Tariffs and regulations

Tariffs and duty rates are constantly revised and are subject to change without notice.

Austrade strongly recommends you reconfirm these prior to selling to Hong Kong.

For further information please visit the Customs and Excise Hong Kong website.

Tariffs and non-tariff barriers

Tariffs

Hong Kong is a free port with no general tariff on imported goods. Excise duties are charged on four commodities - alcoholic liquors, tobacco, hydrocarbon oil and methyl alcohol -  irrespective of whether they are imported or locally manufactured.

Regulations on alcoholic beverages

Liquor with an alcoholic strength of more than 30 per cent (e.g. hard liquor like brandy, whisky, gin, rum, vodka, and some Chinese spirits) is the only dutiable commodity subject to ad valorem duty (i.e. duty is calculated by way of a percentage of the value of the liquor). Duty shall be payable on the following types of liquor at the rates, expressed as a percentage of the value:

  • 100 per cent duty - liquor with an alcoholic strength of more than 30 per cent by volume measured at a temperature of 20℃

  • Zero per cent duty - liquor, other than wine, with an alcoholic strength of not more than 30 per cent by volume measured at a temperature of 20℃

  • Zero per cent duty - wine

Non-tariff barriers

As a global trading hub, Hong Kong does not maintain non-tariff measures for the protection of domestic industries. However, Hong Kong does impose a range of non-tariff measures to protect public health, safety, security and the environment. These non-tariff measures typically come in the form of license requirements and are issued by the License Branch of the Trade and Industry Department. In certain cases, import licence applications must be endorsed by other Hong Kong departments. Import licences are required for the following items:

Product certification, labelling and packaging

Australian exporters need to pay attention to the following regulations in Hong Kong relating to food and beverage sector and comply with all requirements:

Main ordinances

Regulations

Special certificates

Health certificates issued by the Australian Department of Agriculture are required for live animals, meat, poultry and dairy products. Department of Agriculture certificates are the only official health certifications recognised by the Hong Kong authorities. Importers of live animals, meat, poultry, ice cream, wine and rice have to be either licensed or registered with the authorities in Hong Kong.

Product certification, labelling and packaging

Labelling and marking

Food labelling regulations

Import of food and beverage products, whether packaged for retail or catering sectors, must comply with the local composition and labelling regulations.

Labelling can be in English or English-Chinese (bilingual). Generally, these require all products to be labelled with:

  • name of the food
  • ingredients, including food additives
  • durability period
  • special condition for storage or instruction for use
  • quantity
  • name and address of manufacturer or the packer.

In many cases, it is acceptable to leave the original English label unchanged. However, the expiry date and other important information should be printed in English and Chinese.

A declaration of the presence of allergenic substances, listed below, must be specified in the list of ingredients:

  • cereals containing gluten (wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelt, their hybridised strains and their products)
  • crustacean and crustacean products
  • eggs and egg products
  • fish and fish products
  • peanuts, soybeans and their products
  • milk and milk products (including lactose)
  • tree nuts and nut products
  • sulphite in concentrations of 10 parts per million or more, which are known to cause allergy.

Changes to the labelling of food additives regulations require ingredients of a pre-packaged food to be listed by both their functional class and their specific name or identification number under the International Numbering System for Food Additives (INS).

Nutrition labelling regulations

The Amendment Regulation introduces a nutrition-labelling scheme, which covers two types of nutrition information on food labels; nutrition labelling and nutrition claims.

All general pre-packaged foods are mandated to carry a nutrition label, unless the food product is an exempt pre-packaged food under schedule six of the Amendment Regulation. However, the Amendment Regulation is not applicable to formula and food intended to be consumed principally by children under the age of 36 months and other food for special dietary uses.

The nutrition label (or nutrition information panel) must contain information on energy plus seven core nutrients:

  • protein
  • carbohydrates
  • total fat
  • saturated fatty acids
  • trans fatty acids
  • sodium
  • sugar.

In addition, the amounts of any claimed nutrients (i.e. nutrient content, comparative or function claims) must be listed. If a nutrition claim related to any type of fat is made, the nutrition label should also include the amount of cholesterol.

A small volume exemption may be applied for products with a total sales volume in Hong Kong of less than 30,000 units a year, provided the products do not make any nutrition claims.

The requirements are unique and require more information than currently necessary in Australia (e.g. required labelling of trans fatty acids). These regulations are mandatory with fines or possible imprisonment for non-compliance. This affects all manufacturers of pre-packaged foods that export to Hong Kong (except those falling within the criteria of exemptions) and requires testing and labelling of nutrients (or provision of such results for re-labelling by your Hong Kong importer or distributor) to meet the Amendment Regulation. You should work with your Hong Kong importer or distributor to meet these requirements.

Visit the National Association of Testing Authorities for a listing of accredited laboratories in Australia (as advised by the Hong Kong Food and Environmental Hygiene Department/Centre for Food Safety).

For information relating to the Amendment Regulation for nutrition labelling and food laws in Hong Kong, please visit:

Regulation for Formula Products and Foods for Infants and Young Children

The Food and Drugs (Composition and Labelling) (Amendment) (No.2) Regulation 2014 (the Amendment Regulation) covers infant formula nutritional composition and nutrition labelling requirements, follow-up formula and pre-packaged food for infants and young children. The requirements on nutritional composition and nutrition labelling of infant formula became effective on 13 December 2015. The requirements on nutrition labelling of follow-up formula and pre-packaged food for infants and young children became effective on 13 June 2016.

Further information:

Regulation for Imported Eggs

The amended imported game, meat, poultry and eggs regulations (Chapter 132AK) extend control to imported eggs. The requirements became effective from 5 December 2015. Eggs should not be imported:

  • without a health certificate
  • where they have been transhipped, without a transhipment certificate
  • without having obtained a permission in writing of a health officer
  • without having complied with such conditions as a health officer may impose

Find out more information about Imported Game, Meat, Poultry and Eggs Regulations (Cap. 132AK)

Packaging

There are no special packing requirements. In general, extreme humidity may cause rust and mildew and goods likely to be affected should be packed in weatherproof materials. Dangerous goods must be marked with labels indicating the appropriate usage.

Methods of quoting and payment

Quotations are usually on Cost, Insurance and Freight (CIF) basis. Payment is usually by letter of credit or documents against payment.

Documentary requirements

Commercial invoice

No prescribed form. A minimum of two copies is required and faxed signatures are not acceptable.

The invoice must indicate:

  • description of the goods
  • country of origin
  • quantities
  • number of packages
  • marks
  • prices
  • freight charges
  • insurance details.

Bill of lading

No special regulations. If made out To Order must contain the consignee's name and address on copy bills or shipping instructions.

Packing list

May be required for piece goods imported into Hong Kong for making up and subsequent re-export to British Commonwealth countries.

Public health requirements

Import requirements for food are imposed for public health reasons. Certain high risk imported food (e.g. milk, milk products, frozen confections, game, meat and poultry) are governed by subsidiary legislation of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap. 132). Import of game requires the prior permission of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department and import of meat and poultry is confined to sources recognised by the department. To facilitate release of consignments, importers are encouraged to provide official health certificates issued by health authorities of exporting countries. Visit the Centre for Food Safety to find out more about import control and food safety guidelines.

Any plant imported into Hong Kong must be accompanied by a Plant Import Licence issued by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department and a valid Phytosanitary Certificate issued by the competent authority in the country of its origin. For plant import, import and export of animals and animal products, please visit the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department.

Medicines are required to be registered under the Pharmacy and Poisons Ordinance Cap 138. The purpose is to ensure that medicines available for sale are safe, effective and of good quality. This is necessary for the protection of the health of members of the general public. For registration of medicines in Hong Kong, please visit the Department of Health website.

The commonly found prohibited/controlled items are:

  • dangerous drugs
  • psychotropic substances
  • controlled chemicals
  • antibiotics
  • arms ammunition
  • weapons
  • fireworks
  • strategic commodities
  • rough diamonds
  • animals
  • plants
  • endangered species
  • telecommunication equipment
  • game
  • meat
  • poultry
  • eggs
  • powdered formula.

For importation/exportation of any prohibited/controlled items into or out of Hong Kong, please visit the Customs and Excise Department.

The Pesticide Residues in Food Regulation (Cap. 132CM) aims to enhance regulatory control of pesticide residues in food to protect public health.

The government currently adopts the Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) and Extraneous Maximum Residue Limits (EMRLs) for pesticides recommended by Codex Alimentarius International Food Standards and adopted by China, the United States and Thailand who are major produce suppliers to Hong Kong. These maximum residue limits are revised and published from time to time. For information relating to The Pesticide Residues in Food Regulation, visit:

Government procurement and tender processes

Detailed information about government procurement in Hong Kong is available from the Financial Services and Treasury Bureau (FSTB).

Procurement of most stores and supplies for Hong Kong government agencies is handled centrally by the Government Logistics Department (GLD). Individual agencies are only responsible for purchasing small quantities and/or small value one-off items.

Tender notices, contract award notices and general terms and conditions for government tenders can be accessed online through GLD's Electronic Tendering System (ETS).

Other tenders (public works, transport, marine services, IT, etc.) are handled by various government agencies. More information is available on FSTB's website.

A list of all government agencies in Hong Kong is available and procurement contacts in each agency can be identified using the government online telephone directory.

Visit the Census and Statistics Department to find out more on outsourcing contracts awarded.

Tender search services are also available from e.tendering.com.

Insurance

Normal commercial practice applies.

Weights and measures

The metric system must be used in all documents. Failure to do so will lead to rejection of the shipment.