Internet and E-commerce in Hong Kong

A domain name is an identification string that helps users find and communicate with websites. Domain names are used in various networking contexts and application-specific naming and addressing purposes. In general a domain name provides unique alphabetical representations to Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, such as personal computer used to access the Internet, a server computer hosting a website or the website itself, or any other service communicated via the Internet. It allows multiple IP addresses to be assigned to a single domain name and allows multiple domain names to be services from a single IP address.

There are three levels of domain names: 
  • Top level - .com / would typically indicate a business with some commercial interest / a business based in HK;
  • Second level – the name or words which provides the name of the business or its brand or trademark; and
  • Third level – not registered and this refers to particular websites pages such as /home.html.
In Hong Kong, registration of a domain name ending with “.hk” should be made with Hong Kong Domain Name Registration Limited. Registration is based on a first-come-first-served basis. It is common for Hong Kong companies to use their company names, trade names, brand names, or trademark names as domain names. 

In line with the technology development and universal of internet usage, the Electronic Transactions Ordinance (Cap 553) (“ETO”) became law on 7 January 2000 and was updated in June 2004 to ensure that Hong Kong has the most up-to-date legislative framework for the conduct of e-business. It aims to give electronic records and electronic signatures the same legal status as that of their paper-based counterparts; and to establish a voluntary recognition scheme to enhance public confidence in electronic transactions.

ETO has provided greater efficiency and flexibility in the system of filing, maintaining, and documenting company records by corporate administrators. Subject to the requirements of the articles of association of a company or otherwise with the consent of the relevant parties, electronic messages are accepted under the following circumstances: 
  • It may be possible to issue an electronic notice of a meeting for both board meetings and general meetings and to pass  resolutions in writing in lieu of holding a physical meeting;
  • Corporate information that should be submitted to members by the company (for instance financial statements, directors’ reports and auditors’ reports) before the annual general meeting can be sent by electronic means; and
  • A company’s records, including books of account, financial records, board minutes and contracts, can now be retained by electronic means (though to satisfy tax purposes, they must be kept for seven years). 
November 2015
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