Guide to Filing Annual Returns in Hong Kong

10 minute read

 

 

Every Hong Kong private company is required to file an annual return once a year. This happens around the company’s anniversary date. To file this annual return, you need to fill out an AR1 form within 42 days of your company’s incorporation anniversary date.

 

If you don’t file your company’s annual return in this period of time, you will be required to pay late fees that increase the later you complete the filing. This is a very important but also complicated process, so have a read through if your Hong Kong company’s anniversary is coming up!

 

Overview:

 

 

What are annual returns?

If you’ve locally incorporated a private limited company or have a registered non-Hong Kong company, you are required to tick certain boxes of corporate compliance every year, including renewing your business registration certificate. Luckily, you can do this at the same time as your annual return.

 

You need to fill out the aforementioned AR1 form in order to file your annual return with the Hong Kong Companies Registry. This includes the director, company secretary, and shareholders’ information, an overview of operations, as well as the company’s registered office address.

 

Before you file the form, it needs to be signed by either a director, manager, authorized representative, or company secretary.

 

If your Hong Kong private company has applied for dormant status, it is exempt from the compliance requirements of annual returns.

 

Which businesses are required to file annual returns?

Both registered non-Hong Kong companies and locally incorporated companies based in Hong Kong are required by law to file their annual return submission.

 

When are annual returns due?

The prescribed time period to complete an annual return is within 42 days after your company’s incorporation date anniversary. This is the same for all Hong Kong companies.

 

If you’re not sure when exactly your annual return is due, you can use the government’s online calculator to calculate the exact due date. If you don’t file your annual return within the prescribed 42 day period, your company will have to pay a penalty for late filing.

 

There are a few things to keep in mind:

 

  • The 42 day time period will remain unchanged even if the deadline falls on a Saturday.
  • If you don’t respect the prescribed 42 day time period, your company, as well as all responsible officers, will be liable to prosecution. Failure to comply is a criminal offense!
  • Nobody has the power to extend the statutory time limit for a company’s delivery of annual returns, not even the Registrar of Companies.
  • This is applicable for every year your Hong Kong company is in business except for its first year. Even if your company’s fundamental information stays the same every year, you are required to file your returns.

 

What are the penalties for late annual return filing?

If any local private company fails to comply with the compliance requirement within the prescribed 42 day time period, they will have committed a breach of the Companies Ordinance.

 

The responsible officers, such as the director and company secretary, face consequences including late fees and fines for your company and, in some cases, prosecution. The penalty fees depend on how late the annual return is delivered.

 

The registration fees are as follows:

 

  • Those filing within the allotted 42 days after anniversary date will pay HK $105.
  • Those filing >42 days and <3 months after anniversary date will be fined HK $870.
  • Those filing >3 months and <6 months after anniversary date will be fined HK $1,740.
  • Those filing >6 months and <9 months after anniversary date will be fined HK $2,610.
  • Those filing >9 months after anniversary date will be fined HK $3,480.

 

If your company fails to comply, it and every responsible person are liable to prosecution and fines if they are convicted. The maximum penalty you can expect per breach is HK$50,000. If you are charged with a counting offense, you can expect a daily default fine of HK$1,000.

 

How do I submit my annual returns?

There are two ways you can submit your annual return in Hong Kong:

 

  • Fill out hard copies
  • Submit an electronic form with the Companies Registry

 

There is no right or wrong when it comes to the method in which you file your annual return. There are merits to both, and it comes down to preference.

 

Hard Copies

Submit your annual return along with the correct annual registration fee in hard copy to the Registrar of Companies. You can do this either in person or by post to their address:

 

Companies Registry, 14th floor, Queensway Government Offices, 66 Queensway, Hong Kong.

 

When you write the cheque, make the annual registration fee payable to “Companies Registry”. Keep in mind that if you’re delivering your cheque in person, you need to refer to their service hours. You can find the hard copy form download online.

 

If sending your annual return by post, remember to send it as early as possible to avoid any delays out of your control.

 

Online

Those who prefer to take care of their annual returns online can do so by filling out an electronic form and paying their annual registration fee.

 

The Hong Kong Companies Registry has a 24-hour portal e-Registry through which you can take care of your statutory annual filings. Just don’t forget to meet all filing requirements.

 

Is there an easier way?

Filing annual return forms is a complicated process. If you want to do it in an easier way, you can hire professionals to take care of your annual filings and keep track of your due dates.

 

If you don’t want to be the one responsible for keeping your company compliant, you can get in touch with to Sleek. We provide accounting, tax, and audit services in Hong Kong, which are not only convenient but also affordable.

 

Sleek will take care of your annual to-do list, and our team of Chartered Secretaries will make sure that all of your documents and filings are in order. This ensures you will avoid penalties and prosecution related to company annual compliance matters. If you choose to work with Sleek, we can take care of much more than just your annual returns.

 

Our business offers accounting and bookkeeping services in Hong Kong that will help you keep up with accounts, balance sheets, audits and filing requirements. We can take care of everything from your day-to-day accounting to your year-end business operations.

 

Wrap up

There are a lot of benefits of starting a Hong Kong company, but also a lot of responsibilities you need to think about if you don’t want your business to be penalized. One of the most important responsibilities is filing your annual returns, and it’s pivotal to do this correctly.

 

While it is possible to file your annual return forms by yourself, the process can be very complicated. If you make even one mistake, your return will be rejected, and you could be looking at hefty fines. So save yourself the headache and hire Sleek to complete your annual returns while you focus on your business.

 

For more information, feel free to contact us anytime.

 

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