Guide to Filming in Hong Kong

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CUSTOMS AND EXCISE

All travellers entering Hong Kong are obliged to observe the laws prohibiting the importation of controlled items without an import licence issued in advance by the authorities concerned.

Examples include narcotics, psychotropic drugs, antibiotics, pharmaceutical products, medicines, certain chemicals which can be used to manufacture dangerous drugs, arms and ammunition, explosives and fireworks, strategic commodities, textiles, ivory products, animals, plants, meat and poultry, telecommunications equipment and smokeless tobacco.

ATA Carnets

Film crews entering Hong Kong are not subject to any customs duties on the importation of equipment or other specific duties in connection with their work.

However, if the equipment is covered by an ATA Carnet, film crews should approach the Customs Duty Officer for endorsement upon arrival and prior to departure. Baggage and equipment may be subject to customs check as per regular passengers.

Animals and Plants

Under the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance (Cap. 170), no person shall, except in accordance with a special permit, hunt or willfully disturb, buy, sell, export or offer for sale or export, have in his possession or under his control any protected wild animals. The following areas designated for protection of important habitats are restricted areas where no person, except for permit holder, shall enter:

  • the fung shui grove behind the village of Yim Tso Ha at Starling Inlet;
  • Mai Po Marshes, all the mangrove swamps adjoining the Marshes and the intertidal mudflats and shallow waters of Inner Deep Bay; and
  • the sandy beach at Sham Wan on Lamma Island.

The Lion Rock, Kam Shan, Shing Mun and part of Tai Mo Shan Country Parks and Tai Po Kau Special Area and some of the nearby places are also designated as places where feeding of any wild animals, including wild monkeys, is prohibited.

A special permit from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) must be obtained in advance before animals and birds can be imported or transshipped to Hong Kong. The permit is valid for six months from the date of issue and is good for one consignment only. Dogs and cats imported from countries or places with high risk of rabies are subject to a minimum quarantine period of four months in two animal management centres under the AFCD.

In Hong Kong, animals are protected under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance, which prohibits any cruelty to or negligence of any animal that would cause them unnecessary suffering at any time. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Hong Kong) (SPCA(HK)) urges filmmakers to protect the mental and physical well-being of animals, to understand and consider an animal’s natural habits when filming and to make every effort to ensure a stress-free filming environment when animals are involved. No animals shall be killed specifically for filming purposes. Contact the SPCA(HK) for more information.

Imports of plants are regulated under the Plant (Importation and Pest Control) Ordinance (Cap. 207). With the exception of plants from China, a Plant Import Licence issued by the AFCD and a Phytosanitary Certificate issued by the exporting country are required to import plants to Hong Kong.

The import, export, re-export or possession of an endangered species listed in the Appendices to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, whether alive or dead, and its parts and derivatives, is subject to licensing control under the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance (Cap. 586).

More information can be found at AFCD’s website at www.afcd.gov.hk.

Arms and Ammunition

Lethal weapons are not permitted in Hong Kong without proper authorisation. Offenders face strict penalties.

These weapons include all kinds of firearms and ammunition, knives incorporating mechanical or electronic devices, gravity knives, gravity-operated batons, knuckle-dusters, Chinese-style throwing darts and fighting irons, and spring-loaded steel batons. Arms also include electric stun devices, chemical irritant sprays such as Mace, harpoons and spear guns.

While the importation of imitation firearms does not require a licence, their possession is a punishable offence in certain circumstances (see Modified Firearms and Blank Ammunition).

Fireworks and Explosives
Under the Dangerous Goods Ordinance (Cap. 295), it is an offence to possess, conveyance, manufacture or use any fireworks, firecrackers, pistol caps and party-poppers or other explosives without a licence.

Under the Entertainment Special Effects Ordinance (Cap. 560), it is an offence to store or use any pyrotechnic special effects materials without relevant licences and permits (see Explosives and Pyrotechnic Materials in this section).

Further enquiries

The above lists are for guidance only. For further information, please contact the following organisations (see also Contact List):

  • the AFCD for animals and plants;
  • the Customs and Excise Department for customs requirements;.
  • the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce for ATA Carnet;
  • the Hong Kong Police Force for arms and ammunition;
  • the Civil Engineering and Development Department (Mines Division) on fireworks and explosives; and
  • Create Hong Kong (Special Effects Licensing Unit, FSO) for explosives and pyrotechnic materials.
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