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Overseas Security Advisory Council
Bureau of Diplomatic Security
U.S. Department of State

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Hong Kong 2019 Crime & Safety Report

The current U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory at the date of this report’s publication assesses Hong Kong at Level 1, indicating travelers should exercise normal precautions.

Overall Crime and Safety Situation

The U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The American Citizen Services (ACS) unit cannot recommend a particular individual or establishment, and assumes no responsibility for the quality of services provided.

Review OSAC’s Hong Kong-specific page for original OSAC reporting, consular messages, and contact information, some of which may be available only to private-sector representatives with an OSAC password.

Crime Threats

There is minimal threat from crime in Hong Kong. The Consulate is not aware of any specific threats against U.S. citizens. Petty street crime occasionally occurs in tourist areas. Be particularly mindful of belongings in areas of high congestion, such as the subway (MTR), Peak Tram, Star Ferry, Central District, Wan Chai, and large marketplaces throughout the city, where you may be more vulnerable to pickpockets.

Transportation-Safety Situation

Road Safety and Road Conditions

Hong Kong has a highly developed and well-maintained road and highway network. Traffic moves on the left. During the daytime, traffic congests Hong Kong's urban areas. Each year, there are about 14,000 traffic accidents involving more than 18,000 drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. Speed limits are 50 kilometers per hour (kph) (approximately 31mph) in urban areas, 80 kph (approximately 50 mph) on highways, and 110 kph (approximately 68 mph) on expressways, unless otherwise marked. The use of seatbelts in vehicles, if available, is mandatory for all passengers.

Hong Kong uses automatic photo-ticketing systems to discourage speeding. The owner of a ticketed vehicle will receive the ticket in the mail.

Public Transportation Conditions

Hong Kong has a modern, efficient public transportation system composed of an extensive subway (Mass Transit Railway or “MTR”) and buses. The majority of people use public transportation instead of driving on the congested roadways. Public transport in Hong Kong is safe and reliable, though petty crimes like pickpocketing can occur. Buses and the MTR are clean and punctual. Subway stations have signs in English and Chinese. Timetable and bus stop names are typically displayed in English and Chinese. Bus drivers, for the most part, speak some English.

There are occasionally reports of taxi scams where drivers increase the fare on the meter or claim that the fare is in a currency other than Hong Kong dollars.

Aviation/Airport Conditions

Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) is one of the largest, busiest airports in the world, providing service to around 190 destinations by over 100 airlines. Airports Council International regularly rates HKG as among the best airports worldwide. MTR and ferry services are available to and from the airport.

Hong Kong customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning controlled items you might be carrying while transiting Hong Kong (temporary importation or exportation). Airport security routinely and completely screens luggage loaded on to an aircraft whether belonging to a departing or transiting passenger. Discovery of weapons of any kind – including stun guns – leads to police investigation, arrest, and detention. If you bring controlled items into Hong Kong without the necessary documentation, authorities may prosecute you and seize the goods in question. Among the items that passengers must declare to customs officials are alcohol (including methyl alcohol), tobacco products, and merchandise imported for commercial purposes. Find a non-exhaustive list of controlled and/or prohibited items on the Hong Kong Country Information Sheet.

Hong Kong regulates electronic cigarettes as pharmaceutical products; possession of such items without the proper authority could result in a considerable fine and up to two years in prison.

Other Travel Conditions

There have been two accidents involving ferries between Hong and Macau in recent years: the first, in 2012, resulted in 39 deaths; the second, in 2015, caused no fatalities, but over 100 injuries.

Terrorism Threat

Local, Regional, and International Terrorism Threats/Concerns

There is minimal threat from terrorism in Hong Kong. The Consulate is not aware of any indigenous terrorist groups operating in Hong Kong, and there is no information suggesting any specific or credible transnational terrorist threats directed against U.S. citizens or interests. Nevertheless, one cannot rule out the possibility that a lone-wolf attacker or transnational terrorist organization would attempt to carry out an attack in Hong Kong.

Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence

There is minimal risk from civil unrest in Hong Kong. Public protests, demonstrations, and strikes occur, but are rarely violent. Demonstrations are usually located in the Central District near various government buildings, which are close to the U.S. Consulate General. In 2018, there were nine protests at the U.S. Consulate.

Post-specific Concerns

Environmental Hazards

During the typhoon season (July through November), the Hong Kong Observatory issues typhoon warnings an average of six times a year; it issues heavy rainstorm alerts more frequently. The Hong Kong Observatory has an excellent notification and monitoring system. If the Hong Kong Government announces a Typhoon Signal 8 or above, or a Black Rainstorm Warning, many facilities in Hong Kong close, and bridges may close to traffic. Additionally, under such a warning, the U.S. Consulate General will likely close for services.

Air pollution is an increasingly serious health concern in Hong Kong. Traffic fumes and ozone, sulfur, and nitrogen oxides from mainland factories lead to a visible haze in the atmosphere on most days. Average roadside pollution levels exceed WHO guidelines by 200% and continue to deteriorate, creating health risks for those with allergies, asthma, or cardiac problems.

Critical Infrastructure Concerns

There have been no major problems affecting critical infrastructure in Hong Kong; however, there is a nuclear power plant 50 km from Hong Kong in mainland China.

Privacy Concerns

Hong Kong has very strict privacy laws; however, in recent years, there has been an increase in complaints regarding personal data collection.

Personal Identity Concerns

Reports of discrimination based on gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation are infrequent. Same-sex sexual relations are legal. There is no law against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

Despite efforts to improve accessibility, Hong Kong’s hilly topography poses challenges to individuals with physical disabilities. Hong Kong’s many stairs, inclines, and steep, uneven walkways do not typically accommodate individuals who use a walker, cane, crutches, or a wheelchair.

Police Response

The Hong Kong Police Force has distinct units responsible for all crime/security issues, and is highly trained and professional. General police support and response to foreign victims of crime is excellent. The average response time is under five minutes for emergencies and under 10 minutes for non-emergencies. Police operators typically speak English, Cantonese, and Mandarin.

How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment

Authorities must alert the U.S. Consulate General of an arrested or detained U.S. citizen. If you are concerned the Department of State may not be aware of your situation, request that the police notify the U.S. Consulate General of your arrest. Incidents of police corruption, bribery, or harassment are rare. However, if such incidents do occur, contact the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) at +852 2526-6366.

Crime Victim Assistance

The local police emergency number is 999. There are numerous police stations located throughout the various districts and communities of Hong Kong.

U.S. citizen victims of crime can contact the American Citizen Services (ACS) unit at the U.S. Consulate. Tel: +852 2841-2211, +852 2841-2323, +852 2841-2225 (M-F 0830 – 1730); +852 2523-9011 (after-hours); email: acshk@state.gov

Medical Emergencies

Dial 999 for emergencies or +852 2735-3355 for the Fire Services Department. Hong Kong offers good medical facilities, with many Western-trained physicians. Hong Kong emergency service response times for police, fire, and ambulances are good. Some emergency personnel training meets U.S. paramedic standards, though most training is at the first-responder level to perform basic stabilization and transport to the nearest hospital.

Contact Information for Available Hospitals/Clinics

For medical assistance, refer to the Consulate’s Medical Assistance page. More comprehensive lists of medical doctors and dentists are also available at the Medical Council of Hong Kong and Dental Council of Hong Kong websites.

Hong Kong Adventist Hospital (24-hour private urgent care)

40 Stubbs Road, Hong Kong, Tel: +852 3651-8888

Queen Mary Hospital (trauma)

102 Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong, Tel: +852 2855-3111

Queen Elizabeth Hospital (trauma)

30 Cascoigne Road. Kowloon, Tel: +852 2958-8888

Available Air Ambulance Services

International SOS (HK) Limited

16/F World Trade Centre, 280 Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

Tel: +852 2528 9998; fax: +852 2528 9933

Insurance Guidance

Consider obtaining temporary medical insurance prior to departing the United States. Medical facilities in Hong Kong require foreigners to pay for treatment, and then seek reimbursement through their insurance company. Hospitals, including emergency rooms, also will not usually admit foreigners as patients without payment up front; one must either have insurance that the hospital will accept, or the hospital will required the patient make a deposit or put up a guarantee prior to admission.

Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance

In addition to routine childhood and adult immunizations, consider receiving the following vaccines: 

  • Hepatitis A: for all travelers.
  • Typhoid: for risk-averse travelers desiring maximum pre-travel preparation.
  • Hepatitis B: for prolonged stays; frequent short stays in this or other high-risk countries; adventure travelers; the possibility of acupuncture, dental work, or tattooing; all health care workers; the possibility of a new sexual partner during stay; and travelers with high potential to seek medical care in local facilities. Consider for short stays in travelers desiring maximum pre-travel preparation.
  • Japanese encephalitis: Sporadic, limited risk exists in rural areas of the New Territories. Transmission season is April-October. For risk-averse travelers desiring maximum pre-travel protection and traveling for prolonged stays or frequent short stays in risk areas. Not necessary for urban areas or short visits to usual rural tourist sites. Use evening and nighttime insect precautions.
  • Rabies: Bats exist in Hong Kong. Take bat bites seriously and seek post-exposure prophylaxis even if already immunized.
  • Influenza (including 2009 H1N1): for all travelers. Flu transmission occurs throughout the year in the tropics, and all travelers are at increased risk. Unvaccinated travelers (especially those at high risk for complications) should consider a standby treatment course of oseltamivir.

The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Hong Kong.

OSAC Country Council Information

The Hong Kong/Macau OSAC Country Council meets several times a year. Individuals interested in participating in the Country Council or connect with the Regional Security Officer (RSO) should contact OSAC’s East Asia and the Pacific Team.

U.S. Consulate Location and Contact Information

U.S. Consulate General Hong Kong & Macau, 26 Garden Road, Hong Kong SAR, China

Hours: Monday through Friday, 0830-1730 (except U.S. and local holidays)
Consulate General Hong Kong: +852 2523-9011; fax: +852 2845-1598

Regional Security Officer: +852 2841-2355

Marine Post One: +852 2841-2230

The Consulate General in Hong Kong is also responsible for Macau.

Nearby Posts

Embassy Beijing:

Consulate Chengdu: https://china.usembassy-china.org.cn/embassy-consulates/chengdu/

Consulate Guangzhou: https://china.usembassy-china.org.cn/embassy-consulates/guangzhou/

Consulate Shanghai: https://china.usembassy-china.org.cn/embassy-consulates/shanghai/

Consulate Shenyang: https://china.usembassy-china.org.cn/embassy-consulates/shenyang/

Consulate Wuhan: https://china.usembassy-china.org.cn/embassy-consulates/wuhan/

Additional Resources

Consular Affairs Hong Kong Information Sheet 



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