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Living in Hong Kong
Personal Vehicles in Hong Kong
Even if you have a Hong Kong driving licence, your car may not be the comfiest way to travel. The density of cars is among the highest in the world, with 530 registered vehicles per km². But if you want to brave the traffic, we’ll tell you all about local driver’s licences and car ownership.
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Your first option for driving is to import your car to Hong Kong. However, there are two important facts you should take into consideration.
First, importing a car into Hong Kong is not exactly cheap. Since the city is a free port, there is no import tax. But depending on where you ship from, transportation costs can be high, and there is a hefty registration tax, too.
Second, cars are subject to rules for Hong Kong imports. You can only import and register right-hand drive vehicles (i.e. cars from a country where you drive on the left side of the road, which then have the driver’s seat on the right side). Applications for importing a left-hand side car are only granted in special circumstances.
Importing Your Car
If you own a right-hand drive vehicle and willing to pay some extra costs, follow these steps to successfully import and register your car in Hong Kong:
- Get prior approval from the Environmental Protection Department. You need to prove that your car is fully compliant with Hong Kong’s strict emission standards.
- Import your vehicle tariff-free. Lodge the appropriate import declaration with the Customs and Excise Department within 14 days and submit an import return form within 30 days.
- Have your car examined at the To Kwa Wan Vehicle Examination Centre and receive a certificate of roadworthiness.
- Registerthe car at the Department of Transport.
- Get the necessary vehicle licence, also from the Department of Transport.
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Registering Your Car
To apply for the first registration of your car, you need submit the completed application form and all supporting documents. You have to pay a first registration tax and the registration fee. The first registration tax in particular is rather high, starting at 40% of your car’s taxable value.
Additionally, you need a vehicle licence. For this, you have to pay the licence fee and a levy for the Traffic Accident Victim Assistance Fund. You need to renew your vehicle licence annually.
Every time you renew your licence, you have to pay the fee again. It ranges from about HKD 4,000 to HKD 13,000, depending on the type of car you drive. If your car is older than six years, it also needs to undergo annual examinations.
In Hong Kong, all drivers must have at least third party insurance. You have to present your insurance documents when applying for your vehicle licence and then carry them in your car at all times.
Buying or Renting
If you do not want to go through the hassle of importing your car, you can easily buy a car in Hong Kong. If you buy your car at a local registered dealership, the seller usually handles the first registration and licencing of the vehicle. You will then receive your registration documents and vehicle licence directly from the dealership. All taxes are typically included in retail prices, but it doesn’t hurt to check before you pay.
Alternatively, there is a high turnover market for used cars. Offers can be found online, or in the many print media in Hong Kong.
Second-hand cars are not subject to any tax. But you must still notify the Licensing Office of the Transport Department and fill out the necessary paperwork for the change in ownership. Before buying a used vehicle, have it checked by an independent source to make sure there are no major problems. The Hong Kong Automobile Association can assist you.
There is, of course, always the possibility to rent a car when you need one, or to lease a car over a longer period of time. All major international car rentals are present in Hong Kong. Please note that there are certain restrictions for young and/or inexperienced drivers.