Types Of Visas In Hong Kong: Explained

Dreaming of a skyline dance in Hong Kong?

Well, before you pack those dancing shoes, let’s waltz through the various visa types you might need.

After all, you wouldn’t want an immigration hiccup to crash your party.


Do I need a Hong Kong visa?

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Hong Kong maintains a visa policy separate to that of China. This means that its immigration and visa procedure and requirements vary from that of mainland China.

One of the major policies that stands out is that anyone who wishes to visit Hong Kong for a brief period does not necessarily require a visa for this purpose. This is true for most countries, but not all.

Hong Kong Visa Not Required

There are more than 150 countries whose residents at present do not require a visa if they are visiting Hong Kong for a short stay. 

The exact duration for this can vary from 7 to 180 days depending on the country, type of visa and purpose of travel to Hong Kong.

There are others for which even though a Hong Kong visa is not required, but you will need to have a pre-arrival document.

Visa-Exempt Countries

There are numerous countries included in this list which do not require citizens to apply for a visit visa to go to Hong Kong.

These countries include Mongolia, Niger, Philippines, Russia, Indonesia, Jordan, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Egypt, Greece, Mexico, Sweden, Switzerland, United States of America and United Kingdom among others.

Hong Kong Visa Necessary

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Despite this ease of regulations for certain countries, there are others that still necessarily require you to apply for the visa.

These countries include Afghanistan, Congo, Cuba, Ethiopia, Ghana, Laos, Nicaragua, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Vietnam etc.

Requirements To Enter Hong Kong

There are certain eligibility requirements that you must fulfill if you wish to apply for a Hong Kong visa. These include:

  • The applicant must have a clean criminal record; you might need a police certificate as proof.
  • A good educational background and professional experience relevant to the vacancy you are applying to.
  • The individual must be able to financially support themselves during the period of their intended stay in Hong Kong.
  • Must be able to clearly demonstrate the purpose of your visit, along with proof.
  • Have a passport with a validity date for at least six months.

Hong Kong Visa Types

There are three broad categories of visas that you can apply to, for Hong Kong:

Short Stay Visa

Hong Kong allows citizens of more than 150 countries to travel here visa-free. The duration of stay can range anywhere from 7 to 180 days. Citizens from other countries will be required to apply for a visa.

If you intend to stay beyond 90 days, you will need to apply for a visa. But in any case, you will need to apply for an extension on this visa if you wish to stay for a longer period, even if you came in from one of the visa exempt countries.

Single, Double Or Multiple Entry

You can get a single, double or multiple entry visa depending on the visa type and purpose of your visit to Hong Kong.

A single entry visa will allow you to enter Hong Kong only once. You can stay until the date of expiry on your visa. However, if you choose to leave before the expiry of your visa, you will not be able to re-enter even if your visa is valid. This is because the visa is considered expired once you leave.

A double entry visa, as the name implies, will allow you to enter the country twice in the duration that your visa is valid. If you enter twice, and then leave the second time (even if it is before your visa expires), your visa will for all purposes be considered expired with your second exit.

A multiple entry visa as opposed to the both above, will allow you to enter Hong Kong multiple times for the duration that your visa is valid, without having to worry about visa expiry with any of your exits.

Airport Transit Visa

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This type of visa is given to anyone who will just be passing through Hong Kong before going on to another destination. Some countries might only require a pre-arrival registration.

A travel pass is also closely related to this. The pass is issued to foreign business executives who travel frequently to Hong Kong. The travel pass holders can enjoy a streamlined immigration process and will not need to stop for every clearance procedure.

National Visa (For Long Stay Visits)

If you want to stay in Hong Kong for a longer period of time, you will need to apply for the national visa which will let you stay in the region for possibly years, depending on the purpose of your visit. This visa will ultimately allow you to apply for a residency permit as well if you wish to settle in Hong Kong.

Types Of National Visa

There are several long stay visas that you can apply for. These include the following:

  • Employment visa – this is for individuals who have secured a job with an employer in Hong Kong and will be relocating there.
  • Investment visa – this is for individuals who wish to invest and start their own business in Hong Kong.
  • Quality Migrant Admission Scheme (QMAS) visa – this is a quota based scheme for foreigners who wish to come to Hong Kong to explore either the employment or business establishment opportunities.
  • Student visa – this visa is for foreign students who want to study in Hong Kong. This is applicable for full-time degrees, training programs and internships too.
  • Family visa – this is for anyone wishing to join their family members in Hong Kong. This is applicable for both permanent and temporary residents’ families.

Hong Kong Visa Application Procedure

If you wish to apply for a visa for Hong Kong, you need to follow the procedure as listed below:

Where Can I Apply For A Hong Kong Visa?

In most cases you will be able to apply online for a Hong Kong visa. However, the foreign mission in some countries will require you to submit the documents to them in person or by post at the nearest consulate.

Required Documents For Hong Kong Visa Application

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There are some documents that will be required by the Hong Kong authorities regardless of the type of visa you are applying for. These include the following:

  • A passport with at least a six month validity. You should also have a copy of the bio-data page with it that clearly shows all of your important identification information.
  • A completely filled out visa application form. You can either do this online or fill out the form by hand depending on your country and the regulations followed by the embassy there.
  • Recent passport sized pictures that will be attached with your application.
  • Proof of financial resources to show that you will be able to support yourself for the duration of your stay.

If any of your documents are in a language other than Chinese or English, you will need to provide a translated copy from an approved translator.

Additional Documents For Short Stay Visas

For short stay visas, you might need to submit additional documents such as:

  • Proof of your flights both coming in and leaving from Hong Kong.
  • Proof of financial means to be able to support your stay without having to work e.g. bank statements, signed declaration from a sponsor in Hong Kong etc.

Additional Documents For Long Stay Visas

Long stay visa applicants will need to submit specific documents depending on the type of visa they are applying for. These could include:

  • Proof of enrollment such as a university acceptance letter (if applying for a study visa) or an employment contract with a company based out of Hong Kong (if applying for a work visa).
  • Medical certificate to certify that you are in a healthy condition, both physically and mentally.
  • Police record to indicate a clean criminal record. This is to ensure that you will not be a risk to other Hong Kong citizens.
  • Proof of financial resources, in case of a study visa since you will not be allowed to work for this duration.
  • Academic degrees and proof of professional experience in case of a work visa.

Contact The Nearest Embassy

The first step in the process is to contact the Hong Kong embassy or consulate closest to you to gather information about the method of submission for the visa application since this might differ slightly based on your home country.

You can also get a list of the required documents for your specific visa type from here.

Schedule A Visa Application Appointment

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For the Hong Kong visa, nationals from some countries will need to schedule an appointment in advance, but not everyone. Contact the embassy before you start the process to find out what applies to you.

You will need to take a completed copy of the visa application form with you if you are submitting the application in person. In some cases, you might even be able to submit an online application at GovHK.

You will also submit your documents in the same manner as the rest of your application. It depends on the foreign mission in your country whether you will need to visit in person to submit your visa application or if it can be done online.

Visa Application Fees

The standard visa fee is around HK$230, while a transit visa costs less at HK$120.

Once you submit your application to the embassy or consulate, you will then need to pay your visa fee in cash directly.

The alternative is to pay it online, but again, this option will not be available to all. It is also advisable that you pay the fee in Hong Kong dollars (and not other currencies).

Processing Time For Hong Kong Visas

The processing time can vary according to your visa type and the country you are applying from. Applications can take up to four weeks to process. Therefore, it is a safe bet to apply well in advance so that you do not risk having to alter your travel plans. 

For everyone applying after December 2021, once your application has been approved, you will be sent an eVisa. You can print out this PDF before you travel to Hong Kong.

Can I Work On A Hong Kong Visa?

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This will depend on the type of visa you are applying for. The employment visa will be issued specifically for this purpose. However, visas like the visitor visa do not allow you to work in Hong Kong for that duration (whether paid or unpaid) or establish any kind of business.

How Long Is My Hong Kong Visa Valid For?

The validity of your visa is dependent on the country you are coming from, your visa type and other individual factors.

Generally, a visit visa is issued for any duration ranging from 7 to 180 days. Work visas on the other hand are usually issued for 2 years initially.

Study visas also tend to depend somewhat on the duration of your program, but may be issued for at least a couple of years.

Most of these long stay visas have a possibility of renewal, provided that you are able to prove your need to stay in Hong Kong.

Can I Extend My Hong Kong Visa?

It is possible to get an extension on your Hong Kong visa. You will need to download and fill out the visa extension application, and have the documents ready in advance. The entire process must be done before your current visa expires.

The documents, fee and even the procedure might differ slightly depending on the type of visa that you have, and the specifics of your case.

Fees For Extending A Hong Kong Visa

The fees for extending your visa will also depend on your case and the visa type. But on average, you can expect to pay around HK$230 for the extension application.

What Happens If My Hong Kong Visa Application Is Rejected?

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There are certain types of applications that you will be able to send to the Immigration Appeals Tribunal if your visa gets rejected. However, there is no formal recourse to the Tribunal available for most kinds of visa applications.

The other option available is to apply for a Reconsideration of your visa application or a Review of a Decision of a Public Officer.

If neither of these options work for you, you can always make a completely new application provided that a reasonable amount of time has passed.


So, you’re now a tad wiser about Hong Kong’s visa jigsaw. Whether you’re here for a dim sum date or a longer tango, make sure you’ve got the right visa in your pocket. Dance on, explorer!

Hong Kong-Bound!

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