A cross-border guide to Hong Kong ecommerce, shipping, and importing goods
If you are looking to grow your ecommerce business into Hong Kong , you’ve come to the right place. In our guide, created by Zonos' cross-border experts, you will find the following:
Ease of doing business 2/5
- The Chinese and Hong Kong governments have imposed procedures that compromise the ability for foreign businesses to operate freely and with legal certainty in Hong Kong.
- In 2021, the Department of State and several other legal departments issued a business advisory to U.S. businesses regarding potential risks to their endeavors in Hong Kong.
- Hong Kong’s economy remains severely hindered due to the ongoing COVID-19 controls.
Landed cost fairness 5/5
- Hong Kong is a free port and does not levy any customs tariff on imports or exports, which is favorable for landed cost.
- Hong Kong charges an excise and consumption tax on particular goods.
Flexibility of legal regulations 4/5
- Hong Kong’s government has taken measures to protect against smuggling by enforcing licensing controls on prohibited articles through inspection of imported cargoes.
- Correct packing, documentation, marking, and labeling are imperative for smooth customs clearance in Hong Kong.
Availability and accessibility of shipping 5/5
- Hong Kong’s Eastern Asian location allows for many carrier options and services because of the high-traffic Asian trade route.
Accessibility and variety of payment methods 5/5
- Hong Kong accepts a variety of popular payment methods; the most popular method is debit or debit card.
Market opportunity 5/5
- Hong Kong’s open trade and investment climate makes it a preferable market for imports.
- Hong Kong’s high percentage of internet and ecommerce users gives sellers the potential for high ecommerce success.
Although Hong Kong received a “B” in overall “ease of importing goods”, the “Ease of doing business” rating may be alarming. Considering the political instability due to Hong Kong’s relationship and proximity to China, the U.S. Department of State has an advisory to not travel to Hong Kong. Additionally, there could potentially be transit and clearance delays for packages because of COVID shutdowns, low staffing, and arbitrary enforcement of local laws. However, Hong Kong is a free port, and importing shipments is typically easy.
|Population||7.65 million (2023)|
|GDP||441 billion USD (2022)|
|GDP per capita||52,130 USD (2022)|
|Internet penetration||93% of the population use the internet (2022)|
|Ecommerce users||72.6% of the population shop online (2022)|
|Leading product categories||Travel, health and beauty, consumer electronics, clothes and apparel, groceries, and household goods|
|Preferred online payment method(s)||Debit and credit cards, digital wallets, bank transfers, and cash|
|Languages||Chinese and English|
|Currency||Hong Kong dollar/HKD/HK$|
The landed cost for a cross-border transaction includes all duties, taxes, and fees associated with the purchase. This includes:
- Product price
- Fees (currency conversion, carrier, broker, customs, or government fees)
Hong Kong’s de minimis, tax, and duty
Duty and tax de minimis
- Duty and tax de minimis: 0 HKD
De minimis value
Hong Kong is a free port, so taxes, duties, and fees will not be charged on most imports.
Hong Kong does not levy a tax on imports.
Hong Kong does not charge duty on imports.
Any other import fees
The Hong Kong Government charges excise duties on liquors, tobacco, hydrocarbon oil, and methyl alcohol. The duties are applied according to their alcoholic strength or charged at specific rates per unit quantity. These are the only four items Hong Kong charges excise duty on.
Landed cost examples
Below is a sample landed cost breakdown for Hong Kong, as a free port, calculated using Zonos Quoter:
Landed cost for a shipment to Hong Kong:
Hong Kong has at least eight trade agreements. Hong Kong, as a free port, engages in trade agreements with other countries and expect similar treatment in return. Hong Kong is also a member of several prominent Asian trade agreements:
- Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)
- Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) with mainland China
Hong Kong is a member of the World Trade Organization
As a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Hong Kong must abide by the most-favored-nation (MFN) clause, which requires a country to provide any concessions, privileges, or immunities granted to one nation in a trade agreement to all other WTO member countries. However, Hong Kong is one of the four countries that have a free port. Since Hong Kong does not charge duty on imports, Hong Kong is in compliance with the WTO requirement to provide fair rates to other WTO member countries.
Hong Kong’s Customs authority
Customs refund in Hong Kong
Talk to your carrier about customs refunds.
Top courier services:
- DHL Express
- Direct Link
- Hong Kong Post
- SF Express
Depending on the courier, additional shipping fees may include:
- Fuel surcharge
- Remote delivery charge
- Signature fee
- Overweight or oversized fee
- Special handling fee
- Dangerous goods fee
- And/or more
Documentation and paperwork
- Import license or removal permits are required for Hong Kong’s four dutiable commodities.
- Copy of detention notice is required for container shipments transported by sea.
Prohibited, restricted, and controlled imports into Hong Kong
Government agencies regulate imports.
Restricted items are different from prohibited items. Prohibited items are not allowed to be imported into a country at all. Restricted items are not allowed to be imported into a country unless the importer has approval or a special license. Controlled goods have military or national security significance.
- Controlled Chemicals (i.e. acetic anhydride, ephedrine, and pseudoephedrine)
- Dangerous drugs
- Electronic cigarettes (unless previously approved)
- Food containing banned coloring matter, artificial sweeteners, aflatoxins, preservatives, anti-oxidants, or certain metals
- Halons and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) (i.e. ozone-depleting substances)
- Ivory and ivory products
- Personal drugs
- Sand (more than 100 kgs)
- Smokeless tobacco and snuff
- Transshipment of strategic commodities (i.e. carbon fiber prepreg, firewall, firebox, etc.)
- Dutiable commodities
- Strategic commodities (certain electronic equipment, scientific instruments, etc.)
- Reserved commodities (rice, frozen or fresh meat, and frozen or fresh poultry)
- Agricultural pesticides
- Optical disc mastering & replication equipment
- Left-hand drive vehicles, outboard engines exceeding 150 hp/111.9 kilowatts
- Radioactive substances and irradiating apparatus
- Pharmaceutical products and medicines
- Rough diamonds
- Endangered species or products derived from them
- Dangerous drugs
- Controlled chemicals
- Hazardous chemicals
- Radio transmitting apparatus
- Dangerous drugs, pharmaceutical products, and medicines
- Controlled chemicals, such as substances that are precursors or chemicals for the manufacture of dangerous drugs or psychotropic substances
- Live animals and animal products
- Plants and plant pests
- Strategic commodities, such as certain kinds of computer and telecommunication equipment, articles for military use, etc.
- Explosives, fireworks, firearms and ammunition, and weapons
- Soil and sand require authorization issued by the Agriculture, Fisheries, and Conservation Department (AFCD) prior to shipment arrival except when it is imported from China
See more details concerning prohibited and restricted items here.
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What are the most popular online stores in Hong Kong?
The most popular stores are as follows: Alibaba’s Tmall, We Chat, Taobao, Amazon, JD, Alibaba, and eBay.