What Is a Business Registration Certificate?

What Is a Business Registration Certificate

What Is a Business Registration Certificate?

In Hong Kong, a Business Registration Certificate, also known as BR Certificate or BR Cert, serves as the official stamp of approval for your business. It’s a crucial legal document issued by the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) that verifies your company’s existence and its right to conduct business activities within the region. This certificate, which is required to be displayed at the business premise, acts as proof of the legal compliance of your business and helps you demonstrate legitimacy to potential partners, clients, and authorities.

Therefore, obtaining a Business Registration Certificate is not just a formality; it’s a fundamental step towards secure and successful business operations in Hong Kong.

You need to obtain the Business Registration Certificate (BRC) in Hong Kong within one month of starting your business operations. This applies whether you are establishing a new business, incorporating a company, or starting as a sole proprietor or partnership. Ensuring timely registration is crucial for compliance with local regulations.

Which Businesses Need a Business Registration Certificate?

Virtually all businesses operating in Hong Kong require a Business Registration Certificate.

This includes:

  • Sole proprietorships
  • Partnerships
  • Limited liability companies

There are a few rare exceptions that do not need a BR Cert to operate, such as unincorporated private clubs or societies with no profit-making motive, verified charitable organisations, bootblack businesses, licenced hawkers, and non-incorporated or registered businesses that are related to agriculture, market gardening, and fishing. If you’re unsure whether your business requires a business registration certificate, it’s always best to consult with the IRD for clarification.

How to Obtain a Business Registration Certificate?

Acquiring a BR Certificate can be a straightforward process, but proper preparation ensures a smooth experience. Here are the basic steps.

Researching and Learning the Requirements for Applying a Business Registration Certificate

Prior to acquiring a BR Certificate, you need to prepare the necessary information and a number of documents, including the following requirements, which vary between business types:

Business TypeApplication MethodRequired FormRequired IDAdditional Documents
Local CompaniesOne-stop Company and Business RegistrationNotice to Business Registration Office (IRBR1)Hong Kong ID (HKID) or Passport (non-resident)Incorporation Form (Form NNC1 or NNC1G)
A copy of the company’s Articles of Association
Non-Hong Kong CompaniesOne-stop Company and Business RegistrationNotice to Business Registration Office (IRBR2)PassportApplication for registration as Registered Non-Hong Kong Company (Form NN1)
Sole ProprietorshipsIRD Direct ApplicationBusiness Registration Form 1(a)Hong Kong ID (HKID)Not applicable
Body CorporateIRD Direct ApplicationBusiness Registration Form 1(b)Certificate of IncorporationNot applicable
PartnershipsIRD Direct ApplicationBusiness Registration Form 1(c)Hong Kong ID (HKID) for all partnersNot applicable
BranchesIRD Direct ApplicationBusiness Registration Form 1(d)Not applicableNot applicable

Please note that the above information is subject to change. Before proceeding with your application, it is recommended that you refer to the official IRD website for the latest updates in requirements.

Application Process

Once you have all the necessary documents mentioned above specific to your business structure and nature, you can now begin your application process with the following steps:

Complete the Application Form
Carefully fill out the designated application form for your business type (IRBR1, IRBR2, or another depending on your situation). Provide accurate details about your business, including its name, address, nature of operations, and ownership structure.
Submit Your Application
Submit your completed application form, supporting documents, and the business registration fee and levy to the IRD in person at the IRD's Business Registration Service Counter, by post, or electronically through their online portal, such as GovHK online platform for direct submission or e-Services Portal for one-stop services.

The processing time for a BR Cert application typically takes around one week, subject to the completeness and accuracy of your submission.

Application Process

Benefits of Obtaining a Business Registration Certificate

There are several compelling reasons that make obtaining a Business Registration Certificate an essential part of your business:

Legal Protection and Compliance
A BR Certificate signifies your adherence to local regulations, shielding your business from potential legal repercussions and fines.
Access to Business Opportunities
Many business processes and opportunities, such as opening a corporate bank account or entering into official business contracts, require a valid BR Certificate.
Building Trust and Credibility with Customers
A BR Certificate demonstrates your commitment to legitimacy and transparency, fostering trust and confidence with your customers.

What Is a Business Registration Number?

When companies are issued their Business Registration Certificate, they are given a Business Registration Number (BRN), a unique identification code assigned by the Inland Revenue Department (IRD). It acts as your official business identifier in Hong Kong, similar to a social security number for individuals. This BRN plays a critical role in ensuring smooth communication and record-keeping between your business and various government departments.

Applying for a BR Certificate and acquiring a BRN is mandatory for all businesses operating in Hong Kong. This requirement ensures that all companies are properly registered and accounted for within the legal and tax systems.

Benefits of Having a Business Registration Number (BRN)

There are several advantages to having a BRN for your business in Hong Kong:

Simplified Tax Filing and Compliance
Your BRN serves as a key link between your business and the IRD’s tax records, allowing you to submit tax returns and manage tax payments easily.
Streamlined Business Registration Updates
You can use your BRN to submit updates to your business registration efficiently, such as address or ownership structure changes, ensuring your records remain accurate and compliant.
Eligibility for Business Licences and Permits
Having a BRN demonstrates your legal business status and enables you to operate lawfully within your chosen industry and obtain certain business licences and permits issued by various government departments.
BRN for your business in Hong Kong

Penalties for Non-Compliance and Other Risks

Failing to comply with business registration requirements in Hong Kong can result in severe penalties, including hefty fines and even imprisonment.

The IRD can impose significant fines of up to HK$5,000 for not obtaining a BR Certificate. There’s also an additional penalty of HK$300 per year for failing to renew your BRC on time, along with any outstanding government fees. Delayed filing of Annual Returns can also lead to increased fees or fines, potentially escalating to court proceedings and further penalties.
In severe cases of non-compliance, authorities may pursue legal action, potentially leading to imprisonment for up to 1 year for not obtaining a BRC.

Why Use an Agency for Business Registration?

Partnering with a reputable business registration agency in Hong Kong, such as BoardRoom, offers several advantages. A business registration agency typically possesses expertise in BR Cert requirements and local business regulations, ensuring a smooth application process. By delegating registration tasks to professionals, you save valuable time and resources to focus on core business activities. Additionally, an agency guarantees compliance, keeping you up-to-date with regulations and minimising the risk of delays or penalties.

BoardRoom offers comprehensive company registration services in HK, providing you with a smooth and error-free experience. We’ll handle all the complexities, from gathering necessary documents to filing the application, so you can focus on launching and growing your business. Contact Us today.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do you have to register your business name?

Yes, registering your business name with the Companies Registry is a separate process from obtaining a BR Certificate. However, you can often complete both steps simultaneously when registering your business.

Are there other licences and permits needed for business registration in Hong Kong?

Depending on your industry and business activities, you may require additional licences or permits beyond the BR Certificate. For example, you may require a Restaurant Licence if you operate a restaurant and a Travel Agent Licence if you run a travel agency. Please contact BoardRoom, should you need further assistance in identifying and obtaining any necessary permits.

What is the best way to get your Business Registration Certificate in Hong Kong?

The best approach depends on your individual circumstances. For a hassle-free and efficient experience, consider partnering with a reputable agency like BoardRoom Hong Kong. Our team of specialists can guide you through the entire process, ensuring a swift application process.

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