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International Container Shipping to Hong Kong

Organising a move to Hong Kong can seem a daunting task, but the key to success is careful planning. It is hard to judge exactly how much the total cost will be, but estimates range between £3,500 and £5,000, excluding insurance.

Ports in Hong Kong

Just one - your household effects will be shipped to Hong Kong International Terminal.

Shipping by Sea

The most cost effective way to ship your household goods is by sea, and your items will be packed in a large metal container for safety and protection. Prices are calculated by volume. There are two sizes of container: 20 foot and 40 foot. A 20 foot container has an internal capacity of 1172 cubic feet, and is suitable for transporting the contents of an average 3-bedroom house. If you have a lot to ship, and especially if you want to ship your car, then a 40 foot container with a capacity of 2390 cubic feet is better. It will cost around £1,115 for a 20 foot container, and £1445 for a 40 foot one, but if you don't have enough to fill a container, shared use can be arranged.

You can choose to ship your items port-to-port, by delivering them to the container port prior to departure. However, most domestic shipping is done using door-to-door service, with packing included; it's generally considered better to leave packing to the experts to avoid possible damage in transit.

Sailings to Hong Kong are usually weekly for port-to-port service, meaning your goods will arrive in about 28 days. Door-to-door sailings are generally monthly, so it can take between 8 and 12 weeks for delivery.

It's essential to make sure you have all the required paperwork for shipping your household items to Hong Kong - your shipping company can help with this. You will need to have:

  • Shipping documents - Bill of Lading
  • Itemised inventory
  • Insurance documents
  • A Hong Kong Letter of Authority (required for all sea freight shipments)

Additional charges can include Hong Kong Customs charge (around £70 on door-to-door shipping), and port charges. There may also be a charge for storage if your goods can't be collected promptly.

Shipping by Air

Naturally, shipping by air is faster, but is also much more expensive, so you should only consider this for items you will need immediately on arrival. Items can be delivered directly to the airport or local drop-off centres and collected at the receiving airport on arrival, or a door-to-door service is an option. Check whether customs charges or local taxes are included in the price quoted, or whether they must be paid separately. Shipping by air normally takes about a week.

Prices for air freight are calculated by weight. The following provides a rough guide:

  • £1.40 per kilo (minimum 50kg)
  • Air handling: 20p per kilo (minimum £25)
  • Security: 20p per kilo
  • Air waybill: £30
  • Export NES Customs: £20
  • Fuel and war risk: c80p per kilo

The paperwork required for shipping by air is similar to that needed for sea shipping, but you will need to complete air freight security forms in place of the Hong Kong Letter of Authority.

Prohibited items

There are many items that you are prohibited from bringing into Hong King, or which require an additional licence. These include:

  • Drugs and narcotics
  • Foodstuffs e.g. meat, game
  • Fireworks and explosives
  • Arms and ammunition
  • Endangered plants or animals
  • Antibiotics without prescription

If in any doubt, check the details on the Hong Kong Customs and Excise website.

Shipping your Car

Your car will be best protected if you ship by container, and this can be done together with your other goods. However, shipping can also be done using Roll On Roll Off (RO-RO) shipping, in which specially adapted vessels are used, and the vehicles can be driven directly on and off the ship. Charges for this vary, depending on the size and type of vehicle, but range between £665 and £825.

Before shipping your car, you will need proof that it meets the regulations concerning exhaust and noise emissions, and this proof must be supplied to the Environmental Protection Department. There is no customs tax for importing your car, but you must inform the Customs and Excise Department within 14 days of arrival.

Tracking and Insurance

Reputable removal companies will give you all the help you need regarding insuring your goods, and insurance is often included in the price. A tracking service is also invaluable for helping you to know where your goods are at all times.