Exercise a high degree of caution in Hong Kong. Protests continue. There's a risk of violent confrontation between protesters and police, opposing groups or criminally-linked individuals. 'Flash mob' demonstrations can take place with little or no warning, with instances of violence and vandalism. Police have used tear gas, live ammunition, rubber bullets and pepper spray, including in popular tourist, residential and enclosed areas.
- Road closures, transport disruptions, including to the MTR and Airport Express, and closures of shopping centres and businesses can happen at short notice. If you are in Hong Kong, be alert. Plan ahead to avoid demonstrations by monitoring local media, including key online sources. If there are signs of disorder, move away quickly to a safe place. If you are planning to travel to Hong Kong, check our advice before you go. See Safety and security
- Enhanced airport access controls continue to be enforced. Check with your airline via the airport's website (www.hongkongairport.com), "HKG My Flight" app, or www.MTR.com.hk for updated transport information.
- Emergency laws have been introduced. These ban face coverings in public assemblies and give police additional powers to physically verify the identity of individuals. Further measures could be introduced at short notice.
- Typhoon season is from May to October. Businesses and transport services close during severe typhoons. Monitor weather forecasts and local media, including the Hong Kong Observatory. Plan accordingly and follow the instructions of local emergency officials. See Natural disasters
- Be alert to scams: some Australians have been tricked into giving scammers money or carrying their belongings, including on international flights. See Safety and security
- Foreigners have been targeted with drink spiking, particularly in bars and nightclubs, which is often combined with theft or credit card fraud. Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. 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 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. Anyone found with these items (including in their luggage) without a permit faces arrest, fines and/or imprisonment. See Laws
- Stricter laws have been introduced in relation to the import and re-export of all elephant ivory and its products. This includes tourist souvenirs. Fines and/or imprisonment for possession apply. See Laws
- If you arrive in Hong Kong from a country affected by Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) authorities will screen you for diseases on arrival. See Health
Entry and exit
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Australian Government cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination's entry or exit requirements.
Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region (SAR) and has separate immigration regulations from those of the People's Republic of China.
If you visit Hong Kong for tourism for less than 90 days, you generally won't need to organise a visa in advance.
In all other cases, you need a visa.
Visa and other entry and exit conditions can change at short notice. Contact the
Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Sydney or the
Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Immigration Department before travelling for up-to-date information.
Travel between Hong Kong and mainland China
If you plan to travel between Hong Kong and mainland China, you need a visa. If you plan to return to mainland China after visiting Hong Kong, make sure you get a multiple-entry visa for China. If not, get a new visa to re-enter China. Get your visa before leaving Australia.
If you plan to enter the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone by applying for a visa at the border of Shenzhen and Hong Kong, and you held a Chinese visa in a recently replaced passport, you may be asked to present your previous passport and Chinese visa. If you can't produce your previous visa, you may be denied a visa on arrival to Shenzhen.
Mainland China travel advice
Check the expiry date of your Australian passport before you travel. Some countries won't let you enter unless your passport is valid for six months from when you plan to leave that country.
Your passport is a valuable document and attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Always keep it in a safe place.
Be aware of attempts to access your passport by deception. If you are forced to hand over your passport, contact the Consulate-General for advice.
If your passport is lost or stolen, you must notify the Australian Government as soon as possible.
The currency in Hong Kong is the Hong Kong Dollar (HKD).
Under new laws, travellers in and out of Hong Kong may need to make written declarations if they are carrying more than HKD120,000 or equivalent in cash.
Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department
You can readily exchange Australian dollars for HKD at local currency exchangers and banks.
Credit cards are widely accepted. Take care when using ATMs as petty crime occurs. See
Safety and security.
Hong Kong Customs list of prohibited/controlled items
Safety and security
Civil unrest and political tension
Large-scale demonstrations have been ongoing across Hong Kong since 9 June 2019. A number of protests have resulted in violent confrontations between protestors and police, or opposing groups or criminally-linked individuals, and there have been some targeted individual attacks. Violent clashes are more likely to occur in the evening.
Emergency laws have been introduced. These ban face coverings in public assemblies and give police additional powers to physically verify the identity of individuals. Further measures could be introduced at short notice.
'Flash mob' demonstrations can take place with little or no warning. In recent protests, petrol bombs have been thrown, barricades built and fires lit in the streets. MTR stations, shopping malls and businesses have been vandalised. Hong Kong Police have reported the seizure of materials for explosives. Media and police reported the explosion of a remote controlled improvised explosive device targeting police.
Unauthorised demonstrations are met by a more rapid and severe police response. Police have used tear gas, live ammunition, rubber bullets and pepper spray, including in popular tourist areas, densely populated residential areas and enclosed areas. Water cannons with dye have also been used. Additional enforcement measures could be used.
If there are signs of disorder, move away quickly and seek shelter in a safe place.
Expect road closures and disruption to public transport and other services. Shopping centres, businesses and the MTR, including the airport express may close or suspend services at short notice. Enhanced access controls at Hong Kong International Airport continue to be enforced. Check with your airline or via the airport's website (www.hongkongairport.com), "HKG My Flight" app, or www.MTR.com.hk for updated transport information.
Increased screening, including of digital devices, is possible for travellers crossing between Hong Kong and mainland China.
To stay safe during civil unrest:
Avoid large gatherings and protests.
Monitor the media for possible unrest and avoid those areas.
Follow the advice of local authorities.
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world.
Terrorist threat worldwide
There is little violent crime in Hong Kong but you could encounter pick-pocketing and street theft. Thieves target tourist destinations and crowded locations such as markets and trains.
Foreigners have been targeted with drink spiking, particularly in bars and nightclubs, which is often combined with theft or credit card fraud.
- Do not accept drinks, food, gum or cigarettes from strangers or new acquaintances.
- Don't leave food or drinks unattended or with strangers.
- Be wary of strangers who approach you in bars and nightclubs.
Scams against Australian travellers are increasing. Scammers present themselves as individuals in need and ask for assistance to carry another person's luggage on an international flight. The scam is usually initiated via the internet and financial rewards are often offered as an enticement. Scammers may also request your money, credit card or online bank account details.
Scams involving fake arrests, property, holiday club or time-share schemes, scratch lottery tickets and foreign lottery schemes have been reported. Relationship scams have also been reported. Be wary of strangers asking for your assistance.
- Never carry anything for anyone you do not know and trust, especially when crossing international borders – drugs or other contraband could be concealed inside.
- Never send money or give credit card or bank account details to anyone you do not know and trust.
- Thoroughly research any proposed scheme before entering into an agreement or committing your money.
- Seek independent, qualified legal advice before signing any property contract.
Unlicensed guesthouses providing low cost accommodation operate in Hong Kong. They may not adhere to the safety standards set for licensed guesthouses, and can present serious safety and security risks.
If you choose to stay in a guesthouse, confirm it is licensed and inform your family and friends of the details of your stay.
Home Affairs Department of Hong Kong
Hong Kong has a well-developed road network of similar standard to a large Australian city.
- Check you have adequate insurance cover before driving.
- Familiarise yourself with local road rules and practices.
- Drive defensively.
- Don't drink and drive.
Road safety and driving
You can drive with an International Driver Permit and a valid Australian driver's licence for up to 12 months. After that, you must apply for a local licence. Ensure your travel insurance covers you driving without a Hong Kong driver's licence.
Hong Kong Transport Department
Check if your travel insurance covers you riding motorcycles. Always wear a helmet.
Use only licensed taxis or reputable limousine services, preferably those arranged through your hotel. Always insist that the meter is used.
A small, but increasing number of foreigners have been involved in disputes with taxi drivers over the fares. If you have an issue with a taxi driver, ask for a receipt, record the taxi driver's licence number and contact the police.
Hong Kong has an extensive public transport system, including the MTR, buses, ferries and trams. The Octopus card is a convenient and simple way to use public transport options. Take care of your possessions as petty crime occurs.
Ferries are a common mode of transport between Hong Kong, Macau and the Chinese mainland.
A number of cruise lines stopover in Hong Kong.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade 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.
You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that may appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.
If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our
Consular services charter. We can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.
Penalties for possession of illegal drugs, including 'soft drugs', such as marijuana, include 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.
Penalties also exist for having sleeping tablets or medication used in treating conditions such as erectile dysfunction or anxiety without a prescription. Travellers are able to enter and exit with most prescription medicine as long as it is in small quantities for personal use and accompanied by a prescription. Information on specific medication is available from
Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department. See also Health.
Carrying or using drugs
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 (taser guns), dart and spear guns, extendable batons, teargas, pepper spray, knuckledusters and slingshots. To import, possess or purchase such items legally (including from local Hong Kong markets), you must get permits from local authorities in advance.
The laws apply to individuals in Hong Kong and those transiting Hong Kong airport. Anyone found with these items (including in their luggage) without a permit faces arrest, fines and/or imprisonment.
List of restricted items (Civil Aviation Department, Hong Kong)
Hong Kong has introduced strict laws regarding the import and re-export of all elephant ivory products, including tourist souvenirs. Offenders could face fines and/or imprisonment for possession.
More information: the
Government of Hong Kong website
It is illegal to participate in public demonstrations without government approval, or take photos of military installations.
Some Australian criminal laws apply overseas. If you commit these offences, you can be prosecuted in Australia. Laws include those relating to:
- bribery of foreign public officials
- child pornography
- child sex tourism
- female genital mutilation
- forced marriage
- money laundering
- drug trafficking
Staying within the law
Chinese law doesn't recognise dual nationality. However, Hong Kong's basic law allows dual nationals of Chinese descent to register their Australian nationality with the Hong Kong Immigration Department. Doing this ensures access to Australian consular services, if needed. If you are an Australian/Hong Kong dual national, seek more 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 can't provide you with consular assistance as China doesn't recognise dual nationality.
Homosexual activity is legal. Most locals are accepting or indifferent to LGBTI travellers but community attitudes towards LGBTI persons are generally more conservative than in Australia.
Take out comprehensive travel insurance before departure to cover overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation.
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 won't pay for your medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs. This can be very expensive and cost you many thousands of dollars upfront.
If travelling on a cruise ship, ensure that your travel insurance covers you for any medical treatment in Hong Kong, including possible medical evacuation costs.
- what circumstances and activities are and are not covered under your policy
- that you are covered for the whole time you will be away.
Physical and mental health
Consider your physical and mental health before travelling, especially if you have an existing medical condition.
- At least eight weeks before you leave, see your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up. Discuss your travel plans and implications for your health.
- Get vaccinated before you travel.
Before you leave Australia, check if your medication is legal in Hong Kong. Find out if any quantity restrictions or certification requirements apply. Consult your doctor about alternatives well in advance of travel.
It is illegal to possess sleeping tablets or certain medications used in treating conditions such as erectile dysfunction or anxiety without a prescription.
Take enough legal prescription medicine to last for your trip. Always carry a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you take and that it's for personal use only.
Hong Kong experiences extremely high levels of humidity during summer months (May to October). Reduce physical exertion and outdoor activities on days when high levels of humidity are recorded.
The levels of air pollution may aggravate bronchial, sinus or asthma conditions. If you have an existing heart or respiratory illness, 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. 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.
Protect yourself against mosquito-borne illnesses:
- ensure your accommodation is mosquito proof
- use insect repellent and wear long, loose fitting, light coloured clothing
- if pregnant, consult your doctor about possible Zika virus risks before travelling.
Other infectious diseases
Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is common with outbreaks that are more serious sometimes occurring. Outbreaks usually start in March/April and peak in May but can continue until October. HFMD mostly affects children under 10 years, but adult cases (particularly young adults) occur. 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.
Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including tuberculosis, hepatitis, and scarlet fever) occur sporadically.
- Use hygiene precautions, including careful and frequent hand washing.
- In rural areas, boil all drinking water or drink bottled water.
- Avoid ice cubes.
- Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.
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.
- Use good hand hygiene and food safety practices.
- Avoid contact with animals.
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 applies special surveillance mechanisms at border 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.
More information: Hong Kong Centre for Health Protection.
Hong Kong has a wide range of medical services and facilities that are of a high standard.
Costs can be much more expensive than in Australia. Private hospitals may require confirmation of insurance cover, guarantee of payment or an upfront deposit before admitting patients.
Hong Kong experiences typhoons. Local safety procedures require businesses and transportation to close during typhoon level 8 and above. The Australian Consulate-General in Hong Kong closes when the "Typhoon 8" signal is given.
Flights and ferries into and out of Hong Kong may be delayed or suspended. Contact your travel operator or airline for the latest departure information.
- Monitor regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly.
- Familiarise yourself with your hotel or cruise ship evacuation plans.
- Secure your passport in a safe, waterproof location or carry it.
- Familiarise yourself with the advice of local authorities on preparing for a natural disaster.
If there is a natural disaster:
- follow local authorities' advice
- monitor the media, other local information sources and the
Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System
- contact friends and family in Australia with regular updates about your welfare and whereabouts.
Where to get help
Depending on what you need, 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.
Emergency phone numbers
- Fire: 999
- Ambulance: 999
- Police: 999 or contact the local police at the nearest police station
Always get a police report when reporting a crime.
Tourism services and products
For complaints relating to tourism services or products, contact your service provider directly.
Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas. For consular assistance, contact the Australian Consulate General in Hong Kong.
Australian Consulate General, Hong Kong
23/F Harbour Centre, 25 Harbour Road
Wanchai, Hong Kong
Telephone: (852) 2827 8881
Facsimile: (852) 2585 4457
Australia in Hong Kong and Macau
Australian Consulate-General website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.
If you're unable to contact the Consulate-General in a consular emergency, contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.