Regulatory Regime

Issue of e-duplicate Business / Branch Registration Certificates (“Duplicate BRCs”)

With the enactment of the Business Registration (Amendment) Ordinance 2010 on 21 February 2011 which, among other things, empowers the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) to issue Duplicate BRCs in the form of electronic record, IRD has enhanced its online service to allow the applicants to obtain an electronic copy of Duplicate BRC via GovHK instead of obtaining the hardcopy certificate at its counter or by post.  The measure has not only expedited the service delivery but also relieved the department’s workload from the conventional channels.

Launch of One-stop Electronic Company Incorporation and Business Registration Service

A one-stop electronic company incorporation and business registration service (“the one-stop service”) was launched in March 2011. A company can be incorporated within an hour and the company can start doing business immediately after completing a simple e-incorporation process at the e-Registry website ( of the Companies Registry (“the Registry”).  The Certificate of Incorporation and Business Registration Certificate will be issued by the Registry in one go.  For straightforward cases, the certificates can be issued in less than 15 minutes.  In the past, applicants had to submit documents to the Registry to form a company and, after the issue of the Certificate of Incorporation, had to visit the Business Registration Office of the Inland Revenue Department to apply for the Business Registration Certificate. It took four working days to complete the company incorporation and business registration process.  

The launch of the one-stop service required legislative amendments to the Companies Ordinance and Business Registration Ordinance to enable the implementation of a number of streamlined procedures under the service (e.g. authentication by password, abolition of the requirement for multiple signatures), empower the Registrar of Companies to issue Certificate of Incorporation in electronic form and to issue an electronic Business Registration Certificate on behalf of the Commissioner of Inland Revenue, etc.

Many companies find the one-stop service timesaving and efficient.  The reform has improved Hong Kong’s international ranking in starting a business from 6th to 5th according to the World Bank’s Doing Business 2012 Report.

Introduction of Composite Food Shop Licence

Food businesses are required to obtain different licences or permissions issued by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) for the sale and/or preparation for sale of ready-to-eat food, in particular “restricted food”.  From 1 August 2010, FEHD started to accept applications for composite food shop licence (a new type of licence) for the sale and / or preparation for sale of various specified types of simple or ready-to-eat foods that do not involve complicated preparation for human consumption off the licensed premises.  The introduction of the composite food shop licence is intended to allow greater flexibility to the trade so that applicants can choose any combination of the specified food items to suit their operational requirements and manage the risks associated with different food types.  

Relaxation of Statutory Requirements for Food Room

The Food Business Regulation (Cap. 132X) specifies the minimum food room requirements for licensed restaurants (i.e. general restaurants (GR) and light refreshment restaurants (LRR)) and factory canteens (FC) to ensure that sufficient space is provided for handling and preparing food .  

Over the years, there have been significant changes in the operation of food business. Many food businesses now operate in chains and share the same food supplier who undertakes some common food preparation procedures centrally before delivering food to individual outlets. This reduces the food room area required of individual food business premises for serving the same number of customers. There have also been improvements in food preparation equipment, storage equipment and cleansing facility / arrangement. In view of these developments, FEHD has reviewed the requirements and considers there is scope in relaxing the requirements to allow greater flexibility to operators without compromising food safety and environmental hygiene

The statutory requirements for food rooms for licensed GRs, LRRs and FCs have been relaxed with effect from 1 August 2010.  The relaxation has introduced new area bands for larger-scale GRs and FCs and reduced their minimum food room requirements; reduced the minimum food room requirements for GRs in existing smaller area bands; and removed the minimum kitchen area requirement for GRs but maintained the existing requirement of provision of kitchen, etc.


Last revision date: January 2017
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