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Relocating to Hong Kong

Hong Kong Customs Regulations

When preparing their move and their shipments, expats should read up on the requirements for Hong Kong imports. Our guide brings you up to date on general issues, import restrictions, duty-free liquor and tobacco, and other Hong Kong customs regulations.

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Alcohol and Tobacco

As described on the previous page, the customs regulations for Hong Kong don’t include any import tariffs on goods intended for personal use. There are only four exceptions to this rule: liquor, tobacco, hydrocarbon oil, and methyl alcohol.

This does not mean, though, that Hong Kong’s customs regulations forbid you from bringing any of your favorite spirits from home. However, you need to be at least 18 years old, and you may only bring a certain amount of alcohol and tobacco duty-free.

You can bring one liter of liquor with an alcoholic strength of more than 30% for your personal use. You may also bring the following amount of tobacco products:

  • 19 cigarettes OR
  • 1 cigar OR
  • 25 grams of other manufactured tobacco

If you exceed the given quantity, then you must declare the imported alcohol and/or tobacco and pay import duties on it.

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Restricted Items

In the next few sections, we go into detail about several sorts of items which might cause trouble for expats and travelers.

Prescription Drugs

In general, you need a special permit to import any kind of pharmaceutical products. However, if you bring medication in your personal baggage, you may be exempted from this regulation. The medical drugs must be intended for your personal use only, and you should bring them in reasonable quantities. To avoid unnecessary problems, bring a prescription or letter from your doctor. This applies to both prescription drugs and all over-the-counter medicines from your home country. But don’t worry – finding a pharmacy in Hong Kong that carries the medicine you require should not be too difficult.


You are not allowed to bring animals into Hong Kong unless you have obtained a special permit. You must also complete the necessary paperwork prior to your arrival. You can find more information on the customs regulations for pets in our article on pets in Hong Kong.

Food and Plants

Another item which may cause problems at customs is food. You need a special permit to bring food and plants into the country. There are additional customs regulations which restrict the import of meat, milk products, and other foodstuffs. To avoid any hassle, it is best not to take any food from home at all and directly start with the local cuisine.


When you relocate to Hong Kong, please bear in mind that laws regarding arms and ammunition are much stricter here than in many other countries. You need a permit to own almost all kinds of weapons. The possession of certain weapons is prohibited completely, including personal protection items such as “mace” spray or tasers, which are perfectly legal in other countries. If you still want to import any kind of guns, ammunition, fireworks, or knives, including imitation and replica weapons, you have to obtain a special permit prior to your departure.

Other Items

Hong Kong customs regulations outlaw the importation of other items as well, including, but not limited to, the following: drugs, psychotropic substances, controlled chemicals, antibiotics (if not intended for personal use), rough diamonds, endangered species, and telecommunication equipment. To import any of these items, you have to obtain a valid permit from the customs authorities in advance.

Updated on: March 02, 2016
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