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Obtaining Special Permits and Licenses in Hong Kong

Updated on Monday 20th February 2017

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The Trade and Industry Department in Hong Kong oversees that all companies apply for a business license according to the specifics of its activities. The following business licenses are available in Hong Kong: food licenses, license for non-food goods and service licenses. However, there are business activities that require special licenses or permits that can only be obtained with the relevant authorities in Hong Kong. Among these money services operators, telecommunication companies and traveling agencies are required to obtain special licenses and are also required to satisfy certain conditions, such as having a minimum share capital in order to properly function.
 

Financial services special permits in Hong Kong

 
Chapter 615 in the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance (AMLO) is the main regulatory legislation stating the requirements and special licenses a financial institution, bank or insurance company must obtain in Hong Kong before commencing operating. All money service operators in Hong Kong are required to apply for a special permit with the Commissioner and Customs and Excise (CCE) Office. The special license obtained with the CCE will contain information the addresses of each unit of the money service operator, the validity the special permit and will be issued according to Section 30, 31 or 32 in the AMLO depending on the type of service provided. The licenses have a two-year validity period and can be renewed.
 

Telecommunication special licenses in Hong Kong

 
All telecommunication operators in Hong Kong are required to apply for a special license with the Communication Authority. Depending on the type of company an operator wants to open, the following special licenses can be obtained in Hong Kong:
 
  1. carrier licenses,
  2. public radiocommunications service licenses,
  3. service-based operator licenses.
Also depending on the type of special permit obtained there are several class licenses. Among these, there are the class licenses for short range devices, for taxi mobile stations, for telecommunication services, or for public wireless local area network services.
 

Special food licenses in Hong Kong

 
Depending on the type of food facilities provided, all restaurants, bars and catering companies in Hong Kong are required to obtain certain special permits. These special licenses are divided into categories depending on the services provided. Among them, we can find special permits for beverages and tobacco, for vegetables and fruits, for dairy products, for fish and crustaceans or meat.
 

Environmental licenses in Hong Kong

 
Businesses in Hong Kong need to operate in a safe manner not only in terms of human safety (like restaurants are required to) but also by observing the laws for environmental protection. Several ordinances are in place regarding air pollution, water pollution, noise control, disposing of waste, hazardous chemicals use or eco-responsibility in Hong Kong.
 
Pharmaceutical companies in Hong Kong are, for example, required to observe the laws for the disposal of clinical waste. Online permit applications are possible for companies that need to observe the regulations for waste disposal, air pollution control, water or noise pollution. Application fees and charges do apply for these types of permits.
Import and export companies in Hong Kong are also subject to licensing if they handle certain types of goods or materials. Additional controls and licenses are needed in case of controlled chemicals, dutiable commodities, pesticides, pharmaceutical products, medicines and/or dangerous drugs, rough diamonds, vehicle parts, strategic commodities.
 
Residential care homes and elderly care facilities also need to obtain special permits for functioning. In addition to functioning only after they are legally allowed to, these types of establishments also need to hire trained employees who are qualified health workers.
 
If you want to set up a company and need advice on the best type of business and required licenses you can contact our specialists in company incorporation in Hong Kong.

 

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