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, 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 goods can be imported or how much can be imported.
People moving to Hong Kong on an expat employment package should try and negotiate a shipping allowance in their contract. Typical offers include an air freight and sea freight allowance, both for shipping to Hong Kong and then back to one's home country upon the contract's completion. After all, an employee is likely to be a more effective if they're surrounded by home comforts in their new city.
If a new arrival is splitting their belongings between air freight and sea freight, which is common, they should make sure they have a clear idea of when they can expect their 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 they’re moving from. It’s important to bear this in mind when packing.
Anything that's going to be needed soon after arrival should be included in the air shipment, or even in one's flight luggage.
Be sure about shipping
Those looking for cost-effective solutions should carefully consider what they need to take with them and what can be replaced when they arrive in Hong Kong. Furniture purchased for another city may not fit into a 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 good quality furniture can be picked up, and it even offers a delivery and installation service if an expat's tool kit hasn’t made the journey with them. It’s also good to keep an eye out on expat websites for people leaving Hong Kong who are looking to get rid of their furniture. Some excellent quality items can be picked up for a small fee or sometimes just a delivery cost.
Hiring an international shipping and removals company
If an expatriate employee manages to secure a shipping allowance through their work contract, or even if they are just looking for the most hassle-free option to send their belongings to Hong Kong, it’s recommended that they hire an international removal company. These companies come to a person's home, survey everything they want to take with and make a quote based on the size of the shipment crate that is required.
It's important to obtain a few different quotes – usually a free service – and then to make sure the company that's been selected has reliable ground services in Hong Kong. This door-to-door pack-up and delivery comes at a cost, so the best idea for those looking for money-saving options would be to shop around for the best deals with international shipping companies online.
Common services to look for in a shipping company
- Pick-up goods at the customer's 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 the customer's 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 shipping company 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 choosing to send items by sea freight. The best way to reduce the cost is to split the shipment, and to send the things that will be needed right away by air and to have the remainder sent by sea.
Once a service provider has been chosen, they will come on moving day, pack everything and deal with all insurance and customs formalities for the moving expat. Their quote should also include delivery and unpacking services at the Hong Kong end of things. Hong Kong apartments are usually high up and small, professional help when moving in is certainly something new arrivals will be glad to have.
Shipping pets to Hong Kong
Many Hong Kongers have a dog or cat, and once they've 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 expat pets can certainly make some new friends, but it’s best to think long and hard about whether relocation really is the best thing for a pet.
Apartments in Hong Kong are small, and depending on where one lives, green space may be limited; furthermore, many city parks do not allow dogs. That said, there are definitely some ideal areas for animals.
Apart from the pet’s new home, expat owners will also need to investigate costs and legalities. A six month quarantine stay in Hong Kong and back in one's home country could be costly for the expat and stressful for the 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 country requires quarantine, and to see what other formalities are required.
A list of certifications necessary for shipping pets to Hong Kong
- 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 expats with importing pets. It is a complicated process, and it may require getting a permit for the animal prior to arrival, depending on which country it is being brought from. The Hong Kong Agriculture department’s website offers comprehensive information on the formalities required to bring pets into the country.