23 February, 2015

Leaving Hong Kong – Your Practical To-Do List

23 February, 2015

Hong Kong is a cultural melting pot with many people from all over the world emigrating to this great metropolis. But as people arrive, people also leave, and sad as it may be, the time may come for you or friends to move onto pastures new… Whether you’ve been here six months, six years or your a born and bred Hong Konger, no doubt it will be tough to say goodbye, but even tougher when you don’t know where to start on the admin front! For those about to give HK the heave ho, Sassy has created the ultimate to do list to help you tie up those loose ends. 

leaving hk bills

1. Bills, bills, bills
This is probably going to be the most boring section of move admin but perhaps the most important so be sure to cover all bases:

– Taxes
This applies more to people who have moved to HK from elsewhere, not born and bred Hong Kongers: As a good temporary citizen, you should give Inland Revenue (IR) plenty of notice that you intend to leave Hong Kong for good. No less than a month’s notice is advisable to settle outstanding payments or rebates (finger’s crossed!). Once notified, IR will send you one final green tax form for completion within 14 days. Your employer will also need to notify IR of your salary up to the agreed leaving date by completing an I.R.56G form (available from Revenue Tower) one month in advance. You will then be required to settle the final bill in person at Revenue Tower. I would recommend delivering the papers in person, or via fax to save time. Let’s hope you’ll be cashing a chunky rebate cheque in soon! If you’re self employed or running your own company you need to make sure you let them know you are ceasing business otherwise you will still be liable for various fees etc.

– Utilities
Make sure you shut up shop when it comes to your home bills – notify your utility suppliers with the final date of your lease and be sure to close accounts. Main ones to think about are electricity, gas and water but don’t forget the pesky things like internet, TV contracts, water deliveries etc.

2. My pension pleeease (unless you plan to return…)
If you wish to claim your MPF before leaving HK, the necessary application forms will be available from your pension holder. Finer details may vary, but all require a photocopy of your HKID and satisfactory proof that you intend to leave permanently (if you’re returning to your country of origin, a passport copy and forwarding address should suffice) as well as your bank details including the swift code. You will also need to make a declaration confirming your move, which can be easily organised at a Public Enquiry Service Centre. Simply drop in and they will allocate you a time slot. Once the application is complete, it should take one month for the money to arrive in your account (time for a shopping spree?). Remember, you can only claim your pension due to permanent departure from HK once, so think carefully about the likelihood of your return.

leaving hong kong clothing3. Home sweet home
Naturally, if you intend to bid farewell to Honkers, you’ll need to give your landlord the required notice and ensure your flat is spick and span for inspection. All being well, your deposit should be returned to you within 10 – 15 working days of vacating. No doubt, you will have accumulated more junk than first thought, so give yourself sufficient time to ship or chuck. Asia Expat or Swap It HK on Facebook can help to free you of superfluous goods but if it’s from IKEA, don’t expect more than pocket money. Alternatively, use your move as an excuse to get the girls round, open a bottle of wine and let them fight over your treasures. You’ll be surprised how sought-after extension leads, tea lights and tins of tomatoes are!

4. Just in case… insurance
Another thing that’s worth thinking about is any insurance policies you currently have in place. If these are arranged through your company, you’re in luck as they will probably cease with your contract but if you set them up on your own, be sure to cancel them – home, health, travel etc. Most of them won’t be transferrable and don’t take the risk – travel insurance companies are pretty strict on where your trips originate from… 

5. Bye bye +852
When it comes to cancellations, phone contracts are pretty rigid in HK unless you are within the ‘roll over’ period. If you’re midway through your contract, most likely you’ll have to cough up the whole lot in one go. Gah! If possible, try to sell your handset online or even transfer the contract into someone else’s name if permitted by your operator. Good luck!

6. Anchors aweigh!
If you’re expat, you may have the luxury of company compensated shipping, but do be mindful of what you’re sending. Take time to assess your boxes – just because they are ‘free’ doesn’t mean you have to use them all (a friend of mine has 19 shipped boxes sat in storage in the UK, with no idea what is inside them!). Clearing out your junk can be terribly therapeutic but do remember the keep sakes! My G.O.D. tea towel, Kowloon Dairy milk bottle and mini Stanley painting all fitted snugly inside my luggage. If you do not have the luxury of company-covered shipping, the cheapest option is via the Hong Kong post office. Prices vary according to weight and location, but for an idea, a 25kg box sent to the UK will cost around $1,500.

Of course, shipping takes time and thus you’re going to want to take as many essential items as possible within your suitcase but there is nothing worse than receiving a hefty fine at check in, especially when you’re already on the verge of tears at saying goodbye for good. Check your luggage allowance in advance – it could be more (or less) than you first thought. If on the small side, pay for additional allowance before departure or, for the more flush amongst you, this could be an ideal opportunity to use those Marco Polo points and get a business upgrade. However light you think your baggage is, split it between two bags, one of which feasibly could become carry on. I managed to avoid a $6,500 fine by taking my backpack on board. Sore shoulders are better than an empty pocket in my view!

Bank 7. Bank it up
Many people leaving HK plan to return at some point in the near future, in which case it is not always necessary to pack up your bank account straight away. If you have a global account such as HSBC Premier, your money can be easily transferred into a new location and currency. Whatever your choice, ensure your contact details are up-to-date and that you have transferred sufficient funds to your new location. If closing your account with HSBC, you will need to fill out a ‘Consolidation and Closure’ form, which takes three days to process.

8. Onto pastures new
The likelihood is that the main things you receive in the post are bills and ASOS delivery parcels, but if you’re worried that some important documentation might get left behind then it’s easy to set up a postal redirection with the Hong Kong post office simply by filling out a form and giving them a forwarding address for the highly affordable amount of $125 for three months…

9. Hong Kong Bucket List
Now you have got the boring stuff out the way it’s time to start making the most of your last few days/weeks in the 852 and build up your HK bucket list…. on ours were the adventurous (attempt The Twins one final time), the indulgent (dine in one of either Amber, Liberty Private Works or Caprice), the excursion based (head to Sham Shui Po/Sai Kung etc – ie remove self from Central’s bubble) and mainly the sociable – see friends as often as possible…


With that, we wish you adieu, bon voyage and bonne chance…

*Special thanks to our Sassy Girls Fenella and Jaime for putting this together!


Lead image sourced via Pinterest, image #1 sourced via Pinterest, #2 sourced via Pinterest, #3 sourced via Pinterest

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