Unveiling Hong Kong’s Unique Business Identifier: A Leap Towards Efficiency
Hong Kong is embarking on a transformative journey by introducing the new Unique Business Identifier (UBI) system. This innovative system, slated for launch on 27 December 2023, promises to redefine how entities are identified, fostering efficiency and streamlining operations.
Understanding UBI: A Global Perspective
Unique Business Identifier, or UBI, is a distinctive numerical code adopted by numerous economies globally. This identifier aims to reduce errors caused by using different identification methods for the same legal entity.
Countries like Singapore, New Zealand, Canada, and the Philippines have already embraced UBI, showcasing its potential to enhance communication and data exchange across government departments and businesses.
Hong Kong’s Inland Revenue Department, in collaboration with the Business Registration Office, has chosen the Business Registration Number (BRN) as the designated UBI for entities.
Phased Implementation for Comprehensive Coverage
Recognising the need to sustain its financial prominence, the Companies Registry has charted a two-phase UBI implementation strategy. The first phase, operational since 1 November 2021, focused on Limited Partnership Funds (LPFs). Building on this success, the more expansive Phase Two will roll out on 27 December 2023. This will extend coverage to various entities falling under the Registrar of Companies.
The Significance of UBI Implementation
Hong Kong’s adoption of UBI holds profound implications for both the public and private sectors. Experts expect the integration of UBI to enhance government service delivery and regulatory capabilities. Simultaneously, businesses operating in Hong Kong will benefit from a more efficient means of proving their identity to counterparts.
The Business Registration Number (BRN), now designated as the UBI, will play a pivotal role in communication with government departments and businesses.
Post-implementation, the BRN will help in filing specified forms and documents with the Registry. Additionally, it will serve as a key identifier for the Electronic Search Services of the Registry.
Preparing for Change
The Companies Registry is taking proactive measures to ensure a smooth transition for companies. Before the launch of Phase Two, the Registry will issue letters to companies, informing them of the change and providing their respective BRN. Furthermore, an Information Sheet evidencing the shift to using BRN as the identification number for every company or entity will be made available for public inspection.
Companies will also have the option to apply for a Letter of Confirmation issued by the Companies Registry as evidence of the identification number change. This can be particularly useful for companies looking to validate their UBI when interacting with various stakeholders.
Revamping the Integrated Companies Registry Information System (ICRIS)
In tandem with the UBI implementation, the Companies Registry is gearing up for a significant overhaul of its Integrated Companies Registry Information System (ICRIS). The revamped ICRIS will replace the current one on 27 December 2023.
The decision to revamp ICRIS stems from the need to keep pace with rapid technological advancements, ensuring the system can handle the increasing workload and improve public services. The revamped ICRIS will be a mission-critical IT cornerstone, supporting core business operations like registration of companies and statutory returns.
New Features of the Revamped ICRIS
The revamped ICRIS promises a user-friendly experience with a single integrated online platform. This platform will support various electronic services, allowing users to access different services through a unified account. Additionally, responsive web design will enable the use of e-services on both desktop and mobile devices seamlessly.
The new system will introduce several enhancements, including e-Incorporation services arranged for easy access, replacing existing file-based e-forms with web forms for e-filing services, and using BRN as the Unique Business Identifier (UBI) for e-search services.
As Hong Kong gears up for the implementation of Unique Business Identifier and the launch of the revamped Integrated Companies Registry Information System, the business landscape is poised for a significant transformation. The UBI system, with its potential to enhance efficiency and streamline operations, is a testament to Hong Kong’s commitment to maintaining its status as a global business leader.
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