Picking a Company Name in Hong Kong
6 minute read
The first important step before incorporating a local limited company in Hong Kong is to pick a company name. When it comes to picking a company name in Hong Kong, you want to make sure that the proposed name is suitable for registration.
You cannot take the risk of choosing a name that may be rejected by the Companies Registry. It would cost you time and money to file a new application. So if the company name is so important, how should you go about it?
- The process of picking a company name for registration
- Company name of a foreign company
- Why is prior approval required from the registrar?
Picking a company name for registration
You may choose a company name in either English or Chinese for registration in Hong Kong. However, the Hong Kong company name cannot be a combination of both English and Chinese. If you wish to pick an English name for your company, it must have the word “Limited” (in full, not the short form “Ltd.”) at the end.
Your Chinese company name should have the characters “有限公司” at the end. Refer to the ISO 10646 international coding standard for traditional Chinese characters. Since you cannot use simplified Chinese characters, the Dictionary of Ci Hai (辭海) and the Dictionary of Kang Xi (康熙字典) can come in handy to get a hang of it.
Of course, you cannot choose a company name that is already in use in Hong Kong. You cannot use a name that is already in the process of being registered. Any name that is the duplicate of a body corporate already incorporated will not be approved.
A name similar to a name listed on the Registrar’s Index of Company Names will be rejected. You may want to explore company names in the Hong Kong company name generator and check whether it is available for use with the Company Registry. A company name search through the Companies Registry’s Cyber Search Centre can be done to see if your proposed name is already in use. You could also use the Company Search Mobile Service for the purpose.
Hong Kong company name should not give an impression that it is connected to the government or any of its department. You cannot use a name that is opposed to public interest or offensive. Such names are easily rejected. The name is confirmed only when it gets an approval from the government without objection, i.e. when the company is incorporated with the Certificate of Incorporation duly issued.
Additionally, you cannot use a name whose use amounts to a criminal offence in the Registrar’s opinion.
Other Company Name Restrictions
There are some words and expressions that may be treated as a form of similarity between a proposed name and an existing name. This includes such words as the Far East, FE, “and,” “&,” HK, HongKong, “Hong Kong.”
You should be careful enough to ensure that the name you propose for your Hong Kong incorporated company does not end up in a dispute. The idea is to ensure that it is not similar to any existing company name.
The following are not considered when it comes to determining whether you have proposed a name similar to an existing one –
Adding the definite article as the first word of a name will not be considered. For example, BAC Limited is an existing name and adding “the” at the beginning to make it sound different will not help. The name will not be approved.
The same theory applies to adding certain words or expressions at the end, such as company, and company.
Company name of a foreign company
A non-Hong Kong incorporated company with a place of business in Hong Kong must apply for registration with the Registrar of Companies within one month of establishment in Hong Kong. The company will be registered as a non-Hong Kong company under Part XIV of the Companies Ordinance.
A “corporate name” in Hong Kong refers to a translated domestic name that a non-Hong Kong company registers with Companies Registry. A “domestic name,” on the other hand, refers to the name of a non-Hong Kong company that has been registered in its place of incorporation.
When you register your non-Hong Kong company with the Companies Registry, if the domestic name is in characters of the Latin Alphabet or in Chinese, the domestic name of the company is entered as the corporate name. However, the domestic name should not be in Roman script or Chinese.
If the domestic name is not in Chinese or Roman, a certified translation in English or Chinese may be required if the company wishes to register an English name and/or Chinese name as a corporate name in Hong Kong
Why is prior approval required from the registar?
The registrar’s approval is required before registration if:
- The name gives the impression that the company is connected in any way with the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region or the Central People’s Government or any government agency or department. The Registrar will approve of such a company name only where the company has a genuine connection with the government. Otherwise you cannot use such words as “Government”(政府), “Department”( 部 門 ), “Bureau”(局), “Authority”(委員會), “Council”(議會), or “Commission”(公署).“
- If the name contains any such words or expressions that are specified in the Companies (Words and Expressions in Company Names) Order (Cap. 622A), such as ‘chamber of commerce’, ‘kaifong’, ‘levy’, ‘trust’, ‘trustee’. If you use a name that is similar to a name for which the Registrar has notified a name change under the Companies Ordinance (Sections 108, 109, or 771). The Registrar may require a change of name under sections 22 or 22A of the predecessor Ordinance.
If the Registrar finds that the name misleads about the nature of the company’s activities and might not be in public interest, they may call for a name change within the specified period.
So when it comes to picking a company name in Hong Kong, you cannot choose any name that you wish to. Certain restrictions and limitations ought to be watched out for to ensure you abide by the Company’s Registry’s requirements and name criteria.
You may be directed to change the name of your company if it is “too like” the name of another registered company name. In another case, if the Registrar receives a court order to restrain you from using the company name or a part of it, you must abide by the directive. Non-compliance may result in penalty. Get in touch with us to find out more.