By using our website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.


Hong Kong attracts a large number of foreign investors and entities to have their business presence. Branch office, Representative office and Subsidiary company are the most three common options for foreign company registration in Hong Kong. In this blog, we offer you a detailed guide on key features and requirements of the first business structure in this scope – opening a branch office in Hong Kong.

1. What is branch office in Hong Kong?

Branch office in Hong Kong

Foreign corporations wish to enter Hong Kong market must conduct business entity registration in Hong Kong. There are three popular options for companies overseas to have their business presence, including Branch Office, Representative Office and Subsidiary Company.

A branch office in Hong Kong is an extension of its parent company, and it is one of the most common business structures for foreigners. Hong Kong branch offices bear some key features as the followings:

  • It is a legal entity which is registered with the Hong Kong’s Company Registry;
  • It is not a separate entity in its own rights; as a result, it is NOT in charge of any debts and liabilities. Instead, the foreign parent company is fully responsible for such debts and liabilities of the branch office.
  • It can take part in the same activities as the foreign parent company does, but is limited to those performed by a foreign company located in Hong Kong.

Branch office vs Subsidiary Company

Some people often get confused between a branch office and a subsidiary in Hong Kong.

A subsidiary is primarily a private limited company in Hong Kong. Both branch office and subsidiary are treated as a legally incorporated entity. But the main difference is that a subsidiary is a separate legal entity from its foreign parent company, meanwhile the branch office is dependent on its parent company.

Another key to mention is that branch office is a preferred option for large corporations to Hong Kong markets, while subsidiary or representative office is widely used by SMEs companies.

Learn more: Branch vs Subsidiary vs Representative Office: Key Differences

2. Why choose Hong Kong branch office?

Benefits of Branch Office In Hong Kong

Foreign entrepreneurs are in favor of Hong Kong branch office by dint of its range of benefits as the followings:

The launch of branch office in Hong Kong offers you tax advantages. Branch office in Hong Kong must only be subject to its Hong Kong profit tax. Other foreign-sourced income of the branch office will enjoy tax-free. In addition, Hong Kong has Comprehensive Double Taxation Agreements (DTAs) with over 40 countries, allowing the branch office to reap benefits concerning tax matters as well.

Hong Kong branch office is also a good option to expand your business presence with light registration and reporting requirements. The process of opening a Hong Kong branch office is quite easy and can be quickly-done in a short period of time.

Having said that, notwithstanding, there are still some drawbacks for those choosing this structure, chief of which is the fact that the parent company will be accountable for all legal debts and liabilities incurred by its branch office.

Keep in mind that you need to well consider both pros and cons in terms of your foreign company’s plans and goals before deciding whether a branch office in Hong Kong is the best-suited.

3. Requirements of opening a branch office in Hong Kong

Requirements of Branch Office In Hong Kong

To register a branch office in Hong Kong, there are certain requirements that foreigners must comply with:

  • Name: The branch name must be matched with that of the foreign parent company. Any name which is already used in Hong Kong, or deemed improper or misleading will be rejected to register by the Companies Registry.
  • Officers: There must be a minimum of one Hong Kong local resident who acts as the office representative in a branch office in Hong Kong to accept legal notices from competent authorities. This can be either an individual or a body corporate.
  • Place of business: The branch office is required to have a physical location or a place of business within Hong Kong. This location will also be the place to keep all statutory documents of the branch.
  • Constitution & Activities: No need to have a Memorandum and Articles of Association (MMA) for a branch office, as its activities are directed by parent company’s MAA.

Note that there is no minimum capital requirement to set up a Hong Kong branch office.

In addition, there are some required documents that must be submitted for its registration:

  • Details of the branch office: Registered address, local representative, the parent company’s particulars and other relevant information.
  • A certified copy of the parent company’s MMA
  • A certified copy of the parent company’s Certificate of Registration
  • A certified copy of the parent company’s accounts, if the company is required to disclose its accounts
  • Documents to identify the local representative of the branch office

NOTE: Keep in mind, two accepted languages for all submitted documents are English and Chinese. Therefore, please translate your documents into one of these two before submission.

4. How to register a branch office in Hong Kong

How to register a Hong Kong Branch Office

Branch office registration in Hong Kong includes two important steps as the followings:

Step 1: Choose a valid branch name. There are 3 standardized criteria for a branch name to get approval that you should follow:

  • The name must be the same as that of the parent company, but the chose name cannot be identical or similar to an existing name found in “the Index of Company Names” in Companies Registry. For this reason, name check should be done in advance
  • The name must not infringe on trademarks
  • The name should not be offensive or contrary to the public interest, as in the opinion of the Companies Registry

Step 2: Submit required documents for registration

After the name has been approved, the branch office must send all required documents to the Companies Registry for registration.

If there is nothing wrong with your documents, the Registry will then issue a “Certificate of Registration of Non-Hong Kong Company”.

The person presenting the registration documents (the presenter) will receive a notice of the Certificate issuance via fax. The presenter must then collect in person this Certificate at the Companies Registry.

In case the presenter cannot pick up the certificate, he/she should prepare in advance a written authorization to send a representative on behalf to collect.

It should be noted that the branch office should apply for its registration during one month since its establishment of the branch. Foreign corporations are required to hire a professional service provider for their branch office registration in Hong Kong.

5. Additional matters of Post Registration

Once you have successfully registered your Hong Kong branch office, your branch needs to follow a set of formalities to ensure a smooth operation. Here are additional steps you need to take into consideration:

Requirements After Branch Office Registration in Hong Kong

Obtain Certificate of Business Registration

You need to apply for “Certificate of Business Registration” with the Hong Kong Inland Revenue Department. This is a compulsory requirement and it must be completed within one month of the branch establishment in Hong Kong.

If the application is approved, the Certificate will then be issued on the following day and must be collected physically in person.

Please note that “Business Registration Number” to be appear on the above Certificate will be the Company’s Tax Filling Number.

Apply for a proper business license

Not all businesses in Hong Kong require license.

If you find that your branch activity falls into specific business categories that require business license in Hong Kong, then you should proceed to make application for it before operating your branch office.

Open a Hong Kong bank account

Once you have completed registering the branch office with government departments, you are allowed to open your Hong Kong business bank account. It would be a wise choice if your chosen service firm for your Hong Kong branch registration can support you to get a suited local bank for opening bank account.

In addition to the required documents (may be different depending on each bank), an arrangement to interview with the bank is a must if you wish to open a bank account in Hong Kong.

On-going compliance requirements

It is very crucial to know that a branch office in Hong Kong must be liable to legal tax obligations as well as compliance requirements like other local companies. Here are a few:

  • Notifying changes (if any) of the branch’s management structure
  • Renewal of Business Registration
  • Observing tax regulations
  • Filling tax returns with IRD
  • Filling annual returns with CR

6. Conclusion

Branch office is a popular choice for foreign companies to enter Hong Kong market. A Hong Kong branch office is actually the extension of the foreign parent company. One stand-out feature of this structure is that it is NOT responsible for all debts and liabilities, but its parent company is.

Despite the fact that opening branch office in Hong Kong offers lesser reporting requirements compared to some other business entities, it is still liable to a set of tax regulations and compliance requirements for foreign companies located in Hong Kong, including branch offices.

Please noted the above documents and requirements we have discussed in order for successful registration and maintenance for your branch office in Hong Kong.

Subsidiary company and representative office are the two other options available for foreign companies to set up their presence in Hong Kong. Deciding on which one is the best fit for your foreign company should be well examined in the scope of your company goals as well.

You need information on other options for doing business in Hong Kong? BBCIncorp Limited is always willing to help you.

Doing Business in Hong Kong 2020

The e-book provides you with the latest information about the incorporation process, annual compliance requirements, taxation system and hiring in Hong Kong.

Recent Posts

26 Nov 2020

Doing Business In Hong Kong: The Ultimate Guide For Foreigners

Here is a guide to doing business in Hong Kong for foreigners! The blog covers all you need to know about the benefits of forming a business in Hong Kong and how to start it.

Read more
20 Nov 2020

How to choose Hong Kong financial year end

Wonder how to determine the financial year end in Hong Kong? In this article, we will shed light on everything about Hong Kong financial year. Learn more with us!

Read more
25 Nov 2020

Useful checking tools for your Hong Kong company registration

There are some tools to help you check your company status and what licenses you need to prepare before registering a Hong Kong company. Check out the guide to those useful tools!

Read more
25 Nov 2020

Hong Kong Tax Haven: What Can Be Revealed?

Beyond Hong Kong tax haven, like the way many people still think of this city, there are more of Hong Kong that you should know. Find out what they are!

Read more
25 Nov 2020

Hong Kong Business Trends After Mid-2020: New Updates [Infographic]

Check it out! Below infographic helps you to capture Hong Kong situations and update top five business trends to be worth expected in a post Covid-19 outbreak

Read more
20 Nov 2020

3 Reasons why Hong Kong banks may reject your application

Nationality, business activities or supporting documents can be reasons why Hong Kong banks may reject your application for opening a bank account. Learn more with Lyli, Relationship Manager from BBCIncorp!

Read more
25 Nov 2020

Best banks in Hong Kong that you must know in 2020

Which is the best bank in Hong Kong for expats? Let BBCIncorp help you find out the answer with top 5 banks: DBS, HSBC, Bank of China, Standard Chartered and Citibank.

Read more
19 Nov 2020

A General Guide to Winding Up of Hong Kong Companies

A Hong Kong company may be wound up by either voluntary or compulsory winding up by the court. Below guide clarifies the procedure for winding up a company through these two types!

Read more
17 Nov 2020

Hong Kong Company Annual Compliance Requirements

Learn more about annual compliance and filing requirement of a Hong Kong private limited company.

Read more
5 Nov 2020

Tax in Hong Kong: A General Guide For Entrepreneurs

Hong Kong adopted a territorial tax basis with a low tax regime for businesses. This guide will give you an overview of tax in Hong Kong.

Read more
3 Nov 2020

06 Benefits of setting up a company in Hong Kong

Setting up a business in Hong Kong yields many advantages such as pro-business environment, attractive tax regime, strategic location and much more.

Read more
25 Nov 2020

How to Set Up a company in Hong Kong: a Step-by-Step Guide

A general guide including steps and key notes for entrepreneurs who wish to know how to set up a company in Hong Kong.

Read more