Hong Kong Money Transfer License – Introduction
In order to offer services as a money transfer company or a remittance agency in Hong Kong (HK), a business needs to obtain the Money Service Operator (MSO) license.
HK Regulation for Money Transfer Companies
According to the Hong Kong Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance (AMLO) Cap. 615, it is a crime to operate an unlicensed money services business.
The license is granted by the Commissioner of Customs and Excise (CCE) which is the body regulating this industry in HK.
Any business that falls under the definition of a Money Service Operator, or MSO, MUST get the license. Illegally operating a money transfer business in HK can lead to a fine of up to HK $100,000 and even imprisonment for six months.
MSO License Guideline
The MSO license is fairly easy to obtain and the whole process can easily be completed online if you have all the paperwork ready. The Customs and Excise Department provides e-services to all applicants so they can apply online and get the licensing procedure started.
Eligibility for the MSO Money Transfer License
When applying for your license, you need to go through the complete MSO license guidelines that are provided by the CCE. These will help you understand all the requirements and be prepared for a successful application.
You must apply using the form they provide and will only be granted the license if the CCE is satisfied that you fulfill all the requirements. For example, the rules state that every applicant, every partner, director or ultimate owner, must be a “fit and proper person” to be associated with the business of operating a money service.
What is a “fit and proper person?” The guidelines mentioned above will help you understand this in detail but the TL;DR version is that none of the principals have been convicted of any offense listed in the AMLO, UN anti-terrorism sections, drug trafficking, money laundering or any other similar crime. In addition, your financial situation is also considered when determining your eligibility.
Another requirement is that any premises that are registered should be suitable for the operation of a money service business.
HK MSO License Fees
According to section XIV of the licensing guide, the following fees will be submitted by the applicant:
|Application for the grant of a license |
plus for each additional business premises
plus for each person who is subject to the fit and proper person test
|Application for an approval to become a licensee’s director/ ultimate owner/ partner||860 |
For each person in relation to whom the application is made
|Application to operate a money service at particular premises||2,220 |
For each business premises
The license application form on the C&ED website (PDF) will give you a better idea of what you will need in order to complete the form.
You can also create an account on the e-services portal which also gives you access to many important documents related to the money transfer license in Hong Kong.