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Setting up a Business in Hong Kong

Due to the city’s importance as a financial center and free port, lots of foreign entrepreneurs go for running their own business in Hong Kong. Are you considering it too? Our expat guide on starting a business in Hong Kong provides an overview of key issues, from visa over business entities to tax.

Although starting a business in Hong Kong is more complicated than an international assignment, it is by no means impossible. The government offers some advice for those willing to start their own company or invest in an existing one. However, you should not underestimate the time and effort opening a business will take!

While there are visa options if you want to establish a company or join an existing business, you still need a sponsor. You should establish a professional network before trying to start a business in Hong Kong. Get to know the local business world and Hong Kong business culture, and try to improve your Chinese skills.

Despite all the support you may get, running your own business in Hong Kong does take a lot of time, work, and money. Ensure that you have a thorough business plan and local support for your new business. In the following, we offer some first guidelines, however, these cannot replace expert advice! Make sure to hire a local lawyer, accountant, or consultant to help you.

Visa for Self-Employment or Investment 

There is an extra category of Hong Kong visa granting entry to international investors who want to join in a company or establish their own business in Hong Kong. Thus you can be your own boss. There is no requirement to prove that your firm will be filling a niche which local entrepreneurs cannot fill. However, your business should make a substantial contribution to the economy. Plus, this visa does not include residents from Mainland China and nationals of Afghanistan, Cambodia, Cuba, Laos, Nepal, North Korea, and Vietnam.

For your application, you have to fulfill the usual criteria of having a good education and professional qualifications. Additionally, you should not have a police record with any serious crimes (jaywalking probably doesn’t count).

As with any other work visa, you require a sponsor to set up a business in Hong Kong. Your sponsor can be a company or an individual who fits the following requirements:

You can download the application forms for you (ID 999A) and your sponsor (ID 999B) from the Immigration Department, or you can obtain them at any Chinese mission.

In order to support your visa application for a business in Hong Kong, you also have to hand in a number of documents, e.g. the following:

Choice of Name

Choosing the name of your business in Hong Kong can be nearly as important as deciding on a legal entity. You can search the Hong Kong Companies Registry to find out whether the name of your choice is already taken. You may still be able to use it, but you should consider if the recognition value is high enough. Once you have made your choice, you need to get the name approved.

Business Entities

The next thing to figure out is the kind of legal entity you’d like to select for your business in Hong Kong. You have the following options:

Of course, getting a visa, choosing a company name, and settling for a legal entity is not all there is. We’ll deal with registration, banking, taxes et cetera in the second part of our guide to setting up your own business in Hong Kong.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

InterNations Expat Magazine