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Hong Kong: Companies Registry To Go Online

Mary Swire,, Hong Kong

21 December 2000

Hong Kong's Companies Registry is set to become fully electronic in a two-phase plan due to be unveiled early next year. The move will allow the online filing and retrieval of documents, dramatically cutting paperwork and enabling significant cost savings. The new e-filing system will also make it easier for the public to search online for company information.

It is estimated that the project, which will require Legislative Council approval, will cost HK$130m. Hong Kong follows in the footsteps of of other countries which have e-filing systems in place, including Australia and New Zealand, with Singapore and the UK about to introduce their own versions too. A source close to the Hong Kong government was quoted as saying: 'The way things are going around the world with the globalisation of the economy, it is very important we have the ability to exchange data electronically.'

Hong Kong has more than 500,000 registered companies and each must each file an annual return with the registry containing details such as name, place of business, directors and share capital structure. Public companies must lodge a full set of their audited accounts. Under the Companies Ordinance, information filed with the registry must also be made available to the public.

At present, the registry stores documents on microfiche but the aim is to make everything available online. The Companies Registry online public search service, launched in September 1999, made available an expanded database that included details of all registered directors in Hong Kong.

Full implementation of the new system is expected by August 2004.


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