong.
  • Clubs: Clubs that offer services or facilities to its members for a fee.

In essence, if your entity is intended to generate profit, it must obtain a BRC.

However, there are exceptions. For example, employees working for a business do not need a BRC, as the registration requirement applies only to the business entity itself.

Also Read:  The Different Types of Business Entities in Hong Kong.

What Is in a Hong Kong BRC?

The certificate provides a snapshot of your business’s essential details, including:

  • Business Name: The official name under which your business will operate.
  • Nature of Business: A clear description of what your business does, including its primary commercial activities.
  • Business Address: The physical location from which your business operates, ensuring transparency and traceability.
  • Type of Business: Specifies the structure of your business, whether it is a sole proprietorship, partnership, limited company, etc.
  • Date of Business Commencement: The official start date of your business operations.
  • Expiry Date: When your current registration will expire and need to be renewed.
  • Certificate Number: A unique identifier for your business in the registry.

When to Register for a Hong Kong BRC

Timing is crucial when registering for a BRC in Hong Kong. However, the ideal times for registration depend on the nature and setup of your business:

  • New Businesses: For newly established businesses, registration should occur within one month of commencing operations.
  • Incorporated Companies: If your business is incorporated under the Companies Ordinance, you can register for a BRC simultaneously with your company incorporation through the “One-stop Company and Business Registration Service”. This means you will receive the Certificate of Incorporation and the BRC together.
  • Other Business Types: For sole proprietorships, partnerships, and branches, registration must also be completed within one month from the start of operations.

How to Register for a BRC in Hong Kong

Registering for a BRC in Hong Kong involves several straightforward steps. Here is a step-by-step breakdown:

Identify Your Business Type

Determine whether your business is a company, branch, partnership, or sole proprietorship. Each category has specific methods, forms, and requirements:

  1. Local Companies: Apply using the “One-stop Company and Business Registration Service” via the Companies Registry website.
  2. Non-Hong Kong Companies: Also use the “One-stop Service” if required to register under the Companies Ordinance (Cap. 622).
  3. Other Business Types: Sole proprietorships, partnerships, and branches should apply directly to the Inland Revenue Department (IRD).

Collect Required Documentation

Gather the necessary documents based on your business type:

  • Local Companies:
      1. Notice to Business Registration Office (IRBR1)
      2. A copy of the Articles of Association
  • Non-Hong Kong Companies:
      1. Notice to Business Registration Office (IRBR2)
  • Other Businesses Applying Directly with the IRD:
    1. Individuals: Hong Kong ID or passport (if not a resident)
    2. Companies: Certificate of Incorporation
    3. Partnerships: IDs or passports for all partners

Fill Out the Application Form

Complete the relevant application form based on your business type:

  • Local Companies (One-Stop Service):
      1. Incorporation Form NNC1 or NNC1G
  • Non-Hong Kong Companies (One-Stop Service):
      1. Application Form NN1
  • Other Business Types (Directly with the IRD):
    1. Form 1(a) for individuals
    2. Form 1(b) for companies
    3. Form 1(c) for partnerships, or Form 1(ca) for limited partnerships
    4. Form 1(d) for branches of foreign companies

You can obtain the relevant forms via email ([email protected]), fax (2824 1482), or in person at the Business Registration Office.

Submit Your Application

Submit your application using the appropriate method:

  1. One-Stop Service: Online via the e-Registry Portal or in person at 4/F Revenue Tower, 5 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong. Online applications will result in electronic certificates only.
  2. Direct Application with the IRD: Online via the business registration application page, in person at the Business Registration Office (2/F, Inland Revenue Centre, 5 Concorde Road, Kai Tak, Kowloon, Hong Kong), or by post to P.O. Box 29015, Concorde Road Post Office, Kowloon, Hong Kong.
  • Pay the Registration Fee and Levy (How Much Does a BRC Cost?)

The cost varies depending on the type and duration of the certificate (1-year or 3-year). Fees must be paid upon submission of the application.

Receive Your Certificate

  • One-Stop Service:
        1. Online applications: Receive certificates in about an hour.
        2. Paper applications: Receive certificates on the 4th working day after submission.
  • Direct Application with the IRD:
      1. In-person applications: Receive the certificate in about 30 minutes.
      2. Mail or online applications: Receive the certificate via post within 2 working days.

Consequences of Delayed BRC Registration In Hong Kong

Failing to register for a BRC within the stipulated time frame can lead to significant consequences, including:

  • Fines: Businesses that delay registration beyond the 30-day window may face a fine of HKD 5,000 and up to one-year imprisonment.
  • Legal Issues: Non-compliance can result in legal complications, hindering the smooth operation of the business.
  • Operational Disruptions: Delayed registration may cause interruptions in business activities, as the BRC is often required for various administrative and operational tasks.

To ensure timely registration, we encourage using a local service provider like InCorp, which can provide on-the-ground insight and experience, avoiding potential hurdles or delays.

Benefits of Using a Local Service Provider for BRC Application

Applying for a Hong Kong BRC, while seemingly straightforward, can, at times be a complex and time-consuming process. Using an agency like InCorp can simplify and streamline this process, offering numerous benefits:

  • Expertise and Experience: InCorp has extensive knowledge of Hong Kong’s regulatory requirements, ensuring your application is accurate and complete.
  • Time-Saving: By handling the paperwork and administrative tasks, InCorp allows you to focus on your core business activities.
  • Avoiding Mistakes: InCorp’s professionals help prevent common errors that can lead to application delays or rejections.
  • Comprehensive Services: InCorp offers additional services such as company incorporation, tax registration, and ongoing compliance support, providing a one-stop solution for all your business needs.

 

How In Corp Can Assist in the BRC Application Process

InCorp assists in the BRC application process through several vital services:

  • Document Preparation: Gathering and preparing all necessary documents, ensuring they meet the required standards to obtain a BRC.
  • Form Submission: Complete and submit the application forms on your behalf, whether online or in person.
  • Follow-Up: Monitoring the application status and addressing any queries or additional requirements from the authorities in real-time.
  • Consultation: Providing expert advice on compliance and regulatory matters to ensure your business operates within legal boundaries.

 

Where to Next With InCorp

A BRC is essential for legally operating a business in Hong Kong. Ensuring timely registration and maintaining compliance with all relevant regulations avoids legal complications and enhances your business’s credibility and trustworthiness. Partnering with a local, experienced agency like InCorp can significantly streamline the application process, allowing you to focus on what matters most – growing your business. For more insights and personalised assistance with your BRC application and other regulatory requirements, contact InCorp today and ensure your business is set up for success in Hong Kong.

FAQs About Hong Kong Business Registration Certificate

  • A Business Registration Certificate (BRC) is a legal document issued by the Inland Revenue Department of Hong Kong, proving that a business is registered and legally recognised to operate within the region.
  • Almost all businesses, including sole proprietorships, partnerships, and incorporated companies, require a BRC to operate legally in Hong Kong. Exceptions include individual employees.
  • Required documents include proof of business address, identification of the business owner(s), and relevant business details. For incorporated companies, a Certificate of Incorporation is also necessary.
  • The processing time varies. Online applications through the One-Stop Service can result in certificates being issued within an hour, while in-person or postal applications typically take a few working days.
  • It is crucial to obtain a BRC to avoid significant fines and legal complications, including difficulties in filing taxes and conducting business operations.

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About the Author

InCorp Content Team

InCorp's content team includes talented copywriters from our regional group and globally. We contribute informative, thought leadership, and market-trending articles to guide aspiring business entrepreneurs to a higher level across the Asia-Pacific region.

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