How To Prepare Your Expatriation In Hong Kong?

Contributed by Killian Kostiha, 15 October, 2018

Moving to another country is never easy but if you're well prepared, the transition will be smoother. While there are hundreds of amazing places all around the world, Hong Kong is considered as one of the best places to move, one of the most welcoming country for professionals, business owners and families, in South East Asia.

If you're preparing your first expatriation, Hong Kong is definitely a great middle-ground solution as it offers a diverse landscape, in-between the mountains, the sea and the sky-scrappers, and a unique culture, a fusion between Chinese traditions with a glimpse of the Western world due to its English heritage and its multiculturalist side.

However, you might want to prepare this step the best way possible to feel comfortable when you get there. Here are the main things you need to know to prepare yourself to your next unbelievable experience.

What to do before arriving in Hong Kong?


Knowing the place you will live in, will be an asset to understand the culture, the habits and to get used to the different districts. While the Hong Kong Tourism Board provides lots of information for travellers, expatriates might want to focus on the following before arriving.

Allowed and prohibited items

While packing your belongings, it is best to check with customs if there is anything special you want to bring with you other than personals. Hong Kong is quite strict and you might want to check the official Customs website beforehand. For instance, you might need licenses or permits for some items.

Movers and freight services

A quick search in Google will help you to find freight companies and movers that will help you moving your furniture from your home country to Hong Kong. There are many possibilities because it is a hub for expats so it's better to plan ahead on what you want to bring and find your best option online. Note that freight services might need weeks to bring your items in Hong Kong. The earlier you plan this step, the better it is to settle-down.

Find an accommodation

While some employers provide accommodations, especially for top-management positions, regular employees might need to find an accommodation by themselves. As you probably know, Hong Kong is one of the most expensive place for flats and apartments but there are affordable opportunities if you're up for a flat share or if you prefer to live out of the centre.

Outlying islands might also be interesting if you want to live in a more natural environment.

Administrative documents

Hong Kong hosts most of the embassies and consulates but it is advised to bring all your documents so it will be easier in case you need something in the future. Make sure your bring your birth certificates, insurance papers, and other legal documents you might potentially need while away from your home country.

The Visa

Passports need to be valid for at least 6 more months when you leave a country and Hong Kong is very strict on this policy. Even if you already have your visa stamped on your current passport, it is best to get it renewed if your arrival date is within the 6 months validity. In case of unforeseen events, make sure you have other identification cards like your license with you.

Note that some expats do not need to apply for a tourist Visa in advance and can have it upon arrivals, therefore, it's better to check beforehand, especially for your family members as your employer will provide you with an employment Visa. Sometimes, dependant Visa can take more time to be issued but your family can first enter Hong Kong with a tourist one.

For entrepreneurs who need to have an Investment Visa, there are also plenty of agents that can help you with the procedure. While it can be pricey according to your requirements, note that you can apply by yourself, by providing the necessary documents to the Hong Kong government, as mentioned in the official Immigration website.

Read about the place

There is a lot to explore in Hong Kong so the more you know about it, the better, especially when it comes to find an accommodation. Transportation is well developed in and you won't have issue going to a place to another, especially since English is widely used in the city.

Although English is an official language in Hong Kong, Chinese is still the main one but note that there are mainly two types of Chinese. Hong Kong speaks Cantonese while Mainland China uses Mandarin and many Hongkongers are able to speak and read it as well.

You can get by with English but if you're staying long-term, it will be a lot easier if you learn a Cantonese. This widens your options when going around to eat at local places or do shopping at local shops. There are various options to learn it, especially with private local teachers.

Hong Kong also holds a lot of value for their culture so research as much as you can, especially when it comes to business so as not to offend anyone you're dealing with there.

What To Do As soon as You Arrive

Check your Visa

Once you're there, you will need to report to the Immigration Department. Some companies have Human Resources departments that help with this so check with your company as soon as you arrive but if you're an entrepreneur, you will have to do it by yourself.

You will need your passport and immigration card submitted within the first week.

Immigration Tower



7, Gloucester Road

Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Phone: (852) 28 24 61 11

Identity card

Hong Kong has a very strict rule on their Identity Cards. Anyone over the age of 11 is required to carry this with them at all times. It will contain personal information necessary to track residents and the validity of it is the same as your visa validity.

You have to register immediately to get your own identity card, and for your family if they are with you, but some companies also have a process set up to make it easier.

Note that after seven years of continuous professional stay in Hong Kong, you will be eligible for the permanent residency.

Bank accounts

Once you get all your documents sorted, you can now apply for a bank account.

Not to worry though as Hong Kong hosts many international and local banks that will provide you with English documentation, like HSBC or DBS.

Apply for service from providers

Just like in your home country, you will need the basics of modern life set up asap.

There are quite a few options for mobile phone and internet service providers so always best to shop around first before deciding. For mobile phones, you have the option to go prepaid or mobile plans. For Internet, there are different packages offered so assess what you need well to avoid unnecessary costs.


Hong Kong is full of options for premium education so you need to research as much as you can. Being under British rule before, the country follows British education system so depending on where you're coming from, your kids might need quite an adjustment in school.

There are 12 years to complete in the primary level, 3 compulsory plus 3 years of elective studies in the secondary and then tertiary level as the last. Many of the schools are not only prestigious but also very highly competitive.

Because of the very demanding nature of education in Hong Kong, kindergarten schools are also quite packed and it is quite common here to hire maids to help out with the day to day necessities but also to bring the kids to and from school, taking care of meals and sometimes even with home-works. Luckily, hiring a well-qualified helper is easy in Hong Kong. You can either choose for a direct hiring or rely on maids and domestic helpers agencies to find the perfect fit for your family.

Hong Kong will definitely be one of the most amazing experience you will have. There are so much to do there, whether it's about culture, food or travelling that time will fly and everyday will be bring you something new. However, after all the excitement of setting up your new expat life, don't forget your family back home. Send them new phone numbers and other necessary information so that they are assured that you're safe and sound.

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