Getting a License for a Travel Agency in Hong Kong – Definition of a Travel Agency
Any company who deals with arranging and organising tour services, or any services which are related to travel and touring, is classified as a travel agency in Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong Travel Agents Ordinance has also classified a travel agent in Hong Kong as anyone who is working as either an outbound or inbound travel agent. An outbound travel agent is someone who works on arranging transportation tickets and handles booking accommodations on behalf of travellers who are travelling to Hong Kong from other countries. An inbound travel agent, on the other hand, arranges for transportation tickets and handles booking accommodations for the visitor who are travelling to Hong Kong, provides local transportation services and conducts tours within Hong Kong.
If you intend to operate as a travel agent or start a travel agency in Hong Kong, you must have a Travel Agent’s License to do so.
Applying for a Travel Agent’s License in Hong Kong
Before starting a travel agency in Hong Kong, you must first acquire a Travel Agent’s License. Before applying for the license however, you will need to meet the following pre-requisites:
You must first acquire a Travel Agent’s License. Before applying for the license however, you will need to meet the following pre-requisites:
- You must first incorporate your company, travel agency business in Hong Kong, and obtain a Certificate of Incorporation from the Hong Kong Companies Registry.
- You must have a suitable premise for your business operations. The Travel Agent’s Registry requires that the premise is only for travel agency business.
- A real person must serve as the key executive. He will be in control of the company and responsible for overseeing the management. This key executive can be a partner, director, secretary or company officer, as long as they are deemed to be “fit and proper” by the Registrar of Travel Agents. It is a requirement that the key executive is either a Chinese national or Hong Kong permanent resident, or an Employment Visa holder.
- Prepare the minimum paid-up capital requirement of HK$500,000.
- You must be a member of the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong (TIC).
- You must be a member of any of the 8 travel associations in Hong Kong. The associations are:
- Society of IATA Passenger Agents
- International Chinese Tourist Association
- Federation of Hong Kong Chinese Travel Agents
- Tourist Operators Association (Hong Kong-Taiwan)
- Hong Kong-Japanese Tour Operators Association
- Hong Kong Outbound Tour Operators Association
- Association of China Travel Organisers in Hong Kong
- Hong Kong Association of Travel Agents
Requirements to Submit
Once the pre-requisites have been met, the process of applying for your Travel Agent’s License in Hong Kong will require you to submit the following documents, including a non-refundable application fee of HK$630 to the Hong Kong Travel Agent’s Registry:
- A complete Travel Agent’s License Application Form
- A statement of your Particulars Form
- Hong Kong Identity Cards or travel documents
- Business Registration Certificate
- Certificate of Incorporation
- TIC Membership Certificate
- Travel Association Membership Certificate
- Articles of Association
- A certified true copy of documents which confirm the allotment of shares
- Copy of the Board Resolution which confirms the appointment of an authorised person to represent your company in applying for the travel agent’s license.
- A budget estimate for a period of 6 months to a year
- The proposed scope of business for your travel agency
- The resumes of each key executive with emphasis on their work experience within the travel industry
Successful applications for starting a travel agency in Hong Kong will generally be processed within 3-4 weeks. Once processed, you will be issued with the Travel Agent’s License from the Travel Agent’s Registry.
You will be required to pay HK$485 per month for the Travel Agent’s License fee. The license will only be valid once the prescribed payment has been made. Moreover, most of the issued licenses will be valid for a 12-month period.
As always, you must prominently display your license on your office premise. License numbers must also be on all your company documents, pamphlets, advertisements, and brochures.
How to Renew Your Travel Agent’s License in Hong Kong
The license you obtain after starting your travel agency in Hong Kong must be renewed before its date of expiration. You must submit your application for the renewal of your Travel Agent’s License at least one month before the date of expiry. If not, then submission received after the date of expiry will not be processed. Therefore, you will need to apply for a new license if that happens.
To renew your Travel Agent’s License in Hong Kong, you must submit the following documents to the Travel Agent’s Registry:
- A statement of Particulars Form
- The complete “Renewal of License” application form
- The audited financial statements and/or management accounts
- A certified true copy of your valid Business Registration Certificate
- A certified true copy of a valid membership certificate with the TIC
- Any other documents which the Registry deems necessary.
Successful applications will have a processing time of 3-4 weeks once the Travel Agent’s Registry has verified that the documents have been satisfactory and your business has met the conditions specified by your license.