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Summary

  • Exercise normal safety precautions in Hong Kong. Exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia. Monitor the media and other sources for changes to local travelling conditions.
  • The risk of demonstrations and protests remains high. Monitor local media, exercise vigilance and avoid protests and large public gatherings as they may turn violent. Follow the instructions issued by local authorities. See Safety and security.
  • Criminals, including scammers and cyber-criminals, have been known to approach Australian travellers in Hong Kong seeking money or requesting assistance, including carriage of belongings on international flights. See Safety and security.
  • Penalties for serious drug offences in Hong Kong are severe. Each year foreigners are arrested for trafficking drugs, mainly when attempting to exit the airport in Hong Kong. See Laws.
  • Hong Kong has screening arrangements in place for travellers arriving from countries affected by Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), including the Republic of Korea. See the Health section for more information. See Health.
  • Typhoon season is between May and October.  Monitor regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly. Local safety procedures require businesses and transportation to close during typhoon level 8 and above. 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.
  • See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.

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.

Australian tourists do not require visas for visits of less than 90 days. 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 institution. Seek information from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Immigration Department well in advance of your intended travel date if you are intending to work or study in Hong Kong.

As visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice, contact the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office located in Sydney for up-to-date information. If you are already in Hong Kong and have enquiries about Hong Kong visa matters, 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.

Ensure you have a correct and current visa at all times, particularly if you intend to work. Travellers and residents who overstay their visas in Hong Kong may be questioned or detained on departure, depending on the length of overstay. Breaches of immigration regulations may be punishable by fines and imprisonment.

If you plan on travelling to China, contact the nearest Chinese embassy or consulate for detailed information on visas. Obtain 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.

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. For more information read our travel advice for China.
Check any requirements for visas in other regional destinations you will visit, including transit locations, before you travel. Make sure your passport has at least six months' validity from your planned date of return to Australia.

Safety and security

Civil unrest and political tension

The risk of demonstrations and protests remains high. Monitor local media, exercise vigilance and avoid protests and large public gatherings as they may turn violent. Follow all instructions issued by local authorities.

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Overseas bulletin.

Crime

There is little violent crime in Hong Kong. Pick-pocketing and street theft can occur at tourist destinations and crowded locations such as in markets and on trains.

Take precautions when using ATMs or direct debit machines. 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

Be aware of an increasing number of scams involving criminals, often connected to drug-related activities, presenting themselves to Australian travellers in Hong Kong as individuals in need and seeking assistance to carry another persons luggage on an international flight. The scam is usually initiated via the internet and financial rewards may be offered as an enticement. Do not carry anything for anyone you do not know and trust, especially when crossing international borders.

Scammers may also request money, credit card or online bank account details to facilitate illegitimate or criminal activity. Do not send money or give credit card or online bank account details to anyone you do not know and trust.

Scams involving fake arrests, bogus property, holiday club or time-share schemes, scratch lottery tickets and foreign lottery schemes have been reported in Hong Kong. Australians should be particularly careful and thoroughly research any such scheme before entering into an agreement. Seek independent, qualified legal advice before signing any property contract.

A small, but increasing number of foreigners in Hong Kong have been involved in disputes with taxi drivers over the taxi fare.  If you have an issue with a taxi driver, ask for a receipt, record the taxi driver's license number and contact the police. 

Our international scams page provides more detail on different types of scams that travellers may encounter.

Drink spiking

Criminal syndicates are known to hire females to approach unaccompanied western male tourists in bars and nightclubs to spike their drinks and steal their valuables. The criminals then use the victim's card to withdraw money from their account at ATMs. Avoid accepting drinks from strangers and be wary of strangers who approach you in bars and night clubs.

Money and valuables

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

Local travel

Accommodation

Unlicensed guest houses providing low cost accommodation operate in Hong Kong. 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, confirm it is licensed and inform your family and friends of the details of your stay. Check the full list of licensed guest houses at the Home Affairs Department of Hong Kong website.

Air safety

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Hong Kong.

Refer to our general air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.

Laws

You are subject to the local laws of Hong Kong, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we cannot get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

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', involve heavy fines and imprisonment. Each year, a number of foreigners are arrested for allegedly trafficking drugs, mainly when attempting to exit the airport in Hong Kong. See our Drugs page. Penalties also exist for possession without a prescription of sleeping tablets or prescription medication used in treating conditions such as erectile dysfunction or anxiety.

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

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.

Homosexual activity is legal in Hong Kong.  However, while the majority of HongKongers are accepting or indifferent to LGBTI travellers, community attitudes towards LGBTI persons are generally more conservative than in Australia.

Doing business in Hong Kong

See our business travel advice for general information on the potential for legal and other risks. The Australian Trade Commission (Austrade) provides specific advice on doing business in Hong Kong. In addition, our Living and Working Overseas page provides further information for Australians considering working or living overseas.

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, 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, do so on your Australian passport. If you travel on other documents, we will not be able to provide you with consular assistance as China does not recognise dual nationality. See the travel advice for China for more information.

Our Dual nationals page provides further information.

Health

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.

If travelling on a cruise ship that stops in or passes near Hong Kong, ensure that your travel insurance covers you for any medical treatment in Hong Kong, including possible medical evacuation costs

It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. Get vaccinated 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 pages also provide 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 upfront 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. 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. Avoid raw and undercooked food. In rural areas boil drinking water or drink bottled water. 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.

The Hong Kong SAR Government is currently at 'Alert' response level for influenza, including avian influenza A(H7N9). This is the lowest level in the three-tier alert system. Human cases of avian influenza A(H7N9) have been reported in mainland China. 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.

The Hong Kong SAR Government is currently at 'Alert' response level for the Zika virus. This is the lowest level in the three-tier alert system.

The Hong Kong SAR Government is currently at 'Alert' response level for MERS-CoV. This is the lowest level in the three-tier alert system. Hong Kong's Department of Health continues to apply special surveillance mechanisms at boundary control points. Travellers who arrive or transit in Hong Kong and have flu like symptoms may be sent to public hospitals for isolation and management until their specimens test negative for MERS-CoV. Further information on communicable diseases in Hong Kong is available from the Hong Kong Centre for Health Protection website.

Where to get help

Depending on the nature of your enquiry, your best option may be to contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurer. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.

If the matter relates to criminal issues, contact the local police at the nearest police station, or through the national emergency telephone number 999. Always obtain a police report when reporting a crime.

For complaints about tourism services or products, contact the service provider directly.

The Consular Services Charter explains what the Australian Government can and cannot do to assist Australians overseas. For consular assistance, see contact details below.

Australian Consulate General, Hong Kong

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

See the Consulate-General website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the Consulate-General you can contact the 7 day, 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

Monitor 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. Contact your travel operator or airline for the latest departure information. Familiarise yourself with your hotel or cruise ship evacuation plans. Carry your travel documents at all times (i.e. passport, photo identification, etc.) or secure them in a safe, waterproof location. 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.

Additional Resources

For additional general and economic information to assist travelling in this country, see the following links: