Hong Kong (Special Administrative Region of China) - Consular
November 30, 2000
DESCRIPTION: Hong Kong, a Special Administrative Region
(SAR) of the People’s Republic of China since July 1, 1997, continues
to enjoy a high degree of autonomy, except in the areas of defense
and foreign policy, and retains its own currency, laws, and border
controls. It is composed of three geographic areas: the New Territories,
Kowloon Peninsula, and Hong Kong Island. Hong Kong SAR is cosmopolitan
and highly developed. Tourist facilities and services are widely
ENTRY AND EXIT REQUIREMENTS: Passports and evidence of
onward/return transportation by sea/air are required. A visa is
not required for tourist visits by U.S. citizens of up to 90 days.
An extension of stay may be granted upon application to the Hong
Kong SAR Immigration Department. U.S. citizens must have passports
with at least four months’ validity for entry into Hong Kong.
A departure tax of 50 Hong Kong dollars (approximately $6.50 U.S.
dollars), unless included in the airfare, must be paid at the
airport. Visas are required to work or study. Public transportation
from Hong Kong’s International Airport at Chek Lap Kok to Central
Hong Kong (about 25 miles) is readily available, as are taxis.
Travelers should exchange sufficient money for transportation
at the airport exchange facility located immediately outside the
baggage claim area. For the most current information concerning
entry and exit requirements, travelers can consult the
Hong Kong SAR Immigration Department, Immigration Tower, 7
Gloucester Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong, tel. (852) 2829-3001, fax
(852) 2824-1133, Internet home page: http://www.info.gov.hk/immd/),
or the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China, 2300 Connecticut
Avenue, N.W., Washington D.C. 20008, tel. (202) 328-2500 or the
Chinese consulates general in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago,
New York City, and Houston. Overseas inquires may be made at the
nearest Chinese embassy or consulate.
CONSULAR PROTECTION IN HONG KONG SAR AND DUAL NATIONALITY:
Under Chinese nationality law, persons who are of Chinese
descent and who were born in the mainland of China or Hong Kong
are Chinese citizens. However, under an agreement between the
United States and the People’s Republic of China, all U.S. citizens
entering Hong Kong on their U.S. passports, including such persons
who may be considered Chinese nationals by the Chinese authorities,
are considered U.S. citizens by the Hong Kong SAR authorities
for purposes of ensuring consular access and protection.
However, dual nationals, who are or previously were Hong Kong
residents, who wish to ensure U.S. consular access and protection
after the initial 90-day period of admission into Hong Kong, must
declare their U.S. nationality by presenting their U.S. passports
and completing an application for declaration of change of nationality
with the Hong Kong Immigration Department. This declaration of
change of nationality will ensure U.S. consular protection and
will also result in loss of one’s Chinese nationality (but not
necessarily one’s right of abode). Whereas their failure to declare
U.S. nationality may jeopardize U.S. consular protection, such
failure will not jeopardize the U.S. citizenship itself. Dual
national residents of Hong Kong who enter Hong Kong on their Hong
Kong identity cards rather than their U.S. passports and who desire
to guarantee U.S. consular protection, should declare their U.S.
nationality to the Hong Kong Immigration Department as soon after
entry as possible.
Dual nationals contemplating onward travel into mainland China
should be especially attentive to use of their U.S. passports,
because the mainland authorities may require them to use the same
document for entry into China that they used to enter Hong Kong.
China does not recognize dual nationality. Dual nationals who
enter and depart China using a U.S. passport and a valid PRC visa
retain the right of U.S. consular access and protection under
the U.S.-PRC Consular Convention. The ability of the U.S. Embassy
or Consulate General to provide normal consular services would
be extremely limited should a dual national enter China on a Chinese
or other non-U.S. passport.
Further information on consular protection and dual
nationality is available on the Department of State Consular
Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov. Information
can also be obtained from the Bureau of Consular Affairs of the
Department of State at 2201 C Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20520,
or call tel. (202) 647-6769 or (202) 647-5226, or the U.S. Consulate
General in Hong Kong SAR at tel. (852) 2841-2211. Information
on the right of abode in Hong Kong may be obtained from the
Hong Kong Immigration Department at tel. (852) 2824-4055,
fax (852) 2598-8388, or via the Internet: http://www.info.gov.hk/immd/,
or via e-mail:
MEDICAL FACILITIES: Good medical facilities are available,
and there are many Western-trained physicians. Doctors and hospitals
generally do not accept credit cards and require immediate cash
payment for health services. U.S. medical insurance is generally
not valid outside the United States. The Medicare/Medicaid program
does not provide payment for medical services outside the United
MEDICAL INSURANCE: U.S. medical insurance is not always
valid outside the United States. The U.S. Medicare and Medicaid
programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the
United States. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas
may face extreme difficulties. Please check with your own insurance
company to confirm whether your policy applies overseas, and whether
it provides for medical evacuation. Please ascertain whether payment
will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor, or whether you
will be reimbursed later for expenses that you incur. Some insurance
policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for
disposition of remains in the event of death. Senior citizens
may wish to contact the American Association of Retired Persons
for information about foreign medical care coverage with Medicare
supplement plans. A traveler going abroad with any preexisting
medical problems should carry a letter from the attending physician,
describing the medical condition and any prescription medications.
Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas
insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State, Bureau
of Consular Affairs brochure, Medical
Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available on the
Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/medical.html
and via our autofax service at (202) 647-3000.
For additional health information, travelers may call the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s international
travelers’ hotline at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747), use the
CDC autofax service at 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or access
the CDC home page on the Internet at http://www.cdc.gov/.
CRIME: Hong Kong SAR has a low crime rate. Petty crime
such as pick-pocketing is common, however, and occurs mainly at
the airport and tourist shopping areas. Bags and other personal
items left unattended at the airport or in crowded restaurants
are likely to be taken. The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport
should be reported immediately to the local police and to the
U.S. Consulate General. Useful information on guarding valuables
and protecting personal security while traveling abroad is provided
in the Department of State pamphlet, A
Safe Trip Abroad, which is available from the
Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office,
Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs,
or via the Department of State, Bureau
of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.
CRIMINAL AND DRUG PENALTIES: While in a foreign country,
U.S. citizens are subject to that country’s laws and regulations,
which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United
States and do not afford the protections available to the individual
under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe
than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating
the law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.
Penalties for possession, use, and trafficking in illegal drugs
are strict, and convicted offenders can expect lengthy jail sentences
U.S. CUSTOMS RESTRICTIONS: Visitors to Hong Kong should
be aware that the importation into the United States of counterfeit
brand-name items such as watches, compact discs, computer software,
and clothing is prohibited by U.S. law. Customs officials encourage
the use of an ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet
for the temporary admission of professional equipment, commercial
samples, and/or goods for exhibitions and fair purposes. ATA Carnet
Headquarters, located at the
U.S. Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue of the
Americas, New York, NY 10036, issues and guarantees the ATA Carnet
in the United States. For additional information, please call
(212) 354-4480, or send an e-mail to email@example.com or visit
http://www.uscib.org for details.
HONG KONG CUSTOMS AND CURRENCY REGULATIONS: Hong Kong
SAR customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning
temporary importation into or export from Hong Kong of controlled
items such as narcotics, medications, firearms and munitions,
ivory, animals and plants, meat and poultry, textiles, and sensitive
high-technology or military products. Travelers are liable to
prosecution and possible seizure of goods, if they bring in these
items without a license. The penalty for trafficking in dangerous
drugs can be life imprisonment and a heavy fine. Other items which
travelers must declare to Customs officials are liquors, tobacco,
cigarettes and cigars, methyl alcohol, and merchandise imported
for commercial purposes. There are no currency restrictions for
travelers. For specific information regarding Hong Kong’s customs
regulations and licensing requirements, please see the web site
Hong Kong Department of Customs and Excise: http://www.info.gov.hk/customs/.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign
country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ
significantly from those in the United States. The information
below concerning Hong Kong is provided for general reference only
and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Traffic moves on the left in Hong Kong, where it is congested
in urban areas during the daytime. Each year, some 14,000 drivers,
passengers, and pedestrians are injured or killed in traffic accidents
in Hong Kong. Speed limits are 50 kilometers per hour in urban
areas and 80 kilometers per hour on highways unless otherwise
marked. The use of seat belts in vehicles, if fitted, is mandatory
both in the front and back seats. The maximum penalty for dangerous
driving causing death can be a fine of 50,000 Hong Kong dollars
(USD 6,500) and imprisonment for five years and disqualification
from driving for not less than two years on first conviction.
At the scene of a traffic accident, drivers are required to go
through a simple test for possible influence of alcohol. The use
of hand-held cellular phones while driving in Hong Kong is strictly
prohibited. A breach of this law can lead to a maximum fine of
2,000 Hong Kong dollars (U.S. dollars 260). However, motorists
can still use "hand-free devices" such as headphones
and speakerphones. Hong Kong law requires that all registered
vehicles carry valid third-party liability insurance. The emergency
number for local emergency assistance is 999 (equivalent to 911).
About 90 percent of the population in Hong Kong depends on public
transport. Taxis, busses, and the mass transit railway (MTR) are
readily available, inexpensive, and safe. The MRT is an underground
railway network and is the most popular mode of public transport,
carrying over an average of 2.2 million passengers a week.
A Hong Kong driver’s license may be issued without a test to
individuals who hold a valid U.S. driver’s license, provided they
have resided in the U.S. for not less than six months. American
visitors who do not plan to stay in Hong Kong for more than twelve
months can drive in Hong Kong on the strength of their valid U.S.
driver’s license. They need not obtain an international driving
permit (IDP). IDPs are a legal identification document that translate
driving license information into eleven languages including English,
and should only be used as a supplement to a valid driving license.
Safety of Public Transportation: Good
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Availability of Roadside/Ambulance Assistance: Good
For additional general information
about road safety, including links to foreign government sites,
please see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs
home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html. For specific
information concerning Hong Kong driving permits, vehicle inspection,
road tax, and mandatory insurance, please visit the
Hong Kong Transport Department web site at http://www.info.gov.hk/td/,
or contact the Transport Department at tel. (852) 2829-5248, fax
(852) 2824-0433, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, or the
Hong Kong Tourist Association Office in New York by e-mail
at email@example.com, or via the Internet at http://www.hkta.org/usa/.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA) has assessed the Civil Aviation Authority of Hong Kong SAR
as Category 1 - in compliance with international aviation safety
standards for oversight of Hong Kong’s air carrier operations.
For further information, travelers may contact the Department
of Transportation within the U.S. at tel. 1-800-322-7873, or visit
Internet home page at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/. The U.S.
Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air
carriers for suitability as official providers of air services.
For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers,
travelers may contact the DOD at tel. 1-618-229-4801.
QUARANTINE FOR PETS: Dogs and cats may be brought into
Hong Kong only with a special permit issued in advance by the
Hong Kong Agriculture, Fisheries, and Conservation Department.
Dogs and cats imported from the United States may be exempted
from quarantine when there are valid health (vaccination) certificates
and when the pets have been in the U.S. for at least six months.
Information on quarantine for pets can be obtained from the Livestock
Import Control Office of the Hong Kong Agriculture, Fisheries,
and Conservation Department at tel. (852) 2150-7070, fax (852)
firstname.lastname@example.org, or via the Internet at http://www.info.gov.hk/afcd/.
CHILDREN’S ISSUES: For information
on international adoption of children, international parental
child abduction, and international child support enforcement issues,
please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html,
or telephone the Office of Children’s Issues at (202) 736-7000,
fax: (202) 663-2674.
REGISTRATION INFORMATION/LOCATION OF THE AMERICAN CONSULATE
GENERAL: U.S. citizens are encouraged to register at the
U.S. Consulate General and obtain updated information on travel
and security conditions within the Hong Kong SAR. The U.S. Consulate
General is located at 26 Garden Road, Central, Hong Kong. The
mailing address is PSC 464, Box 30, FPO AP 96522-0002; tel. (852)
2523-9011, fax (852) 2845-4845; Internet: http://www.usconsulate.org.hk/.