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Licensing

Q.1When is the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing (Financial Institutions) Ordinance, Chapter 615 implemented?
A.1

The Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing (Financial Institutions) Ordinance (AMLO), Chapter 615 (Opens a new window) came into operation on 1 April 2012.

Q.2Who are subject to the statutory duties under the AMLO?
A.2

Money Service Operators (MSOs) and the Postmaster General as well as other specified financial institutions.

Q.3What is the definition of a Money Service Operator (MSO)?
A.3

A person who or an institution which operates a money changing service or a remittance service is a Money Service Operator.

Q.4Who is the relevant authority for the MSOs and the Postmaster General under the AMLO?
A.4

The Commissioner of Customs & Excise (CCE) is the relevant authority under the AMLO.

Q.5What should I do if I wish to operate a money changing and/or remittance service under the AMLO?
A.5

Under the AMLO, any person who wishes to operate a money service must apply for a licence from the CCE.

Q.6When should MSOs apply for a licence?
A.6

MSOs should submit application for a licence to the CCE commencing on 1 April 2012.

Q.7How to apply?
A.7

The application can be submitted in paper or through e-platform.

Q.8How to apply in paper?
A.8

The application form can be downloaded from the Customs and Excise Department (C&ED) website at http://www.customs.gov.hk (Opens a new window) or obtained at the C&ED office. After completion, the application form together with copies of supporting documents should be submitted by post or in person to the CCE (i.e. Money Service Supervision Bureau at 13/F, Customs Headquarters Building, 222 Java Road, North Point, Hong Kong).

Q.9How to apply through e-platform?
A.9

The application form can be completed and submitted with relevant supporting documents through the C&ED website at http://www.customs.gov.hk (Opens a new window) .

Q.10What are the conditions for the CCE to grant an MSO licence?
A.10

The conditions that CCE will consider in granting a licence are set out in section 30(3) and (4) of the AMLO. In brief, the applicant (or any partner / director / ultimate owner) must not have been convicted of an offence specified at section 30(4), or is an undischarged bankrupt, and the premises for operation of the MSO business is considered by CCE to be suitable. For easy reference, the said offences under section 30(4)(a)(i) – (iv) and other provision under section 30(4)(b) – (e) are listed at this table (Opens a new window) .

Q.11Can MSOs use domestic premises as their business premises to apply for the licence?
A.11

Yes, provided that the applicant has secured the written consent of every occupant of the domestic premises for any persons authorized by the CCE to enter the premises to conduct a routine inspection under the AMLO.

Q.12Do the MSOs need to pay for the licence?
A.12

MSOs have to pay fees for a licence. (see (Opens a new window) )

Q.13How long is the validity of a licence?
A.13

The licence will be valid for 2 years and a licensee should apply for renewal not later than 45 days before the licence is due to expire.

Q.14If the application is unsuccessful, will the fees be refunded?
A.14

No.

Q.15After commencement of the AMLO, is there any transitional period for application of a licence?
A.15

Registered Remittance Agents and Money Changers whose names appeared on the register maintained by the Joint Financial Intelligence Unit of the Hong Kong Police Force as at 31 March 2012 were deemed to have been granted a licence during a transitional period of 60 days from 1 April 2012 to 30 May 2012 . Before the expiry of the transitional period, if they apply for a licence from the CCE, they could continue to operate their business before the licence was granted, the application was refused or withdrawn.

Q.16Who may answer MSOs’ questions in case of doubt?
A.16

The Customs & Excise Department may answer their enquiries which can be made via :-

  • Hotline at (852) 2707 7837
  • Fax at (852) 2707 7838
  • Email to msoenquiry@customs.gov.hk
  • Mail to the Money Service Supervision Bureau at Unit 1218-1222, 12/F, Nan Fung Commercial Centre, 19 Lam Lok Street, Kowloon Bay, Kowloon
Meanwhile, the Customs & Excise Department has invited training institutions to organize relevant courses for the sector so as to help the sector understand the requirements under the AMLO, have a smooth transition and meet the statutory requirements, including the “customer due diligence” and “record keeping” requirements.

Supervision of Money Service Operators