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 website provides Hong Kong Fact Sheetson a comprehensive range of subjects. Read the Department of State’s Background Notes on Hong Kong for additional information.
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP) / EMBASSY LOCATION: If you are going to live in or visit Hong Kong, please take the time to tell our Consulate about your trip. If you enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, we can keep you up-to-date with important safety and security announcements. By enrolling in STEP, you will also help your friends and family get in touch with you in an emergency.
Local embassy information is available below and at the Department of State’s list of embassies and consulates.
U.S. Consulate General Hong Kong & Macau
26 Garden Road, Central, Hong Kong
Telephone: 852-2841-2211 (Direct lines to American Citizen Services during regular business hours)
Emergency after-hours telephone: 852-2523-9011
ENTRY / EXIT REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. CITIZENS: To enter Hong Kong, you will need a passport that is valid for at least one month beyond the date of your intended stay, adequate funds to cover your stay without working locally, and evidence of onward/return transportation. Many neighboring areas require that your passport is valid for at least six months before they will allow you to enter, so if you plan on regional travel beyond Hong Kong, make sure that your passport is valid for at least six months beyond the date you plan to enter such areas. You do not need a visa for tourist visits of up to 90 days. You may be granted an extension of your stay if you apply to the Hong Kong SAR Immigration Department. You must have an appropriate visa to work or study in Hong Kong. Visit the Hong Kong SAR Immigration Department or the Embassy of the People's Republic of China website for the most current visa information.
You should obtain all required visas prior to departing the United States. Specifically, if you wish to travel to the PRC from Hong Kong, you will need a PRC visa and should apply at the PRC embassy or consulate where you reside. If you are the parent of a child who holds U.S. passport, you should know that the PRC Visa Office may require a certified birth certificate or other documentation for your child. A certified U.S. birth certificated is generally required when applying in Hong Kong for PRC visas for U.S.-born children. Further information on travel to and around the PRC is available in our China Country Specific Sheet.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Hong Kong SAR.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.
THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY: Stay up to date:
CRIME: Hong Kong has a low crime rate. Even so, you 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.
Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, if you purchase them you may also be breaking local law.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. We can:
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 see the Hong Kong Social Welfare Department webpage. More resources for victims of crime in Hong Kong are available in our Help for U.S. Victims of Crime in Hong Kong information sheet.
The local equivalent to the U.S. “911” emergency line in Hong Kong is 999.
Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Hong Kong, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different from our own. In Hong Kong you may be taken in for questioning if you don’t have your passport with you. If you are found to be driving under the influence, you could be sent immediately to jail. There are also some things that might be legal in Hong Kong, but still illegal in the United States, and you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in Hong Kong, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not where you are going.
If you violate Hong Kong laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possession of, use of, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Hong Kong are severe, and if you are convicted, you can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. In Hong Kong, detained U.S. citizens have been surprised that they had been arrested for violations that would not have resulted in arrest in the United States.
Arrest notifications in Hong Kong: If you are arrested in Hong Kong, authorities of Hong Kong are required to notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate of your arrest. If you are concerned the Department of State may not be aware of your situation, you should request the police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong of your arrest.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Hong Kong SAR customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning controlled items you might be carrying while transiting
Hong Kong (temporary importation or exportation) such as firearms and ammunition, counterfeit goods or illegally produced
copies of copyright items, ivory, narcotics, medications, television decoders requiring a subscription, animals and plants,
meat and poultry, textiles, and sensitive high technology or military products. If you bring such goods into Hong Kong without
a license, you may be prosecuted, and the goods may be seized. The penalty for trafficking in dangerous drugs can be life
imprisonment and a heavy fine. Among the other items that you 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.
You will be subject to prosecution and possible detention if you are caught carrying any firearm or ammunition in or out of Hong Kong. Unless otherwise exempted by laws, possession of an "imitation firearm" is also an offense. "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; and weapons for the discharge of any noxious liquid/gas/powder, and harpoon or spear gun. Paintball guns are included in this category.
You will be liable to prosecution if you carry in or 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 with a blade that can be exposed by a spring or other mechanical/electric device, and any bladed/pointed weapon. The fact that such items are openly sold in mainland China does not mean that they may be brought into Hong Kong.
Please visit the website of the Hong Kong Department of Customs and Excise for specific information regarding Hong Kong customs requirements.
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. For additional information, please visit the U.S. Council for International Business website, and the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol web page on Traveling with Samples.
You may bring dogs and cats into Hong Kong only with a special permit that must be issued in advance. Dogs and cats imported from the United States may be exempted from quarantine when they have valid health and vaccination certificates and the pets have been in the United States for at least six months immediately preceding travel.
Additional information on importing pets is available on the Hong Kong Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department website.
Please see our Customs Information sheet.
Dual Nationality: According to PRC nationality law, if you are of Chinese descent and were born in mainland China or Hong Kong, you are a PRC citizen. However, under the U.S.
- PRC Consular Convention, all U.S. citizens entering Hong Kong on their U.S. passports are considered by the Hong Kong SAR
authorities to be U.S. citizens for purposes of ensuring consular access and protection for the first 90 days they are in
If you are a dual U.S.-Hong Kong national who is or previously was a Hong Kong resident, and you wish to ensure U.S. consular access and protection after your initial 90-day period of admission into Hong Kong, you must present your U.S. passport to the Hong Kong Immigration Department and complete an application for declaration of change of nationality. A declaration of change of nationality will ensure U.S. consular protection, but it may also result in loss of your Chinese nationality (although not necessarily your right of abode). If you fail to declare your U.S. nationality, you may jeopardize your U.S. consular protection, but you will not jeopardize your U.S. citizenship. If you are a dual U.S.-Hong Kong resident of Hong Kong and you entered Hong Kong on your Hong Kong identity card but you desire U.S. consular protection, you will have to declare your U.S. nationality with the Hong Kong Immigration Department. Information on how to declare your citizenship to Hong Kong authorities may be found on the Hong Kong Immigration Department’s website.
If you are a dual national contemplating onward travel into mainland China, you should strongly consider which passport you will use to enter and exit China. In practice, the U.S. embassy and consulates general in the PRC are not able to provide you with consular protection if you do not use your U.S. passport to enter or exit China.
For further information on consular protection and dual nationality, please refer to our website. Information on Hong Kong permanent residence may be obtained from the Hong Kong Immigration Department’s right of abode webpage.
Typhoons: During the storm season (July through September), the Hong Kong Observatory issues typhoon warnings an average of six times a year and heavy rainstorm alerts more frequently. The Hong Kong Observatory has a good notification and monitoring system. You may find general information about natural disaster preparedness at the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Please be advised that if the Hong Kong Government announces a Typhoon Signal 8 or above or Black Rainstorm Warning, the Consulate General will close. You may find additional information on typhoon and storm preparedness on the Hurricane Preparedness and Natural Disasters pages of the Bureau of Consular Affairs’ website.
Accessibility: While in Hong Kong, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what they find in the United States. Hong Kong law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities in employment, education, access to health care, or the provision of other state services, and the government generally enforces these provisions. The law mandates access to buildings, information, and communications for persons with disabilities The Social Welfare Department is primarily responsible for coordinating and funding public assistance programs to persons with disabilities. The Hong Kong Tourism Board publishes “ Accessible Hong Kong ” a guide for visitors with disabilities and the Transport Department publishes A Guide to Public Transport for People with Disabilities. In addition, the Hong Kong government created Cyberable, a barrier free portal website, to provide one-stop information for persons with various disabilities.
Despite efforts to improve accessibility, Hong Kong continues to be challenging for those with physical disabilities. It has many stairs, inclines, and steep, uneven walkways, and it is not designed for anyone who uses a walker, cane, or wheelchair.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Good medical facilities are available, and there are many Western-trained physicians in Hong Kong. Prescription drugs are widely available, although they may have different names from those in the United States. Hong Kong emergency service response times for police, fire, and ambulances are good.
Air pollution is increasingly serious in Hong Kong. Congested vehicle traffic and mainland factories pump out ozone, sulfur, and nitrogen oxides, leading to a visible haze in the atmosphere on most days of the year. Average roadside pollution levels exceed WHO guidelines by 200% and continue to deteriorate, creating health risks for those with allergies, asthma, or cardiac problems.
Hong Kong remains at "Alert" response status for Pandemic Influenza. Further current information about Pandemic Influenza
and other health-related concerns in Hong Kong are available on the Centre for Health Protection website.
You can find good information on vaccinations and other health precautions, on the CDC website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: You can’t assume your insurance will go with you when you travel. It’s very important to find out BEFORE you leave whether or not your medical insurance will cover you overseas. You need to ask your insurance company two questions:
In many places, doctors and hospitals still expect payment in cash at the time of service. Your regular U.S. health insurance may not cover doctors’ and hospital visits in other countries. If your policy doesn’t go with you when you travel, it’s a very good idea to take out another one for your trip. For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in Hong Kong, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. 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, an underground railway network, is the most popular mode of public transport,
carrying an average of 3.5 million passengers a day.
In Hong Kong, traffic moves on the left. During the daytime, traffic congests Hong Kong's urban areas. Each year there are about 14,000 traffic accidents in Hong Kong involving more than 18,000 drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. Speed limits are 50 kilometers per hour (kph) (approximately 31 miles per hour (mph)) in urban areas, 80 kph (approximately 50 mph) on highways, and 110 kph (approximately 68 mph) on expressways unless otherwise marked. The use of seatbelts in vehicles, if they are 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 fewer than two years on first conviction. If you are a driver involved in a traffic accident, you will be required to undergo alcohol-level testing. If you are found to exceed the prescribed limit of blood alcohol, you may face prosecution under Hong Kong law. The use of hand-held cellular phones while driving in Hong Kong is strictly prohibited. If you breach this law, you may be subject to a maximum fine of $2,000 HK ($260 US). However, you can use “hands-free devices,” such as headphones and speakerphones. Hong Kong law requires that all registered vehicles carry valid third-party liability insurance.
You may be issued a Hong Kong driver’s license without a test if you hold a valid U.S. driver’s license, provided you have resided in the United States at least six months. If you do not plan to stay in Hong Kong for more than 12 months you can drive in Hong Kong on your valid U.S. driver’s license. Visit the Hong Kong Transport Department online for further details.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Hong Kong’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Hong Kong’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
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This replaces the Country Specific Information for Hong Kong SAR dated April 16, 2012 and includes edits to Entry/Exit Requirements and Special Circumstances.