Recruitment in Hong Kong

Recruitment in Hong Kong: Frequently Asked Questions

What is the monthly cost of using an Umbrella Company in Hong Kong? 

5% with a minimum of $450 USD per month.


What is the cost of a Work Permit in Hong Kong?

$500 USD.

How long does it take to get a work permit in Hong Kong?

3 to 4 weeks.

What is the estimated net retention in Hong Kong for a contractor earning USD 500 per day?

*update pending

What is the estimated net retention in Hong Kong for a contractor earning USD 1000 per day?

Around 83-84%.

Read more about the work permit process.

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Recruitment in Hong Kong can be a challenge, but you don’t have to drown in time-consuming admin just to place a candidate. You can simplify complications by using an Umbrella Company (or “contractor management company”), as long as you pick the right one.

Skip ahead to find out how we can help you place candidates faster, or simply read on to find out more about the specific issues you’ll face.

Placing a new contractor in Hong Kong: what are the challenges?


Recruiting in Hong Kong generally requires a lot of complex admin duties, and contractors might end up paying too much in taxes or failing to comply with Hong Kong tax law. It’s important to know what kind of concerns you’ll be facing.

  • Double taxation: Contractors can incur a tax liability in both their home country and in Hong Kong. Many countries have agreements that mitigate this type of issue, but whether or not you can take advantage of them will depend on factors like the length of the contractor’s stay, or the laws of the contractor’s home country. You can learn more about double taxation here (note: this info was written with respect to the UK, but the general concepts will still apply).
  • Withholding tax: If a foreign company is used to provide services overseas, the payments made to that company by the Hong Kong client could be liable for withholding tax under Hong Kong tax law. Find out more about withholding tax.
  • Individual taxation and tax residency: A contractor’s tax liability will often be determined by his or her residency status in their home country and in Hong Kong. Figuring out their tax residency can be difficult and is often tied to the length of their stay in Hong Kong (or out of their home country). Read more about tax residency and individual tax liability here.
  • Permanent establishment: Most double taxation agreements limit the scope of taxation in the host country by providing that a business is only taxable in another state if it has a permanent establishment in that state. A permanent establishment is a fixed base such as a branch, office, factory, workshop, mine or oil well. To find out how to avoid permanent establishment and unnecessary tax liability, read more about the issue.

Work permits

Contractors will need to find a sponsored work permit, which can be difficult and may seriously slow the placement process. Additionally, they’ll need a new permit for each new contract, spawning even more paperwork.

See our FAQ to find out more about the cost and processing time of Hong Kong work permits.

Why use a contractor management company?

An efficient way to manage these problems is to outsource them to a contractor management company. They’ll act as the contractor’s “employer,” handling all of their invoicing, fees, and social security. As Hong Kong tax experts, they also help contractors comply with local tax law while maximising the amount they get to keep.

A quicker, better recruitment process: Working with an Umbrella Company means saving time, effort, and resources. Higher earnings and a smoother transition also make contracting a more attractive opportunity, helping you place candidates more quickly and successfully.

Still, you’ll need to find the right company for you and your candidate.

How to find the right Umbrella Company?

Making sense of the optionsFor free, we match contractors with Umbrella Companies and can help dramatically reduce waiting times. There are numerous Umbrella Companies in Hong Kong and each has its own specialties, services, and payment structures. Choosing the right one is crucial, but it can be difficult when you’re facing a bunch of unfamiliar options.

We’ve developed an extensive database of these companies. We can guide you through your options and help connect you with the best company for you and the contractor.

Get in touch: If you want straightforward, honest advice on recruitment in Hong Kong, we’re easy to contact. Call, e-mail, or chat with us online - for free.

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Work Permits & Payroll - Frequently Asked Questions


What documentation is required for a Hong Kong work permit?

Copy of the candidates passport, passport photos, copies of degree/diploma certificates, contract.

What is the work permit process in Hong Kong?

Candidate provides company sponsoring the visa with the requisite documentation (passport photos, contracts, certifications, copy of their passport etc), sponsor lodges the application in HK and once approved sends the Work Permit to the candidate and it is then validated at the HK Consulate in the candidates home country.

Can you transfer from a Business Visa to a Work Permit in Hong Kong?

Depends on your nationality.

Can we organise Business Visas in Hong Kong?


How long does it take to process a Business Visa in Hong Kong?

2 to 3 days.

How much does a Work Permit cost in Hong Kong?

$250 USD.


Can nationals of certain countries enter Hong Kong without a Business Visa (ex. on an entry visa or visa waiver)?


Yes. Nationals of about 170 countries and territories may visit Hong Kong visa-free for a period ranging from 7 days to 180 days.



$4000 USD per month.


What is the monthly cost to run a local payroll in Hong Kong?


 5% with a minimum of $450 USD per month.


How does payroll work in Hong Kong?



Your employer (the company sponsoring your visa) pays the candidate on a monthly basis. They deduct social security  - which is 5% for employers and 5% for employees. They also deduct income tax - which is progressive and varies from 2-17% pendant on salary level. These deductions are made at source and paid to the Hong Kong tax authorities. Candidates are able to offset their taxable income with relevant business expenses. The World Bank estimates it takes employers in Hong Kong 50 man days to ensure compliance with payroll and labour taxes each year.




Client comment

"Great advice and excellent service on contracting and immigration solutions in the UK. I would highly recommend Tim and the team to assist you with accurate, clear and concise contracting advice in the UK or any other country for that matter."

Prishen Pillay,Global DBA Operations Lead

Shell International Trading & Shipping