Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China which used to be a British colony and which is now an international financial hub and a major seaport. Hong Kong does not need any additional advertising to attract investors from all over the world. Most of the lucrative opportunities and incentives created recently for investors in the UAE and Cyprus were known in Hong Kong 30 or even 40 years ago.
Only outdated stereotypes and severe restrictions imposed by the Chinese government (however, they have started to be lifted) stop Hong Kong from becoming a hub that attracts entrepreneurs from all over the world. If you decide to register your business there, you will benefit from many opportunities.
The colonial past and the current autonomy of Hong Kong facilitate international business development: about 160,000 local and offshore companies are set up there every year. Mainland China has introduced the “one country, two systems” principle – the framework guaranteeing extensive powers to the region until 2047. What does it mean for your business?
The Hong Kong laws allow you to significantly decrease your company’s tax payments: international entrepreneurs can benefit from several options for preferential tax treatment as well as efficient tax optimisation tools.
The standard corporation tax rate in Hong Kong is 16%; if your company’s revenue is less than USD 2 million, the tax rate goes down to 8%.
Hong Kong adopts a territorial principle of taxation, which is its key advantage; it allows you to open an offshore business without paying any taxes on the revenue received abroad.
Depending on the origin of the profit, companies registered in Hong Kong fall into three groups:
Statistically, the majority of the companies incorporated in Hong Kong are considered local ones.
Hong Kong’s Inland Revenue Department (IRD) also recognises the mixed status of a corporate taxpayer. Parts of its revenue received outside of Hong Kong is tax-exempt. The revenue received in Hong Kong is subject to corporation tax. If you plan to benefit from the mixed status, you would need to keep track of all your revenue streams and their origin.
Besides, some types of revenue are not taxed in Hong Kong:
Being an autonomous region, Hong Kong has signed 40 double taxation treaties.
Most frequently, companies are set up in Hong Kong to trade with China. The legal status of the region implies that the tax authorities consider China to be “a foreign country” and the revenue earned there to be foreign-sourced. Even if you ship Chinese goods from Hong Kong, an enormous international port, you will still profit from it as you will not need to pay any VAT.
Another reason why you should consider Hong Kong is a simplified incorporation process and opportunities to run your business in English, unlike in China.
Apart from trading activities, Hong Kong companies provide the following services:
It is easy to register a company in Hong Kong; you will not need to describe the scope of your business activities in great detail (like in mainland China). It means that your Hong Kong company can become your tool for a wide range of business activities. Other advantages include proximity to Asian markets, freedom of capital movement, a reliable financial market and a dynamic investment climate.
In Hong Kong, you can run a business as
We would focus on the latter as it is the most frequently chosen type of company registered in Hong Kong.
In a limited company, as the name suggests, the liability of shareholders is limited to their contribution to the share capital. There are no requirements regarding the amount of share capital, currency or the number of shares. However, a limited company cannot issue bearer shares.
A company can have an unlimited number of directors but cannot have more than 50 shareholders. As mentioned above, founders and directors can be both natural and legal persons of any nationality, but at least one director in the company should be a natural person.
There must be a secretary to make adjustments to the articles of association, and this role can be taken by both natural and legal persons.
Your company must be registered at a physical address, no P.O. box companies are allowed.
There are five stages of setting up a Hong Kong company.
The name, type of activity, and structure of your company as well as information about the amount of share capital and number of issued shares should be correctly included in a registration form.
The overall process does not take more than two weeks – it includes the preparation of the supporting documents, and approval of the name and the structure of your Hong Kong company.
The registration process in Hong Kong might take 5 working days or less if you have prepared all the documents beforehand and already have a name and identified what its activities will be and how the roles should be distributed between the stakeholders.
There are no special regulations for setting up an offshore company. The Hong Kong tax authorities give aspiring international entrepreneurs 18 months to run their business and only then submit a Profits Tax Return form (PTR) – the company reports its profits using this form.
Based on your filed PTR, the Inland Revenue Department decides whether your business should be regarded as local or offshore. On the official website of the Hong Kong tax authorities, you might find the most recent requirements for offshore companies.
Your company should be considered offshore, i.e. benefiting from tax exemption on the foreign revenue, in the following cases:
If the IRD does not consider your business offshore for some reason, you can file an appeal.
If you want to start benefiting from numerous opportunities in Hong Kong today, experts from a London-based law firm Imperial & Legal can support you every step of the way.
During the first consultation, we will offer you the most beneficial option for setting up a company in Hong Kong which would meet all your needs. With our support, you will be able to quickly collect all the documents, correctly fill in the registration form and become a founder of a Hong Kong company from the comfort of your home.
We will also assist you with tax optimisation, set up a document management system so that you do not have any problems with the first audit, and advise how to report your revenue correctly in your tax return.
Indeed, both local and offshore companies in Hong Kong must be audited every year to confirm the accuracy of annual reports. The mandatory audit rules and the English law can be considered a hallmark of Hong Kong, famous for its impeccable business reputation. Companies must submit financial reporting to the tax authorities and annual tax returns to the SFC. Besides, they must also hold yearly shareholders and Board meetings.
Hong Kong inherited the English law and the status of the international business hub from the former British Empire that facilitates business processes. But at the same time, financial institutions inherited vigilance when it comes to opening a bank account for potential international corporate clients. The process in a traditional Hong Kong bank might take several weeks. You will most likely need to arrange a personal meeting with a bank manager who will check how well you speak English or Chinese and perform other background checks.
If you are registering a company in Hong Kong, it would be much easier to open a corporate account in a local online bank. It offers the same business services as a conventional bank but without a brick-and-mortar office. However, even in this case, it will be easier to open an account for a local company and not an offshore one.
If trading through a Hong Kong bank is not a must for you, you might as well consider European banks that are no less reliable, or use international payment systems.
Since there are no foreign exchange regulations in the region, the share capital can be expressed not only in Hong Kong dollars but also in British pounds, Chinese yuan, US dollars, euros or any other recognised currency.
We will work with you to find a customised solution for your immigration, second citizenship, business, tax and other needs.
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