Just arrived in Hong Kong and wondering whether you should buy a car? It’s a big question! Here are our tips on buying a car here to help you with your decision.
1. Get registered
First, make sure you’re legally able to own a car and drive on Hong Kong roads. You’ll need a valid HKID card, a local address for car registration, and a valid HK driver’s licence. Transferring your home country’s driving licence to a local one is usually straightforward; just visit the Transport Department at Admiralty and apply.
Registration varies in price, depending on the type of vehicle and where you’ll be driving. Licencing fees are based on engine size; a private car with a 1,500cc or lower petrol engine can pay around HK$4,000 a year; bigger 4,500cc engines are nearly three times that. Also consider the cost of fuel, annual vehicle examinations, tolls and parking fees around town (which can be exorbitant!).
2. Get a Car
For a tiny island, Hong Kong has lots of cars – and lots of options when buying. Do you want brand new or second-hand? New cars are appealing for their excellent condition and the manufacturer’s warranty, but they can be expensive thanks to high import taxes. Most big-name brands have car dealerships in HK, so just choose what you want, pop in for a test drive, and make the purchase. Second-hand cars are often quite affordable, but unless you buy from a reputable dealer or someone you know, there’s no way of knowing the car’s history. Look at dealer websites and keep your eye on expat forums for deals. Insist on a test drive, and always ask for a vehicle history report (via the Transport Department) and get a pre-purchase check (the Hong Kong Automobile Association can help, or ask your own mechanic).
3. Get Insured
To own a car in Hong Kong, you must take out insurance. The minimum required coverage is third-party, but this only covers damage to other people’s property if you’re involved in an accident. A more comprehensive plan, while more expensive, will cover damage to your own vehicle.
Going Electric In 2021
If you choose electric, suppliers like PCCW can fit your parking space with a charger. Or, use the free super charging stations at shopping centres – you just pay for parking.
The electric vehicle market is really ramping up, by the way, with new Chinese carmaker Xpeng launching its P5 sedan at the 2021 Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area International Auto Show, and undercutting Tesla prices significantly in the process.
Transport Department: td.gov.hk
Hong Kong Automobile Association: hkaa.com.hk/en
HK Car Trader: hkcartrader.com
DCH Quality Used Car Company: www.dchucc.com
The Automall: automall.com.hk
Hear it from the residents
Is it worth having a car here?
“In certain areas it would be useful to have a car but by and large I’ve found public transport easy to use on a daily basis. Plus there are so many taxis available that you’ll never find yourself stranded – and they’re reasonably priced too.” – Monica
“It’s worth it if where you live isn’t as readily accessible to public transport, but it’s also so great to have a car to have the freedom to drive wherever you want.” – Aline
“Depends on where you live. But everything is easy to get to, so a car isn’t really necessary.” – Adam
“Not unless you have children and/ or live far from your place of work. Parking is also quite hard to come by, or very expensive! Taxis are very cheap, as is the MTR, so most can survive easily without a car.” – Max
“Yes, absolutely. We’ve had a car the last five years and it’s helped us discover some nooks and crannies we’d never have gone to otherwise – parts of the Sai Kung Country Park, for example.” – Dominique
See more helpful tips in our Living in Hong Kong section
Fun facts: A to Z of Hong Kong Trivia
Finding a home in HK: 15 key questions
Guide to where to live in Hong Kong
This article first appeared in the City Guide 2021/22 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.