Entry & Exit Formalities
Many countries do not require visas to enter Hong Kong for shorter stays. Visas are required by every nationality to travel on to mainland China, however.
- The duty-free allowance for visitors arriving in Hong Kong (including those coming from Macau and mainland China) is 19 cigarettes (or one cigar or 25g of tobacco) and 1L of spirits (no limit for alcohol below 30% abv).
- There are few other import taxes, and you can bring in reasonable quantities of almost anything.
A passport is essential for visiting Hong Kong, and it needs to be valid for at least one month after the period of your stay in Hong Kong. Carry your passport at all times as this is the only form of identification acceptable to the Hong Kong police (though it's rare you'll be asked to present it).
Visas are not required for Brits (up to 180 days); or Australians, Canadians, EU citizens, Israelis, Japanese, New Zealanders and US citizens (up to 90 days).
Citizens of British Dependent Territories and British Overseas citizens can stay for up to 90 days without a visa. Holders of some African (including South African), South American and Middle Eastern passports can visit for up to 30 days without a visa.
Anyone requiring a visa or wishing to stay longer than the visa-free period must apply before travelling to Hong Kong. See www.fmprc.gov.cn for your nearest Chinese consulate or embassy where the application must be made.
You must apply for a visa extension in person at the Hong Kong Immigration Department within seven days of visa expiry; they are granted the same day.
If you plan to visit mainland China, you must have a visa.
You can check all visa requirements at www.immd.gov.hk/eng/services/visas/visit-transit/visit-visa-entry-permit.html.
Feature: China Visas
Everyone except Hong Kong Chinese residents must have a visa to enter mainland China. Visas can be arranged by China Travel Service, the mainland-affiliated agency; a good many hostels and guesthouses; and most Hong Kong travel agents.
At the time of writing, holders of Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, US and most EU passports can get a single visa on the spot for around HK$150 at the Lo Wu border crossing, the last stop on the MTR’s East Rail. This visa is for a maximum stay of five days within the confines of the Shēnzhèn Special Economic Zone (SEZ). However, the rules about who can get what change frequently, the queues for these visas can be interminable, and there have been reports of tourists being rejected on shaky grounds (such as certain passport stamps).
Taking that into consideration, it is highly recommended that you shell out the extra money and get a proper China visa before setting off, even if you’re headed just for Shēnzhèn. If you have at least a week to arrange your visa yourself, you can go to the China Visa Application Service Centre. For further details see www.fmprc.gov.cn.