Shipping and Removals in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is a major port destination, making shipping and removal services abundant and delivery efficient. The cost of shipping is directly related to volume (calculated in cubic metres), method of delivery and the distance the cargo travels. No duty or tax is levied on imported personal household items, and there is no limit on when you can import your goods or how much you can import.
If you are moving to Hong Kong on an expat employment package, then try and negotiate a shipping allowance in your contract. Typical offers included an air freight and sea freight allowance, both for shipping to Hong Kong and then back to your country of origin upon the completion of your contract. After all, you are likely to be a more effective employee if surrounded by your home comforts in your new city.
If you are splitting your belongings between air freight and sea freight, which is common, make sure you have a clear idea of when you can expect your shipment to arrive. Air freight will typically take one to two weeks, while sea freight will be delivered only after as much as four to six weeks, depending on where you’re moving from. It’s important to bear this in mind when packing.
Include anything you are going to need soon after your arrival in your air shipment, or even in your flight luggage.
Be sure about shipping
If you are looking for cost-effective solutions, then carefully consider what you need to take with you and what can be replaced when you arrive in Hong Kong. Furniture purchased for your home city may not fit into your Hong Kong apartment (which will likely be small), and precious family heirlooms may be safer at a family member’s home or in a storage unit than on a long voyage across the sea.
Furthermore, there is an IKEA in Hong Kong where you can pick up good quality furniture, and they even offer a delivery and installation service if your tool kit hasn’t made the journey with you. It’s also good to keep your eye out on expat websites for people leaving Hong Kong who are looking to get rid of their furniture. You can pick up some excellent quality items for a small fee or sometimes just a delivery cost.
Hiring an international removal company
If you manage to secure a shipping allowance through your work contract, or even if you are just looking for the most hassle free option to send your belongings to Hong Kong, it’s recommended you hire an international removal company. These companies come to your home, survey everything you want to take with you and make a quote based on the size of the shipment crate you require.
It's important to obtain a few different quotes - usually a free service - and then to make sure the company you select has reliable ground services in Hong Kong. This door-to-door pack-up and delivery comes at a cost, so if you are looking for money-saving options then the best idea is to shop around for the best deals with international shipping companies online.
Common services to look for in a shipper
- Pick-up goods at your location
- Basic disassemble and reassemble of furniture
- Border clearance and customs formalities at the destination
- Professional wrapping of all wooden, metal and fabric furniture
- Fuel surcharge
- Export documents for household goods only
- Wooden crate liftvan or palletizing
- Preparing professional inventory list
- Unloading all items to destination residence, and setting all items per your request
- Agent fees
- Removing packing debris from destination residence
Expats should be aware that shippers often tack on additional expenses for certain packing materials, handling and hoisting of excessively large items and certain processing requirements.
Common extra services a shipper might charge for
- Custom built wooden crates
- Documentation fee for vehicles and commercial cargo
- Piano handling
- Custom exam, inspection and/or x-ray
- Local duties and taxes
- Packing service for small and breakables items
- Fumigation charges and quarantine
- Insurance (unless purchased separately ahead of time)
- Insurance processing fee
- External hoisting or crane equipment
- Additional collection or split delivery locations
- Long carry
- Stairs fees – higher than a first floor walk-up
It’s a good idea to buy insurance from a company other than the shipping company used, to ensure reliable coverage on broken cargo.
Air freight services are quicker, but much more expensive than if you choose to send your items by sea freight. The best way to reduce the cost is to split your shipment, and to send the things you will need right away by air and send the remainder of your items by sea.
Once you choose your service provider, they will come to you on moving day, pack everything for you and deal with all insurance and customs formalities. Your quote should also include delivery and unpacking services at the Hong Kong end of things. As Hong Kong apartments are usually high up and small, professional help when moving in is certainly something you will be glad to have.
Shipping pets to Hong Kong
Many Hong Kongers have a dog or cat, and once arrived, expats will find that it’s common to see small dogs accompanying their “best friends” to Sunday brunch. There’s a thriving culture of “Fidos”, “Rexes” and “Bellas” in Hong Kong, and your pet can certainly make some new friends, but it’s best to think long and hard about whether relocation really is the best thing for your pet.
Apartments in Hong Kong are small, and depending on where you live, green space may be limited; furthermore, many city parks do not allow dogs. That said, there are definitely some ideal areas for your animals.
Apart from your pet’s new home, you’ll also need to investigate costs and legalities. A six month quarantine stay in Hong Kong and back in your home country could be costly for you and stressful for your animal.
Pets from New Zealand, Fiji, UK, Ireland and Australia generally don't need quarantine, and pets from the USA, most European countries and South Africa may be exempt from quarantine if they comply with permit terms. Expats should consult the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department of Hong Kong to see if their nation requires quarantine, and to see what other formalities are required.
A list of certifications necessary for shipping your pet
- Current vaccinations record
- USDA endorsement (including microchip implantation record, rabies certificate, vet health certificate)
- Hong Kong health certificate
- Import permit.
There are a number of dedicated companies in Hong Kong who can help you with importing pets. It is a complicated process, and it may require you getting a permit for your animal prior to arrival, depending on which country you are bringing it from. You can look at the Hong Kong Agriculture department’s website for comprehensive information on the formalities required to bring your pet with you to the country.