Commencement of New Inspection Regime – Phase 1 by Hong Kong Companies Registry

First phase of regime designed to safeguard the personal data of directors and relevant individuals listed on the Companies Registry announced

The Companies Registry in Hong Kong has announced the launch of the first phase of the new inspection regime. The regime is designed to protect the personal data from misuse and doxing, while also ensuring transparency and allowing the public to inspect the Companies Register for the purposes detailed under the Companies Ordinance (Cap. 622).

The Phase 1 of the inspection regime will commence on August 23, 2021, and companies may withhold from public inspection the usual residential addresses (“URAs”) of directors and full identification numbers (“IDNs”) of directors and company secretaries as contained in the registers of directors and registers of company secretaries kept by the companies.

In this phase, companies are going to make available for public inspection only their own registers’ correspondence addresses of directors and partial IDNs of directors and company secretaries.

Transitional arrangements are:

  • The register of directors needs not contain director’s correspondence address before the first annual return date on or after Phase 2 unless (a) particulars of directors are entered in register of directors on or after commencement date of Phase 2; or (b) change is made to particulars of director on or after commencement date of Phase 2;
  • Address of registered office is to be regarded as corresponding address of directors until the date on which company enters correspondence address into its register of directors or until first annual return date on or after commencement date of Phase 2, whichever earlier;
  • Before commencement of Phase 2, a company does not need to deliver Registrar of Companies for entering or making any change to correspondence address of directors in register of directors;
  • Before commencement of Phase 2, if correspondence address of directors is not address of company’s registered address, company is required to provide a notice to Companies Registry within 15 days after commencement of Phase 2.

The notice from Companies Registry reminded that in respect of IDNs, the first part of the number must not be withheld. For example, for Hong Kong Identity Card number A123456(7), “A123” cannot be withheld; for passport number ABCD123456789, “ABCD123” cannot be withheld.

Phase 2 is expected to launch on 24 October 2022, and Phase 3 on 27 December 2023.

In Phase 2, protected information will only be made accessible upon the application to the Companies Registry by persons such as members of a company, public officers or law enforcement agencies, practising lawyers and accountants, financial institutions and designated non-financial business and professions regulated under Hong Kong’s anti-money laundering laws, subject to permission with an order of the Court.

Finally, in Phase 3, for individuals’ protected information which is already filed before the commencement of new regime, they can apply to the Company Registry for protection from public inspection and replace URAs and IDNs with correspondence addresses and partial IDNs.

For more information, please see here.

For enquiries, please contact Alpadis Group Hong Kong