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Relocating to Hong Kong

All You Need to Know about Relocating Your Household Goods and Pets

Anyone who is planning to relocate to Hong Kong should be relieved to hear that even if the customs rules here can be somewhat strict, your personal belongings should cross the border without any significant issues or high duty payments.

Need to move abroad? Organizing an international relocation is not something you should do on your own. As expats ourselves, we understand what you need, and offer the essential services to help you move and live abroad easily. Contact us to jump start your move abroad!

When considering your move and how exactly you can relocate to Hong Kong, know that bringing your belongings with you should not be a problem. That is because no duty is imposed on personal items that are brought to Hong Kong. However, if you wish to bring your pet to Hong Kong, you will need to arm yourself with patience. The rules considering pet importation are strict and can make the process quite lengthy.

What else does it take to relocate to Hong Kong? Familiarizing yourself with the state of air pollution might come in handy. And while the government does not have strict health requirements for visitors, reading up on the common diseases in Hong Kong might be what you need to put your mind at ease. Find all of this and more in this relocation guide to Hong Kong.

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Moving and Shipping Household Goods

Moving household items and belongingsto Hong Kong is relatively easy. Regardless of whether they are used or new, personal and household goods are free from any tariffs, import taxes, or duties. And, as they are not intended for commercial purposes, you do not have to lodge an import declaration.

You may bring your own car with you, provided that it is a right-hand drive vehicle. If that is the case and you do decide to bring it with you, you will be charged a registration tax upon entering the country. Furthermore, you must submit your car for emissions testing.

There are no restrictions on how much currency you can import. Therefore, you can bring as much of the local currency, or any foreign currency, as you like.

Note that everything you import to Hong Kong will be inspected by local customs officers upon arrival. You do not have to be personally present during the customs inspection process. In order to pick up your imports from the authorities after the inspection, you need the following documents:

  • A detailed packing list
  • An air waybill, bill of lading, or similar document
  • Your valid passport (if you are personally present at clearance)
  • A photocopy of your passport and a signed letter of authorization for the person/company handling clearance (if you are not personally present)
  • The appropriate license for selected imports if there are any restricted items

What Not to Pack When Moving to Hong Kong?

Hong KongCustoms Department has a long list of prohibited and restricted items which you are not allowed to take through customs. For some of these, like food items or herbal and other medication, you might get an individual permit from the authorities.

Hong Kong customs regulationsfor tobacco products are very strict. A person aged 18 years or older can bring with them either:

  • 19 cigarettes or
  • 1 cigar or 25g of cigars or
  • 25g of tobacco.

Hong Kong’s custom allowancesfor alcohol are a little more lenient, allowing travelers to bring any amount of wine and alcoholic beverages under 30% of alcoholic strength. That means technically you can bring as much of it as you want but check the regulations of your airline company before you load your suitcases with wine and beer. When it comes to alcoholic beverages over 30% strength, only one liter is allowed.

Keep in mind that for any bottle or cigarette over the duty-free limit, the customs administration charges a huge amount.

How to Ship Household Items and Belongings Hong Kong

When you start packing your belongings, make sure to keep track of them by making a list. Having all the items on one sheet will help you notice if any of them might need specific permission to enter Hong Kong. After you have everything packed, weigh and measure the size of your cargo.

Do not forget to prioritize. Some of your goods must travel alongside you wherever you go, while others are not as essential. Deciding on it in advance will help you when booking your travel tickets.

Choose how you want to ship your household items: by air, land, or sea. The fastest option is usually air shipment. However, it is also the most expensive. Sea travel is on the cheaper side, yet it can take quite a while for your goods to make it to your new home.

Consulting a professional relocation company is the most stress-free option, as they can take care of these moving details for you.

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Home Goods Storage

There are two main reasons one might consider storage:

  • If you want to leave something behind because it does not comply with the import rules or will not be necessary for your new home.
  • If you want to ship your belongings to Hong Kong in advance so that you have everything you need once you have arrived.

Long-term storage should be the most suitable for you if you are in need of the former, while the short-term option is better for the latter.

In either case, the companies in Hong Kong usually charge you by month. However, if you shop around, you might find deals that will offer you discounts for extensive periods of time.

Vaccinations and Health Requirements for Hong Kong

Travel health in Hong Kong does not require any specific vaccinations before starting your journey. To be on the safe side, check your vaccination status on routine shots and make sure everything is up-to-date.

The vaccinations you need when travelling to Hong Kong (routine shots):

  • Flu
  • Polio
  • Measles/mumps/rubella
  • Diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus

Vaccinations for hepatitis A and B, rabies, and typhoid fever are often highly recommended, especially if you plan on traveling through Southeast Asia during your stay. When gathering information for your Hong Kong visa, be sure to check the status of recent health warnings.

Apart from the regular vaccinations, there are no other health requirements that you need to meet to immigrate into Hong Kong. However, do contact your family doctor for a routine check-up before you go. They should help you determine which booster shots you need.

Most of the additional immunizations you can get in Hong Kong as well. Regular vaccinations for infants and children are also available.

What Are Common Insect-Borne Diseases?

In Hong Kong, mosquitoes are a year-round problem. They are usually worst in spring and summer, starting in April, until cooler and dryer weather sets in around October. However, in most parts of Southeast Asia, mosquitoes are not only a nuisance––sometimes they also carry dangerous diseases.

Even though these diseases are very rare in Hong Kong, there have been a few cases of dengue fever and Japanese encephalitis. Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne infection caused by the dengue virus. It is common in many countries throughout Southeast Asia. However, in most cases, dengue fever is brought to Hong Kong by people who were bitten by an infected mosquito while abroad. It is very rare in Hong Kong itself, and it cannot be spread directly from human to human.

Cases of Japanese encephalitis have also been reported in Hong Kong, although rarely (about a dozen cases within the last ten years). Vaccinations for Japanese encephalitis are not a part of Hong Kong immigration requirements. However, it is recommended if you plan to travel to other Asian countries and spend time in rural areas.

Nevertheless, you should take a few simple precautions to prevent insect bites:

  • When spending time outdoors wear long-sleeved clothing which covers your arms, legs, and ankles. Some hikers have been infected with scrub typhus by mites living in Hong Kong’s countryside.
  • Apply insect repellent containing DEET to all skin not covered by clothing. Bear in mind, though, that the concentration of DEET should normally not exceed 35% for adults and 20% for children. Pregnant women and infants should not use such repellants at all.
  • Sleep in air-conditioned rooms or put mosquito screens on windows and doors.
  • If you do not have any screens, use a mosquito net for your bed.

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Moving with Pets

The procedures of moving to Hong Kong with pets are regulated by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD). Keep in mind that failure to abide by the rules of this department can lead to refusal of entry or to quarantine of your pets in Hong Kong at your own cost and risk.

Before traveling to Hong Kong with your pets, you need a special permit from the AFCD. This permit is valid for six months and allows you to bring and keep pets in Hong Kong. Make sure to apply well in advance, allowing two or three weeks for processing and mailing. You can download the necessary application form (AF240) online. However, you will have to turn in the applications in person or by mail to:

Permit & Certification Unit
Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department
Counter 10, 5th Floor
Cheung Sha Wan Government Offices
303 Cheung Sha Wan Road
Kowloon
Hong Kong

The application includes a permit fee, which you must pay with the application. The fee ranges from 344 HKD (44 USD) for birds, reptiles, rodents, and rabbits to 432 HKD (55 USD) for cats and dogs.

Bringing Cats and Dogs to Hong Kong

For cats and dogs, in addition to the special permit, you need to present the following documents upon arrival:

  • an animal health certificate issued not more than 14 days before departure
  • a residence certificate, which proves that your pet has been continuously residing in the country of origin for 180 days prior to departure
  • a vaccination certificate, which certifies that you had your pet vaccinated for certain diseases no less than 10 days and no more than one year before departure
  • an airline certificate stating that your pet has traveled the entire journey on one aircraft

Furthermore, all cats and dogs have to be identifiable by microchip, which you need to declare on the health certificate.

If you import your dogs and cats directly from a nation defined as Group I and II countries (listed on the official AFCD page) by the Hong Kong administration, they are normally exempt from quarantine. If you come from any country which does not belong to either group, new pets in Hong Kong are subject to a minimum of four-month quarantine at the AFCD.

Disability assistance dogs from all countries are exempt from quarantine regulations and the requirement of six-month residency. However, you must have the dog tested for rabies antibodies.

Note that fighter dog breeds are prohibited in the country and the import of Bengal cats has its own restrictions as well. You cannot import puppies or kittens, nor can you bring pregnant animals. If your pet is still young, you may have to put it in quarantine after entering Hong Kong.

Can You Bring Birds to Hong Kong?

Due to the continuing threat of avian influenza, you must provide detailed information on the health status of your pet bird. Importing a bird into Hong Kong requires a valid health certificate: It must be issued by a veterinary officer from your home country and must not date more than five days before departure. The import of birds to Hong Kong from selected countries/places (find the list of them here) has been temporarily suspended for the same aforementioned reason.

Can You Import Reptiles, Rodents, or Other Types of Pets?

Reptiles, rodents, and other pets in Hong Kong also require a veterinary health certificate dated no more than 14 days before the departure date.

In general, we recommend you always contact the AFCD before bringing your furry or feathered friends. In this way, you will not have any hassle concerning pets in Hong Kong.

The Prior Document Checking Service checks all your importation documents for pets in Hong Kong in advance. It’s a great way to be sure that nothing is missing.

Pet Relocation to Hong Kong: Transport and Care

Hong Kong law requires you to transport your pet by air via the fastest route from your home country to Hong Kong. When making the reservation for the airline, ship your pet as “manifest cargo.” Pets are not allowed to enter the country as excess baggage.

Make sure to label the cage, box, or another container for your pet correctly. To avoid unnecessary delay during the inspection of your pet upon arrival, contact the Duty Officer of the AFCD Import and Export Section at least two working days before your scheduled arrival.

Upon arrival at the airport, your pet will undergo a medical examination. Particularly dogs will be officially licensed by AFCD officers. If your dog has a microchip other than that used for the identification of dogs in Hong Kong (an AVID encrypted transponder), then it will be re-chipped in Hong Kong. This procedure takes place at the owner’s expense and will cost you 80 HKD (10 USD).

If you are importing birds, they will be subject to sample testing on the Avian Influenza virus at the airport animal facilities. As this requires extensive laboratory tests, it may take several days until you can take your bird home with you. This procedure is also very cost-intensive.

Other Tips for Living with Pets in Hong Kong

Owning a pet is quite common in Hong Kong, but many still prefer smaller animals or birds to dogs or cats, as space is usually very limited.  If you want to take your dog with you, you should keep this in mind when looking for an apartment. Furthermore, not all rental agreements allow tenants to keep a pet. Make sure to clarify this issue with your prospective landlord before signing the contract.

When going shopping in Hong Kong, you will notice that veterinary services, as well as pet supply shops, are readily available. Some larger supermarkets also offer pet products.

It is important that you protect your cat or dog against fleas and regularly check for ticks so that your pet can safely enjoy its new environment. Snakes can be a problem, especially in the countryside. Therefore, should keep your cats indoors. Cases of attempted pet poisoning, although still reported in recent years, have declined dramatically due to educational campaigns and police attention.

In Hong Kong, great attention is directed towards keeping parks and public areas clean. It is important that you always clean up after your dog, as failure of doing so may result in an on-the-spot fine. In quite a few parks, specific collection bins for dog waste are available.

Furthermore, if you own a large dog, you have to keep it on a leash in public places at all times. You can, however, register your dog for an examination by the AFCD to prove that it can be controlled off-leash. If you pass this examination, you are allowed to walk your dog without a leash.

You need to renew the license which your dog receives upon arrival in Hong Kong every three years. With every renewal, your dog has to be revaccinated against rabies.

Do you want to relocate? If you have never moved abroad, the process will be overwhelming, and if you have, you know the burden that lies ahead. Whatever stage you are at, InterNations GO! can help you with a complete set of relocation services, such as home finding, school search, visa solutions, and even pet relocation. Our expert expat team is ready to get your relocation going, so why not jump-start your move abroad and contact us today? Best to start early!

Updated on: July 18, 2019

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