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1.

Do Pick A Memorable Name: Choosing a unique and memorable name helps your company stand out.

2.

Do Pick A Future-Proof Name: A name that's broad and adaptable to future business expansions is essential.

3.

Don’t Pick A Sensitive Name: Avoid names that could be culturally or socially offensive.

4.

Don’t Ignore Domain Name Availability: Ensure your company's name is available as a domain to strengthen your online presence.

Introduction

The Registrar of Companies has a set of requirements for new company names seeking to become registered. 

Most of them are straightforward - for example, you cannot use the name of an official authority as that will cause confusion. Another rule is that you cannot use a name that is too similar to one that’s already registered.

But there is one requirement that may not come across as straightforward: it must not be offensive or contrary to public interest.
In the Guideline on Registration of Company Names for Hong Kong Companies, in Section 109(1)(b), it states: ”the registrar may direct the company to change its name [if]...in the opinion of the Registrar, it is offensive or otherwise contrary to the public interest.
What is the opinion of the Registrar? What is considered contrary to the public interest? What are some cultural nuances to keep in mind? 

This inspired us to make a practical list of do’s and don’ts that should cover any major missteps in picking a company name for Hong Kong. Plus, we consulted the list of all the registered company names in Hong Kong in order to orient our advice with actual data.

Statistic: March, 2024, was the most active month for new company registrations, with a total of 26,252 new registrations.

Company Name Dos

Do Pick A Memorable Name

Your company name should make a lasting impression. A name that's easy to remember will help your business become more recognisable.

One way to be unique and memorable is through branding. You might want to tie your name to your brand’s values. Think about what makes your business unique and how your company name can communicate this uniqueness. 

Whether it's innovation, heritage, quality, or service, choose a name that conveys the essence of what your business stands for. Storytelling through your company name can create a deeper connection with your audience.

Statistic: "Technology" (8,519 times) and "International" (8,289 times) are common words used in Hong Kong-registered company names, reflecting a focus on tech and global business.

Do Consider Longevity

Here’s how you make your business name stand the test of time - keep it broad. When you hear the word “broad,” you might think that it’s a bad thing. But in the context of naming your company, it’s a way to future-proof your business.

Don’t name your company name “lug-nut-shaped dog shoes”, rather, name it “Lee’s Pooch Couture,” for example. Couture is broad enough to include all types of dog apparel. What if your business grows and you don’t only make lug-nut-shaped dog shoes anymore? Plan for that kind of success, we say!

Did you know? You can also search existing company names on-site at the Registry on the 13th floor of the Queensway Government Offices, 66 Queensway, Hong Kong.

Company Name Don’ts

Don’t Pick A Sensitive Name

“PK” is sometimes a euphemism for the phrase puk gai (踣街 or 仆街; pūk gāai), which literally means "falling onto street". However, despite its inoculate-sounding nature, it’s actually arguably considered offensive in Hong Kong.

You might think that “Hai” simply means “yes” in Japanese, but in Cantonese, that can be easily misinterpreted as a curse word (屄 or 閪).

The term “white devil” or “gweilou” (鬼佬) is a subject of debate as to whether or not it is offensive, as it is a way to refer to foreign caucasian expats. 

Fun Fact: The most unique English word in Hong Kong-registered company names is “Truly,” which has been used only three times.

If you plan to do business in Hong Kong, consider numerology and symbolism. Certain numbers and symbols are considered lucky or unlucky. Integrating auspicious elements into your company name can appeal to local sentiments while avoiding unlucky numbers or symbols can prevent alienating potential customers. For instance, the number 4 has acquired an unlucky connotation because its phonetic sound resembles that of many Chinese words for "death."

Research and local cultural insights can guide you in making informed decisions.

If you work with a company creation consultant in Hong Kong, none of this should be a concern, as they will check all the local nuances and maximize your chances of approval.

Don’t Ignore Online Presence

In today’s digital age, it's crucial to consider the online implications of your company name. Check the availability of your desired domain name and ensure it doesn’t inadvertently spell out unintended words when put together as a URL. Also, consider social media handles and online searchability.

Tip: You can check domain name availability on any web domain provider’s site, such as TMD Hosting or GoDaddy.

FAQs

Can I Change My Company Name After Registration?

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To modify its name post-incorporation, a company must enact a Special Resolution and subsequently submit a "Notice of Change of Company Name" (Form NNC2) along with the applicable fee.

Who Approves Company Names in Hong Kong?

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How Can I Search Existing Registered Company Names?

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Can I Use Both English Letters and Chinese Characters in a Company Name?

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