Obtaining a Financial License in Hong Kong (MSO) | Law&Trust International

Any person operating a money service should be licensed with the Commissioner of Customs and Excise pursuant to the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing (Financial Institutions) Ordinance (Chapter 615 of the Laws of Hong Kong) (the “AMLO”). 

Money service includes money changing service and remittance service. It is an offence to operate a money service in Hong Kong without a license. 

Money changing service means a service for exchanging of currencies that is operating in Hong Kong as a business, but not include those service that is incidental to the main business.

Remittance service means a service of one or more of the following that is operated in Hong Kong as a business:

(a) sending, or arranging for the sending of, money to a place outside Hong Kong;

(b) receiving, or arranging for the receipt of, money from a place outside Hong Kong;

(c) arranging for the receipt of money in a place outside Hong Kong.

One shall only operate a money service after being granted a license by the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department. Normally, the Money Service Operators (“MSO”) License has a validity period of 2 years. Hence the licensee shall apply for renewal of license before expiration to continue its operation of money service.

A MSO applicant could be a Hong Kong limited company, Hong Kong unlimited company or overseas company.

After submitting all the required documents, the The Commissioner of Customs & Excise (“CCE”) will request for payment of application fees (for application itself and for each partner/director/benefitial owner).

After payment, “CCE” will interview the applicant and issue an "additional information" form to the applicant. The applicant (or any partner / director / ultimate owner) must not have been convicted of a financial or criminal offence, or is an undischarged bankrupt, and the premises for operation of the “MSO” business is considered by “CCE” to be suitable.

Applicants are required

to submit four main types of supporting evidence at the time of submitting the application form:

List:

    1. Supporting documents of the applicant’s particulars, such as business registration certificate and certificate of incorporation; 
    2. Supporting documents of particulars of each premises, such as a tenancy agreement and floor plan; 
    3. Supporting documents of particulars of individual partner, director or owners of the applicant business, known as Fit and Proper Person Declaration Forms;
    4. Authorization letter signed by all partners or board of directors authorizing the application.
In addition to the four main types of supporting documents, the applicant may be asked to submit other supporting evidence not listed on the application form, such as a business plan.
“CCE” will perform an audit on the persons and company, together with an onsite visit to the business premises. Finally, “CCE” will inform the applicant of the result of the applicant by mail. Upon collection of the MSO licence, “CCE” will request the licencee to nominate a "Compliance Officer" and a "Money Laundering Reporting Officer".
In addition, the licencee is required to submit a transaction report every quarter and suspicious customer / transaction report on a timely basis.

Want to Obtain a Money Service Operator License in Hong Kong?

We can assist in:

  • To assess qualifications for applicants.
  • To form a Hong Kong company for this purpose.
  • To prepare all the required documents for license application.
  • To liaise with case officers of Custom & Excise Department.
  • To organize and prepare you for interview with Custom & Excise Department (the applicant has to be present at the interview).
  • To negotiate licensing conditions until outcome of the application or issuance or license.

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