Packing your luggage to bid the city adieu? We’ve put together a leaving Hong Kong checklist to help you tie up loose ends before you hit the airport, be it settling bills or booking a COVID test.
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 with travel restrictions and social distancing, we’ve been seeing an increasing trend of farewells (be it temporary or permanent). Whether you’ve been here for six months, six years or are a born and bred Hongkonger, no doubt it will be tough to say goodbye, but even tougher when you don’t know where to start on the admin front! We’ve created the ultimate leaving Hong Kong checklist to help you tie up those loose ends.
Settle Your Bills Before Leaving Hong Kong
This applies more to those who have moved to Hong Kong from abroad. No less than a month’s notice is advisable to settle any 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. We 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.
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 and water deliveries.
Request For MPF Withdrawal
If you wish to claim your MPF before leaving Hong Kong, the necessary application forms will be available from your pension holder. Finer details may vary, but all require a photocopy of your HKID card and satisfactory proof that you intend to leave Hong Kong 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 Hong Kong once, so think carefully about the likelihood of your return.
Notify Your Landlord And Declutter Your 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, chuck or donate. Asia Expat or Marketplace on Facebook can help to free you of superfluous goods. 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!
Cancel Any Existing Plans
Because the least you’d want is to still have your autopay billing your gym membership even after leaving Hong Kong.
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.
Read more: Your Guide To Health Insurance In Hong Kong
When it comes to cancellations, phone contracts are pretty rigid in Hong Kong 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. If possible, try to sell your handset online or even transfer the contract into someone else’s name if permitted by your operator.
Arrange To Ship Your Things Over
If you’re an 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. Clearing out your junk can be terribly therapeutic but do remember the keep sakes! If you’re shipping your items yourself, 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.
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. You might just avoid extra costs by taking a backpack on board. Sore shoulders are better than an empty pocket in our view!
Update Your Bank Details
Many people leaving Hong Kong 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.
Redirect Your Postal Address
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.
Book A COVID Test Or Vaccination
Check your airline and destination country’s requirements on COVID tests – both the type of test and time frame. Some countries also require arrivals to be fully vaccinated to avoid quarantine. You can book a slot for a COVID test at community testing centres (book here), private clinics, or the Test And Fly offered by Prenetics at Hong Kong International Airport. You’ll need your HKID card, birth certificate or passport, and a local phone number to receive your booking confirmation and results.
Book your COVID vaccination well ahead your departure date (especially if you’re required to be fully vaccinated). To play safe, you can bring a print copy of your vaccination record if your country of arrival doesn’t recognise digital records.
Read more: A Foodie’s Guide To Surviving Quarantine
Build Your Hong Kong Bucket List
Now that you’ve got the boring stuff out the way it’s time to start making the most of your last few days or weeks in the 852 and build up your Hong Kong bucket list. Whether it’s something adventurous (like attempting The Twins one final time), something indulgent (perhaps a one last brunch or exploring a unique neighbourhood?) or just seeing friends as often as possible, the memories are here to stay. With that, we bid you adieu, bon voyage and bonne chance!
Editor’s Note: “Leaving Hong Kong: Your Practical To-Do List” was originally written by Fenella and Jaime in February, 2015, and was most recently updated by Fashila Kanakka in March, 2022. Special thanks to Lexi Davey for her contribution.