Non-SFC Licenses
in Hong Kong

Application for TCSP
Trust or Company Service Provider License

A person who carries on or wishes to carry on a trust or company service business in Hong  Kong is required to apply for a licence under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance (Cap. 615) (“the AMLO”).


Any person who carries on a trust or company service business in Hong Kong without a licence  commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of up to HK$100,000 and imprisonment up to 6 months.


A trust or company service means the provision in Hong Kong by a person, by way of business, of one or more of the following service to other persons including below:

  • Forming corporations or other legal persons
  • Acting as, or arranging for another person to act as a director / secretary of a corporation /  partner of a partnership or in a similar position in relation to other legal persons
  • Providing a registered office, business address, correspondence or administrative address
  • Acting as, or arranging for another person to act as a trustee of an express trust; or  a nominee shareholder for a person other than a corporation whose securities are listed on a recognized stock market

Term

A TCSP license is valid for 3 years that contains the name and business address of licensee. The Registrar of Companies (“the Registrar”) may impose conditions on granting a licence that the licensee needs to comply with the requirements of the AMLO and the guidelines issued by the Registrar (including the customer due diligence and record-keeping requirements) and the licensing conditions imposed by the Registrar.

Application Process

The Company has to submit the required application documents and written confirmation of compliance along with application fees to the Hong Kong Companies Registry following the Guideline on Licensing of Trust or Company Service Providers. Upon approval of application, a TCSP License will be issued by the Companies Registry and the Company will be allowed to carry out the related TCSP business.

Application for MSO
Money Service Operators License in Hong Kong

Any person operating a money service should be licensed with the Commissioner of Customs and Excise pursuant to the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing (Financial Institutions) Ordinance (Chapter 615 of the Laws of Hong Kong) (the “AMLO”).

Money service includes money changing service and remittance service. It is an offence to operate a money service in Hong Kong without a license. One shall only operate a money service after being granted a license by the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department. Normally, the Money Service Operators (“MSO”) License has a validity period of 2 years. Hence the licensee shall apply for renewal of license before expiration to continue its operation of money service.

Money changing service means a service for exchanging of currencies that is operating in Hong Kong as a business, but not include those service that is incidental to the main business.

Remittance service means a service of one or more of the following that is operated in Hong Kong as a business:

  • sending, or arranging for the sending of, money to a place outside Hong Kong;
  • receiving, or arranging for the receipt of, money from a place outside Hong Kong;
  • arranging for the receipt of money in a place outside Hong Kong.
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Requirement

The following documents will be required for application:

  1. Application forms for the applicant, and the relevant supporting documents
  2. Application forms for each corporate partner/ director / ultimate owner (where applicable) of the Applicant, and the relevant supporting documents
  3. Regarding each premises used for the operation of money service, i) a copy of stamped tenancy agreement or record of ownership of the premises and ii) floor plan of the premises

Application Process

Upon receipt of application, the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department will issue an acknowledgment receipt of the application. After examination of the submitted documents and seeking clarifications from the applicant, an interview will be arranged with the applicant for verification of the original documents and payment records. The applicant will be required to sign on the formal application for the grant of an MSO license.

Upon approval of application, the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department will issue the MSO license to the applicant. The license will specify

  1. the address of every premises in which the licensee may operate a money service,
  2. the conditions imposed or amended pursuant to the AMLO, and
  3. the period for which the license is valid. The name and premises for operating money service of each licensee will be provided in the Register of Licensees of the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department.

Application for MLO
Money Lenders Licence in Hong Kong

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Any person carrying on business as a money lender in Hong Kong must obtain a money lender’s license pursuant to the Money Lenders Ordinance (Chapter 163 of the Laws of Hong Kong) (the ‘MLO’). It is an offence to operate as a money lender in Hong Kong without a license. Normally, the Money Lenders license has a validity period of 12 months. Licensee shall apply for renewal of license within 3 months prior the expiration to continue its operation of money lender service. As of 30 June 2016, 1755 money lender licenses were granted in Hong Kong.

Money lenders service means in general making loans to others that is distinct from banks and financial institutions. The services of money lenders include provision of both secured and unsecured loans such as (i) mortgage loans, (ii) consumer and corporate loans, (iii) vehicle, plant equipment leasing, (iv) credit cards, (v) Small and Medium Enterprises loan, (vi) cheque and invoice discounting, (vii) loan syndication.

Requirement

The following documents will be required for application:

  1. Application and statement forms for the applicants
  2. Documentary proof supporting capability in managing the money lending business.
  3. Documentary proof showing the financial situation
  4. Tenancy agreement and floor plan of the premises that is intended to be used for money lending business
  5. General permission from the landlord in written form
  6. ‘Permit to occupy a new building’ issued by the Buildings Department
  7. Land Register obtained from the Land Registry by conducting land research
  8. Annual return (if the applicant is a company)

Application Process

Upon receipt of application, the Companies Registry and the Commissioner of Police will issue an acknowledgment receipt of the application. The Commissioner of Police will take around 60 days to investigate and examine the submitted documents. Acknowledgement letter will be issued after 60 days of investigation to inform the applicant whether the application is approved. It usually takes 3 to 4 months to process a submitted application.

An acknowledgment letter and notice will be issued to the applicant one month after the investigation, if the application is approved. The applicant is required to attend a hearing and bring along all the requested documents to the Licensing Court. The Money Lenders license will be granted once the applicant has submitted all the requested documents to the Licensing Court.

The Licensing Court is responsible for approval of applications for money lenders licenses, considering the following factors:

  1. whether the applicant is a fit and proper person to carry on the business (e.g. the relevant general knowledge, qualification and experience, etc.)
  2. whether the premises to which the application relates are suitable for the carrying on of the business (e.g. usage of the premises and permission from the landlord and tenant etc.); and
  3. whether the grant of such license is contrary to the public interest.

***New requirements with effect from 3 October 2016

With effect from 3 October 2016, applicants for money lenders licenses or the renewal of licenses are required to provide supplementary information relating to the applicant and the business (including, e.g., types of loans involved, intended business, and financial position) in support of the application.

All application for money lenders licenses or renewal of licenses submitted to the Companies Registry on or after 3 October 2016 must be accompanied with the relevant supplementary information sheet in addition to the application documents.