Hong Kong's immigration system is separate from that of mainland China. Most visitors do not need to obtain visas in advance, unlike going to mainland China. However, a visa is required to enter mainland China from Hong Kong.
Foreign nationals of the following countries/territories can enter Hong Kong visa-free as a visitor:
For up to 180 days: United Kingdom (Full British citizens)
For up to 90 days: United Kingdom (British Overseas Territories Citizens, British Overseas Citizens, British Subjects and British Protected Persons), all European Union member states, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, Dominica, Ecuador, Egypt, Fiji, Gambia, Grenada, Guyana, Iceland, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Kiribati, Liechtenstein, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Namibia, Nauru, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, San Marino, Seychelles, Singapore, South Korea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Swaziland, Switzerland, Tanzania, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Tuvalu, Uruguay, United States, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
For up to 30 days: Bahrain, Bolivia, Cape Verde, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman, Paraguay, Peru, Qatar, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Thailand, Tunisia, Uganda, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
For up to 14 days: Albania (biometric passports only), Algeria, Benin, Bhutan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Croatia, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Holy See, India, Kazakhstan, Lesotho, Macedonia, Madagascar, Mali, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Micronesia, Mongolia, Montenegro, Mozambique, Niger, Palau, Philippines, Russia, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Serbia (biometric passports only, but not those issued by the Co-ordination Directorate in Belgrade), Suriname and Ukraine.
All holders of an APEC Business Travel Card can use the counters for Hong Kong residents at immigration control and can stay for up to 60 days in Hong Kong visa-free if their card has 'HKG' printed on the reverse.
Foreign nationals who require visas for Hong Kong (if they cannot enter visa-free, want to remain for longer than permitted by their visa exemption, or want to work, study or establish/join a business) can apply for one either at a Chinese embassy or directly through the Hong Kong Immigration Department. Note that the Hong Kong visa has to be applied for separately from the mainland Chinese one, and there is no single visa that serves both areas. For information on how to apply for a Hong Kong visa from the Hong Kong Immigration Department, visit their website. Foreign nationals living in Macao who require visas for Hong Kong can apply for one at the Office of the Commissioner of the Chinese Foreign Ministry. Foreign nationals living in mainland China may apply for Hong Kong visa at the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Guangzhou, or at the Office of the Government of the Hong Kong SAR in Beijing.
Chinese citizens from mainland China need to apply for a special travel document (往來港澳通行證）together with a visa endorsement, except when transiting through Hong Kong to a third country (or vice-versa) on a Chinese passport where visa-free access is granted for up to 7 days. More information is available from this Hong Kong Immigration Department webpage.
Holders of Macao permanent identity cards or Visit Permits with permanent resident status can enter Hong Kong visa-free for up to 180 days using their identity cards. Holders of Macao Visit Permits without permanent resident status can enter Hong Kong visa-free for up to 30 days. More information is available from this Hong Kong Immigration Department webpage.
Taiwan residents are granted visa-free access to Hong Kong for 30 days if they have a 'Taibaozheng' (台胞证). Otherwise, a pre-arrival visa is required, which in many cases can be obtained through an airline company. More information is available from this Hong Kong Immigration Department webpage.
All visitors to Hong Kong must complete an arrival card when clearing immigration and must return a departure card at immigration control when leaving Hong Kong - unless you are a Hong Kong resident (with a Hong Kong identity card or a passport with a residence/employment/study visa), a Macao permanent resident (with a Macao smart identity card) or a Chinese citizen (with a travel document （往來港澳通行證 or 因公往來香港澳門特別行政區通行證) issued by the Mainland China authorities).
All visitors (regardless of whether visa-free or not) may be required to present onward or return tickets, although in practice if your flight has already arrived at Hong Kong's airport this is rarely enforced (one is more likely to be denied boarding by your airline if you do not have an onward ticket, although here too most regional carriers do not demand this despite the regulation appearing in the Timatic database used by most airlines). Qatar Airways has been known to deny boarding to those holding one way tickets unless the passenger signs a waiver indemnifying the carrier. In theory, you may also be required to demonstrate evidence of adequate funds to cover the duration of your stay.
Anyone arriving at Hong Kong International Airport who requires an onward visa for mainland China can proceed to the desk manned by China Travel Services HK (CTS) found at the arrivals area. A photograph will be required and the staff will be happy to accommodate you. Alternatively, the cheapest way to obtain a visa for mainland China is to apply for one at the Commissioner's Office of the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Hong Kong where a single visa costs $150 for most foreign nationals and takes 4 working days to be issued. The visa can be issued within 3 working days for an additional $150 or within 2 working days for an additional $250. Visit the website of the Commissioner's Office for more information.
Note that leaving the mainland for Hong Kong is considered to be leaving China, so you should apply for a multiple entry visa if you wish to enter Hong Kong, then re-enter mainland China.
If you have goods that are banned or more than your allowance, you must declare them at the Red Channel when you enter Hong Kong - even when travelling from mainland China, Macao or Taiwan.
Meat, animal products, fish, rice, ozone depleting substances, items with forged trade marks and radio communication transmitting apparatus are banned goods and must be declared.
A traveller aged 18 or above is allowed to bring into Hong Kong - for his/her own use - as part of his/her duty-free allowance:
If the traveller holds a Hong Kong Identity Card, he/she must have spent 24 hours or longer outside Hong Kong to benefit from the duty-free allowance relating to alcoholic liquor.
Due to heavy demand from mainland China, the Hong Kong government has placed a restriction on the amount of baby milk powder formula that may be taken out of the territory. If you have friends or family in the mainland, then they may ask you to bring back as much formula as you can carry, however Hong Kong customs are very much looking for smugglers of this precious product.
For more information, visit the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department website.
Hong Kong International Airport (also known as Chek Lap Kok - 赤鱲角), is the main port for visitors to Hong Kong by air. Modern and efficient, it opened soon after the handover in July 1998 and has been named "World's Best Airport" five times in annual ratings by Skytrax.
Flying to and from mainland China destinations using Shenzhen Airport is often significantly cheaper, although it will take longer to get there (over the border) and you will have to pay for the transport. International flights, mostly from Southeast Asian cities, are also available into Shenzhen.
There are many connections with Hong Kong, albeit time-consuming.
Train: First take the underground (Shenzhen Metro) Line 1 from the airport to the Luohu terminus (65 minutes, CNY8.55 or $8), then pass through a long tunnel and a border crossing (make sure to have your visa ready for this) and once in Hong Kong, ride the East Rail suburban rail line to Hung Hom (43 minutes, $31.8). The total travel time from Shenzhen airport to Hong Kong is under two hours at $39.8.
Alternatively, from the "Elements" shopping centre above the Kowloon MTR station on the Tung Chung and the Airport Express line, there is a shop front waiting room where you can check-in and receive your boarding pass (although check in at this location is not available for China Southern Airlines passengers), and then board a bus direct to Shenzhen airport. This in-town check-in is completely separate from the in-town check-in provided for Hong Kong International Airport. Take the escalators up from the AE/MTR station to 1/F of the Elements Mall, turn right, and then it is opposite Starbucks. The bus uses the new western passage immigration facilities where both Hong Kong SAR and Chinese immigration formalities are completed under one roof. The cost of this service is $100 and the bus is advertised to take 75 minutes, but usually takes about 100 minutes. Buses currently run every half an hour 06:30-19:00 from Hong Kong, and 10:00-21:00 at the Shenzhen side.
Because of higher fees at Hong Kong International Airport, it is often cheaper to fly out of Macau International Airport . Air Asia has set up a hub at Macau and flies to destinations such as Beijing and Bangkok among others. Macau International Airport is easily reached by ferry from Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and Hong Kong International Airport. With the Express Link service, you can even transfer directly from airport to ferry (or vice versa) without going through Macau immigration.
Sky Shuttle operates a helicopter service every 30 minutes from the Terminal Marítimo in Macau to the Shun Tak Heliport at the Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Pier in Sheung Wan, Hong Kong Island. The trip takes 15 minutes and one-way fares cost $2,900, plus $200 on weekends and public holidays.
Hong Kong is only a 1 hour hydrofoil ride away from Macau and there are good connections to mainland China as well. There are two main companies handling the services, TurboJet and Cotai Jet. The ferries are comfortable and are a handy way to travel in the region. The main terminals are:
The Ocean Terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui is one of the hubs of Star Cruises. Cruise ships leave from here for various cities in Vietnam, mainland China and Taiwan. There are also long haul services all the way to Singapore via ports in Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia.
Crossing the border to mainland China puts you in Shenzhen, a well-developed boom town. Please note that there are special visa regulations if you plan to visit Shenzhen.
There are six land checkpoints between Hong Kong and mainland China, namely Lo Wu, Lok Ma Chau Spur Line, Lok Ma Chau, Man Kam To, Sha Tau Ko and Shenzhen Bay. Lo Wu is a train and pedestrian crossing; Lok Ma Chau spur line is a pedestrian crossing; Lok Ma Chau and Sha Tau Kok are road, cross-boundary bus and pedestrian crossings; while Man Kam To and Shenzhen Bay bridge are road and cross-boundary bus crossings.
Please note that all the crossings, save for Shenzhen Bay Bridge, are located in the Frontier Closed Area and everyone is required to have a permit to be there unless crossing the border. Lo Wu and Lok Ma Chau can be easily reached by train, but if you are just there to look around, be ready for some security questioning. It is also not easy to directly access the train departure area from the arrivals area.
You can drive into Hong Kong at the Lok Ma Chau, Man Kam To, Sha Tau Kok and Shenzhen Bay Bridge control points, but your mainland Chinese car must have a second set of number plates issued by the Hong Kong authorities. Likewise, those wishing to drive to the mainland in a Hong Kong car must have a second set of mainland Chinese plates issued by the Guangdong authorities. Note that you will have to change sides of the road at the border; Hong Kong drives on the left, mainland China on the right.
There are some Cross Boundary coaches operating from the business districts in Kowloon or Hong Kong Island to the Chinese side of the checkpoint. If you take these coaches, there is no need to change for the yellow shuttle bus and hence it is a good choice for boundary crossing to avoid the queues. After arriving the Hong Kong check-point, passengers are required to leave the bus, pass the immigration, and board the same bus for the mainland check-point (except for the Shenzhen Bay Port where the Hong Kong and the mainland check-points are located in the same building).
There are 6 lines of short trip cross boundary coaches serves the port,
Except the route to Kam Sheng Road, 24-hour services are provided with half hourly or hourly departure in midnight and around 10-20min per bus during the day and evening.
Lok Ma Chau is an around-the-clock border crossing ; visa-on-arrival can be obtained on the Chinese side (subject to nationality, at the present, applications from USA passport holders are not accepted).
Man Kam To control point can be accessed by taking the cross-boundary coach on the bus interchange under the shopping centre of West Kowloon Centre, Sham Shui Po (near Sham Shui Po MTR)in Kowloon, which costs $35, the bus calls at Landmark North also, which is just adjacent to Sheung Shui MTR Station, with section fare of $22. It is seldom crowded with travellers even during holiday periods. You can also enjoy the free shuttle service outside the Chinese checkpoint, which takes you to the central area of Shenzhen. However, no visa-on-arrival can be obtained on the Chinese side, which means you need to arrange for your visa in advanced before arrival.
It is the best route to go to the downtown in Shenzhen especially during holidays.
Sha Tau Kok control point can be accessed by taking the cross-boundary coach on the bus interchange at Luen Wo Hui in Fanling and Kowloon Tong. It connects the eastern boundary of Hong Kong and Shenzhen and it is a bit remote from the central part on Shenzhen. As a consequence, only very few passengers choose to cross the boundary using this checkpoint. No visa-on-arrival can be obtained on the Chinese side.
Coaches departs from Kowloon Tong MTR from 07:00 to 18:30 every 15 minutes which costs $20, which is also the cheapest direct coach to Shenzhen.
Shenzhen Bay control point links Hong Kong directly with Shekou, Shenzhen, and can be accessed conveniently by public buses. Route B2 departs from Yuen Long Railway Station, route B2P departs from Tin Shui Wai via Tin Shui Wai Railway Station to Shenzhen Bay, while B3 departs from Tuen Mun Pier. There is also an express coach service departing from Sham Shui Po to Shenzhen Bay.
Travellers arriving to Hong Kong by bike should carefully assess the feasibility of riding into the city from the border with mainland China. Bicycles are not permitted in all tunnels and on most highways. Very few Hongkongers manage to use a bike as a substitute for public transport. However, roads in the country parks, because of the hilly landscape, are ideal for adventure biking.
Crossing the land border from Shenzhen to Hong Kong with a bicycle is possible at some checkpoints:
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