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How to start a travel agency in Hong Kong?

26 March, 2020

Does it ever happen to you, you visit a new place and wasted much time in finding hotels, food, or vehicles and felt like you could have planned it well? If yes, then contacting a travel agency is the best option.

We all know traveling can be a complicated task. Several questions are jumping up in our brain before we even think of traveling somewhere. Not everyone can plan a perfect holiday. People who travel less have no idea how to plan their itinerary; moreover, one can feel helpless and clueless while planning a vacation. Hiring a travel agent makes the process of designing a trip as stress-free as possible.

How to start a travel agency in Hong Kong

Hong Kong Travel and Tourism Industry

Hong Kong travel and tourism industry are one of the major pillars of the economy of Hong Kong. Tourism is one of the three most important sources of income for Hong Kong. Hong Kong is a tourist destination as much as it is a business one, and visitors from all around the world are coming to visit this lively city. Customers get many offers from travel agencies in Hong Kong. A good business option for investors is to start a travel agency in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong is promoted as a business and leisure destination, and the city also attracts its visitors with well-known landmarks like Victoria Harbour and Victoria Peak, museums, resorts, and many others. Most of the tourists who visit Hong Kong come from Mainland China, but tourists from the United States and Taiwan are also in the top nationalities that visit the city.

A travel agency in Hong Kong will need to obtain a travel agent licence to commence business, which is required for any travel agency that offers outbound or inbound services. All you need to know are the basic prerequisite to get the licence.

How to apply for Travel Agents licence in Hong Kong

Travel Agencies are the primary source of travel resources for both healthy individuals and tourist service providers. The latter includes the promotions for all travel essential for both business and leisure travelers, including hotels, airlines, car rentals, and theme parks, among other travel needs. The role of a travel agent is to make the process of designing a trip as stress-free as possible. They provide clients professional, personalized service, and expertise to fulfill travel requests.

What is a travel agent?

A travel agent's role is to help people plan, choose, and arrange their holiday. They will usually work to a budget set out by whoever is planning the holiday. They also offer advice and opinions on where to go and local tourist attractions, events, and customs.

There are two types of travel agents - inbound and outbound agents. A person is an outbound travel agent if he carries on the business in Hong Kong of obtaining for another person carriage, by any means of conveyance, on a journey which is to commence in Hong Kong.

A person is an inbound if he carries on the business in Hong Kong of obtaining a visitor carriage, by any means of conveyance, on a journey which is to commence outside Hong Kong and which either terminates in Hong Kong; or involves the visitor passing through immigration controls before departing from Hong Kong.

Licence Prerequisites

Having a licenced company helps to bring protection to yourself, your employees, and your customers. Before a person can apply for the Travel Agents licence in Hong Kong, there are some legal obligations one must follow. They are:

Company registration

Registering a limited company is the first and foremost thing in order to start a business. A business person must first set up the company with the necessary details about the company, including the proposed company name, a minimum of one natural person director, minimum one shareholder, company secretary, registered address etc. Once the limited company is successfully incorporated, you will get a Certificate of Incorporation from the Companies Registry and other related documents prepared by the company secretary. If you have any difficulty in registering a company, I would recommend contacting a professional. Startupr can surely help you in incorporation of your company.

Suitable office premises

The premises where the business would run has to be ideal for the travel agency business. The location must be further be solely dedicated to the operations of the travel operations only, as per the obligations of the Travel Agents Registry. This means that the space of the company cannot be utilized for any other business operation.

Travel Industry Council membership

The applicant e must be one of the members of the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong (TIC), who is self-operating. TIC also is liable for the improvement of trade practices in the travel industry.

It also formulates and enforces the codes of conduct and demands for the industry, collects statutory levies, handles the complaints and inquiries of the public, etc.

Key executive and other staff

A Key executive has to be appointed. A person must be designated as Key executive, who would be accountable for the management of the company and has to control the business. A director, secretary, an officer, or even the partner can be designated as the principal executive of the company.

According to the Registrar of Travel Agents, this person also should be fit and proper who shouldn't have any previous conviction of any sort of offense or bankruptcy. One more critical requirement is that the key executive needs to be a permanent resident, a citizen, or an employment visa holder of Hong Kong.

Above all, the person needs to be well-experienced in the travel industry with a minimum of two years. Along with the key executive, the company needs to hire a full-time staff member as well.

Application Procedures

To start a travel agency in Hong Kong, a person must get a proper licence. The application procedure involves submitting the following documents and information to the Hong Kong Travel Agents Registry along with a non-refundable application fee. The required documents are :

The proposed travel agency's scope of business.

Certified true copies of Business Registration Certificate, Certificate of Incorporation and Articles of Association of the company

Certified true copies of TIC Membership Certificate and Travel Association Membership Certificate

An estimated business budget for a given period (six months or a year) setting out the estimated income and estimated expenditure

A true certified copy of the document confirming the appointment of directors and secretaries

  • A Travel Agents licence Application Form
  • A Statement of Particulars Form
  • A true certified copy of Hong Kong ID cards or travel documents of all the key executives of the company.
  • A copy of the Board Resolution confirming the appointment of an authorized person to represent your company in applying for the Travel Agent's licence
  • Also, the travel documents must indicate that the persons concerned are allowed to take up any employment or start a business in Hong Kong without any restrictions
  • A true certified copy of the stamped tenancy agreement or record of ownership of the office premises
  • A true certified copy of the document confirming the allotment of shares.
  • Each of the key executive's resumes with emphasis on their work experience in the travel industry

A successful application is usually processed within 3-4 weeks after which the Travel Agents Registry will issue a Travel Agent's licence that must be collected in person by the applicant.

A licence fee, based on the validity period of the licence, must be paid to the Travel Agent's Registry. Also, the licence is considered valid only on payment of the prescribed fee. The cost is non-refundable. Most travel agents' permits are issued for 12 months.

The licence must be conspicuously displayed on the office premises at all times. Besides this, the licence number must be clearly indicated on all company documents, brochures, pamphlets, and advertisements.

Licence Renewal

Well, renewing a licence is an important aspect. But have you ever thought about why it is important? There are plenty of reasons for that, but the most critical one is to operate your business in the city above the mentioned period of time.

For the renewal of the Travel Agents Licence in Hong Kong, the application has to be submitted at least a month before the date of expiry, but not more than two months. If the form is sent after the date of expiry, it would not be processed, and the agency would need to apply for a new licence again. Additionally, if the business continues to run even after the permit has expired, it would be noted as an offense. Also, certain documents are needed for the renewal process of your Travel Agents Licence in Hong Kong. They are:

  • Genuine Copy of the TIC membership certificate.
  • Certified copy of the business registration certificate that is valid.
  • Management accounts and audited financial statements, as per the specifications by the Registry.
  • A statement of particulars form.
  • A 'Renewal of Licence' application form.
  • Any other document as needed by the Registry.

The successful application gets processed within three to four weeks where the travel agency's track record of your business would be examined by the Travel Agents Registry to verify if it is a genuine TIC member.


Make sure you are well prepared and have all the documents and understanding of the process in place to ensure your company for the business licence for your travel agency. If you have all the required documents, comply with the procedures, and have excellent records for serving in the travel industry, your application would be accepted.

We can help to form a limited company; however, we do not have any service to apply travel agency licence or tourism-related licences on behalf of the clients. Also, Startupr's address is not available for applying for any travel agents licence or tourism-related licences. But if you need any kind of help regarding the incorporation of a company contact Startupr.

About the Author


Startupr puts you first. This is why our main focus is Startups with global ambitions. We give you the freedom to build your business while we take care of the tedious, administrative tasks, leaving you to concentrate on your dream for your company. As part of our brilliant service, our back end software will automatically send you reminders of important annual filings, and upload your important document to your online account. startupr.hk


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