Singapore or Hong Kong? Where Best to Do Business

Singapore and Hong Kong are two of the best east Asian countries to start establish a business. Hong Kong has taken the lead for the past years but Singapore has been quickly making great strides to compete further.

Companies and brands from the US and UK have had relatively easy entries to both markets. The most common business has to do with building a regional headquarters for a global company as an expansion strategy and amass the Asian market.


As an overview of the two country’s strengths:

  • Singapore has the top destination for maritime trade.
  • Hong Kong is your choice if the objective is to eventually start business in Mainland China.
  • Both have incredibly accessible international airports with hundreds of direct flights from Western regions on a daily basis


It’s a must to have business cover like public liability or product liability insurance. It’s a pre-requisite for any business in Hong Kong and Singapore.

Both countries have strict legal systems with regulations in place to help you with intellectual property rights and dispute resolution departments. However, Singapore wins over Hong Kong in terms of enforcing contracts and property registrations.


World Bank’s 2017 Ease of Doing Business ranking places SG at #2 and Hong Kong at #5. New Zealand was #1 last year.

In the annual Z/Yen survey of global financial centres Hong Kong beats Singapore but as the entry way to China, Hong Kong is the 3rd most powerful financial hub globally. Singapore is currently in 4th place.

Hong Kong ranks 1st in terms of financial services and financial technology.

The criteria for the rankings above are:

  • infrastructure
  • business environment
  • financial sector development
  • human capital
  • reputation

Business registration can both be done online via website registration.  The headline Singapore tax rate is 17% whereas it’s 16.5% in Hong Kong. There are also many tax exemptions available for both.

In Singapore, one of the directors must be a citizen while Hong Kong allows 100% ownership by expats.

Ready to get started with your new businesses? Get in touch with us for all your business insurance needs.


Employer’s Guide to Employee Compensation Insurance in Hong Kong


Employee Compensation Insurance or EC Insurance is a liability cover specific for businesses with hired workers. This is mandatory in Hong Kong for all businesses.

According to Section 40 of the Employees’ Compensation Ordinance, Chapter 282 of the Laws of Hong Kong, no employer shall employ any employee in any employment unless there is in force a policy of insurance to cover their liabilities both under the Ordinance and at common law for injuries at work in respect of all their employees, irrespective of the length of employment contract or working hours, full-time or part-time, permanent job or temporary employment.

This ordinance also applies to domestic helper insurance but will vary in cost and coverage.

An employer who fails to comply with the Ordinance to secure an insurance cover commits an offence and is liable on conviction to amaximum fine of HK$100,000 and imprisonment for two years.


  • Minimum insurance cover


  • Full cost of insurance CANNOT be deducted from your employees’ earnings. A breach in this ordinance makes the employer liable to a fine of $10,000 and 6 months imprisonment.
  • When you add more employees to your business, make sure you contact your insurance provider to discuss any adjustments.
  • Ask if the Employee Compensation Insurance covers subcontractors. You are not required to take out a policy for them as there is another type of insurance they can arrange for themselves. You can read our blog about being an expat contractor in Hong Kong here.
  • Take note of sick leaves and medical expenses in case an employee is injured during work.

Some information for Employers and Employees

Employee Compensation Insurance covers the following:

  • medical care from injury or illness
  • replacement income (start date may vary)
  • costs for retraining
  • compensation for any permanent injuries
  • benefits to survivors of workers who are killed on the job
  • policy does not cover pain and suffering
  • some policies can cover long term and permanent injuries
  • volunteers workers may also be covered by some policies

Once an employee makes a claim, they forfeit any chances of pursuing a legal complaint against the company.



Infographic: Global Cyber Attack Statistics

The threat to cyber security has increased over the past 10 years. Businesses have paid large sums to recover files and systems which all could have been avoided if we only treat cyberattacks as a big possibility. Here are the numbers on cyber attacks on global businesses.

Ask us how we can help your business with the proper insurance cover.


Setting up a Company in Hong Kong

Hong Kong continues to be one of the best places for expats to set up business. Technology, commerce, and finance are the top industries that have successfully thrived for 2016. Usual practice for expats is to hire an agency to handle all the paperwork. This is easy and convenient for expats since they won’t need to be in the country while processing everything.

Below is updated information on how to open your business in the country.


If you’re hiring an agency, you’ll need to pay the agency’s fee and submit the name of your company. The agency will then check whether the name is available in Hong Kong or is already taken.

Next, send a copy of your passport, a copy of an official document as a proof of your residence (for instance, a driver’s license) and a questionnaire with standard questions such as your address, your passport number and the name of the director and shareholders (if you plan to open the company alone, you can be both director and unique shareholder) to Hong Kong.

For a simple company structure, which unless you have special requirements shall be enough, your agency will setup your company via E-registration, which takes less than two hours, to get the brand new company’s certificate of incorporation and business registration certificate upon certified the relevant parties’ passport online, for instance via Skype

Note that in the past, expats were allowed to open a Sole Trader Company in Hong Kong without owning a resident permit. This is no longer allowed unless you’re planning to stay in Hong Kong or have the option of opening can a Limited Company.


The incorporation documents and company kit (seal, stamp and so on): about 2,070 HKD (if planning to approach an agency

The Company Registration (Government fee): 1,730 HKD.

The Business Registration Certificate (Government fee): 250 HKD.

The Provision for the Company Secretary: 3,500 HKD

The Provision for the Registered Office Address: 2,000 HKD.

You will also need to open a Hong Kong bank account which is fairly easy to do on your own once you get in the country. HSBC and Hang Seng Bank are the popular choices among international businesses.


Hong Kong has a straightforward tax system: your company will pay 16.5% of taxes on any profit generated in Hong Kong and nothing otherwise (as long as you apply for off-shore status).

The required registered capital in Hong Kong is much smaller than in the majority of countries (only 10,000 HKD). This makes it ideal for start-ups who have smaller margins to work with.

We also recommend subscribing to Liability Insurance as well as other crucial covers such as Employee Compensation and Office Insurance. Village Insurance Direct is one of the go-to agencies that helps expats find affordable and comprehensive insurance for business.