Moving Here

How to get your working visa and Hong Kong I.D card

By: Elle Kwan

Congrats! Your offer is made, the contract is signed and now you are headed to Hong Kong to work. Next step is getting a visa, followed, after your arrival, with a Hong Kong Identity Card. No need for stress. Procedures are pretty painless, although it does pay to book appointments rather than wait in lengthy lines. Here’s how to get it done:

Hong Kong visa's
The illusive working visa


About the working visa

Unless you have a Hong Kong ‘right of abode’ or ‘right to land’ a visa is required to work. Having your company sponsor and issue your visa (and any dependent visas for your family) before you arrive is the most efficient way of entering Hong Kong. Most companies hiring foreign staff are familiar with the process and should get the ball rolling before you travel. That said, arriving as a visitor allows stays of between 14 to 180 days depending on what passport you hold. You are not legally entitled to work without a visa but you can land and then set about getting your documents if necessary. Expect the visa process to take up to four weeks.


Working on a dependent visa

If one of you has obtained a working visa, then dependent visas can be issued (and are necessary) for your spouse and children under the age of 18. Holding a dependent visa gives a wide berth for spousal work opportunities since no additional working visa is needed, and the dependent is not tied to one company. More information here.


Applying for a Hong Kong ID card

Anyone residing in Hong Kong aged 11 or over is required to hold a Hong Kong ID card, and an application must be made within 30 days of landing if you are planning to stay longer than six months.


Download forms from the government site, and be sure to cut down waiting time by booking an appointment online. There are five locations where applications can be processed. Immigration Tower in Wan Chai is the busiest but most frequented by expats. There are details of the locations here.


On the day you will need:


Valid visa

Completed application form

Photos are taken during the application, and no fee is required.

HKID applications are usually processed and ready for collection within 10 days.


Using your card

You should keep your ID on you at all times, and it’s a good idea to have the number memorised, since it is routinely used as an identifier when calling banks or arranging services. Cards are fitted with a smart chip and as such can be used in place of a library card, as well as ensuring a swift exit through automatic gates at Hong Kong Airport and in Macau. Bonus!


We’ve got plenty more hints and tips on moving to Hong Kong over on our ‘Living Here’ page