Street Delights – Set Up a Hawker Stall Business in Hong Kong
3E Accounting explains how to set up a hawker stall business in Hong Kong and carry on a centuries-old tradition of success.
Hong Kong (HK) has a long tradition of hawkers who purvey street food as well as inexpensive daily goods such as newspapers, etc. Some hawker spots such as Ladies’ Market are top tourist destinations. While street hawking is now tightly regulated, it is still a lively and essential part of HK’s economy. It’s never too late to cut in on the action and set up a hawker stall business in Hong Kong.
Hawking for a Living
Street hawkers are an icon of urban Hong Kong – a vibrant social activity that also helps the less well-off earn an income. The convenience, cheap pricing and accessibility have made hawker stalls a necessity in HK.
The HK government has imposed rigorous policies when it comes to hawker stalls and street carts. Since the 1970s, new hawker licenses have stopped being issued, and old permits can no longer be transferred. The government has also actively implemented a hawker license buy-back programme since 2002. As a result, the number of hawker stalls has drastically reduced from 50,000 in 1974 to less than 5000 now.
The government has since eased these stringent regulations and issued new Licenses. The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) also periodically re-allocates vacant hawker pitches and licenses. These measures are the result of policies meant to:
- Regulate legal hawking activities
- Enshrine cultural image
- Control public hygiene and hazard issues
Reduce nuisance and obstruction
There are four broad categories of hawkers currently in HK:
- Fixed-pitch hawkers selling dry goods
- Hawkers selling cooked food
- Hawkers selling newspapers
- Itinerant hawkers with pushcarts
- Sole Proprietorship or Partnership
- Private Limited Company
- Public Limited Company
For a hawker stall, the most common form is a Sole Proprietorship or Partnership. These are the easiest to establish, requiring minimum paperwork and investment. Other necessary steps include registering for taxes on the HK Inland Revenue.
Currently, the FEHD manages and controls all matters related to street hawking in HK. It’s guidelines list two categories of hawker licenses:
- Fixed-Pitch Hawker License
- Itinerant Hawker License
The guideline states explicitly that licenses cannot be issued to those under 18 years or where a valid hawker license already exists. Only one license can be issued per family. The FEHD may issue a Temporary Hawker License for a period not exceeding one month where appropriate.
Setting Up Shop
As far as businesses go, having a hawker stall can be hard work. However, it does provide a sense of accomplishment and a link to HK’s cultural heritage. If you are ready to set up a hawker stall business in Hong Kong, do consider engaging professional help. 3E Accounting offers customisable business solutions that can expedite your company incorporation and licensing process.
Contact 3E Accounting today to jumpstart your entrepreneurial ambitions.