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Do online stores need to register with a business registration certificate? How to display the business registration certificate correctly?

Does any business operation in Hong Kong require a Business Registration (BR)? Do online stores that have emerged in recent years require a business registration certificate? What is the difference between a business registration certificate and a business license, known as the first step in starting a business? This article will introduce you to some precautions for the business registration certificate.

Is Business Registration not the same as a business license?

According to the “Business Registration Ordinance”, within 1 month of the opening of all businesses operating in Hong Kong, the proprietor must apply for business registration for the business from the Inland Revenue Department, perform legal responsibilities, and serve as business certification documents.

According to the guidance of the Inland Revenue Department, the purpose of Business Registration is not to regulate business activities. Unlike business licenses, each company only needs to perform business registration once, and branch businesses do not need to obtain Business Registration again.

After registration, the business will be recorded in the business register for public inspection of business information and for the convenience of government taxation. At the same time, the place of business must show a valid Business Registration certificate, and the proprietor is also obliged to notify the tax bureau in writing within 1 month after any information change.

What business requires a Business Registration? Do you need an online store?

In fact, the Inland Revenue Department states that all “businesses of any kind, including crafts, commerce, professions, occupations, or clubs that provide facilities, services, and premises for members to carry out activities for profit” are regarded as a business.

Regardless of whether the business has a physical business premise, such as an online store business, it is obliged to apply for a business registration certificate (Business Registration) with the tax bureau. The following also includes these businesses:

• A limited company established in Hong Kong in accordance with the Companies Ordinance, or a limited company with a place of business in Hong Kong (whether it actually conducts business in Hong Kong);

• A limited company not incorporated in Hong Kong that has an office or liaison office in Hong Kong, or leases out properties in Hong Kong;

• A limited partnership fund registered in Hong Kong under the Limited Partnership Fund Ordinance (whether or not it actually operates a business in Hong Kong).

However, for the application for Business Registration (Business Registration), the Inland Revenue Department pointed out that the following organizations are still exempt from registration:

•    Charity;

• Agricultural, horticultural, or fishing operations (this exemption does not apply to companies incorporated or registered under the Companies Ordinance);

• The business of shining shoes;

• Various hawker businesses (other than those operating in buildings) that are required to be licensed under the Hawker Regulations.

Why show a Business Registration?

According to Chapter 310 of Hong Kong’s “Business Registration Ordinance”, the above business operators are required to display a valid business registration certificate (Business Registration) in a conspicuous place on the business premises. One of the purposes is to facilitate the authorized officers or inspectors of the Commissioner of Inland Revenue to conduct inspections and inquiries at any time to prove reasonable business operations.

Whether or not the Business Registration is issued electronically, businesspersons must present a printed copy of the Business Registration at the business office.

If the Business Registration or a copy is displayed improperly, or if it has been found to have taken the Business Registration out of Hong Kong, it is likely to be considered a crime, or subject to fines and imprisonment, impeding the operation of the company Yu could be fined up to HK$5,000 and imprisoned for one year.

The above information is for reference only. If you have any questions about accounting and Business Registration, we welcome your inquiries.

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