With the turmoil of the European and American economy, it’s not big news that many global businessmen have planned to explore further in Asian countries. Among the different choices, Hong Kong is always the one winning the independent entrepreneurs’ heart. Wanna know the reasons behind?!

In this blog I will illustrate the facts why my start-up clients have picked HK as their preferable place to set foot in it, and the easy steps of finishing the whole incorporation process that might be useful in your pre-startup research stage - you will know not only it’s not complicated at all, but also very advantageous to you on your further business expansion.

 

 

Easy Procedures?

Forming a HK limited company is very straightforward and it’s nothing like a rocket science.  Yet, if you didn’t get a reliable service provider, hassles may come like being shocked by the hidden costs. We have been in this field for a decade and serving countless start-ups and SMEs in setting up their company inbound and outbound with our all-in-one package (no hidden costs at all). Let me share a few tips and you will find establishing your own company has never been easier.

 

STEP 1: Collecting the required documents (please refer to the list below) for registration at the HK Companies Registry :

There are 2 types of Required Documents:

Type I. If the Director / Shareholder is an individual:

> Copy of all Directors & Shareholders’ passport / HKID

> Copy of all Directors & Shareholders’ address proof

* The Director & Shareholder can be the same person, which means it only takes 1 person to complete the process.

Type II. If the Director / Shareholder is a corporation:

> Copy of Business Registration (BR) Certificate

> Copy of all Directors’ passport

> Copy of  registered office’s address proof

>  Articles of Association

> Meeting minutes of agreeing to appoint Directors / Shareholders for this Company

* If the Director is a corporation, it is required to appoint at least one individual Director to comply with the new Companies Ordinance. Please check out some Hot FAQs here for more details.

 

STEP 2: Pay to go !

Once your incorporation payment is confirmed, we will get on preparing the Government paperwork for you to sign. Since we have been cooperating with several leading banks or credit card institutions like Visa Commercial, American Express, China UnionPay, Standard Chartered Bank, Bank of East Asia, etc. in providing HK$500 company setup discount for their cardholders, it’d be a cool way for you to settle payment by credit card easily and enjoy the privilege at the same time! 

 

STEP 3: Submitting your signed documents to Government :

Even if you are aboard, we will help submit all signed application documentations to the Government for swift processing. In fact, by the time you reach this step, you are already half way through setting up your own company.  Yes, it does sound easy and simple because our team would get it all done for you, like approaching different Government departments to file the required paperwork. Just to give you a brief idea of the time frame, for a ready-made (shelf) company, it takes around 2 working days to process; for an all-new company, it would take around 1 week or less to process.

 

STEP 4: Opening bank account :

Some clients may ask: ‘Can I finish all company setup procedures and bank appointment in one trip?’ My answer is: ‘Definitely! (with our attentive arrangement)’. As long as you have planned ahead with our consultant’s well thought-out preparation, you can even meet up with the banker on the same day of picking up the company kit, meaning you don’t need to fly to HK twice. But please be reminded that currently most banks in HK require the businesses to make their account opening appointments 1 month in advance because of the banks’ full schedule, thus it is suggested you can finish incorporating the company first for us to help make appointments with the banks right away, and when all the details are confirmed, you can book the flight ticket to match with your bank appointment and company kit pickup date.

 

What to Prepare for Opening a Bank Account?

We understand the assessment criteria of international banking are getting higher, including HK’s banking and financial system. Under this global trend, a well and thoughtful preparation before the bank appointment always helps. As stated above, we will manage all steps to help you make appointment with the bankers in advance so you don’t need to run around the city and queue up at bank branches to get their opening bank account services. What’s more, sets of certified true copy are included in our package already for presenting to the bankers. Before the appointment, our experienced specialists will advise you of the documents needed to prepare (e.g. passport copy, residential address proof, business plan, business proofs, etc.), so that the whole process could be sped up and the situation of missed documents is minimized. Some banks can even offer our clients pre-screening to let you know whether your provided documents are sufficient for the bank appointment. In general, the assessment time will be around 2 - 4 weeks provided that all required supporting documents are submitted to the bank for review. Currently we work closely with HSBC, Hang Seng Bank, DBS, OCBC Wing Hang Bank, China Citic Bank, etc. and we will guide you through to smooth out the whole process.

 

Tax System Is Favourable in HK?

Some expats might be worry about not being familiar with the local tax system, yet HK is famous in the world for having a rather simple and low tax regime. There are two main taxes: Corporate Profits Tax (16.5%) and Personal Salaries Tax (15%), and there is no dividend tax in HK. Generally after 18 months of your limited company incorporated, you will receive the 1st Profits Tax Return. When your company is in good hands like us where there is an in-house Accounting Team able to assist your business with all accounting work, audit arrangement and getting prepared for local tax compliance, you can rest assured that all these essential functions will be handled properly (and timely) in a legitimate way.

 

HK Incorporation vs. Singapore Incorporation?

Both HK and Singapore are popular jurisdictions in Asia for international businessmen thanks to their good reputation. However, one main difference is that forming a Singapore company requires foreign entrepreneurs to partner up with a local Singapore citizen, while there is no limit on the nationality of the director(s) in setting up a HK company.  It means no matter what your nationality is, you can freely form your own company in HK without the need to include a HK citizen as your company’s stakeholder, giving you much flexibility in the company structure.

 

How HK Serves as a Stepping Stone into China?

The China market is definitely a stage that the world has put their eyes on it. Of course, setting up a China limited company could be the most straightforward way. Hence, for expats, they will have to set up a special type of entity named Wholly Foreign Owned Enterprise (WFOE) according to the China policy. From our experience, if you own a Hong Kong limited company as a shareholding company, it would be way more beneficial to use it in forming your WFOE due to the close economic partnership between HK and the Mainland China i.e. under The Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA). Not to mention financing in HK is much more accessible than in China, and all major international banks are located in HK, leading people to love HK’s banking network and high standard system in terms of technology and security. In the contrary to China, there are no restrictions or approvals needed to receive or transfer funds / foreign currencies in HK as you might know.

 

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Everyone has a dream, but the only difference between an entrepreneur and a normal employee is the former has a belief in mind that they can realize their dreams by reaching a different level of greatness and achievement, which is what I see in my clients’ eyes who have set up their companies with us. HK is like an optimum foothold for entrepreneurs to start their venture, especially with HK Government’s awesome support like reducing the BR fee for a long period of time, or making a 75% profits tax rebate and 75% salaries tax rebate in continuous years (just announced in 2017-18 Budget too). We always know ideas, innovations and technology are the keys to improve everyone’s living standards on this planet, and I do think entrepreneur should grab such opportunity to share with the world like what my clients did to achieve their dreams. So what are you waiting for?

If you have any further questions on setting up your own company, please feel free to email me, Alex from the Start-up Advisor Team, at info@bridges.hk to know more of our practical advice. Or, simply drop me a private message to chat with me, I will be very glad to provide my instant help to you so as to smoothen your ride in HK.

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Trademark is crucial not only in today’s world. Did you know the 1st trademark users are Romans who need  a ™ for their swords?

 

Everyone talks about ™, is it really necessary? A REAL need?

Getting a trademark for your business or not is definitely a personal choice but we have to say sometimes your business name or appearance of your product is probably one of the most valuable assets for you. In this blog we will walk you through what trademark can do for your company and the workflow + tips of trademark application in HK. Ready for safeguarding your names / products that could be the swords of your company?

 

 

What Can Trademark Do for You?

Trademark, the mark “™” is usually used for distinguishing products and services of a particular company / an individual owner from those of others in the market.

Yet, bear in mind that the HK Companies Registry and HK Trade Marks Registry are 2 different authorities. Some of my clients would often get confused with these two departments but I have always reminded them having the company registered does not mean it would automatically register for your trademark or you will be entitled to any trademark rights.

In other words, if you would like to enjoy the exclusive right to use your company’s name or logo, it is inevitable to get a trademark, by which you can use it in relation to the products / services / inventions of yours and it will save you a lot of hassles when your products or services provision get more popular in time. Actually some clients might come to me late (they just ignored this part from the start and suddenly remembered after a couple of years of the incorporation), then found out their business / product name has already been taken by others in their preferred category (i.e. a class of trademark, like machine tools; cooking; telecommunications; etc.) and so they couldn’t register in that category now. It is cruel to see how the businesses may have just ignored the importance of trademark and suffered from the plagiarising behaviour at the end, realising they should have taken this step earlier. We hope you are not one of those who paid a huge cost here.

Talking about the exclusive trademark right, many people may mix up “™” and  “®”. Generally, the “™” symbol can be used either or not the trademark is registered.  But the “®” symbol means this trademark is a registered one, and you are entitled to the exclusive trademark right provided by the Trade Marks Registry. In other words, by obtaining this right, your company can then apply the “®” symbol next to your company’s name or logo as an identification. You can take legal actions against any parties that violate the trademark law, such as using your trademark without your consent / agreement. This could set a firewall from anyone who may be tempted to take your trademark’s benefits (could be company name, products, inventions, ideas, etc).

 

Be the First-Mover in Your Market?

Moreover, having a trademark can also be a first-mover advantage for your company, for you can easily dominate the market if you have a newly-invented product or service. Any newcomers would then be hard to get an identical trademark anytime soon. In essence, it gives you a chance to become the market leader if you act quickly with the trademark registration.

To share some latest trends with you, according to our experience, if a HK company owns a registered trademark, it will become a whole lot easier to cooperate with her mainland China partners because those Chinese companies tend to believe you are a reputable company and they are willing to pay extra for your products / services, which makes the whole trademark registration very worthwhile as it just costs you less than HK$100 per month for owning the 10-years trademark right.

 

Easy-to-Prepare Materials for Registration

Before kicking off the registration, simply provide us with 4 basic information below:-

• The trademark you would like to register graphically

• What products / services are to be covered by this trademark? (i.e. the trademark class, like food for babies; hygienic and beauty care; etc.)

• Would you like an official search / non-official search first? (such a search is for ensuring your trademark is available for registration)

• Information of the trademark’s owner

Simple as that!

 

Just 5 Steps for HK Trademark Registration

Trademark registration sounds complicated yet it is not as hard as you thought. Just pass us the above 4 materials, and our experienced advisor will guide you step by step throughout the whole process, whether you are a local or overseas firm. Here we’ll give you some ideas about the steps:-

1. File the Application

Gather all necessary information of your product / creations / services and we will assist you in submitting the application. Generally the whole application procedure can take as little as 6 months.

2. Deficiencies Checking

The Trade Marks Registry will conduct a thorough check on the application and provided documents. The authority will get in touch with us if further information is required.

3. Search and Examination

The Trade Marks Registry will then perform a proper search to see if any identical or similar trademark has already been registered. The authority will also review and see if the submitted trademark is proper and fits the Trademark Ordinance’s requirements.

4. Objections (There might or might not be one)

If anyhow the requirements are not met, the Trade Marks Registry has the authority to object the application. Yet, applicants are granted with 6 months for amendments in order to meet the requirements.

5. Registration

Once your trademark has been accepted for registration, it will be published in the Hong Kong Intellectual Property Journal. If no opposition by a 3rd party is made, the Trade Marks Registry will enter your trademark into the trademarks register and you will be issued with a certificate of registration, meanwhile the notice of the registration will be published in the Journal too. As the owner of a registered trademark, your rights take effect from the filing date of the application, which allow you to use for 10 years.

 

Finally, How to Make Your Trademark Stand Out?

A trademark is not simply a company or business name, it can be a group of elements joined together like logo, image, symbol, etc. Now we are going to give you some hints on creating a distinctive trademark:-

- Be creative, you have to put a little effort into thinking about the uniqueness of your trademark, for instance, in food industry, using “MEAT FOOD” instead of “MEET FOOD” would give the Trade Marks Registry a huge reason to object your application since the chance of getting a similar trademark is massive.

- No description on the products in terms of quantity or quality like “100 Chicken Wings” or “Quality Chicken Wings”.

- No geographical name like “Milano Fashion”.

- Use your invented product name would be the best since as it would most likely be innovative.

 

If you are not sure whether you are having a trademark idea similar with others, come check with us, I am Cherry from the Trademark Team and I will apply my expertise to help you speed up and ease up the application process. It would be my great pleasure to walk you through how to make it done and give you my instant answers to smoothen your journey.

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From time to time some clients will come to us and ask whether they have to get a Working Visa when visiting HK for just a week or two. We always answer: “it really depends on your purpose coming here”. In general there are two main purposes: 1. tourist travelling and 2. working or investing, and if your visit involves any ‘work’ elements, a Working Visa is essential. 

If you are catching up with the recent news, you might know a British rock band was detained by the HK police because they did not get the right permit to perform in a show (BBC News: bbc.in/2qUkXhx), which had become a good alert for all of us. Now let’s take a look at a few cases together, and we hope through the tips outlined here, you all know under what circumstances you need a work permit, and which type of permit suits you better.

 

 

Faced These Common Situations Before?

CASE 1: “I run an offshore software company. Recently, our company has launched a new system software and one of my technicians will go to HK to help install the software in offices, as well as brief our HK staff on the software features. Does he need a HK Working Visa? Since he is not a HK citizen.

ANSWER: Exactly, “he is not a HK citizen” that is also why he will NEED a work permit to stay in HK for business related purpose. According to the General Employment Policy, for those who come to HK for employment or involving other business activities as professionals, a Working Visa is required. Even for some expat SME clients who are sent to HK for regular stocktake (e.g. diamond stock check) or training provision, they have to apply for the Working Visa too.

So if you are the employer, you are obligated to apply for work permit for your employees under any circumstances that involve professional knowledge or its application in workplace.

 

CASE 2: “I am a British resident and run a restaurant in the UK. I will be heading to the HK franchise to promote a new dish, also to host a short cooking class exclusively for our VIP clients. This will only be a one-time thing and takes only a day. Do I need to apply for an official work permit for that?

ANSWER: Similar to CASE 1, if you are not a HK permanent resident nor having the right of abode in HK, yet possess special skills and will apply your skills for certain achievements or work purposes here, you will need a Working Visa. Just like the British band who got detained for not having the work permit, they were delivering work to a firm indeed for performing in the band show. As such, hosting a cooking class, playing gigs, exhibiting your own artwork as invited artists, performing magic or singing in a company’s organized show, modelling, etc - all these kinds of cultural and artistic communications are actually work delivered to a company and so you will need to get an official work permit in advance, even if your work is unpaid or for charity purpose.

 

CASE 3: “On behalf of the company, I’ve got invited to be the guest speaker of a seminar / workshop / talk in HK but it only lasts 1-2 days, must I apply for a Working Visa for that?

ANSWER: Guess what... the answer is still YES. Though we know you are not making any profits in HK and you just come here to “share” your personal insights / thoughts / knowledge, etc. with the attendees, this kind of professional knowledge sharing counts as a type of training purpose under the HK legal system so you would need a Working Visa for carrying out such training, whether the seminar or workshop requires admission fees or not.

 

Types of HK Working Visa

There are different types of HK Working Visa (details please refer here). Just to give you a general idea for the Employment Visa vs. Investment as Entrepreneurs Visa - For Employment Visa, the applicants should already have an offered position in HK which could be not be replaced by the local labour market; for Investment as Entrepreneurs Visa, the applicants should be the owner of a business, planning to be stationed in HK for managing the business.

For those who come to HK for a rather short period of time (not more than 1 year) and do not have much working experience / qualifications, they could choose to apply for a Working Holiday Visa, which is easier to apply and suitable for young applicants.

If you are non-local / mainland graduates who decided to extend your stay in HK and maybe even develop your career path here, there is a visa type named Immigration Arrangement for Non-local Graduates (a.k.a. IANG) for you to continue your professional venture in HK and work under the IANG scheme.

There are some other visa types like Dependant Visa (for a spouse and even unmarried dependent child to reside in HK), Training Visa (for trainees to be trained in a HK reputable company) and more. How to know which visa type suits you best and you won’t waste time queuing up for an inappropriate line of visa application? It is suggested you should talk to an experienced counsellor who can provide tactical advice and guidance along the way, facilitating your process, increasing the success rate and making sure you are on the right track.

 

Why Need Consultation? It’s Just Visa... Not Straight Forward?

When applying for an immigration permit like Working Visa that has a set of eligibility criteria, it is much better to get a middleman like an agency to help you communicate with the Government Officers and precisely fulfill their specific requirements by accumulated valuable experience. Especially if you belongs to a whole new case, submitting your application through an agency is definitely worthwhile to do, given that the cost of failure is something you may not be able to afford.

For example, how do you know which visa type could be the easiest for you to apply?  How long should you expect to wait before you can get your visa (meaning the ‘real’ time here, not the rough time stated in the Government website)? How do you know if your qualifications are enough or not to extend you a high chance of successful application? Etc. etc. 

You might not know but applying the Working Visa could be like picking the right supplement for your body, there are different factors to consider and it is very personal. So if you are not definite about your case, why not check with the professionals before applying? In fact, if you have applied for the wrong type of visa and got refused finally, it would become quite difficult to appeal the case (in view of the immigration practice that this disapproval record will be archived in your file from the moment the case is refused).

Provided that our team has over 10 years of experience in helping Working Visa clients get the permit successfully, BRIDGES might be the one you are looking for. And for you to know whether your case background is strong and what tactics you should use, we are pleased to provide a face-to-face / video call / phone consultation on your visa application so you will know what is your BEST way to move.

 

Can I Apply for Work Visa a Week Before My Trip?

Unfortunately the answer this time is a big NO. According to our experience, the processing time of a work permit application takes at least 4 weeks and this period is just for paperwork assessment only. In order to prevent the embarrassed situation of getting ready to work but without a visa, please contact a reliable agency as early as possible to kick start all preparation work at an early stage, no matter how long you will work in HK.

 

What If I... Don’t Really Know Where to Start?

Sometimes people might think getting an official Working Visa is a complicated or problematic process so they tend to overlook it. However, it could be more troublesome if you decide to work in HK (whether for a short term or long term position) without a work permit and then get caught at the end. Not only you might enter into a criminal offense and face prosecution, but also bear a bad record that makes it even harder to apply for an official permit next time. We hope this article can address most of your queries and like what we always said, it is definitely better to ponder beforehand and work it out “together”.

So talk to an experienced visa counsellor today if you have any further questions on applying the HK Visas. Feel free to shoot us an email at info@bridges.hk anytime for precise advice or appointment making with our proficient visa team. Or, simply drop us a private message to start chatting with our advisors who will swiftly answer your queries and save your hassles whenever possible before the application starts.

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