We have been receiving many enquiries regarding travel to Hong Kong and Mainland China. In order to help provide some clarity, we have prepared comprehensive guides for international travelers as well as people who want to travel across the border between Hong Kong and Mainland China.
This issue is a guide to international travel, and we will be publishing our guide to cross border travel soon.
- Hong Kong’s Covid Containment Strategy
Unlike other major cities, Hong Kong maintains a highly restrictive quarantine policy for inbound foreign travelers in 2021, and the government has indicated that the requirement for most overseas travelers to undergo a 14- or 21-day hotel quarantine will remain in place for the foreseeable future.
Hong Kong’s quarantine policy for international travel mirrors that of Mainland China, and the priority in both jurisdictions is to continue pursuing a ‘covid-zero’ strategy, in order to ensure domestic public health and minimize social distancing requirements which disrupt social and economic activity. The border between Hong Kong and Mainland China remains closed, with travel between the regions restricted by quotas set under the “Come2HK” scheme for Mainland residents visiting Hong Kong, and “Return2HK” scheme for Hong Kong residents returning from Mainland China.
Reopening the border between Hong Kong and Mainland China is the Hong Kong government’s current priority, and it is estimated that this objective will be achieved by the first quarter of 2022, subject to the continued stability of the public health situation. Until then, international travel in both regions will be subject to quarantine requirements.
In most cases, fully vaccinated travelers who are willing to undergo a hotel quarantine will be able to visit Hong Kong as long as they are able to secure a hotel booking in advance. Under current conditions, it is advisable to plan itineraries at least two months in advance.
- Hong Kong travel entry policies for overseas visitors:
The Hong Kong government groups overseas countries into 3 groups according to risk level. Group A consists of high-risk regions and includes the following countries:
Bangladesh, Brazil, Cambodia, France, Greece, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Malaysia, Nepal, The Netherlands, Pakistan, The Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and the United States of America.
Hong Kong residents who have been to any of these places 21 days prior to traveling to Hong Kong will be required to provide proof of full vaccination, as well as a negative COVID-19 PCR test result within 72 hours prior to the flight’s departure. Upon arrival, they are required to spend 21 days in isolation at a designated quarantine hotel, for which they should have proof of their booking prior to boarding their flight. Non-residents who have visited any of these countries will not be allowed to enter Hong Kong. Travelers should note that hotel bookings may have to be made months in advance, and itinerary changes can be difficult to process.
Group B consists of all places (other than Mainland China and Macao) not covered under Group A and Group C.
Countries like Canada, Australia and Singapore would fall under Group B. Travelers from Group B countries are required to provide proof of full vaccination, a negative PCR test result and a copy of a quarantine hotel booking confirmation. Non-residents traveling from Group B countries can enter Hong Kong if they are fully vaccinated. Unvaccinated Hong Kong residents will be required to quarantine for 21 days, while vaccinated residents and non-residents are required to undergo a 14-day quarantine.
There are currently no countries in Group C, but for any country placed in the category, both Hong Kong residents and non-residents can travel to Hong Kong if they have only been in a Group C country within the past 14 days. Vaccinated travelers are required to spend 7 nights in a quarantine hotel, while unvaccinated travelers must quarantine for 14 nights.
All PCR test results should be issued by a laboratory, clinic or hospital facility which is ISO 15189 accredited or officially endorsed by the government of the country where the PCR test is provided. Vaccination records issued outside of Hong Kong and Mainland China should also meet government requirements in order to be considered valid for entry to Hong Kong.
- Foreign Travel to Mainland China
Visas issued to foreigners prior to March 28, 2020 will not be valid for entering Mainland China. Ordinary Residence Permits and APEC Business Travel Cards will not be valid for entry. Only foreigners holding a visa issued after March 2020, a Mainland China Permanent Residence Card and a valid work permit can enter the PRC. All visa free travel programs are suspended.
All arrivals to the country will be required to undergo a 14-day quarantine at a government designated facility. Individual cities have additional requirements which are subject to change depending on the local public health situation.
- Beijing: Additional 7 day quarantine, and 7 day tracking
- Chengdu, Fuzhou, Hangzhou, Qingdao, Xiamen: Additional 7 day home quarantine
- Nanjing: Additional 14 day home quarantine (28 days total, including initial quarantine)
The current restrictions on entry to Hong Kong and Mainland China pose considerable challenges to business travelers and expatriates. However, traveling is possible as long as arrangements are made well in advance. The current restrictions will not be permanent and full international travel will eventually resume. In the meanwhile, should you have any enquiries regarding travel or arrangements for managing your commitments from overseas, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our guide to cross border travel will follow soon.