Hong Kong SAR, China flag Hong Kong SAR, China: Buying and Selling

International convention and customs procedures of Hong Kong SAR, China

International Conventions
Member of the World Trade Organization (WTO)
International Economic Cooperation
Hong Kong is a member of the following international economic organisations: IMF, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), ICC,  World Customs Organization (WCO), WTO, among others. For the full list of economic and other international organisations in which participates Hong Kong click here. International organisation membership of Hong Kong is also outlined here.
Non Tariff Barriers
Despite Hong Kong's transfer of sovreignty from Britain back to China on 1 July 1997, the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong (HKSAR) has maintained its customs regulation. Thus, the territory of Hong Kong keeps its free port status and remains a customs area separate from the rest of China, preserving its participation in international bodies and its international trade agreements.

Import licenses are needed for the following products :
- Some chemical products defined in the Chemical Products Control Ordinance. The requests for license should be made at Controlled Chemicals Group of the Customs and Excise Department.
- Pharmaceutical Products: licenses should be requested from Trade licensing Branch Non-Textiles Licensing Section of the Trade Department.
- Live Animals: a prior license should be requested from Licensing Unit of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department.
- Plants are also subjected to a license issued by the Plant and Pesticides Regulatory Division of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department.
- Textiles: if they are not registered with the Textile Traders Registration Scheme, the importers should make a request for license at Non-Restrained Textiles, Trade Department.
- "Reserved Commodities" (rice, frozen meat, frozen poultry): import licenses issued by Reserved Commodities Unit of Trade Department, are only issued to companies registered with the Trade Department. In addition, imported goods should be accompanied by a health certificate issued by the country of origin.
- Meat and Poultry: import should be authorized by the Hygiene Division of the Department of Health.
- Telecommunication equipment is also subject to the control of Inspection and Licensing Subsection of the Office of the Telecommunications Authority.
- Import of vehicles.
- Alcoholic beverages.
- Tobacco.
- Petroleum products.

Licenses for these 4 categories are obtained from the Customs and Excise Department.

Customs Duties and Taxes on Imports
In line with the status of a Free Port, Hong-Kong does not impose customs duty on entry of general goods in its territory. Only some goods (such as tobacco, alcohol, hydrocarbon oil) are subject to excise duties.
For further information visit the Customs website.
Customs Classification
Hong-Kong applies the Harmonised Customs System.
Import Procedures
When a cargo arrives at the port, even before the importer has taken possession, the products are inspected and occasionally sampled by the customs authorities. Once approved, the importer collects a “release” letter.
It is to be noted that the importer should file an "import declaration" with the "Customs and Excise Department", within 14 days from the import.
Documents required to facilitate Customs clearance are:

  • manifests
  • import / export licence or removal permit (if required)
  • copy of detention notice (if applicable)
  • other supporting documents such as bill of lading, airway bill, invoice, packing list etc.

For more information, please visit the website of Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department.

Importing Samples
An inscription on the product should specify if it is a free sample and that it cannot be sold. The samples can be distributed freely.
Hong Kong is a signatory of the ATA Carnet convention. For further info, consult the Customs website.

To go further, check out our service Import controls and Export controls.

For Further Information
Customs and Excise Department
HK Trade Development Council
Government of Hong Kong
Asia Trade Hub

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Latest Update: April 2024

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