Hong Kong

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Tuesday, 11 March 2014.   It contains new information under Laws (foreigners, including Australians, have been prosecuted for possession of prohibited weapons including stunning devices, dart and spear guns, kunckledusters and slingshots. The laws apply to individuals in Hong Kong and those transiting Hong Kong airport, and apply to hand luggage, checked luggage and luggage in transit). We continue to advise Australians to exercise normal safety precautions in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong overall

Summary

  • We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions in Hong Kong.
  • Exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia.
  • Since December 2013, human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9) have been reported in Hong Kong, involving people who had recently visited mainland China. Currently, there is no evidence of sustained human to human transmission associated with this virus. See the Health section for more information.
  • Typhoon season is between May and October. You should keep informed of regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly. Monitor local media reports and follow the instructions of local emergency officials. For more information on what to do during a typhoon see Additional information: Natural Disasters, Severe Weather and Climate.
  • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
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Entry and exit

Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region (SAR) and has separate immigration regulations from those of the People's Republic of China.

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. If you enter Hong Kong on a visitor visa, you are not allowed to take up any employment, paid or unpaid, or join in any business, or study at a school, university or other educational institutions. We strongly encourage you to seek information from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Immigration Department well in advance of your intended travel date. Australian tourists do not require visas for visits of less than 90 days.

Before travelling, you can obtain visa information at the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, Level 1, Hong Kong House, 80 Druitt Street, Sydney (tel: 02 9283 3222) and online at www.hketosydney.gov.hk. If you are already in Hong Kong and have enquiries about Hong Kong visa matters, you can visit the Hong Kong SAR Immigration Department at 7 Gloucester Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong, (tel: (852) 2824 6111) or online at www.immd.gov.hk

If you are entering the Hong Kong SAR from the People's Republic of China, you may be required to obtain a new visa to re-enter the People's Republic of China.

You are strongly encouraged to contact the nearest Chinese embassy or consulate for detailed information. We strongly recommend you get an appropriate visa for China before leaving Australia. Australian travellers to mainland China, whose passports are lost or stolen, are required to travel to the most convenient Australian Embassy or Consulate in mainland China (Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai or Guangzhou) for replacement travel documents. For more information read our travel advice for China.

Make sure your passport has at least six months’ validity from your planned date of return to Australia. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.

Safety and security

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General advice to Australian travellers.

Crime

There is little violent crime in Hong Kong. As with any major city in the world, pick-pocketing and street theft can occur at tourist destinations and crowded locations such as in markets and on trains. Drink spiking is possible so do not leave drinks unattended in bars and nightclubs.

Take normal precautions when using ATMs or direct debit machines. We recommend you use ATMs in controlled areas such as inside banks, shops or shopping centres. If approached while using an ATM, cancel the transaction before speaking to anyone.

Scams involving bogus property, holiday club or time-share schemes, bogus scratch lottery tickets and foreign lottery schemes have been reported in Hong Kong. Australians should be particularly careful and thoroughly research any such schemes before entering into an agreement or providing credit card or bank account details. You should seek independent, qualified legal advice before signing any property contract. Our international scams page provides more detail on these types of scams.

Money and valuables

Before you go, organise a variety of ways to access your money overseas, such as credit cards, travellers' cheques, cash, debit cards or cash cards. Consult with your bank to find out which is the most appropriate currency to carry and whether your ATM card will work in Hong Kong.

While travelling, don't carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves. As a sensible precaution against luggage tampering, including theft, lock your luggage. Information on luggage safety is available from Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

Make two photocopies of valuable documents such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers' cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home.

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

You are required to pay an additional fee to have a lost or stolen passport replaced. In some cases, the Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passports.

Local travel

Accommodation

Unlicensed guest houses providing low cost accommodation operate in Hong Kong. You should be aware that unlicensed guest houses may not adhere to the safety standards set for licensed guest houses, and can present serious safety and security risks, including fire. If you choose to stay in a guest house, we recommend that you confirm it is licensed and inform your family and friends of the details of your stay. You can check the full list of licensed guest houses at the website for the Home Affairs Department of Hong Kong.

Airline safety

Please refer to our air travel page for information about aviation safety and security.

Laws

Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.

When you are in Hong Kong, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we cannot get you out of trouble, out of jail or preferential treatment.

Hong Kong has strict laws regarding the import and/or possession of any type of weapon and items that may resemble weapons, including replicas, antiques, toys and fashion accessories. Foreigners, including Australians, have been prosecuted for possession of stunning devices, dart and spear guns, knuckledusters and slingshots. These items are illegal, including those bought at local Hong Kong markets, unless permits for their import and possession have been obtained from local authorities beforehand. Travellers found in possession of such items will be subject to arrest, fines and/or imprisonment. The laws apply to individuals in Hong Kong and those transiting Hong Kong airport, and apply to hand luggage, checked luggage and luggage in transit. See the Civil Aviation Department’s list of restricted items for more information.

Penalties for possession of illegal drugs, including 'soft-drugs', include heavy fines and imprisonment.

Laws prohibiting demonstrations without government approval are strictly enforced. If arrested, you could be imprisoned or deported.

You should avoid taking photographs of military installations.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.

Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years’ imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.

Information for dual nationals

Under Chinese law, dual nationality is not recognised. However, Hong Kong's Basic law allows dual nationals of Chinese descent to register their Australian nationality with the Hong Kong Immigration Department if they wish to be considered as a national of Australia. Doing so would ensure access to Australian consular services, if required. If you are an Australian/Hong Kong dual national, you are advised to seek further information on completing a Declaration of Change of Nationality, and the consequences of this, from the Hong Kong Immigration Department.

If you plan to enter mainland China from Hong Kong, you should do so on your Australian passport. If you travel on other documents, we may not be able to provide you with consular assistance as China does not recognise dual nationality. You should see the travel advice for China for more information.

Our Dual nationals page provides further information for dual nationals.

Health

We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

Hong Kong has a wide range of medical services and facilities that are of a high standard. Costs can be considerably more expensive than in Australia. Private hospitals may require confirmation of insurance cover, guarantee of payment or an up-front deposit before admitting patients.

The levels of air pollution in Hong Kong may aggravate bronchial, sinus or asthma conditions. People with existing heart or respiratory illnesses should reduce physical exertion and outdoor activities on days when very high pollution levels are recorded. The Hong Kong Environmental Protection Department provides up-to-date air quality reports and advice on its website.

Outbreaks of mosquito-borne illnesses, including dengue fever, occur from time to time. We encourage you to take measures to avoid mosquito bites, including using insect repellent, wearing long, loose-fitting, light coloured clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof.

Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including tuberculosis, hepatitis, scarlet fever and hand, foot and mouth disease) occur sporadically. We recommend that you avoid raw and undercooked food. In rural areas, it is recommended that all drinking water be boiled or that you drink bottled water, and that you avoid ice cubes. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is common in Hong Kong with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. In Asia, outbreaks of HFMD usually start in March/April and peak in May but can continue until August to October each year. It mostly affects children under the age of 10 years but adult cases (particularly young adults) are not unusual. The illness is characterised by fever as well as blisters and rashes on the hands, feet and buttocks. HFMD is spread by direct contact with nose and throat discharges and faeces of infected people. Normal hygiene precautions should be taken including careful and frequent hand washing.

Since December 2013, human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9) have been reported in Hong Kong, involving people who had recently visited mainland China. There is currently no evidence of sustained human to human transmission associated with this virus. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) Government has raised its response level for Influenza Pandemic from ‘alert’ to ‘serious’, but is not currently asking visitors to undertake additional health measures. Travellers should follow good hand hygiene and food safety practices, and avoid contact with animals. For more information see the websites of the Department of Health and the World Health Organisation.

Where to get help

Australian Consulate General, Hong Kong

23/F Harbour Centre, 25 Harbour Road
Wanchai, Hong Kong
Telephone: (852) 2827 8881
Facsimile: (852) 2585 4457
Website: http://www.hongkong.china.embassy.gov.au/

If you are travelling to Hong Kong, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency-whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.

In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the Consulate-General you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

Typhoon season is between May and October. Hong Kong has a well-developed severe weather alert and monitoring system. Further information is available from the Hong Kong Observatory or the Humanitarian Early Warning Service. Monitor local media reports and follow the instructions of local emergency officials. If you are travelling during typhoon season, you should check whether tourist services at your planned destination have been affected.

You should keep informed of regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly. Local safety procedures require businesses and transportation to close during typhoon level 8 and above.

Flights and ferries into and out of Hong Kong may be delayed or suspended, including for weather related reasons. You should contact your travel operator or airline for the latest departure information. You should familiarise yourself with your hotel or cruise ship evacuation plans. You should carry your travel documents at all times (i.e. passport, photo identification, etc.) or secure them in a safe, waterproof location. We also suggest that you contact friends and family in Australia with updates about your welfare and whereabouts. For further information, see our severe weather page.

The Australian Consulate-General in Hong Kong closes when the “Typhoon 8” signal is given. Australians requiring consular assistance can still contact the 24 – hour Consular Emergency Centre on either Hong Kong telephone number + 852 2827 8881 or the Australian telephone number + 61 2 6261 3305.

For parents

For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling with children page.



While every care has been taken in preparing this information, neither the Australian Government nor its agents or employees, including any member of Australia's diplomatic and consular staff abroad, can accept liability for any injury, loss or damage arising in respect of any statement contained herein.

Maps are presented for information only. The department accepts no responsibility for errors or omission of any geographic feature. Nomenclature and territorial boundaries may not necessarily reflect Australian Government policy.