Starting a business in Hong Kong is a thrilling endeavor. As one of the world’s leading financial centers and a hub for international trade, Hong Kong offers a dynamic environment for entrepreneurs. However, to operate a business legally in Hong Kong, you’ll need to obtain a Master Business License. In this article, we will explore what a Master Business License is, delve into the process of registering one in Hong Kong, discuss the associated costs, and explain how to look up a Master Business License in Hong Kong, a bustling metropolis. 

Master business license in Hong Kong overview

A Master Business License serves as the cornerstone for conducting business activities legally within Hong Kong. Much like an official identity card for your business, it encapsulates vital information such as the business name, address, type, and registration number. This license is pivotal for ensuring compliance with local regulations and establishing a recognized presence in the region. Reading this comprehensive overview to answer the question “What is a master business license?”

What is a master business license?

A master business license functions as a business permit and includes a range of information about a business. This information encompasses the business name, its address, business type, and the business registration number. Furthermore, the license offers a concise overview of the permissible activities that the business can engage in.

Master business license in Hong Kong

A Master Business License in Hong Kong is a fundamental document that permits you to conduct your business activities legally within the region. Think of it as your business’s official identity card—it’s the document that legitimizes your operations, and without it, your business would operate in a legal gray area.

The Master Business License, often referred to as a “business registration certificate,” authorizes you to engage in various commercial activities within Hong Kong. It’s a crucial part of establishing your presence in the region and ensures you comply with local regulations.

Master business license in Hong Kong
Master business license in Hong Kong

Master business license registration in Hong Kong

Navigating the process of obtaining a Master Business License may seem complex initially, but with proper guidance, it becomes a manageable journey. The step-by-step registration involves selecting your business structure, conducting a thorough business name search, and submitting the required documents based on your business type, whether it’s a sole proprietorship, partnership, or limited company.

Process of master business license registration in Hong Kong

While the process of obtaining a Master Business License in Hong Kong may initially seem intricate, it can be made more manageable with the appropriate guidance. Here’s a simplified, step-by-step overview of the registration process:

1. Business Structure Selection

Establishing your company’s structure is crucial before you begin the registration procedure. Common structures in Hong Kong include:

  • Sole Proprietorship: A sole proprietorship is a company run and owned by just one person.
  • Partnership: A business formed and operated by two or more partners.
  • Limited Company: A separate legal entity distinct from its owners.

2. Business Name Search

Your business name is a critical aspect of your identity in Hong Kong. It’s essential to choose a unique and memorable name that reflects your business and is easy to remember. Before finalizing your business name, perform a name search to ensure it’s available for registration.

Additionally, it’s crucial to follow Hong Kong’s regulations regarding business names. These regulations prohibit names that may mislead the public, violate copyrights or trademarks, or are offensive in nature. A well-chosen business name ensures you can successfully register your Master Business License.

3. Application Submission

Once you’ve selected your business structure and confirmed your business name, the next step is to prepare and submit your application. You’ll need to provide various documents and information, depending on your business type:

  • For Sole Proprietorships: You’ll generally need your Hong Kong Identity Card (HKID), proof of address, and the business registration fee.
  • For Partnerships: You’ll require similar documents for each partner, along with a partnership agreement.
  • For Limited Companies: The requirements are more extensive and include the company’s Articles of Association, a registered office address in Hong Kong, details of shareholders, directors, and company secretary, and the payment of registration fees.

4. Processing and Approval

After you’ve submitted your application, the relevant government authority will review it. This process typically takes several weeks, and you may receive requests for additional information during this time. Once your application is approved, you will receive your Master Business License.

Process of master business license registration in Hong Kong
Process of master business license registration in Hong Kong

Some required documents of master business license registration in Hong Kong

A business license grants permission to engage in a specific type of business activity and is typically issued by a department or agency of the Hong Kong government. Fortunately, only a few business activities necessitate a business license in Hong Kong. The firm has to be registered with the Companies Registry before it can seek for a business license in Hong Kong.

The following is a list of business activities in Hong Kong that require licensing:

  1. Financial Services Company, Insurance, and Banking Services
  2. Telecommunication Services, VoIP
  3. Operating a Travel Agency
  4. Operating a Restaurant and Food Services
  5. Operating an Educational Business
  6. Operating an Employment Agency
  7. Event Management Company
  8. Operating a Retail Shop

Requirements for a Hong Kong business license:

– Company Documents (Business Registration Certificate, Incorporation documents, NNC1 form, and Memorandum & Articles of Association)

– Identification Cards, Passports, and Address proof of Beneficial owners

– Application forms


  1. Company Incorporation
  2. License filings
  3. Identify the specific requirements
  4. Complete all application forms
  5. Verify the issuance of the license
  6. Ensure compliance with the business license

Master business license cost in Hong Kong

The master business license cost in Hong Kong is a significant consideration when establishing your business. It’s essential to budget for various expenses, including:

  • Business Registration Fee: The primary cost associated with obtaining your Master Business License is the business registration fee. This fee varies based on your business structure. For example, as of my knowledge cutoff date in January 2022, the registration fee for a sole proprietorship is HKD 250 per year, while for a limited company, it’s HKD 2,250 per year.
  • Legal Fees: Depending on your business structure and specific requirements, you may need legal assistance in preparing and reviewing documents. Legal fees can vary and should be factored into your budget.
  • Ongoing Compliance Costs: Maintaining your Master Business License requires ongoing compliance, such as annual renewals and filing of annual returns. These activities may incur additional costs.
  • Additional Services: Depending on your business’s nature and needs, you might require extra services, such as virtual office services, company secretary services, or accounting services. These come with their associated costs.
Master business license cost in Hong Kong
Master business license cost in Hong Kong

It’s crucial to note that government fees and regulations can change, so it’s advisable to check with the Hong Kong government or a reliable business registration service for the most up-to-date information on registration fees and costs.

Master business license lookup in Hong Kong

For various reasons, you might need to verify the authenticity of a business’s Master Business License in Hong Kong. Fortunately, the government provides online resources to conduct these verifications. Here’s how you can look up a Master Business License:

  1. Companies Registry Online Services

The Hong Kong Companies Registry offers online services where you can search for business registration information. To verify a Master Business License, you’ll need to provide the business’s name or registration number. This online service allows you to check the registration status and particulars of businesses registered in Hong Kong.

  1. Business Registration Office

The Business Registration Office in Hong Kong also provides resources for verifying business registration information. You can visit their office in person or use their online services to access this information.

It’s advisable to conduct such verifications when entering into business agreements or partnerships to ensure that the businesses you’re dealing with are legitimate and operating within the bounds of the law.


Obtaining a Master Business License is a fundamental step when establishing and operating a business in Hong Kong. This comprehensive guide has provided insights into what a Master Business License is, the registration process, associated costs, and how to look up licenses for verification. With this knowledge, you’re better prepared to navigate the process of setting up and operating your business in this vibrant and business-friendly city.

Remember that the business registration landscape can evolve, so staying updated on Hong Kong’s business regulations and requirements is essential. Additionally, seeking professional advice and services from experts in Hong Kong’s business registration processes can help streamline your journey to becoming a part of Hong Kong’s thriving business community.

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