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Setting up a Foreign Exchange Trading Company

Setting up a Foreign Exchange Trading Company

Setting up a foreign exchange (forex) trading company in Hong Kong involves several steps, including company registration, obtaining licenses and permits, and complying with regulatory requirements. Here's a comprehensive guide to help you navigate the process:

Step 1: Company Registration

  1. Choose a Company Structure: Decide whether you want to register a private or public company. Private companies are more common for forex trading businesses due to their simpler structure and lower compliance requirements.

  2. Select a Company Name: Ensure the company name is unique and complies with Hong Kong's naming regulations.

  3. Appoint a Company Secretary: A Hong Kong resident must serve as the company secretary. Their responsibilities include maintaining company records and ensuring compliance with legal and regulatory requirements.

  4. Identify a Registered Office Address: A physical office address in Hong Kong is required for company registration.

  5. Obtain Business Registration Certificate: Submit the necessary documents to the Companies Registry to obtain a Business Registration Certificate, which officially establishes your company.

Step 2: Licenses and Permits

  1. Type 3 (Leveraged Foreign Exchange Trading) License: Apply for a Type 3 license from the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) to conduct forex trading activities. This license requires fulfilling stringent financial and competency requirements.

  2. Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Counter-Terrorist Financing (CTF) License: Obtain an AML/CTF license from the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) to demonstrate compliance with the city's AML/CTF regulations.

  3. Business Registration Certificate (BRC): Apply for a BRC from the Inland Revenue Department to obtain a Unique Business Identifier (UBI) number for tax purposes.

Step 3: Regulatory Compliance

  1. Hong Kong Code on Conduct: Adhere to the Hong Kong Code on Conduct for intermediaries in regulated markets, which outlines ethical and professional standards for forex trading businesses.

  2. Customer Due Diligence (CDD): Implement robust CDD procedures to verify the identity and suitability of clients before onboarding them for forex trading activities.

  3. Recordkeeping and Reporting: Maintain accurate records of all forex trades and client transactions. Submit regular reports to the SFC and HKMA as required.

  4. Compliance Officer: Appoint a Compliance Officer responsible for overseeing the company's compliance with regulatory requirements.

  5. Regular Audits: Conduct regular internal audits to identify and address any potential compliance issues.

Additional Considerations

  1. Office Setup: Secure suitable office space in Hong Kong to accommodate your trading operations and staff.

  2. Technology Infrastructure: Invest in robust trading platforms, risk management systems, and cybersecurity measures.

  3. Recruitment and Training: Hire qualified forex traders, compliance officers, and other relevant personnel. Provide them with comprehensive training to ensure they meet regulatory standards.

  4. Risk Management: Implement effective risk management strategies to mitigate market and operational risks associated with forex trading.

  5. Marketing and Client Acquisition: Develop a marketing strategy to attract and retain forex trading clients. Comply with all advertising and marketing regulations.

SFO Type 3 Leveraged Foreign Exchange Trading Licence

A Type 3 Leveraged Foreign Exchange Trading (LFET) license is a regulatory requirement for companies that engage in leveraged forex trading activities in Hong Kong. The Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) is responsible for issuing and regulating Type 3 licenses.

Who Needs a Type 3 License?

A Type 3 license is required for any company that offers leveraged forex trading services to clients in Hong Kong. This includes companies that provide margin trading, contracts for difference (CFDs), and other forms of leveraged forex trading.


There are a few exemptions to the Type 3 licensing requirement. These exemptions include:

  • Authorized financial institutions: Banks, restricted license banks, and deposit-taking companies that are authorized to carry on banking business in Hong Kong are exempt from the Type 3 licensing requirement.

  • Incidental forex trading: Companies that provide forex trading services as an incidental part of another regulated activity, such as securities trading or futures trading, are exempt from the Type 3 licensing requirement.

How to Apply for a Type 3 License

The application process for a Type 3 license is complex and requires a significant amount of documentation. The SFC will assess the applicant's financial resources, business experience, and compliance record before granting a license.

Requirements for License Holders

License holders must comply with a number of requirements, including:

  • Maintaining adequate capital: License holders must maintain a minimum level of capital to meet their obligations to clients.

  • Implementing risk management systems: License holders must implement risk management systems to identify, assess, and manage risks associated with leveraged forex trading.

  • Complying with anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorist financing (CTF) regulations: License holders must comply with Hong Kong's AML/CTF regulations to prevent the use of their services for money laundering or terrorist financing.

  • Reporting to the SFC: License holders must submit regular reports to the SFC on their business activities and financial condition.

Benefits of Obtaining a Type 3 License

Obtaining a Type 3 license can provide several benefits, including:

  • Enhanced credibility: A Type 3 license demonstrates to clients that a company is regulated and that its business practices meet certain standards.

  • Access to a wider pool of clients: Licensed companies can legally offer leveraged forex trading services to a wider range of clients, including institutional investors.

  • Reduced risk of regulatory action: Licensed companies are less likely to be the subject of enforcement action by the SFC.

The Type 3 licensing requirement is an important part of Hong Kong's regulatory framework for the leveraged forex trading industry. By complying with the requirements, licensed companies can protect themselves from legal and reputational risks and build trust with their clients.

How Bestar can Help

Bestar can assist you in setting up a foreign exchange trading company in Hong Kong by providing comprehensive support services throughout the entire process. Our expertise includes:

  1. Company Registration and Regulatory Approvals: Bestar can guide you through the company registration process, ensuring compliance with all legal and regulatory requirements. We will assist in obtaining the necessary licenses and permits, including the Type 3 license from the SFC and the AML/CTF license from the HKMA.

  2. Compliance Framework Development: Bestar can help you develop and implement a robust compliance framework to ensure adherence to Hong Kong's anti-money laundering (AML), counter-terrorist financing (CTF), and other regulatory requirements. We will assist in establishing comprehensive customer due diligence (CDD) procedures and recordkeeping practices.

  3. Risk Management Strategies: Bestar can help you identify, assess, and manage various risks associated with forex trading, including market risk, operational risk, and credit risk. We will assist in developing effective risk management strategies to mitigate these risks and protect your company's financial stability.

  4. Ongoing Regulatory Compliance Support: Bestar can provide ongoing support to ensure your company remains compliant with evolving regulatory requirements in Hong Kong. We will monitor regulatory changes and provide guidance on implementing necessary adjustments to your policies and procedures.

  5. Business Setup and Operations Support: Bestar can assist with various aspects of setting up your business operations in Hong Kong, including obtaining necessary business registrations, and navigating local employment regulations.

By engaging Bestar's services, you can streamline the process of setting up your foreign exchange trading company in Hong Kong, minimize potential risks, and maximize the chances of success. Our expertise and experience can help you establish a compliant, well-structured, and profitable forex trading business in Hong Kong's dynamic financial landscape.

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