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What is a Business Registration Number?

A business registration number (BRN) is a distinct 8-digit number used to identify businesses in Hong Kong for regulatory reasons.

All businesses that generate profits are required to have a BRN.

A BRN is not the same as a Company Registration Number (CRN). The BRN, issued by the Inland Revenue Department, functions as a tax ID for businesses, while the CRN, provided by the Companies Registry, legally identifies incorporated companies in Hong Kong.

Acquiring a BRN is simple; you can submit business registration forms online via the Hong Kong government website.

Starting from 27 December 2023, the Business Registration Number (BRN) has changed to Unique Business Identifiers (UBI). Any existing BRN will automatically transition to UBI.

Are you planning to start a business in Hong Kong? If you are, getting a Business Registration Number (BRN) is a must.

The BRN is used to track businesses and collect taxes and is different from the Company Registration Number (CRN).

This guide will tell you what BRN is, why it's important, how it's different from the Company Registration Number (CRN), and how to get your BRN in Hong Kong, as well as where to find it.

What Is a Business Registration Number? 

Business Registration Number (BRN or BR number) is a distinct 8-digit number assigned to businesses operating in Hong Kong by The Inland Revenue Department (IRD).

This BRN serves to identify businesses within the region for official and regulatory reasons.

You should get this number upon registering your business with the IRD.  Once you register and get a business registration certificate, you can locate the Business Registration Number (BRN) at the middle of the certificate under the heading "Certificate No."

Example of a Business Registration Certificate with the highlighted Business Registration Number

📝 Important Note: Effective 27 December 2023, the Business Registration Number (BRN) has been replaced by "Unique Business Identifiers (UBI)." Any existing BRN will automatically transition to UBI without requiring re-registration or obtaining a new number. Current certificates remain valid, and re-issuance is not necessary. 

Hence, if you are asked for UBI, it's the same as your BRN. 

For more details, you can refer to our article on Hong Kong's Business Registry Update: Transitioning from BRN to UBI.

Why Do You Need a Business Registration Number in Hong Kong?

  • A Business Registration Number (BRN) is crucial for operating your business legally in Hong Kong. It's essential for interacting with government agencies. For instance, it is mandatory for all Hong Kong businesses to include a BRN number on tax returns. Essentially, you can think of the BRN as your business's tax ID, similar to a TIN.
  • This number serves as a reference for other official documents related to your business, making it easier to track and manage your company's information. Moreover, the BRN helps identify your business and differentiate it from others. 
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Which Businesses Require a Business Registration Number (BRN) in Hong Kong?

Businesses that require a Business Registration Number (BRN) in Hong Kong include

  • All businesses in Hong Kong with any activity performed with the intention of generating profits, including all forms of trade, commerce, craftsmanship, professions, callings, or any other endeavours, pursued profit, and this category extends to include clubs. 
  • Entities established or registered under the Hong Kong Companies Ordinance are recognised as entities engaging in business activities, regardless of whether they operate solely within Hong Kong or across various jurisdictions. 
  • Non-Hong Kong company (any company incorporated outside Hong Kong) with a business presence in Hong Kong, regardless of its business activity in the region. 
  • Non-Hong Kong company with a representative or liaison office in Hong Kong or property rental in Hong Kong, irrespective of its business presence in Hong Kong.
  • An open-ended fund company that is established in Hong Kong or re-domiciled in Hong Kong in accordance with the Securities and Futures Ordinance (Cap. 571), irrespective of whether it has established a physical presence in Hong Kong.

Businesses that are not obligated to acquire a BRN are those that operate without generating profits or those that remain inactive. 

Individuals holding only an office are not considered as conducting any business and are not required to have a business registration number. 

Other exempted businesses include:

  • Approved charitable institutions.
  • Business activities related to agriculture, market gardening, breeding or rearing livestock, or fishing (excluding companies incorporated in Hong Kong or non-Hong Kong companies required to register under the Companies Ordinance).
  • Bootblack businesses.
  • Businesses operated by licensed hawkers, excluding those conducted inside the main structure of a building.

What Happens if You Operate Without a BRN?

In Hong Kong, obtaining a Business Registration Number (BRN) through the process of business registration is mandatory for all businesses. Operating without registering a business and thus without a BRN violates the Business Registration Ordinance (BRO).

Such violations incur a fine of up to $5,000 and a potential of imprisonment for up to a year.

According to the regulations outlined in the Business Registration Ordinance (Cap. 310), business registration applications must be submitted within one month of starting operations. 

If the application for business registration is made more than 12 months after the business has commenced, the individual is required to pay not just the current year's business registration fee and levy but also any applicable fees and levies for the previous years as per section 7(3) of the Business Registration Ordinance.

What's the Difference Between a CRN and a BRN?

In essence, registering a business and getting a BRN involves becoming a taxpayer and is managed by the IRD, while registering a company and getting a CRN involves establishing a legal entity and is overseen by the Companies Registry.  

Additionally, BRNs are required for all types of businesses, while CRNs are specifically for companies. Sole proprietorships and general partnerships do not need a CRN.

Let's get into the details.

What is a Company Registration Number (CRN)?

The Companies Registry assigns a seven-digit identifier known as the CRN, functioning as a type of social security number for your company. This CRN is significant in identifying your business within Hong Kong and is typically displayed in the upper left corner of your Certificate of Incorporation.

We highlight the differences between the two in the table below:

Business Registration Number (BRN) Company Registration Number (CRN)
8-digit number issued by the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) 7-digit number issued by the Company Registry
Acts as the tax identification number of a business Acts as the social security number of a company that is used as a form of identification
Found around the centre of the Business Registration Certificate Located on the top-left corner of the Certificate of Incorporation
Required for all businesses except for individuals who own offices not engaged in business activities, approved charities, outdoor hawkers, and agricultural businesses that fall outside the scope of the Companies Ordinance Only for companies incorporated in Hong Kong, such as LLC or a foreign company.
Businesses that are sole proprietorships or general partnerships do not need a CRN.
Does expire and requires renewal. Depending on which you choose to register - either 1 year or 3 years. The validity of a certificate of incorporation should extend for as long as the company remains operational.

Where to Find Business Registration Number (BRN) in Hong Kong?

If you have a business registration certificate, you'll find the Business Registration Number (BRN) in the middle of the certificate, listed under "Certificate No."

You can also visit the eTax portal to enquire about the Business Registration Number of a business, whether it's your own or someone else's.

How to Obtain a Business Registration Number (BRN) in Hong Kong?

To obtain a Business Registration Number (BRN), you have to apply for business registration.  

Anyone who applies for the incorporation of a company or the registration of a non-Hong Kong company should simultaneously apply for business registration, through which they will obtain a Business Registration Number (BRN).

It's also important to note that the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) does not process applications for businesses that have not yet been established.

One-stop Service for New Businesses under the Companies Ordinance

The Companies Registry and the Inland Revenue Department of Hong Kong have collaborated to enable applicants to submit just one application to get both incorporations of a company and business registration. This service is called “One-stop Company and Business Registration Service”

This one-stop registration service is applicable for new business registrations by local companies under the Companies Ordinance (Cap. 622) and non-Hong Kong companies that are required to register under it.

For other business types, such as sole proprietorships, partnerships, and branches, the registration process is handled separately by the IRD. You can find more information in our section about applying directly with the IRD.

An application with a one-stop service can be done through two methods: online or in-person.

  • For online submission, businesses are required to submit their applications and pay fees electronically via the e-Registry Portal.
  • For an in-person application, businesses are required to submit their applications and pay fees in person to the Business Registration Office of the Inland Revenue Department. You can find the address here:

📍 Business Registration Office, 4/F Revenue Tower, 5 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong.

Upon submission of the application, it will undergo evaluation, a procedure that will take several working days. Subsequently, the Registry will send an email notification upon issuance of your business registration number.

Required Documents to Obtain Business Registration Number (BRN) Through One-Stop Service

Required Documents for Local Companies:

Required Documents for non-Hong Kong Companies:

Apply Directly with the IRD

If you are not eligible for the one-stop service or if you are eligible but have already registered under the Business Registration Ordinance, you must apply directly with the IRD.

The application process, which can be completed online or in person, involves the following steps:

  • Completing a designated application form for your business type.
  • Paying the business registration fee and levy.
  • Providing proof of identity.

To apply online, you can use this online application page for Business or Branch Registration.

To apply in person, submit to:

📍The Business Registration Office at 2/F, Inland Revenue Centre, 5 Concorde Road, Kai Tak, Kowloon, Hong Kong. 

To apply by post, send to:

📍P.O. Box 29015, Concorde Road Post Office, Kowloon, Hong Kong. 

Please note that underpaid mail will be rejected.

🔍 Tip: Explore crucial Business Registration details, documents, and application steps in our guide: Business Registration Certificate in Hong Kong: Everything You Need to Know

Effortless Company Creation in Hong Kong

Setting up a company in Hong Kong for the first time can be overwhelming. 

For a straightforward and effective solution, check out Statrys. Our Hong Kong company registration service provides everything you need to start doing business in Hong Kong, all in one package and at one price, completely online.

When you register your company with us, you'll receive:

Pre-Incorporation Services:

  • Registered business address for one year
  • Preparation and submission of incorporation documents
  • Certificate of Incorporation
  • Business Registration Certificate
  • Article of Association
  • Company Chops
  • 24/7 access to company documents online

Post-Incorporation Services:

  • Company secretary services for one year
  • Designated representative
  • Maintenance of Significant Controller Register
  • Maintenance of the statutory records
  • Preparation of the Annual General Meeting (AGM)
  • Scanning and forwarding of mail

Statrys also offers a multi-currency business account with transparent pricing on the monthly maintenance and transaction fees.

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What is a Business Registration Number?

A BRN serves to identify businesses within the region for official and regulatory reasons and tax tracking and payments.

What is a Company Registration Number?


Do I need a Business Registration Number?


Do I need a Company Registration Number?


How to obtain a Business Registration Number?


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