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Driving in Hong Kong

Though driving in Hong Kong may seem like a treacherous experience at first, there is, in fact, method to the madness.  Drivers are no more aggressive than in any other major city in the world and are, for the most part, law abiding.  Certainly driving in Hong Kong is a much safer experience than in most other Asian countries.  
Roads can be congested especially at peak hours of the day, but since Hong Kong is small, the distances covered are not great, meaning that no traffic jam lasts too long. In addition, it is unlikely that you will be using a private car with which to commute back and forth to the office. Parking is expensive and, due to the rush hour congestion, public transport is much faster. The vast majority of expats in Hong Kong utilize one of the numerous, efficient means of public transport with which to travel to and from work.
Like Britain, Australia and the rest of Asia, we drive on the left-hand side of the road, meaning that the car is right-hand drive.
Second-hand cars are inexpensive in Hong Kong due to the fact that the Chinese tend to buy new cars every few years. Picking up a used car requires little more effort than looking at the Sunday Trading section of the South China Morning Post, and watching the notice boards of your local supermarket and club. 
Running a car in Hong Kong can be a relatively expensive proposition, however, as car registration, gasoline and parking are extremely expensive.  A car is not absolutely necessary in Hong Kong as public transport is convenient and safe.


If you are involved in or witness an accident, call emergency services at 999.  If the damage is minor, you should take down the vehicle registration number, driver particulars and driver's ID card number, making sure you see the card and match the number. If the driver is resistant to this, then insist he waits for the police to arrive. Unless the damage is negligable, don't attempt to move the car until the police have arrived and have given the go ahead.

Break Downs

In the event of a breakdown or other emergency, put on your hazard warning lights and display the warning triangle. Call for assistance immediately and wait in a safe place for help to arrive. If your car breaks down on a busy road and you judge it unsafe to cross the road to reach a hard shoulder or other area of safety, remain in your vehicle with your seatbelt securely fastened until help arrives.

Busy roads are posted with markers, in number form, which you should quote to emergency services in order to facilitate a speedy recovery.

It is advisable to join the Hong Kong Automobile Association in case you should need assistance with your car at any point. The AA has a very reliable towing service and mobile mechanic. Join the AA for HK$200, and an annual subscription of HK$550.

Hong Kong Automobile Association 
391 Nathan Road
Yau Ma Tei
24 Hour Hotline: (852) 2304 4911
Tel: (852) 2739 5273
Fax: (852) 2369 0863

If you have broken down on the side of the road, place a sheet of newspaper under your windshield, or failing that, leave a note for the traffic patrol indicating that you have broken down and are seeking assistance.

Buying a Car

Buying a brand new car is expensive in Hong Kong:

BMW 528iA  HK$ 540,000 (US$70,000) 
Mercedes E280 Elegance HK$ 547,000 (US$70,200) 
Mazda Miata  HK$ 239,900 (US$30,800) 

For New Car Dealers, click here.

Used cars are a more reasonable proposition:

BMW M3 (1994)   HK$ 150,000 (US$19,300) 
Mercedes C200 (1995)  HK$ 115,000 (US$15,000)
BMW 325i (1992)   HK$ 20-40,000 (US$ 2-5,000) price depends on situation of car

Vehicles must be registered and licensed. Registration is a one off, but licensing must be updated annually.  If a new car is purchased, a car dealer will normally register and license the car on the client's behalf.  If, however, you are importing or buying a second hand vehicle, please read the information below.

Importing a Car

If you are importing your car, no Import License is required but you will need to file an 'Import Return' (CED 336) and an 'Import Declaration' (CED 336A) with the Customs and Excise Department within 14 days of vehicle importation.

Failure to comply with these declaration requirements may result in a fine or prosecution.
Hong Kong is a free port and, as such, does not levy a Customs tariff on imports or exports. (The four exceptions to this rule being liquors, tobacco, hydrocarbon oil and methyl alcohol.) You will, however, be required to pay the following:

  • An "ad valorem" tax at the rate of HK$5 per HK$10000 value, i.e. Car value of HK$100000 would mean a tax of HK$50 .
  • A first "Registration Tax", levied at 40-60% of the CIF value meaning the cost of purchase, plus any improvements, conversion and testing costs, insurance costs, and any Hong Kong arrival costs. A depreciation allowance of 25% per annum off the purchase price is given.

Download forms CED 336 and CED 336A here

Class of Motor Vehicle

Rate of Tax

Private cars

the first $$HKD150000$$ of taxable value
on the next $$HKD150000$$
on the next $$HKD200000$$
on the remainder


Motor cycles and motor tricycles


Goods vehicles, other than van-type light goods vehicles (LGV)


Van-type LGV not exceeding 1.9 tonnes permitted gross vehicle weight:
a. on the first $$HKD150000$$
b. on the next $$HKD150000$$
c. on the remainder


Van-type LGV exceeding 1.9 tonnes permitted gross vehicle weight


Taxis, Light buses, Buses and Special purpose vehicles



Under the tax system for Motor Vehicle First Registration Tax, officers of the Customs and Excise Department are delegated with the authority to register motor vehicle importers and distributors, process import returns and assess the taxable values of motor vehicles. The Transport Department remains responsible for the calculation and collection of the Tax.

Please note that the import of left hand drive cars is not permitted, except for use as Consular vehicles. Vehicles must pass a Government Vehicles Inspection before they may be licensed and registered.

For more information, please click here for the Customs and Excise Department website.

An Import Return and Import Declaration may be made in person at the following offices:
Customs and Excise Department
11/F, North Point Government Offices
333, Java Road
North Point
Tel: (852) 2231 4391
Fax: (852) 2598 4975

Customs and Excise Department Collection Office
2/F, Harbour Road
Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 2815 7711

or by mail to:
Customs and Excise Department Collection Office
PO Box 255555
Harbour Building Post Office
Hong Kong

If you require assistance with importing your vehicle from Europe and the UK:

Karman Shipping Ltd.
Timber Lodge
Plantation Road 
Leighton Buzzard
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 1525 851545
Fax: +44 (0) 1525 850 996

Vehicle Examination

All vehicles, with the exception of new private cars and motorcycles, and those models registered for the first time in Hong Kong, must undergo mechanical examination.  This examination ensures all vehicles on the road comply with the Road Traffic Regulations, Air Pollution Control Regulations, and the Noise Control Ordinance before registration. Cars over six years old must undergo a vehicle examination before re-licensing.  It is an offence to contravene these regulations. If in doubt of your vehicle's status contact:  

Motor Vehicle Examination Senior Engineer
Room 3402, 34/F, Immigration Tower
7 Gloucester Road
Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 2802 7533

Vehicle Registration

Registration, which is normally a one-off matter, means giving the vehicle a registration mark and putting it into its appropriate class, e.g. private car, light goods vehicle, etc. Licensing, is an annual or four-monthly affair and conveys the right for a vehicle to be driven on the road.

If you purchase a vehicle in Hong Kong, your agent should apply for registration and licensing of a vehicle on your behalf. However, if you import a car from overseas, you will be expected to do this yourself. Vehicle licenses should be displayed in the left-hand side of the windscreen.

When applying for first registration of your vehicle, you should submit a completed application form (Form TD22) to the Hong Kong Licensing Office of the Transport Department together with the supporting documents as prescribed in the application form.

Upon the verification of your submitted document, you will be required to pay first registration tax and registration fee, as well as a vehicle license fee and levy for Traffic Accident Victim Assistance Fund for licensing of the vehicle.

Transport Department  Licensing Office
3/F, United Centre
95 Queensway
Hong Kong
Licensing Information Hotline: (852) 2804 2600

The appropriate form for vehicle registration can be downloaded from their website.

An initial registration tax is charged on a vehicle as follows:

  •  private car: 40-60% of the vehicle's taxable value*
  •  motorcycles: 40%
*Taxable Value: the published retail price of the vehicle or the provisional taxable value as assessed by the Motor Vehicle Valuation Department.
  • A vehicle may be registered in the name of an individual over 18 years of age or in the name of an incorporated body.
  • Upon registration, the Transport Department will issue a registration mark and a vehicle registration document

Vehicle Licensing

  • After vehicle registration, licensing is required.
  • Once a license is issued, it must be displayed on the left-hand side of the windscreen.
  • In the case of a motorcycle, the license must be displayed prominently on the left-hand side.
License Renewal

A vehicle license may be renewed within 4 months before expiration by submitting Form TD 23112 (for 1 year) or TD 2314 (for 4 months).  If you are late in reapplying for a license, the normal re-licensing fee is applicable, plus an additional charge of 33% of the license fee for every day the vehicle was unlicensed.  Download forms TD 23112 and TD 2314 from the Transport Department website.

Change of Registration Details

  • A registered owner is required by law to inform the Transport Department, within 72 hours, of any changes with regard to registration particulars.  Form TD150 is required for this.
  • The vehicle registration document and license may need to be submitted for amendment.

Download form TD150 from the Transport Department website.

Loss of License or Registration Document

If any license or registration documents have been lost, immediately report the loss to the police in the particular district the loss occurred. Together with this police certificate, apply for a replacement with Form TD 151.
Download form TD151 from the Transport Department website.

Transfer of Vehicle Ownership

A Notice of Transfer must be submitted to the Transport Department Licensing Office within 72 hours of change of ownership, as proof that both transferee and transferor have indeed come to a mutually satisfactory agreement. The transferor should not hand over the vehicle registration document until the transfer is registered with the Transport Department. Before accepting the registration document, the transferee should apply for a Certificate of Clearance for the vehicle to ensure there is no outstanding penalty or license suspension against the vehicle.  The Certificate of Clearance is free, but only valid for 72 hours.

When applying for a transfer of ownership, the transaction price of the vehicle should be declared on Form TD 25.  If the declared price is higher then the last taxable value then the following needs to be declared on Form TD 468:

  • The amount of the first registration tax paid
  • The value of any warranty other than a manufacturer's warranty
  • The value of any exempted accessories
Additional tax may be payable and should be paid before the transfer of the vehicle is effected.

The fee for Vehicle Transfer is HK$1000 per vehicle. The new owner is legally required to deliver the original Transfer Notice to the Transport Department, and give the duplicate to the former owner. Download form TD25 from the Transport Department website. Form TD 468 may also be collected from any licensing office or requested by fax on 2824 0433.

Vehicle Insurance

To register or transfer ownership of a vehicle, you must be in possession of third party insurance and be able to produce a certificate of such. A letter of reference from a previous vehicle insurance company will entitle you to a no-claims bonus of up to 60%.  Ensure that you request a letter from your insurance company in your home country before you cancel your insurance.

The average cost of third party insurance coverage for a mid range car is approximately HK$ 2,600 per year, whilst comprehensive insurance coverage is about HK$ 10,000 per year.  The cost will depend on your no-claim bonus.  To arrange for coverage,click here.

Driving Licenses

How to Apply For A Driving License
A Hong Kong driving licence may be issued to you without a test if you are the holder of an overseas driving licence issued by one of the approved countries or places listed on the Fourth Schedule of the Road Traffic (Driving Licences) Regulations, Cap. 374 and is valid or has expired for not more than three years. You must also comply with one of the additional conditions:
  • Have resided and held a license in the overseas country or place of issue for at least six months (you may prove the six-month residency with entry and departure stamps in your passport, school transcripts, employment testimonials or tax statements in the country or place of issue).
  • Have held the license for at least five years prior to the application
  • Hold a passport or equivalent document from the country or place in which the license was issued

If you plan to drive in Hong Kong, you may drive with a foreign license as long as you have visitor status. (A visitor is qualified as a person who intends to remain in Hong Kong for a period not exceeding 12 months.) Once you are issued with a Hong Kong Identity Card, you are required to apply for a Hong Kong license.

Application Procedures

Application forms for a Hong Kong Driving License may be obtained at the enquiry counter of any of the licensing offices of the Transport Department (listed below), at the Home Affairs Department Public Enquiry Service Centres, or at any Post Office. Alternatively, you may obtain a fax copy by calling the 24-hour Enquiry Hotline on 2804 2600.

All application forms can be downloaded from the Transport Department

Most applications associated with vehicle and driving licenses may be submitted by post. Your first application for a Hong Kong driving license, however, will have to be made in person or by a designated representative.

Subsequent license renewal applications may be submitted by post. A Hong Kong driver's license costs HK$900 and is valid for 10 years. An officially certified translation of an overseas driving license is required if the license is in any language other than English or Chinese.

Hong Kong Licensing Office
3/F, United Centre
95 Queensway
Hong Kong

Kowloon Licensing Office
2/F, Cheung Sha Wan Government Offices
303 Cheung Sha Wan Road

Direct Issue of a Hong Kong Driving License

If you do not satisfy all the conditions for direct issue (as listed under ‘How To Apply For A Driving License), you will be required to pass a test in all parts before a Hong Kong driving license is issued.

Application for a Hong Kong driving license is only accepted at the Hong Kong Licensing Office (3/F United Centre, 95 Queensway, Hong Kong). You will be required to visit the Hong Kong Licensing Office in person (or send a designated representative) and produce originals and photocopies of your overseas driving license, travel documents and Hong Kong ID card together with the appropriate fee (HK$900 cash or cheque).


Temporary Driving License

If you are from a country that is not included on the Fourth Schedule of the Road Traffic Regulations, Cap. 374, you may apply for a temporary driving license whilst waiting to sit your Hong Kong driving test. You must, however, satisfy one of the additional requirements (as listed under ‘How To Apply For A Driving License) and have applied for a driving test within three months of your arrival in Hong Kong.

Drop-In Application

Most applications, which do not require the submission of original documents, may be dropped into the designated boxes at the Licensing Office. You are required to submit the above listed items in photocopied form and a cheque payable to "The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region". The drop-box application process will take approximately 5 working days.

Application by Post

Applications that do not require the submission of original documents may be submitted by registered post. All relevant documents (photocopies acceptable), application form, and fee (in the form of a crossed cheque made out to "The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region") should be forwarded to any one of the licensing office: 
Hong Kong Licensing Office
3/F, United Centre
95 Queensway
Hong Kong
Kowloon Licensing Office
2/F, Cheung Sha Wan Government Offices
303 Cheung Sha Wan Road
Kwun Tong Licensing Office
5/F, Kowloon East Government Office
12 Lei Yue Mun Road

Do not send cash in the post.  The application by post process will take about 10 working days.  To inquire about your application, phone 2349 0200.

Once issued, a Hong Kong license will be valid for 10 years.

Learning How to Drive in Hong Kong

If you are 18 years of age or above, you may apply for a learner's driving permit at the Transport Department Licensing Office Website . In order to apply you will need the prescribed application form, your HK ID card, and the necessary fee (HK$548). Once issued, the learner's permit will be valid for 12 months.

Driving lessons for first time learners or those who have never driven on the left-hand side of the road may be arranged through the:
Hong Kong School of Motoring
Wong Chuk Hang Road Safety Centre:
23 Ocean Park Road
Wong Chuk Hang (near Aberdeen)
Hong Kong
Enrollment Hotline: 2866 6682
Tel: 2555 8300
Sales Outlet:
Admiralty MTR
Shop 2036,
United Centre
95 Queensway
Hong Kong
Tel: 2529 9670

A full course of lessons can include simulator training, theory lectures, and off-road and on-road practical lessons.

Cost of Lessons:
Full Course (25 driving lessons, 7 lectures) HK$ 8,000
Simulator Driving (3 lessons) HK$ 450 

Driving Tests

To take a driving test, you must apply for a test form by producing a learner's driving permit and paying the prescribed fee for each part of the test (HK$510 for the written test, HK$ 800 for the driving test).  To arrange for testing on Hong Kong Island, apply at the Hong Kong Licensing Office, address as above. A test form is good for 18 months in which time you may take all sections of the test. The test consists of three parts: Part A, a written multiple choice test on the Road User's Code; Part B, test of driving technique, on or off-road which may be combined with Part C, the on-road driving test.   If you fail any category of the test or fail to attend a scheduled test, the test form is invalidated and you will need to reapply for a new test form.



Last Updated: 17 November, 2004

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