Whenever companies want to start their business or set up a branch office in Hong Kong, often they ask this same question - how can I subscribe for a Hong Kong local domain name?
".com", ".com.hk" or ".hk"?
Probably you already have a name in mind, like "mycompany.com". But, some might wonder what about "mycompany.com.hk" or even "mycompany.hk"?
Tehnically speaking, all work in much the same way. But from the corporate image point of view, they're quite different in the minds of Hong Kong locals.
A ".com" domain name gives the impression that this is an international company, marketing worldwide. From the corporate image point of view, it may be good. Yet, from a product or service selling point of view, Hong Kong people might feel it too far away to be considered as far as customer service is concerned.
Both ".com.hk" and ".hk" domains are domain names solely managed by the Hong Kong Internet Registration Corporation Limited (https://www.hkirc.hk/), which is a Hong Kong-based non-profit making organization with government and academic links. ".com.hk" and ".hk" names are generally accepted by Hong Kong people as local domain names, which give people the impression that they're dealing with a local product or service provider, or the branch office of a certain international brand.
So, what's the difference of ".com.hk" and ".hk"? The application of ".com.hk" is stricter in comparison with a ".hk" domain. To apply for a ".com.hk" domain, usually the applicant needs to submit the BR (business registration) certificate issued by the HK government, to prove that the applicant is really a registered company in Hong Kong. However, it is not required for a ".hk" domain application.
In the minds of Hong Kong people, a ".com.hk" business is usually local, more official, with a longer history, whereas a ".hk" business will be newer business. Of course, this mindset is gradually changing as more and more .hk domains are being used in Hong Kong.
In short, if you're a foreign company coming to Hong Kong to open a branch office, probably you already have a ".com" domain. Simply apply a similar ".com.hk" domain to reflect the fact that you now have a local branch in Hong Kong. If you worry that someone might take your ".hk" domain, get it at the same time. For example, if you're holding "mycompany.com", apply also "mycompany.com.hk" and "mycompany.hk". You may use both ".com.hk" and ".hk" at the same time for your branch business.
If you're a new Hong Kong company and you serve mainly local market, you'll apply "mycompany.com" and "mycompany.com.hk".
If your business will go overseas, you better check for a ".com" domain and apply similar "mycompany.com" and "mycompany.com.hk" domains. You may use the whois service to check for the availability of the ".com" domain name (http://www.whois.net/)
How to Apply?
As I've said above, the HKIRC is the sole organization in Hong Kong managing the ".com.hk" and ".hk" domains. So, you can simply apply your names by using their online application service. All Hong Kong hosting service companies will also be more than happy to offer you help to apply for a domain name when you subscribe their hosting service.