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Guide to Establishing an Non-Profit Organisation in Hong Kong

Updated: Jun 21

Guide to Establishing an Non-Profit Organisation in Hong Kong | Bestar
Guide to Establishing an Non-Profit Organisation in Hong Kong | Bestar

Guide to Establishing an Non-Profit Organisation in Hong Kong

Non-Profit Organisation

A non-profit organization (NPO), also sometimes referred to as a non-governmental organization (NGO), is an organization that prioritizes social good over financial gain.  NPOs work on a variety of social issues, including:

  • Poverty alleviation

  • Environmental protection

  • Education

  • Healthcare

  • Human rights

  • Animal welfare

  • Arts and culture

Here are some of the key characteristics of NPOs:

  • Mission-driven:  NPOs have a clearly defined social mission that guides their activities.

  • Non-profit distribution:  NPOs don't distribute profits to owners or shareholders. Any surplus funds are reinvested back into their mission.

  • Public benefit:  NPOs aim to generate a positive social impact for the community.

  • Volunteer involvement: Many NPOs rely on volunteers to help them achieve their goals.

NPOs can take on a variety of legal structures, depending on their location and specific goals.  Here are some common types:

  • Charitable organizations:  These NPOs typically provide direct aid or services to those in need.

  • Advocacy groups:  These NPOs work to raise awareness about a particular issue and influence policy change.

  • Social enterprises: These NPOs use business models to achieve their social goals.

Setting Up a Non-Profit in Hong Kong

Hong Kong offers a supportive environment for non-profit organizations (NPOs). Here's a basic guide to get you started:

1. Choose Your Structure:

There are two main options for NPOs in Hong Kong:

  • Company Limited by Guarantee: This is the most popular choice. It limits the liability of members to a predetermined amount if the company dissolves.

  • Society: Societies are simpler to set up but lack the legal structure of a company. Office bearers have unlimited liability.

2. Gather Required Documents:

The specific documents will vary depending on your chosen structure. Generally, you'll need:

  • Application form

  • Identity documents for founders/directors

  • Proof of business address

  • Constitution or Articles of Association outlining your purpose and governance

  • Consent letters from relevant parties (e.g., office space owner)

3. Registration Process:

  • Company Limited by Guarantee: Submit the documents to the Companies Registry. The process typically takes around five working days.

  • Society: Register with the Registry of Societies. The processing time can be up to 12 working days.

4. Business Registration:

Once registered, complete business registration with the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) for tax purposes.

Additional Considerations:

  • Appointing Directors and Members: You'll need at least two directors and one company secretary for a company limited by guarantee. There's more flexibility with societies.

  • Naming Your NPO: Companies cannot have "Limited" in their name, while societies can.

  • Seeking Tax Exemption: Register with the IRD to apply for tax-exempt status for donations.


For a more detailed guide and downloadable forms, consider consulting these resources:

How Bestar can Help

Bestar can assist with NPO establishment in Hong Kong. Here are some areas where we are able to help:

  • Choosing the Right Structure: Bestar might be able to advise on the most suitable structure (company limited by guarantee or society) based on your specific goals and needs.

  • Document Preparation: We assist in preparing the necessary documents for registration,  including the constitution or articles of association.

  • Registration Process: Bestar could help navigate the application process with the Companies Registry or Registry of Societies.

  • Business Registration:  We facilitate business registration with the Inland Revenue Department.

Contact Bestar to inquire about our services related to NPO establishment in Hong Kong. We offer a consultation to understand your needs and provide a tailored plan.

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