The company name reflects the business’s nature and features.
For successful company incorporation in Hong Kong, like in many other jurisdictions, adapting the requirements of a Hong Kong company name is a very initial and essential step. In this blog, we will walk you through a useful guide to choosing a company name for Hong Kong and non-Hong Kong companies.
1. Requirements of a Hong Kong company name
Hong Kong local companies and non-Hong Kong companies are subject to different requirements for the registration of their company name. Let’s take a look at key criteria for a company name in Hong Kong:
Company name of Hong Kong limited company
For Hong Kong local limited company, the proposed company name is required to satisfy requirements for registration under the corresponding Guideline which came in effect from March 2014.
A Hong Kong company is allowed to be registered with either an English name or a Chinese name. Note, however, that the combination of English letters and Chinese characters in the company name is NOT accepted.
Each name must have an ending word that represents its business nature. For example, if you wish to register an English company name, you must have “Limited” as the last word to appear in the name. Please noted that despite the fact that “Ltd” is a short form of “Limited”, it is NOT allowed that an English company name in Hong Kong can end with “Ltd”, but only “Limited” accepted.
A company name in Chinese, in the same manner, needs also end with “有限公司”.
In addition, a Chinese company name should follow further requirements as below:
- The name should be written in traditional Chinese characters (繁體字);
- Such Chinese characters should exist in either the Kang Xi Dictionary or Ci Hai Dictionary; and
- Such Chinese characters should adopt ISO 10646 international coding standard;
- Such Chinese characters if changed and kept in their simplified character version, are deemed inappropriate and can be rejected for registration.
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Restrictions on the company name
Hong Kong companies are not allowed to freely opt to register any name they want, but must be subject to some of the restrictions as the followings:
- The company name must be unique
Section 100, Companies Ordinance Cap. 622 stipulates specific circumstances that shall lead a company name not to be registered. Particularly, any proposed name which is the same as the one which can be found in the Index of Company Names; the same as the name of another body corporate; or deemed to be offensive or opposed to the public interest as determined by the Registrar, will be rejected. Furthermore, the name should not be the one already in use or being reserved for registration in Hong Kong.
The question may be “How can I know my intended company name is the same as another?”. Pursuant to Section 111 (6), Companies Ordinance Cap. 622, a company name can be treated as “the same as” that of an existing name if that name contains the following expressions and words:
- “and” and “&”
- “Hong Kong”, “Hongkong” and “HK”;
- “Far East” and “FE”
For further details on how to determine “the same” between your proposed company name and another existing one, please read Section 111.
- Under certain circumstances, the proposed company name is required to obtain the Registrar’s prior permission before registration. Such circumstances include:
The name is likely to produce the idea about its connection in any way with the Central People’s Government, the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, or any department/agency of either mentioned. Examples of such words include “Department”, “Government”, “Commission”, “Bureau”, “Federation”, “Council”, “Authority”, etc.
The name includes restricted words or expressions as prescribed in the Companies (Words and Expressions in Company Names) Order (Cap 622A).
Restricted words and expressions in Company Names: chamber of commerce; kaifong; levy; savings; tourist board; tourist association; trust; trustee; or in Chinese version 受託 信託 旅遊協會 旅遊發展局 商會 街坊 徵費 儲蓄
The name bears a striking similarity to the name that is directed to change by the Registrar according to Sections 108, 109, 771 of the Companies Ordinance, or Sections 22, 22A of the predecessor Ordinance. A name change may be required if that name is believed by the Registrar to bear a misleading or offensive meaning.
To avoid the hassle that might happen, it is highly recommended that applicants should take the Registrar’s advice, types of names for example, before the application. Moreover, the application for the consent to use such names should be done in writing and delivered to the right department which is the New Companies Section of the Registrar.
Company name of non-Hong Kong company
For a non-Hong Kong registered company, naming requirements may be a bit different. Non-Hong Kong company is regulated under Part XVI of the Companies Ordinance. Section 776 of legislation obliges all non-Hong Kong company which has a place of business within Hong Kong to apply for the registration with the Registrar within one month of the establishment.
Typically, there are two concepts that applicants should be aware of when it comes to the registration of the name for these foreign companies. Defined in Section 744 of the Companies Ordinance, they are:
- Domestic name refers to the company name which has been registered in its place of incorporation.
- Corporate name is either a domestic name or a translated domestic name that has been registered with the Companies Register of Hong Kong.
Below are key requirements for registration of a non-Hong Kong company name:
- Language of domestic name: The domestic name used to register non-Hong Kong company with the Companies Registry should be in characters of the Latin alphabet or in Chinese.
- Certified translation of a domestic name: If the domestic name is NOT in accepted languages as above mentioned, there must be a certified translation of that name in English or Chinese, or both, included in the application for the registration.
- Traditional Chinese company name: Only traditional Chinese characters of a Chinese company name are entered into the Companies Registry. Any domestic name translated into Chinese but in simplified characters will be rejected.
2. Changing Hong Kong company name after incorporation
For Hong Kong limited companies, they may change the company name by the procedure as below:
- Pass a Special Resolution for changing the company name after incorporation.
- Deliver a “Notice of Change of Company Name” (Form NNC2), together with the required fee, via either electronic or hard copy to the Registrar within 15 days after that Resolution has been passed.
- If all needed documents satisfy the procedural legislation, a Certificate of Change of Name will be then issued.
- It should be noted that applicants are NOT required to submit a copy of the special resolution for registration as well as the alteration notice of articles/certified copies of articles associated with the change of company name to the Registrar.
For non-Hong Kong companies, any change of the domestic names is effective only when the company submits to the Registrar the Form NN10 together with the particular of the change, within one month after the date of the change.
3. Tips for choosing an appropriate company name in Hong Kong
Choosing a company name is a prerequisite for any company incorporated in Hong Kong. However, there are certain requirements for an eligible company name between a local limited company and a foreign company in Hong Kong. It is crucial for applicants to be aware of the ins and outs of the naming requirements, restrictions and procedures in accordance with Hong Kong laws.
Below are some useful advice for applicants in the process of selecting a Hong Kong company name:
- Get Hong Kong company name ideas via company name generator.
- Take notice of the company name restrictions to come up with the name in the right format.
- Inspect whether the proposed name is available for use with the Company Registry before application.
- Conduct Company Name Search to avoid the name duplication through either Company Registry’s Cyber Search Centre, or Company Search Mobile Service.
In addition to naming a company, there can be more steps to complete for starting a legal business in Hong Kong. Feel free to contact us if you need to tell us more about your needs in establishing a company in Hong Kong!