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Hong Kong – Driving Licenses

Hong Kong is a bustling city with a highly developed transport network, and driving in the city can be challenging. Foreign nationals who plan to drive in Hong Kong must have a valid driving license. This article will cover the rules and regulations, agreements in place for license exchange, procedures for obtaining and renewing driving licenses, recognition of International Driving Permits, and the penalty system for motoring offenses in relation to driving licenses in Hong Kong.

General Rules for Foreign Nationals in Hong Kong

Foreign nationals who hold a valid driving license from their country of origin can use their license in Hong Kong for up to 12 months. After 12 months, they must obtain a Hong Kong driving license. This applies to all foreign nationals, regardless of the country of origin.

License Exchange Agreements in Hong Kong

Hong Kong has agreements in place with several countries that allow foreign nationals to exchange their driving license for a Hong Kong one without taking a driving test. The countries that have such agreements with Hong Kong are the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea. This exchange applies only to certain categories of licenses, and the license exchange procedure depends on the country of origin. Foreign nationals from countries that do not have an agreement with Hong Kong must take a driving test in Hong Kong to obtain a Hong Kong driving license.

Obtaining and Renewing a Driving License in Hong Kong

To obtain a Hong Kong driving license, foreign nationals must take a written and practical driving test. The test is conducted in Cantonese, but an interpreter can be provided for foreign nationals who do not speak the language. The cost of obtaining a driving license in Hong Kong is approximately HK$920.

To renew a driving license, foreign nationals must provide the following documents:

  • A valid passport and visa
  • The original Hong Kong driving license
  • A medical certificate issued by a Hong Kong doctor
  • Proof of residency in Hong Kong

The renewal process is straightforward and usually takes no longer than a day. The cost of renewing a driving license in Hong Kong is approximately HK$500.


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Relevant Government Departments or Agencies

The Transport Department is the government agency responsible for regulating driving licenses and road safety in Hong Kong. Foreign nationals can obtain more information on driving licenses in Hong Kong by visiting the department’s website at https://www.td.gov.hk/en/public_services/licences_and_permits/driving_licences/index.html.

International Driving Permit Recognition in Hong Kong

An International Driving Permit (IDP) is recognized in Hong Kong. However, it is not a substitute for a valid driving license. Foreign nationals who plan to drive in Hong Kong must have a valid driving license and an IDP if they plan to drive for more than 12 months.

Penalty System for Motoring Offences

The penalty system for motoring offenses in Hong Kong is strict, and fines can be significant. The penalties for motoring offenses are as follows:

  • Speeding: Fines range from HK$320 to HK$650, depending on the speed at which the offense was committed.
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol: Fines range from HK$25,000 to HK$50,000, and the offender’s driving license can be suspended for up to three years.
  • Driving without a valid license: Fines range from HK$5,000 to HK$10,000, and the offender’s vehicle can be impounded.
  • Reckless driving: Fines range from HK$5,000 to HK$10,000, and the offender’s driving license can be suspended for up to three years.

It is worth noting that the penalties for motoring offenses in Hong Kong are subject to change, and foreign nationals are advised to keep themselves informed of any changes in the law.

In conclusion, foreign nationals who plan to drive in Hong Kong must have a valid driving license. Foreign nationals who hold a valid driving license from their country of origin can use their license in Hong Kong for up to 12 months. After 12 months, they must obtain a Hong Kong driving license. Hong Kong has agreements in place with several countries that allow foreign nationals to exchange their driving license for a Hong Kong one without taking a driving test. The Transport Department is the government agency responsible for regulating driving licenses and road safety in Hong Kong, and foreign nationals can obtain more information on driving licenses in Hong Kong by visiting the department’s website. An International Driving Permit (IDP) is recognized in Hong Kong, but it is not a substitute for a valid driving license. The penalty system for motoring offenses in Hong Kong is strict, and fines can be significant. Foreign nationals should, therefore, familiarize themselves with the local driving laws and regulations to avoid any legal issues while driving in Hong Kong.


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