Road Conditions and Safety: Road conditions differ significantly from those in the United States. Each year there are approximately 14,000 traffic accidents.
- Traffic moves on the left.
- Speed limits vary depending on location.
- Use of seatbelts is mandatory.
You can drive using your U.S. driver?s license for up to a year. If you hold a valid U.S. driver?s license and have resided in the United States at least six months, you can apply for a Hong Kong driver?s license. Visit the Hong Kong Transport Department online for further details.
Traffic Laws: Many traffic violations are similar to those in the United States, including penalties for reckless driving, driving under the influence, and using a hand-held device while operating a vehicle. Hong Kong law requires that all registered vehicles carry valid third-party liability insurance.
Public Transportation: Approximately 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.
See our Road Safety page for more information.
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.
Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to Hong Kong should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website, and the NGA broadcast warnings website portal select ?broadcast warnings?.
Good medical facilities are available, and there are many Western-trained physicians in Hong Kong. Hong Kong emergency service response times for police, fire, and ambulances are good.
We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas.
Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.
Medication: Prescription drugs are widely available ? names may vary. You need a prescription from a doctor in Hong Kong to purchase medications locally. Bring prescription medications to cover your stay in Hong Kong or plan to see a physician in Hong Kong to obtain a new prescription. If traveling with prescription medication, check with the government of Hong Kong to ensure the medication is legal in Hong Kong. Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor?s prescription.
Air Quality: Air pollution is an increasing concern 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.
Disease: The following diseases are prevalent: Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Typhoid, Chikungunya (via mosquitoes), Avian Influenza, and Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease.
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.
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Further health information:
Local laws and Special Circumstances
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.
- Drugs: Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Hong Kong are severe.
- Identification: Police have the right to detain you for questioning if you are not carrying your passport.
Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Consulate General immediately. Hong Kong authorities regularly notify the Consulate if they know that a U.S. citizen has been detained or arrested. See our webpage for further information.
Controlled Items: Hong Kong customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning controlled items you might be carrying while transiting Hong Kong (temporary importation or exportation). Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) security routinely and thoroughly screens any luggage loaded onto an aircraft in Hong Kong, whether belonging to a departing or transiting passenger. Discovery of weapons or ammunition of any kind ? including mace, pepper spray, stun guns, bullets, air gun pellets, switch blades, knuckle-dusters and other self-protection weapons – during this screening will be referred to the police for investigation, leading to arrest and detention.
If you bring controlled items into Hong Kong without the necessary Hong Kong documents, 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.
The following is a non-exhaustive list of controlled and/or prohibited items:
- dangerous drugs
- psychotropic substances
- controlled chemicals
- strategic commodities
- rough diamonds
- endangered species
- telecommunication equipment
- powdered formula.
Please visit the website of the Hong Kong Department of Customs and Excise for specific information regarding Hong Kong customs requirements.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection encourages 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.
Please see our Customs Information sheet for general information.
Dual Nationality: Dual nationality is not recognized under People?s Republic of China (PRC) nationality law. Be mindful of the following special circumstances for dual nationals when traveling in the region.
- Enter Hong Kong on your U.S. passport to ensure the U.S. Consulate General can provide consular assistance in case of arrest or other emergency.
- Your child will be considered a PRC citizen if one or both of the parents are Chinese nationals regardless of U.S. citizenship.
- If you are a dual national with current or previous Hong Kong residency and wish to ensure U.S consular protection, you should present your U.S. passport to the Hong Kong Immigration Department and complete an application for declaration of change of nationality.
- If traveling onward to mainland China, enter China on your U.S. passport to ensure U.S. consular protection. See China Country Specific Information for more information.
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.
West Kowloon Train Station: The West Kowloon Train Station is the terminus of the Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou?Shenzhen?Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL). Once passengers pass through the Hong Kong immigration exit checkpoint on their way to mainland China inside the train station or on the train itself in that area, they are in the Mainland Port Area. Likewise, passengers arriving from mainland China are in the Mainland Port Area until they exit the Hong Kong immigration entry checkpoint. Chinese authorities have informed the United States they consider the Mainland Port Area to be in mainland China for all legal purposes, such that U.S. citizens who plan to enter the Mainland Port Area may wish to consult the country information page for China, which advises that U.S. citizens should exercise increased caution in China due to arbitrary enforcement of local laws as well as special restrictions on dual U.S.-Chinese nationals.
Faith-Based Travelers: See our following webpages for details:
- Faith-Based Travel Information
- International Religious Freedom Report ? see country reports
- Human Rights Report ? see country reports
- Hajj Fact Sheet for Travelers
- Best Practices for Volunteering Abroad
LGBTI Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in Hong Kong. See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.
Pets: You must have a permit to bring dogs and cats into Hong Kong. Dogs and cats imported from the United States may be exempted from quarantine when they have valid health and vaccination certificates and the animal has 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.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Despite efforts to improve accessibility, Hong Kong continues to be a challenge for those with physical disabilities. It has many stairs, inclines, and steep, uneven walkways not designed to accommodate the use of a walker, cane, crutches, or wheelchair.
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 to provide one-stop information for persons with various disabilities.
Typhoons: During the typhoon season (July through November), 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 an excellent 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 be closed for services. 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.
Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Safety and Security
Since June 2019, large scale and smaller political demonstrations have taken place in various areas of Hong Kong, including MTR stations, shopping malls, universities, and at Hong Kong International airport. While many demonstrations have been peaceful, some have resulted in violent confrontations between protesters and police ? or between protesters and people who oppose the demonstrations ? leading to serious injuries. Police have used a variety of crowd control measures, including tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, and water cannons. Some protesters have lit fires, built barricades, and thrown Molotov cocktails (petrol bombs). Police have identified and seized weapons and explosive materials linked to ongoing protest activity. On October 4, the government invoked the Emergency Regulations Ordinance to ban face masks at public gatherings. Any protests that take place without a permit are considered illegal.
Protests, which can take place with little or no notice at any time of the week, are likely to continue and are often accompanied by vandalism and/or violence..
If you decide to travel to Hong Kong:
- Monitor local media, local transportations sites and apps like MTR Mobile or CitybusNWFB, and the Hong Kong International Airport website for updates.
- Avoid the areas of the demonstrations.
- Exercise caution if you are in the vicinity of large gatherings or protests.
- Avoid taking photographs of protesters or police without permission.
- Be aware of your surroundings.
- Keep a low profile.
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 areas and while traveling on public transportation. Violent crime, though rare, does occur.
- Take routine safety precautions.
- Report any concerns to the local police.
- Call ?999,? the local equivalent to ?911?
Please note that mace, pepper spray, stun guns, bullets, switch blades, knuckle-dusters and other self-protection weapons are banned in Hong Kong.
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. Be alert to criminal schemes, such as internet, phone scams and dating scams, as well as financial scams.
Victims of Crime: Report crimes to the local police at ?999? and contact the U.S. Consulate General at +(825) 2523-9011. U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault should first contact the U.S. Consulate General.
Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.
- See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
- help you find appropriate medical care
- assist you in reporting a crime to the police
- contact relatives or friends with your written consent
- explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
- provide a list of local attorneys
- provide our information on victim?s compensation programs in the United States
- provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
- help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
- replace a stolen or lost passport
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.
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the U.S. Consulate General for assistance.
Tourism: The tourism industry is generally regulated and rules with regard to best practices and safety inspections are regularly enforced. Hazardous areas/activities are identified with appropriate signage and professional staff is typically on hand in support of organized activities. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is widely available throughout the Special Administrative Region. Outside of a major metropolitan center, it may take more time for first responders and medical professionals to stabilize a patient and provide life-saving assistance. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
Entry exit Requirementsh
To enter Hong Kong, you 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.
You only need a visa if:
- You plan to stay for more than 90 days ? obtain an extension with the Hong Kong SAR Immigration Department, if necessary.
- You plan to work or study in Hong Kong ? visas must be obtained prior to departing the United States.
You must possess a valid passport and Chinese visa to enter the People?s Republic of China (PRC) from Hong Kong. Further information on travel to and around the PRC is available in our China country information page.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Hong Kong SAR.
See the Department of State?s Fact Sheet on Hong Kong SAR for information on U.S. ? Hong Kong SAR relations.