Overall Crime and Safety Situation
U.S. Consulate General 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.
The U.S. Department of State has assessed Hong KONG as being a low-threat location for crime directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests.
Please review OSAC’s Hong Kong-specific webpage proprietary analytic reports, Consular Messages, and contact information.
The Consulate is not aware of any specific threats against American citizens. Petty street crime (pickpocketing) occasionally occurs at tourist locales and in areas of high congestion (the Mass Transit Railway (MTR), Peak Tram, Star Ferry, Central District, Wan Chai, and large marketplaces) throughout the city.
Road Safety and Road Conditions
Hong Kong SAR (Special Administrative Region) has a highly developed and well-maintained road and highway network. Traffic moves on the left. During the day, traffic is congested in 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 31 miles per hour (mph)) 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 if available is mandatory. Hong Kong uses automatic photo-ticketing systems to discourage speeding; tickets are mailed to the vehicle owner.
Public Transportation Conditions
Hong Kong has a modern, efficient public transportation subway system – known as the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) –and buses. The majority of people use public transportation instead of traveling on congested roadways. Public transit is safe and reliable, though petty crimes of opportunity can occur. Buses and the MTR are generally clean and punctual. Subway stations have signs in Chinese and English; bus stops typically have stations and timetables in English and Chinese, but bus drivers may speak limited English.
There are occasional reports of taxi scams in which drivers increase fare on the meter or claim that the fare is in a currency other than Hong Kong dollars.
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. HKG is regularly rated among the best airports in the world by the Airports Council International. Both MTR and ferry services are available to/from Hong Kong International Airport.
Other Travel Conditions
There have been two Hong Kong-Macau ferry accidents in recent years:
- in September 2012, resulted in 39 deaths
- in October 2015, no fatalities but over 100 injuries
Hong Kong SAR customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning controlled items that passengers might be carrying while transiting Hong Kong (temporary importation/exportation). Most prominent among these are weapons. Those caught carrying any weapon or ammunition in/out of Hong Kong, including transiting the airport, are subject to prosecution and possible detention.
Weapons are defined broadly as: any firearm; any air rifle, air gun, or air pistol from which any shot, bullet, or missile can be discharged with a muzzle energy greater than two joules; any taser or electric stunning device; any gun, pistol, or other propelling or releasing instrument from which a projectile containing gas or chemical could be discharged; any weapon that could be used in the discharge of a noxious liquid, gas, or powder; and any harpoon or spear gun. Unless otherwise exempted by laws, possession of an "imitation firearm," including paintball guns, is also an offense.
Other items defined as weapons include Chinese-style throwing darts; gravity knives; gravity-operated, spring loaded, or extendable steel batons; brass knuckles; Chinese-style fighting irons; any knife with a blade that can be exposed by a spring or other mechanical or electric device; and any bladed or pointed weapon.
Although these items are openly sold in mainland China, they cannot be brought into Hong Kong legally.
HKG security routinely and comprehensively screens any luggage loaded onto an aircraft for departing or transiting passengers. Discovery of weapons during this screening will be referred to the police for investigation, leading to arrest/detention. Other controlled items include:
counterfeit goods or illegally-produced copies of copyrighted items, ivory, narcotics, prohibited medications, television decoders requiring a subscription, animals and plants, meat and poultry, textiles, electronic cigarettes, and sensitive technology or military products.
If you bring these goods into Hong Kong without the necessary documents, you may be prosecuted, and the goods may be seized. The penalty for trafficking in dangerous drugs can be life imprisonment and/or a heavy fine.
Electronic cigarettes are regulated as pharmaceutical products, so possessing them without the proper authority could result in a heavy fine and up to two years in prison.
Among the other items that you must declare to customs officials are liquors, tobacco, cigarettes and cigars, methyl alcohol, and merchandise imported for commercial purposes.
THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED HONG KONG AS BEING A LOW-THREAT LOCATION FOR TERRORIST ACTIVITY DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.
Local, Regional, and International Terrorism Threats/Concerns
While Americans in Hong Kong are subject to the worldwide threat from international terrorism, there is no information to suggest any specific terrorist threats directed at Americans or American interests. The possibility of a ‘lone-wolf’ attack or transnational terrorist organizations attempting to carry out attacks cannot be ruled out. The Consulate is not aware of any indigenous terrorist groups operating in Hong Kong.
Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence
THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED HONG KONG AS BEING A LOW-THREAT LOCATION FOR POLITICAL VIOLENCE DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.
Public protests, demonstrations, and strikes occur but are seldom violent. Demonstrations are usually located in the Central District near various government buildings and in relatively close proximity to the U.S. Consulate.
During the typhoon season (July-September), the Hong Kong Observatory issues typhoon warnings an average of six times a year; heavy rainstorm alerts are even more frequent. If the Hong Kong government announces a Typhoon Signal 8 or above or a Black Rainstorm Warning, many facilities close, and bridges may close to traffic.
There have been no major problems affecting critical infrastructure in Hong Kong; however, there is a nuclear power plant just across the border in mainland China.
Hong Kong has very strict privacy laws; however, 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.
Despite efforts to improve accessibility, Hong Kong continues to be challenging for those with physical disabilities. The city has many stairs, inclines, and steep, uneven walkways not designed for anyone who uses a walker, cane, crutches, or a wheelchair.
The Hong Kong Police Force has distinct units responsible for all crime and security issues. General police support and response to foreign victims of crime is excellent. The Hong Kong Police Force is highly-trained and professional.
How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment
If American citizens are arrested, authorities are required to alert the U.S. Consulate General. If you are concerned the Department of State may not be aware of your situation, you should request the police to notify the U.S. Consulate General of your arrest. Incidents of police corruption, bribery, or harassment are rare. However, if such an incident does occur, you can contact the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) at +852 2526-6366.
The American Citizen Services (ACS) 24-hour duty officer can be reached at +852 2523-9011.
Crime Victim Assistance
The local police emergency number is 999. Operators generally speak English, Cantonese, and Mandarin. There are numerous police stations strategically located throughout various districts and communities. The response time is typically under five minutes for emergencies and under 10 minutes for non-emergency calls.
Emergency Ambulance: 999
Fire Services Department: +852 2735-3355
Some emergency personnel are trained to paramedic standards, though most are trained at the first responder level to perform basic stabilization and transport to the nearest hospital.
Contact Information for Available Medical Services
Hong Kong Adventist Hospital (24-hour private urgent care)
40 Stubbs Road
Telephone: +852 3651-8888
Queen Mary Hospital (trauma)
102 Pokfulam Road
Telephone: +852 2855-3111
Queen Elizabeth Hospital (trauma)
30 Cascoigne Road
Telephone: +852 2958-8888
Available Air Ambulance Services
International SOS (HK) Limited
16/F World Trade Centre
280 Gloucester Road
Hong Kong (SAR), P.R China
Telephone: +852 2528 9998
Recommended Insurance Posture
Travelers should consider obtaining temporary medical insurance prior to travel. 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 (meaning, either one must have insurance that the hospital will accept or one would likely be required to make a deposit or put up a guarantee in order to be admitted).
Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance
Air pollution is increasingly hazardous. Congested vehicle traffic and mainland factories emit ozone, sulfur, and nitrogen oxides, leading to a visible haze on most days of the year. Average roadside pollution levels exceed World Health Organization guidelines by 200% and continue to deteriorate, creating health risks for those with allergies, asthma, or cardiac problems.
The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Hong Kong.
OSAC Country Council Information
The Hong Kong/Macau Country Council chapter meets several times a year. Individuals interested in participating should contact the Regional Security Office at +852 2841-2355 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or by visiting the Hong Kong Consulate General’s OSAC website.
Please contact OSAC’s East Asia Pacific team with any questions.
U.S. Consulate Location and Contact Information
Consulate Address and Hours of Operation
U.S. Consulate General Hong Kong & Macau
26 Garden Road
Hours: Mon-Fri, 0830-1730 (except U.S. and local holidays)
Consulate Contact Numbers
Telephone: +852 2523-9011
Fax: +852 2845-1598
Regional Security Officer: +852 2841-2355
American Citizen Services (ACS): +852 2523-9011
Marine Post One: +852 2841-2230
Consular Coverage for Multi-post Countries
The Consulate General in Hong Kong is also responsible for Macau.
Embassy Beijing: http://beijing.usembassy-china.org.cn/
Consulate Chengdu: http://chengdu.usembassy-china.org.cn/
Consulate Guangzhou: http://guangzhou.usembassy-china.org.cn/
Consulate Shanghai: http://shanghai.usconsulate.gov/
Consulate Shenyang: http://shenyang.usembassy-china.org.cn/
Consulate Wuhan: http://wuhan.usembassy-china.org.cn/
Hong Kong SAR Country Information Sheet