In this guide, we will discuss the topic of the registered business address for a Hong Kong company and the options available for office rental, given the diversified real estate market, in Hong Kong, as well as a comparative analysis between the options for companies in Hong Kong.
The Companies Ordinance
To begin with some basic concepts, we will briefly analyze the Companies Ordinance, which is the law that regulates companies in Hong Kong. According to Chapter 622, section 658, all the companies in Hong Kong must have a registered office, so all authorities can send communication and notifications related to the activities of the company. For more information about the Companies Ordinance, you can consult the chapter here.
Documentation of the registered address
It is important to mention that there are a few documents that show the official business address of the companies registered in Hong Kong. For the case of a Private Limited Company, these documents are:
- Business Registration Certificate: issued by the Inland Revenue Department, this certificate serves as proof that a company has the permit to operate in Hong Kong and includes the most recent address of that company. It needs to be renewed every year and updated if any change happens. For more information, we have a dedicated article about everything you need to know about Business Registration Certificate in Hong Kong.
- Annual Return: this document needs to be prepared and submitted to the Companies Registry yearly, and includes the particulars of the internal structure of a Private Limited Company, including directors, shareholders, and registered business address. This document also needs to be submitted every time there is a significant change in the contents previously mentioned.
Normally, the issue of having an address or selection one is solved before the company is incorporated and that address becomes the effective official address, once a Hong Kong company’s registration becomes effective. It is important to mention that failing to notify the authorities of the registered address and any subsequent changes to it, will expose the company and its owners to the liability of penalties by the Hong Kong authorities. Furthermore, please note that there is no specific definition for what a registered address needs to be. More details about this point will be discussed in the section below about what options are available for companies in Hong Kong.
Now that we have discussed the reason why it is mandatory to have an address, let's explore the options available for your Hong Kong company.
Your options for choosing your registered address
As we have commented in the previous section, Hong Kong has a very diversified real estate market that evolves according to the needs of the diverse sectors, especially the business and companies that drive its vibrant economy. In this section, we will discuss the most common options for you and your Hong Kong company to use as its registered business address.
Co-working spaces are shared working environments that provide flexibility to their tenants. This flexibility is translated into the simplicity of their individual working units and their policies for short-term leases. Their co-working spaces are normally ready to use and are the preferred choice for working individuals, entrepreneurs, and startups for their added perks and their concept to build up communities.
Additionally, some co-working spaces operate on a membership basis, allowing their members to enjoy the use of the facilities of their branches around the city for the same price. Some of them even have resting spaces with beds and gyms and even offer relaxation courses and training workshops.
Co-working spaces come out as an alternative to traditional options, which some of the landlords would not be willing to negotiate or offer, such as the leasing term or additional services and amenities.
As it was mentioned, the real estate market in Hong Kong is one of the most profitable and expensive in the world. Therefore, renting a private Hong Kong office space could become a high business expense. Nonetheless, for certain businesses operating in Hong Kong, there is the need to comply with a certain standard and adapt the spaces for equipment to operate properly. This is the case for businesses, such as restaurants and food stores, that need to prepare or serve meals, store food and dispose of wastes generated by the operations.
For cases such as the ones mentioned above, a private office or building space would be a perfect choice since serviced offices, business centres, co-working spaces, and virtual office addresses do not allow conducting this kind of business operations, since they don't have the space of the permits that require leasing the space for such operations.
If your business operations do not need specific or specialized facilities to operate, and your budget is not limited, the best option would be to get a lease for a private space in a convenient location on Hong Kong Island or a prime location in Victoria Harbour or Tsim Sha Tsui, such as an office building, commercial building or a shopping mall.
As we have exposed the two previous options, another very popular option with international business is having a virtual office. But before we continue, it is important to point out that, contrary to the two previous cases, it is not a mandatory requirement to have a physical office as a registered address for a Hong Kong Private Limited Company, since it is not specified in the Companies Ordinance.
Having a virtual office allows the owners of companies to comply with the law of Hong Kong while saving on business expenses since it is possible to obtain virtual office packages in a wide offer in Hong Kong. In this sense, companies can kill two birds with one stone, with this type of package, as normally service providers in Hong Kong include the service of acting as your Company Secretary together with the registered address.
One of the main reasons for choosing this option as your office space is the ability to have a registered address in a recognizable location in Hong Kong, without having to pay the premium fee for a physical office space.
Hong Kong has many options for different business needs. Also, the local regulations of Hong Kong will allow you to adapt and change according to the evolution of your business plan. Ultimately, identifying your business needs will be the key that will allow you to choose the right place for you to have your office space that will help your Hong Kong company to properly operate. If you are unfamiliar with the compliance regulations, it is always advisable to approach a professional that will guide you through this learning curve.