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China - Hong Kong / Macau

If you’re travelling to Hong Kong S.A.R or Macau S.A.R., our travel advice and updates give you practical tips and useful information.

Security Status

  • Normal precautions
  • High degree of caution
  • Avoid non-essential travel
  • Do not travel
  • Overview
  • Safety and Security
  • Local Laws and Customs
  • Natural Disasters and Climate
  • Additional Information
  • Embassy Contact

Overview

General COVID-19 Travel Advisory in Operation

For the latest update please read the General COVID-19 Travel Advisory >

Overview

Security Status

Avoid non-essential travel

Latest Travel Alert

Citizens should exercise caution in any decisions about international travel, taking account of their overall health, their vaccine status, and the risk of testing positive for COVID-19 while abroad. Anyone considering travelling abroad should be aware that restrictions are subject to change at short notice, and additional restrictions may be imposed by the country of your destination, including during your visit.

Coronavirus

Following the detection of the Delta and Omicron COVID-19 variants in Hong Kong and a strong surge in case numbers and fatalities during February and March 2022, the Hong Kong Government has announced a series of measures designed to return to a “dynamic zero COVID” position.  Measures include compulsory testing, vaccine pass, increased restrictions on the operations of restaurants, bars, schools and a number of other public places.  There are no short nor medium term plans to transition to a “living with COVID” policy in Hong Kong.

Irish citizens should note the following:

  • Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 may have to isolate in government facilities for 14 days. If the individual tests negative after 7 days and their home situation is suitable they may be discharged to complete their isolation at home. Individuals who continue to test positive after 14 days will remain in the facility until they test negative. Non-residents may be charged for their care.
  • In February 2022, at the height of the fifth wave of the pandemic, the Hong Kong government introduced a more pragmatic policy of allowing close contacts to undergo home quarantine and relaxed the criterial for discharge from 14-day quarantine.  The government has also moved towards a model of self-declaration – with a greater acceptance of Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) – allowing individual to indicate if they are in need of hospitalisation or admission to a community isolation facility. It should be noted that those who reside with someone who considered vulnerable such as children under 5 or elderly persons may not be permitted to avail of home quarantine. This policy is subject to review and change at short notice.
  • Children may be separated from parents if one or other tests positive for COVID-19. If a child has serious symptoms and is hospitalised in an ICU or paediatric ward, parents will not be allowed to see or visit their child for the duration of the hospitalisation period.  If this happens to you, you can call +852 2535 0700 for 24/7 urgent consular assistance.
  • Public gatherings have been restricted to a maximum of 4 people (members of the same household are exempt).
  • It is the Hong Kong Government’s policy to investigate all breaches of quarantine, and even inadvertent breaches of quarantine have resulted in police warnings and prison sentences.  If the Centre for Health Protection advises an Irish citizen in quarantine that they are investigating a breach of quarantine, the citizen should consider immediately obtaining legal advice.  Breaching the mandatory quarantine could see a person liable for a fine of HK$25,000 and imprisonment for 6 months.
  • It is a mandatory requirement to wear face masks in all public spaces, including on public transport. Failure to comply may result in a fine of up to HK$5,000.
  • Use of the Hong Kong SAR Government’s LeaveHomeSafe contact tracing application is now mandatory for those visiting Government premises and entertainment venues, including cinemas, restaurants and theme parks.  Further details can be found on the [LeaveHomeSafe website] (https://www.leavehomesafe.gov.hk/en/).
  • Proof of vaccination against COVID-19 is required to enter a range of venues, including restaurants, gyms, swimming pools and hotels. Those who are under 12, or deemed medically unfit for vaccination, are exempt from these requirements. 

For up to date information, you should follow the guidance from the Hong Kong authorities and further details can be found on the Hong Kong SAR Government’s website.

Travel to Hong Kong

Hong Kong has in place a number of regulations upon entry in response to the pandemic, including PCR testing prior to boarding, testing on arrival and mandatory hotel quarantine at the traveller's own expense on arrival.

Irish citizens arriving from mainland China, Macao, or Taiwan with no travel to any overseas countries and regions in the past 14 days may be subject to compulsory quarantine and COVID-19 testing during this period, if not fully vaccinated. Fully vaccinated passengers may be subject to a shortened compulsory quarantine including mandatory COVID-19 tests. Details can be found here.

Irish Citizens who have visited any other country or region outside China over the last 14 days, are required to undertake a COVID-19 test upon arrival and are subject to a compulsory quarantine in an officially designated hotel. These passengers must have a hotel reservation prior to boarding a flight to Hong Kong. For more information on the length of quarantine, including important details about other required documents, please see the Hong Kong government’s website.

Families should be aware that children as young as twelve years old could be treated as medical adults and therefore could be quarantined in separate rooms or accommodation. We are aware of instances in which young children have been put under medical observation alone following positive COVID-19 tests on arrival in Hong Kong.

Most passengers will be required to undertake a COVID-19 PCR-based nucleic acid test within a designated number of hours before the departure of their Hong Kong bound flight. Passengers that have recently recovered from COVID-19 may wish to consider having a recovery certificate; further details of this requirement as well as a detailed list of current regulations can be found here.

Children under 3 years old who have stayed in overseas places or Taiwan will no longer be required to undertake the 48-hour pre-departure PCR test for entry to Hong Kong. However, upon arrival in Hong Kong, these children will still be subject to PCR-based nucleic acid tests, normally conducted with stool samples, these tests can often be more sensitive that the PCR-based nucleic acid tests used in other jurisdictions. 

There is no longer a requirement for the test to be conducted by an ISO-15189 accredited laboratory.

More generally, people in Hong Kong who the health authorities identify as a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case may be subject to mandatory quarantine in designated centres from the last day in which they are deemed to have had contact with a confirmed case. Passengers should be aware that this can also happen if travelling companions or others travelling on the same aircraft test positive. The length of time can vary depending on variant identified and other factors. Passengers travelling to Hong Kong are urged to reconfirm their travel plans and visa arrangements, as appropriate, with their travel provider and airline prior to departure.

Travellers should be aware that those who have previously been infected and have recovered from COVID-19 may risk testing positive upon arrival in Hong Kong. In such circumstances, they could be confined to a hospital, isolation facility or quarantine hotel for an extended period until they meet the Hong Kong Department of Health’s criteria for release. Details can be found here.  Travellers that have contracted and recovered from coronavirus in the 90 days prior to travel to Hong Kong may wish to consider carry a proof of recovery certificate.

This situation has been fluid with restrictions coming into place at very little notice; therefore, we highly recommend you closely follow announcements made on the Hong Kong Government’s website.

Citizens considering international travel are reminded to be mindful of the risk of contracting COVID-19 while abroad and of the extra costs and delays that may be incurred. We advise anyone travelling to take out comprehensive travel insurance and to check before departure if they will be covered for the costs associated with testing positive while abroad.

Travel to Macao

The COVID-19 situation in Macao is fluid with restrictions coming into place at very little notice; therefore, we highly recommend you closely follow announcements made on the Macao Government’s website.

All air passengers departing for Macao must, before boarding, present a report of negative COVID-19 nucleic acid test issued by a medical institution in the place of departure; passengers who fail to present the report may be denied boarding. The timing of this PCR test varies depending on country of departure, details can be found here. Those infected previously with COVID-19 cannot enter Macao for 2 months after their recovery.

Arrivals may be required to undergo medical observation at a designated venue if they have travelled from Hong Kong SAR or overseas countries and regions outside of China in the last 21 days. Arrivals from Taiwan or Mainland China will be required to undergo medical observation dependent on their province of departure. Details can be found here.

This situation has been fluid with restrictions coming into place at very little notice; therefore, we highly recommend you closely follow announcements made on the Macao Government’s website.

All citizens are encouraged to follow the local guidance in Hong Kong and Macao, including guidance in relation to the use of face masks, regarding the prevention, protection against, delaying or otherwise controlling the transmission of COVID-19. See links to relevant websites below:

• Hong Kong Centre for Health Protection.

• Hong Kong International Airport

 Macao Health Bureau

National Security Law

A National Security Law passed by Mainland Chinese authorities came into effect in Hong Kong on 1 July 2020. It introduces offences on secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with a foreign country with mandatory penalties up to and including life imprisonment depending on the severity of the charges. People arrested under the National Security Law may be transferred to Mainland China for trial under certain circumstances.

The full extent of this law and how it is applied is not yet clear, but charges under this legislation can be applied to activities, including statements made on social media, undertaken while outside of Hong Kong.

Irish citizens are reminded that they have a right to request consular assistance if they are detained by local authorities.

Social Unrest in Hong Kong

In 2019, there was sustained demonstrations in Hong Kong in pursuit of certain political objectives.  Such demonstrations largely stopped during the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent implementation of the National Security Law has impacted the capacity of civil society to organise demonstrations of a political nature.  Nonetheless, with the easing of social distancing measures and at times of heightened political sensitivity, demonstrations could return, with the attendant risk of violence.  Citizens are advised to be alert to this possibility and to avoid demonstrations, which could occur without warning.

Living in Hong Kong or Macao

If you have recently moved to Hong Kong or Macao, you may wish to meet with other Irish people who are part of a local organisation or business network who can provide you with general advice, information and guidance. Please see the following for further information: https://www.dfa.ie/irish-consulate/hong-kong/our-services/new-to-hong-kong/

Our tips for safe travels

  • Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities
  • Ensure you have sufficient money to support yourself, and the capacity to access emergency funds if needed
  • Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly in an emergency, such as a natural disaster or a family emergency
  • Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates
  • Read our Topical 'Know Before You Go' guide

 

Safety and Security

Safety and Security

Political situation

Hong Kong and Macao are generally stable societies and are underpinned by the rule of law.

Since June 2019, there has been sustained demonstrations in Hong Kong in pursuit of certain political objectives. The frequency and intensity of demonstrations have dropped considerably during the COVID-19 pandemic, however, due to recent heightened political sensitivity there could be an increase in demonstrations and violence.  Irish citizens and members of the public are urged to be vigilant and are strongly advised to avoid areas where protests and unplanned public gatherings are taking place and to follow the advice of the local authorities.

Macao has not been affected by the social unrest.

National Security Law

A new National Security Law passed by Mainland Chinese authorities came into effect in Hong Kong on 1 July 2020. It introduces offences on secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with a foreign country with mandatory penalties up to and including life imprisonment depending on the severity of the charges. People arrested under the National Security Law may be transferred to Mainland China for trial under certain circumstances.

The full extent of this law and how it is applied is not yet clear, but charges under this legislation can be applied to activities, including statements made on social media, undertaken while outside of Hong Kong.

Irish citizens are reminded that they have a right to request consular assistance if they are detained by local authorities.

Terrorism

There is an underlying global threat from terrorism. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. The Hong Kong and Macao governments have put in place extensive measures to combat terrorism including upgraded police capability, improved air travel security, improved border controls and upgraded emergency services response.

Additional Security Measures at Hong Kong International Airport

Passengers are recommended to arrive at the airport three hours before their departure time for relevant checks at the designated access control checkpoints equipped with 24-hour security cameras. Please note that passengers must possess a ticket or boarding pass to gain access to the terminal building.

Other members of the public, including those who may want to accompany departing passengers or receiving passengers arriving at the airport are advised not travel to the airport unless absolutely necessary. In any event, only passengers will be granted access to the airport terminal.

Crime

The incidence of violent crime is very low but some street crime and pick pocketing can occur as in any large urban area. Extra care should be taken in crowded areas in respect of passports, money and credit cards – stay vigilant in train stations and markets.

If you’re a victim of a crime while in Hong Kong or Macao report it to the local police immediately. The Crime Report numbers are as follows:

  • 999 for Hong Kong
  • 993 for Macao

Hong Kong Police operate an 'e-Report Centre' which is designed for non-emergency report or enquiry. Instant response to the report or enquiry will not be available. In case of emergency, please call 999 or contact the nearest police station. [See https://www.erc.police.gov.hk/cmiserc/CCC/PolicePublicPage?language=en]

The Tourism Crisis Management Office (+853) 2833 3000 (24-hour hotline) are able to provide general assistance in English, Cantonese, Mandarin and Portuguese to tourists in Macao. In case of emergency, please call 993 or contact the nearest police station. A leaflet to assist with understanding the crime reporting procedures can be found on http://www.pj.gov.mo/Web/u/cms/www/pdf/Publish/EN/RC03.pdf

You can also contact us at the Consulate General of Ireland if you require assistance.

Public Transport/Driving

Hong Kong is renowned for its safe, affordable and reliable public transport system, including ferry, rail, bus and tram.

The Octopus Card is a stored-value electronic card that can be used for most public transport, as well as purchases in convenience stores, fast food shops, supermarkets, cake shops, vending machines and more. Details on https://www.octopus.com.hk/en/consumer/index.html

The high-speed Airport Express takes approximately 24 minutes to reach Hong Kong Island and is the fastest way to get between the city and the airport. Airport Express passengers are able to take a free shuttle bus from Kowloon and Hong Kong stations to major hotels. Both these stations also provide free in-town check-in services for major airlines, when departing Hong Kong, which can be very convenient for passengers with a late departure flight.

The Macao authorities consider the taxi service Uber to be illegal, and the Macao Police has recently been taking enforcement action against both the drivers and passengers of unlicensed taxi services, including Uber.

For holders of an Irish driving licence who wish to drive in Hong Kong, you may do so on the strength of your valid Irish driving licence or international driving permit if you are a visitor to Hong Kong (visitors mean that you arrive in Hong Kong other than to take up residence for a period not exceeding 12 months).

For holders of an Irish driving licence who wish to drive in Macao and who are staying for less than a year – you must go to the police station to obtain an official paper to legalise your Irish licence.

Lost or stolen passport

If your passport is lost or stolen while in Hong Kong or Macao the Consulate General of Ireland in Hong Kong can – in emergency situations – issue an emergency travel document or temporary passport. You’ll need to submit a completed application, duly witnessed and with all supporting documents and the appropriate fee. Proof of identity and citizenship will be required, including an original or certified long-form birth certificate in all cases.

 

Local Laws and Customs

Local Laws and Customs

Hong Kong Local Laws

Hong Kong law, like Ireland, is a common law system with criminal and civil law codes.

Some of the city’s public hygiene rules and laws include:

  • Prohibition of eating and drinking on most public transport in Hong Kong;
  • Strict laws about maintaining environmental hygiene, including fixed penalty fines for littering or spitting.

There is also a zero tolerance for ticketless travel on the Mass Transit Railway (MTR).

The import and re-export of all elephant ivory and its products, including tourist souvenirs, is banned. Offenders could face a fine and/or imprisonment.

Photographing of military installations is prohibited.

The Hong Kong SAR Government has restrictions in place on the quantity of powdered baby formula allowed for persons departing the territory. Penalties apply for non-compliance.

Smoking restrictions, including e-cigarettes

Smoking, including e-cigarettes, is prohibited in all indoor public places in Hong Kong and Macao, including restaurants, bars and malls. The smoking ban is also implemented on public transport carriers, within public transport facilities, and in both the indoor and outdoor areas of some premises, including public beaches and swimming pools and escalators.

Any person smoking or carrying a lighted cigarette, cigar, or pipe in a designated no-smoking area will be liable to a fixed penalty.

Hong Kong has banned the import, sale and manufacture of electronic cigarettes, heated tobacco products and herbal cigarettes, with offenders subject to a maximum fine of HK$50,000 (US$6,370) and six months’ imprisonment. Consumers are still allowed to smoke vape gadgets.

If you’re entering Hong Kong with e-cigarettes containing nicotine, you’ll need a medical prescription indicating that they’re for personal use. If the e-cigarette is nicotine-free and for personal use, no medical prescription is needed.

For more information, visit the

 Macao Local Laws

Macao is a civil law system, in that legislation is the main source of law and case law, while clearly relevant, is not a major source of law. Macao has the five 'classic' codifications: the Civil Code, the Commercial Code, the Civil Procedure Code, the Penal Code, and the Criminal Procedure Code. Proceedings will be conducted in Portuguese.

Security restricted articles

Hong Kong and Macao have 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.

The laws apply to individuals in Hong Kong and Macao and those transiting Hong Kong and Macao airports, and apply to hand luggage, checked luggage and luggage in transit. For further information, please see the websites of:

Illegal drugs

The Hong Kong and Macao administrations have a zero tolerance policy against illegal drug use. Possession of illegal drugs can lead to heavy fines and imprisonment.

Penalties also exist for being in possession of sleeping tablets or prescription medication without a prescription.

Natural Disasters and Climate

Natural Disasters and Climate

Hong Kong and Macao have a sub-tropical climate with distinct seasons. The only predictable weather events that could have a significant impact on your travel plans are typhoons and rainstorms. Typhoon season begins in May and ends in November.

When a typhoon is approaching, warnings are broadcast on television and radio and many buildings display the typhoon warning signal. Public offices shut down when the ‘Typhoon 8’ signal is hoisted and people are required to be indoors until the Typhoon passes.

Please see the following links in relation to the various weather signals and warnings:

Additional Information

Additional Information

Entry requirements (visa/passport)

Hong Kong SAR, Macao SAR and mainland China maintain separate customs and immigration boundaries under the “One Country, Two Systems” governance arrangements. Passports and appropriate visas are required for travelling between the territories. Travelling between Hong Kong, Macao or China and returning to one of the territories constitutes a multiple journey.

To enter Hong Kong and Macao you must possess a passport that is valid for at least one month beyond the date of your intended stay, adequate funds to cover your stay and evidence of onward/return transportation. Many neighboring areas require that your passport is valid for at least six months before they will allow you to enter, so if you plan on regional travel beyond Hong Kong, make sure that your passport is valid for at least six months beyond the date you plan to enter such areas.  You do not need a visa for tourist visits of up to 90 days but a visa may be required if travel is other than for tourism purposes. Details on general visa requirements can be found for:

Health

Health services in Hong Kong and Macao are of a high standard. Before you travel, you should, however, visit a doctor or the Tropical Medical Bureau to check what vaccinations are required.

You should also have comprehensive medical insurance before you travel to Hong Kong, as treatment and medication can be extremely expensive.

For up-to-date information in relation to public health alerts please visit the website of the Macao Health Bureau on http://www.ssm.gov.mo/ and Hong Kong Centre for Health Protection http://www.chp.gov.hk/en/

Dengue fever

Dengue fever is an acute mosquito-borne infection caused by the dengue viruses. This is found in tropical and sub-tropical regions around the world and dengue fever is an endemic illness in many countries in South East Asia. Hong Kong and Macao are liable to Dengue outbreaks.

Air quality

Hong Kong and Macao can experience periodic episodes of high levels of air pollution. We advise all Irish visitors and residents to monitor the updates and advisories from:

 

 

Embassy contact

Consulate Contact

Consulate General of Ireland Hong Kong
20/F, 33 Des Voeux Road,
Central,
Hong Kong

Tel: +(852) 2535 0700
Fax: +(852) 2528 9330

Public Office hours of the Consulate are curtailed for the duration of the 2019-nCoV outbreak

For customer service access and consistent with best practice, the Consulate will operate an appointments-only service for Irish citizens in order to limit the numbers in the waiting area at any given time. If you need an appointment, please email us on hongkong@dfa.ie.

The Consulate continues to provide its normal out-of-hours consular service for genuine emergencies which cannot wait until normal working hours. Contact details can be found on: https://www.dfa.ie/irish-consulate/hong-kong/contact-us/.


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