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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

General advice to avoid non-essential travel and ‘Normal Precautions’ list of exemptions:

In accordance with Government policy, which is based on official public health advice, the Department of Foreign Affairs continues to advise against non-essential travel overseas. This includes Great Britain but does not apply to Northern Ireland. It also includes all travel by cruise ship.

Travel to a very limited set of locations is exempted from this advice. Individuals arriving into Ireland from these locations will not be required to restrict their movements upon entry. These locations currently have a ‘normal precautions’ (“green”) security status rating. As of 4 August 2020, these locations are:

  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • Greece
  • Greenland
  • Hungary
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Norway
  • Slovakia

Inclusion on the list is based on the current epidemiological situation and related public health information in each location. The list and related travel advice will be reviewed on a fortnightly basis, based on advice from officials, including public health experts. Any updates or changes will be based on Government decisions. The latest updates will always be uploaded first to this General COVID-19 Travel Advisory. Country-specific tabs will be updated subsequently, and as quickly as possible, but this advisory is the primary source of information for the latest version of the list. The above list was updated on 4 August following the latest review.

If you are considering travelling outside of Ireland:

Irish citizens travelling to locations with a ‘normal precautions’ (“green”) rating are advised to follow the public health guidelines of the local health authorities and to continue to practice physical distancing measures, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette etc. The security rating for all other locations remains unchanged at either to ‘avoid non-essential travel’ (“orange”) or to ‘do not travel’ (“red”).

The purpose of the Department’s Travel Advice is to provide information to the general public so that individuals can make informed decisions for themselves.  The COVID19 pandemic continues to accelerate internationally, and there are significant risks associated with international travel. Citizens should be aware of the possible limitations to any consular assistance that could be provided. Any citizens who are considering travel abroad are advised to monitor closely our travel advice and we recommend that citizens download our TravelWise App and follow us on Twitter. Citizens travelling abroad should also register with their local Irish Embassy or Consulate and regularly check their website and Twitter accounts for details of any local public health measures and travel restrictions.

Should you need to travel for essential reasons, you should inform yourself about any requirements in place in the destination to which you are travelling.  Flight restrictions and route cancellations are happening on a daily basis worldwide and there is no guarantee that air routes will continue to operate as scheduled. Testing and restrictions may be imposed or may already be in place in other countries. It is important to check with your insurance provider on coverage at this time.

What to do on entering Ireland from abroad:

The Irish Authorities advise anyone coming into Ireland, apart from Northern Ireland and individuals arriving in Ireland from locations with a security rating of ‘normal precautions’ (“green”), to restrict their movements for 14 days, and this includes citizens and residents returning to Ireland. Restricting your movements means staying indoors in one location and avoiding contact with other people and social situations as much as possible. To ensure that this is being observed all passengers arriving to Ireland from overseas are obliged to complete a mandatory Public Health Passenger Locator Form and to submit it to the relevant authority at their port of entry. For further details please see the Irish Government Advice Page. Exemptions are also in place for providers of essential supply chain services such as hauliers, pilots and maritime staff. Check the Irish Government Advice Page for full information on these requirements and further advice on returning from abroad.

Where to go for more information:

We continue to make updates to our online travel advice for over 200 countries and recommend that you download our TravelWise App and follow us on Twitter. If abroad you should register with your local Irish Embassy or Consulate and regularly check their website and Twitter accounts for details of any local public health measures and travel restrictions.

Overview

Security Status

Avoid non-essential travel.

Security Status Last Updated: 17 March 2020

Latest Travel Alert

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

A number of cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) have been confirmed in Hong Kong SAR and Macao SAR.
See links below for details national statistics.

Hong Kong Centre for Health Protection (desktop version)

Hong Kong Centre for Health Protection (mobile version)

Macao Health Bureau

WHO Situation Reports

If you are in Hong Kong or Macao, you should monitor developments regularly and follow the advice of local authorities. See links to relevant websites below.

Hong Kong Centre for Health Protection.

Hong Kong International Airport

Macao Health Bureau

Be alert to common signs of infection: respiratory problems, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. Seek medical advice if you experience these symptoms.

HSE medical advice to protect yourself from getting COVID-19 is below.
Do:
• wash your hands properly and regularly with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub
• cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough and sneeze
• put used tissues into a bin and wash your hands
Don’t:
• touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
Additional information on COVID-19 can be found via the following links:

HSE

HPSC

ECDC

World Health Organisation

Temporary Travel Restrictions to and between Hong Kong SAR, Macao SAR and mainland China

Hong Kong SAR, Macao SAR and mainland China maintain separate customs and immigration boundaries under the “One Country, Two Systems” governance arrangements. In response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, there is no right to travel between Hong Kong and Macao at present.

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.

Social Unrest in Hong Kong

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.  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, 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
  • Add an alert for your destination within the Travelwise App.
  • 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.

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.

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.

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

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.

World Health Organisation (WHO) Novel Coronavirus Guidelines

During previous outbreaks of other coronavirus (e.g. MERS and SARS), human-to-human transmission occurred through droplets, contact and fomites, suggesting that the transmission mode of COVID-19 can be similar.

According to the WHO, standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include:

  • regular hand washing,
  • covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing,
  • avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as cough or sneezing
  • avoid visiting wet or live markets and contact with animals, excretions and droppings
  • thoroughly cooking meat and eggs.

If you are unwell on return from travel to an affected area, contact your healthcare provider and tell them of recent travel.

Further information is available on the website of the WHO (www.who.int).

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is not in a position to provide expert medical advice. If travellers are concerned that they have been exposed to COVID-19 they should seek professional medical advice.

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) is Ireland's specialist agency for the surveillance of communicable diseases. The HPSC comes under the Health Service Executive (HSE) and works in partnership with health service providers and sister organisations in Ireland and around the world to provide the best possible information for the control and prevention of infectious diseases.

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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