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Frequently Asked Questions

Money Service Operators (previously known as Remittance Agents and Money Changers)

   
The era of regulating remittance agents and money changers by the Joint Financial Intelligence Unit (JFIU) came to an end in 2002.

On 1 April 2012, the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance, Cap. 615 (AMLO) came into operation. Under the AMLO, a person who wishes to operate a remittance and / or money changing service (i.e. money service as defined under the AMLO) is required to apply for a licence from the Commissioner of Customs & Excise (CCE). Operating a money service without obtaining a money service operator licence from the CCE is an offence and liable to conviction of a fine of $100,000 and imprisonment for six months. Under the AMLO, the CCE is the relevant authority to regulate Money Service Operators (MSOs) (i.e. Remittance Agents and Money Changers) and supervise licensed MSOs' compliance with the customer due diligence and record-keeping obligations and other licensing requirements, as well as combating unlicensed operation of money service. Please click here for the announcement of the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department.

If you come across anyone operating money service without licence, please call the Customs reporting hotline at 2545 6182.
   
Q1: What is the definition of a Money Service Operator (MSO) (previously known as Remittance Agents and Money Changers)?
A1: A person who or an institution which operates a money changing service or a remittance service is a Money Service Operator. The Commissioner of Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department (CCE) authorized officers in Money Service Supervision Bureau to process MSO licence applications, conduct compliance inspection and investigation on MSOs in connection with the requirements specified in the AMLO. A money changing service means a service for exchanging of currencies that is operated in Hong Kong as a business, but does not include service that is incidental to the main business e.g. the service is operated within the premises of the hotel primarily for the convenience of guests of the hotel; and consists solely of transactions for the purchase by that person of non‐Hong Kong currencies in exchange for Hong Kong currency. A remittance service means a service of one or more of the following that is operated in Hong Kong as a business:
(1) sending, or arranging for the sending of, money to a place outside Hong Kong;
(2) receiving, or arranging for the receipt of, money from a place outside Hong Kong;
(3) arranging for the receipt of money in a place outside Hong Kong.
   
Q2: Who is the relevant authority for the MSOs and the Postmaster General under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorist Financing (Financial Institutions) Ordinance, Cap 615 (AMLO)?
A2: The CCE is the relevant authority under the AMLO to regulate Money Service Operators (MSOs) (i.e. Remittance Agents and Money Changers) and supervise licensed MSOs' compliance with the customer due diligence and record-keeping obligations and other licensing requirements, as well as combating unlicensed operation of money service.
   
Q3: How to verify if a MSO is licensed with the CCE?
A3: The Register of Licensees is maintained by the CCE and is kept at the office of the CCE. The register is available for inspection by members of the public without charge during normal office hours to enable any of them to ascertain whether he or she is dealing with a licensee. An online licensee register is also available for public inspection at the website of this department. Furthermore, any person may, on payment of the fee specified in Schedule 3 of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance, Chapter 615, obtain the following information by submitting the duly completed request form to the CCE:
(a) a certified or an uncertified copy of-
      (i) the Register; or
      (ii) an entry in or an extract from the Register; or
(b) a certificate stating that the name of a person-
      (i) has been entered on or removed from the Register; or
      (ii) has not been entered on the Register.
   
Q4: When will the application for renewal of an MSO licence be made?
A4: The application for renewal of an MSO licence must be made within 90 days but not later than 45 days before the licence is due to expire. Otherwise, the licensee needs to apply for a fresh new MSO licence.
   
Q5: How can we search a licenced Money Service Operators in Search Licensee Register List under Money Service Operators Licensing System?
A5: After the advancement of the System in early November 2013,the public can search the money changers from the Licensee Register List by way of (1)full or partial company name, or (2)Licence Number, or (3)full or partial business address.
   
Please note: (1) Please proceed to our Forum of more discussions in relation to MSO; (2) The above information is for reference only.