Frequently Asked Questions

Application for Renewal of a Money Service Operator (MSO) Licence

Under section 31 of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance, Chapter 615 (AMLO), a licensee should apply to the Commissioner of Customs and Excise (CCE) for a renewal of his/her licence before the licence is expired. Under section 29 of the AMLO, any person who operates a money service without a valid licence commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of HK$100,000 and to imprisonment for 6 months.
Q1: When will the licensee require to apply for renewal of an MSO licence?
A1: 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.
Q2: A licence in respect of which an application for renewal is made before the 45 days of the expiry of the licence and which expires before the determination of the application by the CCE. How to deal with this situation?
(i) The licence remains in force until the licence is renewed; or
(ii) if the renewal is refused, until the CCE’s decision to refuse to renew the licence takes effect, unless the application is withdrawn or the licence is revoked or suspended under section 34 of the AMLO.
Q3: What are the criteria of the license renewal?
A3: Under section 31 of the AMLO, an application for renewal of an MSO licence must be made to the CCE in the specified form and manner and accompanied by an application fee specified in Schedule 3 of the AMLO. For details of the application fee, please refer to Appendix A. The CCE may renew the licence only if the CCE is satisfied that the sole proprietor / each partner / each director and the ultimate owner (if any) of the applicant is a “fit and proper person” and the particular premises for the operation of the MSO business are considered by CCE to be suitable. For details of the Fit and Proper Person Criteria, please refer to Appendix B.
Particular premises intended to be used for the operation of a money service should be suitable for such use. In case where the premises are domestic premises, the applicant should obtain a written consent from every occupant, (a person who usually resides at the premises) for any authorized person as defined by section 8 of the AMLO to enter the premises for the purpose of exercising the powers under section 9 of the AMLO.
Q4: What is the validity of a renewed MSO Licence?
A4: A renewal granted under section 31 of the AMLO takes effect on the day following the expiration of the licence, no matter the approval of renewal is granted by the CCE before or after the expiry date of the licence of which an application for renewal is made. Subject to section 34 of the AMLO, a licence renewed under section 31 is valid for 2 years or, if the CCE considers it appropriate in any particular case, any shorter period determined by the CCE, beginning on the date on which it is renewed.
Q5: How long does the application processing take?
A5: Upon receipt of an application and the relevant documents, the CCE may also request the applicant to provide additional information to process the application where necessary. Failure to do so within a period as specified by the CCE may cause delay in processing the application, or even result in deferment or rejection of the application. The applicant is required to bring along with him/her the notice, receipt of payment and the relevant original documents for verification during an interview with the authorized officers of the C&ED with the date, time and venue as specified by the CCE. During the interview, the applicant is required, among others, to sign on Form 2 in the presence of an authorized officer of the C&ED. The processing time may vary depending on various factors including the time taken in collecting the requisite documents from the applicant and the time required in obtaining records from other authorities to perform a fit and proper person test.
Please note: (1) Please proceed to our Forum of more discussions in relation to MSO Licence Renewal; (2) The above information is for reference only.