U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Washington, DC 20520
Consular Information Sheet
This information is current as of today,
Hong Kong SAR
Americans planning travel to Hong Kong SAR should read Intercountry Adoption Hong Kong, International Parental Child Abduction Hong Kong, Avian Flu Fact Sheet and Worldwide Caution Public Announcement available on the Department of State web site at http://travel.state.gov
August 01, 2006
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Hong Kong, a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) since July 1, 1997, has a high degree of autonomy, except in the areas of defense and foreign policy, and retains its own currency, laws, and border controls. It is composed of three geographic areas: the New Territories, Kowloon Peninsula, and Hong Kong Island. Hong Kong SAR is cosmopolitan and highly developed. Tourist facilities and services are widely available. The Hong Kong SAR Government has a web site in English at http://www.info.gov.hk/hkfacts/facts_e.htm, which provides useful information (“Hong Kong Fact Sheets”) on a comprehensive range of subjects. Read the Department of State Background Notes on Hong Kong for additional information.
ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A passport with a minimum of six months validity remaining and evidence of onward/return transportation by sea/air are required. A visa is not required for tourist visits of up to 90 days by U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens who arrive in Hong Kong with an expired or damaged passport may be refused entry and returned to the United States at their own expense. The U.S. Consulate General cannot provide guarantees on behalf of travelers in such situations, and therefore encourages U.S. citizens to ensure their travel documents are valid and in good condition prior to departure from the U.S. An extension of stay may be granted upon application to the Hong Kong SAR Immigration Department. Visas are required to work or study in Hong Kong. A departure tax and an airport security tax must be paid at the airport, unless these have been included in the traveler’s airfare. Public transportation from Hong Kong's International Airport at Chek Lap Kok to Central Hong Kong (about 25 miles) is readily available, as are taxis. Travelers should exchange sufficient money for transportation at the airport exchange facility located immediately outside the baggage claim area. For the most current information concerning entry and exit requirements, including required documentation, prohibited items etc., travelers can consult the Hong Kong SAR Immigration Department, Immigration Tower, 7 Gloucester Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong (tel. (852) 2824-6111, fax (852) 2877-7711, e-mail: [email protected], Internet Home Page: http://www.immd.gov.hk), or the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China, 2300 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Washington D.C. 20008, tel. (202) 328-2500, Internet home page: http://www.china-embassy.org, or the PRC consulates general in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, or San Francisco. Overseas, inquiries may be made at the nearest PRC embassy or consulate.
U.S. citizens should obtain all required visas prior to departing the U.S. Specifically, U.S. citizens wishing to travel to the PRC from Hong Kong require a PRC visa and should apply at the PRC Embassy or consulates in the U.S. Parents whose children hold U.S. passports should be aware that the PRC Visa Office may require original birth certificates or other U.S. documents for these children. Persons applying in Hong Kong for PRC visas for U.S.-born children have been unable to obtain PRC visas without the original U.S. birth certificate. Parents should consider bringing their children’s birth certificates if applying for a PRC visa in Hong Kong. Further information on travel to and around the PRC is available in the China Consular Information Sheet.
See our Foreign Entry Requirements brochure for more information on Hong Kong and other countries. Visit the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China web site at http://www.china-embassy.org for the most current visa information.
Find more information about Entry and Exit requirements pertaining to dual nationality and the prevention of international child abduction. Please refer to our Customs Information to learn more about customs regulations.
SAFETY AND SECURITY: Although there have been no terrorist incidents in Hong Kong, the Department of State reminds Americans everywhere that U.S. citizens and interests are at a heightened risk of attack by terrorists. These individuals and groups have proved that they do not distinguish between official and civilian targets. Because security awareness has been elevated within the United States, terrorists may target U.S. interests overseas. Private Americans should be aware of the potential risks when making travel plans and should remain vigilant with regard to their personal security and exercise caution. The State Department will continue to develop information about potential threats.
There have recently been cases where both local and foreign hikers have been robbed/beaten in country parks and Victoria Peak. Although no U.S. citizens have been reported among these victims, U.S. citizens should be extremely vigilant when walking in these areas and should travel in groups.
For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Internet web site, where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, Travel Warnings and Public Announcements can be found.
Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas. For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State’s pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad.
CRIME: Hong Kong SAR has a low crime rate. Travelers should exercise caution when in congested areas and pay particular attention to personal belongings while in crowded markets and while traveling on public transportation. Violent crime, though rare, does occur.
INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends, and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.
Hong Kong has a crime victim compensation program available to U.S. citizens who are legal residents or tourists in Hong Kong. For more detailed information on the program and its requirements, please contact directly the following Hong Kong authorities:
Criminal and Law Enforcement Injuries Compensation Section of the Social Welfare Department
Room 703, 7/F, Wu Chung House
213 Queen's Road East
Wanchai, Hong Kong
Phone: (852) 2838-6079, 2892-5223, 2892-5220 or 2892-5222
Fax: (852) 2575-7938
Email: [email protected]
Social Security - Social Welfare Department
Application forms, correspondence, and telephone assistance can all be done in either English or Chinese.
See our information on Victims of Crime.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Good medical facilities are available, and there are many Western-trained physicians in Hong Kong. Doctors and hospitals
generally do not accept credit cards and require immediate cash payment for health services. Many U.S. health insurance providers
do not cover their subscribers overseas. U.S. citizens should check with their health insurance provider prior to travel.
The Medicare/Medicaid program does not provide payment for medical services outside the United States.
Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC’s Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en. Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. Please see our information on medical insurance overseas.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Hong Kong is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
In Hong Kong, traffic moves on the left. During the daytime, traffic congests Hong Kong's urban areas. Each year, some 21,000 drivers, passengers, and pedestrians are injured or killed in traffic accidents in Hong Kong. Speed limits are 50 kilometers per hour in urban areas and 80 kilometers per hour on highways unless otherwise marked. The use of seat belts in vehicles, if so equipped, is mandatory both in the front and back seats. The maximum penalty for dangerous driving causing death can be a fine of $50,000 HK ($6,500 US), imprisonment for five years and disqualification from driving for not less than two years on first conviction. At the scene of a traffic accident, drivers are required to undergo alcohol level testing. Any driver found exceeding the prescribed limit of blood alcohol level may face prosecution under Hong Kong law. The use of hand-held cellular phones while driving in Hong Kong is strictly prohibited. A breach of this law can lead to a maximum fine of $2,000 HK ($260 US). However, motorists can use “hand-free devices,” such as headphones and speakerphones. Hong Kong law requires that all registered vehicles carry valid third-party liability insurance. The emergency number for local emergency assistance (equivalent to 911 in the United States) is 999.
About 90 percent of the population in Hong Kong depends on public transport. Taxis, buses, and the mass transit railway (MTR) are readily available, inexpensive, and generally safe. The MTR is an underground railway network and is the most popular mode of public transport, carrying an average of 2.3 million passengers a day.
A Hong Kong driver’s license may be issued without a test to individuals who hold a valid U.S. driver’s license, provided they have resided in the United States for not less than six months. U.S. citizen visitors who do not plan to stay in Hong Kong for more than twelve months can drive in Hong Kong on their valid U.S. driver’s license. They need not obtain an international driving permit (IDP). An IDP is a legal identification document that translates driving license information into eleven languages, including English, and should only be used as a supplement to a valid driving license.
For specific information concerning Hong Kong driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax, and mandatory insurance, please visit the Hong Kong Transport Department web site at http://www.info.gov.hk/td, contact the Transport Department at telephone number (852) 2804-2600 or (852) 1823, fax (852) 2824-0433, e-mail: [email protected]; email the Hong Kong Tourism Board Office in New York at [email protected]; or consult the Hong Kong Tourism Board website at http://www.discoverhongkong.com .
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. Visit the website of Hong Kong’s tourist office and authority responsible for road safety at http://www.discoverhongkong.com and http://www.info.gov.hk/td.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government ofHong Kongas being in compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards for oversight of Hong Kong’s air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA’s Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/safety/programs_initiatives/oversight/iasa.
DUAL NATIONALITY: Under PRC nationality law, persons who are of Chinese descent and who were born in the mainland of China or Hong Kong are PRC citizens. However, under an agreement between the United States and the PRC, all U.S. citizens entering Hong Kong on their U.S. passports, including such persons as may be considered PRC nationals by the PRC authorities, are considered U.S. citizens by the Hong Kong SAR authorities for purposes of ensuring consular access and protection.
Dual nationals, who are or previously were Hong Kong residents, and who wish to ensure U.S. consular access and protection after the initial 90-day period of admission into Hong Kong, must declare their U.S. nationality by presenting their U.S. passports to the Hong Kong Immigration Department and completing an application for declaration of change of nationality. This declaration of change of nationality will ensure U.S. consular protection and may also result in loss of one’s Chinese nationality (but not necessarily one’s right of abode). Although such individuals' failure to declare U.S. nationality may jeopardize U.S. consular protection, such failure will not jeopardize their U.S. citizenship. Dual national residents of Hong Kong who enter Hong Kong on their Hong Kong identity cards rather than their U.S. passports and who desire to guarantee U.S. consular protection should declare their U.S. nationality to the Hong Kong Immigration Department as soon as possible after entry.
Dual nationals contemplating onward travel to PRC should be especially attentive to use of their U.S. passports, as the PRC authorities may require them to use the same document for entry into the PRC as they used to enter Hong Kong. The Nationality Law of the PRC does not recognize dual nationality. U.S. citizens, including such persons as may be considered Chinese nationals by the PRC authorities, who enter and depart the PRC using a U.S. passport and a valid PRC visa retain the right of U.S. consular access and protection under the U.S.-PRC Consular Convention. The ability of the U.S. Embassy or Consulates General in the PRC to provide normal consular services would be extremely limited should a dual national enter the PRC on a non-U.S. passport. Therefore, travelers should carefully consider whether or not to use a passport or travel document other than their U.S. passport.
Further information on consular protection and dual nationality is available on the Department of State Consular Affairs Home Page. Information can also be obtained from the Bureau of Consular Affairs of the Department of State at 2201 C Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20520, or call tel. (202) 647-6769, or the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong SAR at (852) 2841-2211. Information on the right of abode in Hong Kong may be obtained from the Hong Kong Immigration Department at tel. (852) 2824-4055, fax: (852) 2598-8388, via the Internet at: http://www.immd.gov.hk/, or via e-mail at: [email protected].
Customs Regulations: Hong Kong SAR customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Hong Kong of controlled items such as firearms and ammunition, ivory, narcotics, medications, animals and plants, meat and poultry, textiles, and sensitive high technology or military products. Travelers bringing such goods into Hong Kong without a license may be prosecuted and the goods may be seized. The penalty for trafficking in dangerous drugs can be life imprisonment and a heavy fine. Other items that travelers must declare to customs officials are liquors, tobacco, cigarettes and cigars, methyl alcohol, and merchandise imported for commercial purposes. There are no currency restrictions for travelers.
Travelers are liable to prosecution and possible detention if they bring into/out of Hong Kong any firearm or ammunition. Unless otherwise exempted by laws, possession of an "imitation firearm" is also an offence. "Arms" means any firearm, air rifle/air gun/air pistol from which any shot, bullet or missile can be discharged with a muzzle energy greater than two joules, electric stunning device, gun/pistol or other propelling/releasing instrument from or by which a projectile containing any gas or chemical could be discharged, weapon for the discharge of any noxious liquid/gas/powder, and harpoon or spear gun. Paintball guns are included in this category.
Travelers are also liable to prosecution if they bring into/out of Hong Kong any "weapon" which includes Chinese-style throwing dart, gravity knife, gravity-operated steel baton, knuckleduster, Chinese-style fighting iron, spring-loaded steel baton, any knife the blade of which is exposed by a spring or other mechanical/electric device, and any bladed/pointed weapon.
Please visit the web site of the Hong Kong Department of Customs and Excise at http://www.info.gov.hk/customs for specific information regarding Hong Kong customs requirements.
In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available. Transactions involving such products are illegal and bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines. A current list of those countries with serious problems in this regard can be found here.
Visitors to Hong Kong should be aware that U.S. law prohibits the importation into the United States of counterfeit, brand-name items, such as watches, compact discs, computer software, and clothing. U.S. Customs officials encourage the use of an ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet for the temporary admission of professional equipment, commercial samples, and/or goods for exhibitions and fair purposes. ATA Carnet Headquarters is located at the U.S. Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036, and issues and guarantees the ATA Carnet in the United States. For additional information, please call (212) 354-4480, send an e-mail to [email protected], or visit http://www.uscib.org for details.
Dogs and cats may be brought into Hong Kong only with a special permit issued in advance by the Hong Kong Agriculture, Fisheries, and Conservation Department . Dogs and cats imported from the United States may be exempt from quarantine when there are valid health and vaccination certificates and the pets have been in the United States for at least six months. Additional information on importing pets may be obtained from the Livestock Import Control Office of the Hong Kong Agriculture, Fisheries, and Conservation Department at tel. (852) 2150-7057, fax (852)2375-3563, e-mail: [email protected], or via the Internet: http://www.afcd.gov.hk.
Please see our information on customs regulations.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Hong Kong laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Hong Kong are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States. Please see our information on Criminal Penalties.
CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children’s Issues website.
REGISTRATION /EMBASSY LOCATION: Americans living or traveling in Hong Kong are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration website, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Hong Kong. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Consulate General is located at 26 Garden Road, Central, Hong Kong, 24-hours telephone number (852) 2523-9011, direct lines to American Citizen Services are (852) 2841-2211, 2841-2323, 2841-2225, fax (852) 2845-4845, email [email protected]. The U.S. mailing address is PSC 461, Box 5, FPO AP 96521-0006. Please check our Web site, www.hongkong.usconsulate.gov, for current office hours.
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This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated May 1, 2005 to update sections on Customs Regulations.