Exporting guide to Hong Kong, China

Overview

As one of Asia’s leading financial and business centres, Hong Kong has an open, transparent and competitive market. English is widely spoken. It has sophisticated financial services and distribution links, an efficient port terminal, a free port status and unrivalled connectivity to mainland China through air, rail, road and sea. Its links to international markets within Asia also make it attractive for re-exporting.

Gateway to mainland China

Hong Kong has long played a crucial role in connecting UK businesses with mainland China and other Asian countries, proving to be a leading conduit for flows of outbound and inbound investment.

Freest economy

The Heritage Foundation ranks Hong Kong as one of the world’s freest economies. This is a reflection of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government’s commitment to upholding free market principles over the years. Regulations are light, taxes are low, and as a free port, Hong Kong levies no customs tariffs on imports or exports.

A bridge in Hong Kong

Hong Kong, China: at a glance

Currency

Hong Kong Dollar

Business language

Chinese (Cantonese dialect) and English

You may need a translator

Time zone

GMT +8

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Opportunities for exporters

There are opportunities for UK companies across a broad range of industries. Our trade advisers in Hong Kong have identified particular opportunities for UK businesses in the following sectors:

Check for trade barriers

Trade barriers, such as tariffs or taxes, can raise costs, cause delays, or even stop you from exporting. Check for any issues that may impact your business when exporting.

See current trade barriers

See resolved trade barriers

Check duties and customs

Find information on how to export goods from the UK. View the duties, rules, restrictions, and the documents you need for your products.

See current duties and customs procedures

Doing business in Hong Kong

Preparing to export

VAT

If you’re registered for VAT in the UK, it may be possible to zero-rate the goods you export to Hong Kong, provided certain conditions are met.

Taxes

There is no sales tax in Hong Kong. It has one of the lowest tax rates, and simplest tax structures, in the world. There are only 3 direct taxes: on profits, salaries and property. None exceed 17% and there are multiple deductions.

The Inland Revenue Department gives clear instructions on payment and procedures relating to tax.

Standards and technical regulations

The Customs and Excise Department is responsible for consumer protection for goods, toys and children’s products.

The Centre for Food Safety provides information on regulations relating to food and drugs labelling.

Pre-packaged foods must be labelled with mandatory nutritional information. Any nutritional claims about the contents must comply with the regulations. Food and formula consumed by children under the age of 36 months and food for special dietary uses are exempt.

Trade barriers

Check for any reported barriers to trading with Hong Kong.

Report any trade barriers that are affecting your business so we can help fix them.

Operating in

Intellectual property

Intellectual property (IP) rights are territorial and rights granted in the UK do not provide protection elsewhere. You should consider getting IP protection abroad if you want to trade overseas or sell to overseas customers via the internet.

The Intellectual Property Office provides practical information to help you protect, manage and enforce your IP abroad. Further support for British businesses can be found through a network of IP attachés, based in key UK export markets.

Business culture

Business culture in Hong Kong is quite similar to western culture. The official languages of Hong Kong are Chinese (Cantonese dialect) and English. English is widely spoken in the business world and in urban areas of Hong Kong. Sales and marketing material in English is generally sufficient, but in some cases, there may be advantages to having material prepared in Chinese.

Next steps

DIT can advise you on doing business abroad, and help put you in touch with other people who can help such as lawyers and distributors.