Hong Kong trust or company service providers new licensing regime

March 2018

A new licensing regime will be introduced under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance (“AMLO”). With effect from 1 March 2018, a person who carries on a trust or company service business in Hong Kong (“TCSP”) is required to apply for a licence from the Registrar of Companies.

A trust or company service business means the business of the provision of the following services to other persons in Hong Kong:

  • formation of corporations or other legal persons;
  • acting or arranging for another person to act as

a) a director or a secretary of a corporation;

b) a partner of a partnership;

c)  a similar position in relation to other legal persons;

d) a trustee of an express trust or a similar arrangement; and

e)  a nominee shareholder for a person other than a corporation whose securities are listed on a recognised stock market.

  • providing a registered office, business address, correspondence or administrative address for a corporation, a partnership or any other legal person or legal arrangement.

TCSPs will be required to apply for licences from the Registrar of Companies and every relevant person of the TCSP must satisfy a “fit-and-proper” test for provision of trust or company services in Hong Kong.

The TCSP licence is normally granted for a period of 3 years. The TCSPs must make an application for the renewal upon the expiry of the licence.

The licensing requirement does not apply to:

  • the Government;
  • an authorised institution under section 2(1) of the Banking Ordinance (Cap 155);
  • a licensed corporation (as defined under section 1 of Part 1 of Schedule 1 to the Securities and Futures Ordinance, Cap. 571) that operates a trust or company service business in Hong Kong that is ancillary to the corporation’s principal business;
  • an accounting professional;
  • a legal professional; or
  • a person of a class or description prescribed by the Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasure by regulation.

There will be a transitional arrangement where a person will be deemed to have been granted a licence if he or she were carrying on a trust or company services business in Hong Kong immediately before 1 March 2018. The deemed licensee must apply for a licence to carry on a trust or company service business before the expiration of the deemed license, i.e. 120 days from 1 March 2018.

For further details on the TCSP license, please refer to the Registry for Trust and Company Service Providers website and the Guideline on Compliance of Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Requirements for Trust or Company Service Providers .

Contact us

Loretta Chan
Partner, PwC Hong Kong
Tel: +[852] 2289 6700

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