When should one get a representative licence, a temporary licence or an itinerant professional licence?
An individual must be licensed as a representative (and may need SFC approval as a responsible officer) in order to conduct regulated activities in Hong Kong. It is a criminal offence to conduct a regulated activity in Hong Kong without a licence. This includes individuals visiting Hong Kong to conduct regulated activities even for a short period.
Overseas individuals from group entities outside Hong Kong can apply for either a temporary licence with the group’s Hong Kong licensed company or a licence as an itinerant professional.
Persons licensed as itinerant professionals can carry out regulated activities in Hong Kong for up to 30 days in each calendar year, while a temporary licence is a one-off licence. A temporary licence can be valid for up to three months. However, a person cannot be licensed under a temporary licence for more than six months within any 24-month period. Temporary licences are not available for asset management activity and certain other types of regulated activity. Both itinerant professional and temporary licence applicants will be exempted from taking local licensing exams.
It is important to note that itinerant professionals and temporary licensees are representatives of the Hong Kong licensed entity when they are in Hong Kong and are not able to represent their home employer. Therefore, when conducting any regulated activities in Hong Kong, they are acting as representatives of the Hong Kong licensed entity and not of the overseas entity. They also need to comply with the local rules and regulations.
An overseas individual who is likely to conduct regulated activities in Hong Kong for longer than 30 days in each calendar year, or more than six months within any 24-month period will need to apply for a representative licence and will need to take at least one local licensing exam (paper 1). A six months grace period to pass the exam after the licence is issued will normally be permitted.