Importing Goods into Hong Kong: Air vs. Sea Port

Importing Goods into Hong Kong: Air vs. Sea Port

Importing goods into Hong Kong is a crucial aspect of international trade and commerce.

Hong Kong operates as an unrestricted trading hub, allowing unhindered import and export of goods.

Any Hong Kong individual or company holds the privilege to engage in goods import and export activities; however, they are still obligated to adhere to specific regulations.

No customs tariff is imposed on imported goods in the country. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government solely levies excise duty on four specific types of goods—tobacco, hydrocarbon oil, alcoholic beverages, and methyl alcohol—whether they are locally manufactured or imported.

Typically, all shipments entering or exiting HKSAR through air, land, and sea routes are subject to Customs oversight. This oversight primarily involves scrutinizing documentation like manifests. Physical inspection of goods, if required, is conducted on a selective basis.

For goods brought into Hong Kong, the importer must complete customs clearance and declaration procedures with the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department. Charges are determined based on the nature and value of the imported goods, except for items exempted from declaration fees.

What are the prerequisites for importing goods?

1. Fulfilling Customs Clearance Procedures

When bringing goods into Hong Kong, you must arrange the following documents to facilitate customs clearance:

  • Import licenses or removal permits (if applicable)
  • Copy of detention notice (if applicable)
  • Supplementary supporting documents like invoices or packing lists, airway bills, etc. 

Physical inspections may be conducted by the Customs Department to verify that the imported goods meet established standards.

2. Execute Import Declarations

After dispatching a shipment to Hong Kong, it is mandatory to electronically file an import declaration through one of the authorized providers: Global e-Trading Services Limited, Tradelink Electronic Commerce Limited, or Brio Electronic Commerce Limited. This process adheres to the Import and Export (Registration) Regulations and must be completed within 14 days from the date of importation.

Your import declaration necessitates accurate particulars about the importer, the shipment, its mode of transportation, and other essential details. Failure to present the completed form on time incurs a penalty of up to HK$200. This also applies to incomplete or erroneous declarations. It's essential to ensure the accuracy of all information before electronic submission. Alternately, you have the choice to lodge your import declaration through paper-to-electronic conversion services provided by the aforementioned entities.

Additionally, be aware that depending on the goods' nature, there is a declaration charge ranging from HK$0.20 to HK$200 to be settled upon submission of your declaration.

Businesses have the option to import goods either by air or through the Hong Kong port, each with its own advantages and considerations.

Importing by Air

Importing goods by air offers several benefits, including faster delivery and reduced transit times. Here's how the process works:

  • Customs Declaration: Importers need to submit a customs declaration electronically through the Hong Kong Trade Single Window (TSW) system.
  • Documentation: Necessary documents include the bill of lading or air waybill, commercial invoice, packing list, and any relevant licenses or permits.
  • Customs Inspection: Customs officers may inspect the goods to ensure compliance with regulations.
  • Duties and Taxes: Depending on the nature of the goods, importers may need to pay duties and taxes to the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department.

Importing through the Sea Port

Importing goods through the Hong Kong port offers more flexibility for larger shipments and different types of goods. Here's an overview of the process:

  • Port Declaration: Importers need to submit a port declaration through the Hong Kong Port Community System (PCS).
  • Bill of Lading: The bill of lading serves as evidence of the contract of carriage and receipt of goods.
  • Customs Inspection: Customs officers may inspect the goods for compliance with regulations.
  • Payment of Duties and Taxes: Importers may need to pay duties and taxes based on the nature of the imported goods.


Importing goods into Hong Kong offers businesses opportunities for growth and expansion. Whether choosing to import by air or through the sea port, it's important to understand the differences in procedures,

Contact our customs experts today to ensure compliance with regulations and optimize the import process.

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