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If I'm operating in Hong Kong and I have customers requesting my service from the US and elsewhere

New York, NY |

If I'm operating in Hong Kong and I have customers requesting my service from the US, which type of term and condition is applicable to such practice ? If the company is non US based company does still have to apply to all internet policies ? I'm a marketing consultant and wish to do business online and based out of Hong Kong, what law applies ?

Attorney Answers 6


  1. Parties can contract as they see fit and must bargain what country's law or what state's law shall apply. The terms should clearly state which jurisdiction's law shall apply. The terms should also clearly state the parties should settle any future disputes and which courts shall have jurisdiction and venue.

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  2. Your question poses various and complex issues. If your company is based in HK, then it must comply with local laws with reference to corporate and tax laws. When deadling with foreign (foregin to HK) entities, the regulatory framework can vary. It is wise to have a contract in place to define the applicable law in advance so that each customer is aware of what will be the applicable law in case of that a controversy should arise. International tax law will apply for your income realized in HK. However, if your HK company is a shell and you are based in NY and you continue to do business in the US other legal consequences will apply: you are doing business in the US so US laws will apply including tax laws. In any case, this is something that you cannot solve in here or by yourself. You need to work with an international firm. We regularly deal with international clients. Feel free to call my office. We also have corresponding and affiliated colleagues in HK. Best

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  3. Your question raises many questions as counsel aptly stated. A good lawyer can help you out together a solid agreement as to the issues you mentioned.

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  4. I am assuming you are using a HK company but are in the US which is common in the SEO and Internet marketing business. I think if you structure correctly, mainly HK law will and your fees need to go to your HK bank account. You will however fall under state and federal laws regarding uncolsicited emails, etc. A consult with a lawyer might be helpful for you to avoid problems with tax and regulatory issues and maximize profit.

    This is not legal advice but a general comment on society. International Law 24/7 hotline +1-202-318-2406 - Dr. Jonathan Levy, PhD calls or emails usually returned within 24 hours.


  5. As an International company doing business in different countries, you can contract as you wish with customers in those nations. The contract and/or terms and conditions can be unique to each country and set out the extent of your relationship. However, if you do not have a good terms and conditions/contract with your customers, you may be hailed into court where the transaction takes place, so it is good to have an attorney competent in international law advise you through this process. We have clients abroad in Eastern Europe that we deal with on these matters so if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me.

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  6. Not so tricky: If you are based in Hong Kong and customers are requesting your services elsewhere, you are most likely "doing business" in Hong Kong. With that in mind, you're likely only subject to corporate tax in Hong Kong. (If however you are engaging in agreements through a so-called "permanent establishment" abroad--a relatively straightforward legal concept, you would likely have corporate tax issues outside of Hong Kong.)

    In most situations like yours, the terms of the contract will be up to you and your customers. You'll likely want to establish forum and choice-of-law in the most convenient jurisdiction for you, which is something you can negotiate with your customer. Then you'll figure out with relevant local counsel what the terms of the contract should be.

    Depending on the volume of your business and local consumption tax rules, you might have to register, charge, and remit sales tax or VAT in your customers' home countries. Also keep an eye out for withholdings on payments to foreign companies in some countries (e.g., Brazil).

    I'm not entirely sure about what you mean regarding "all [I]nternet policies". If you are talking about spam issues from a marketing perspective, you most likely have to comply with the law in the jurisdiction where to you are sending the email to, which can vary (e.g., compare the US with the EU and with India--very different rules). You'll have to be more clear about your concerns on this issue.

    In sum, you need to examine a couple of standard cross-border legal issues; after getting some help you should up and running just fine.

    Total Mobility Law is an international law firm that lets companies do global business with the knowledge and confidence they need to comply in any country. Our answers on this site do not constitute legal advice, nor do they establish an attorney-client relationship. The only thing that can do that is a signed Engagement Letter and Fee Agreement, which you can get by contacting us through www.totalmobilitylaw.com.

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