Requirements for Naming Hong Kong Companies

  1. When registering a company in Hong Kong, it is permissible to use an English name, a Chinese name, or both. However, a combination of English and Chinese characters in the company name is not permitted.
  2. The use of the word "Limited" in English or the character "有限公司" in Chinese is mandatory for Hong Kong company names in their respective languages.
  3. The Chinese company name must contain traditional characters (繁體字) found in the Kang Xi Dictionary (康熙字典) or Ci Hai Dictionary (辭海) and in compliance with the ISO 10646 international coding standard. The use of simplified Chinese characters is not allowed.

Instances where a Company Name will be Declined for Registration

In general, a company name will not be registered if –

  1. It matches a name listed in the Registrar's Index of Company Names;
  2. the name of a corporate body established under an Ordinance;
  3. the Registrar deems that the use of the name would result in a criminal offense; or
  4. offensive or against the public interest, it will not be registered.

When assessing whether a company name is "identical to" another –

  • The following will be ignored when determining if names are the same:

    (i). The use of the definite article as the first word in a name, such as "The ABC Limited" and "ABC Limited".

    (ii). Certain endings and abbreviations such as "company", "and company", "company limited", "and company limited", "limited", "unlimited", and "public limited company", as well as their Chinese counterparts, "公司", "有限公司", "無限公司" and "公眾有限公司", such as "ABC Company Limited", "ABC Limited" and "ABC Co., Limited", or "甲乙丙有限公司" and "甲乙丙公眾有限公司".

    (iii). Differences in letter case, letter spacing, punctuation marks, and accent marks, for example, "A-B-C Limited" and "a b c Limited".

  • The following words and expressions will be treated as identical:
  • "and" and "&"
  • "Hong Kong", "Hongkong", and "HK"
  • "Far East" and "FE"
  • "ABC Hong Kong Limited" is considered the same as "ABC Hongkong Limited" and "ABC HK Limited".
  • The Registrar will also consider two Chinese characters as identical if they are commonly used interchangeably in Hong Kong, such as "恆" and "恒", "峯" and "峰", or "匯" and "滙".

Company names that necessitate approval before registration

  • Approval from the Registrar is necessary for a company name –

    (a) could give the impression of being connected to the Central People's Government, the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, or any of their departments or agencies, unless the company has a genuine connection with them. The use of words like "Department"(部門), "Government” (政府), "Commission” (公署), "Bureau”(局), "Federation” (聯邦), "Council” (議會), and "Authority"(委員會) generally implies such a connection and won't be approved.

    (b) contains any of the words or expressions specified in the Companies (Words and Expressions in Company Names) Order (Cap. 622A) (see Appendix A);

    (c) is identical to a name for which the Registrar has given a name change direction under sections 108, 109, or 771 of the Companies Ordinance or sections 22 or 22A of the predecessor Ordinance on or after 10 December 2010.

  • Before submitting documents for incorporation or a change of name, applicants should consult with the Registrar regarding the types of names listed above and seek written consent to use them. Applications for consent should be sent to the New Companies Section of the Companies Registry, located at 14th Floor, Queensway Government Offices, 66 Queensway, Hong Kong.

Companies use names that include words and phrases covered by other laws

Using certain words and phrases in company names may be regulated by other laws, and their improper use can result in criminal charges. Here are some examples:

  1. The use of "Bank" (銀行) in a company name without the Hong Kong Monetary Authority's consent is a violation of the Banking Ordinance (Cap. 155).
  2. Only the Exchange Company (交易所), as defined by the Securities and Futures Ordinance (Cap. 571), can use the titles "Stock Exchange" (證券交易所) or "Unified Exchange" (聯合交易所) or similar variations. Violating this provision will lead to criminal charges.
  3. Using "certified public accountant (practicing)", "certified public accountant", "public accountant", "CPA (practicing)", "CPA", "PA", "執業會計師", "會計師", "註冊核數師", "核數師" or "審計師" in the name of a body corporate other than a corporate practice as defined in the Professional Accountants Ordinance (Cap. 50) is also a violation of the law.

Applicants must ensure that the words or phrases used in their company names do not violate any Hong Kong laws. When necessary, applicants should seek advice from relevant authorities on the use of restricted words or phrases.

Remove the word "Limited" from the name of a company

If a company intends to apply for a license under section 103 of the Companies Ordinance to remove the word "Limited" and/or the characters "有限公司" from its name (either during incorporation or upon changing its name by special resolution), it can find more information in the Guidance Notes on "Application for a Licence to dispense with the word 'Limited' in the Name of a Company."

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