a large white tiled hallway with people walking around

New Year, New Restrictions: Which China Travel Restrictions Include Hong Kong and Which Don’t

Home » Updates » New Year, New Restrictions: Which China Travel Restrictions Include Hong Kong and Which Don’t

Current as of: January 9, 2023. This is not an official government website, please double check information (I’ve linked to all sources, but can’t promise I’ll update this in real time)

Happy new year! A couple of weeks ago, my hopes for 2023 were that I’d be thinking about my imminent graduation, as well as upcoming travel plans. Less than 24 hours into the new year, I have 60 tabs open on my phone, trying to understand the plethora of new restrictions that are being imposed on Chinese travelers. Specifically, which of them apply to Hong Kong.

With many news outlets reporting the latest travel restrictions on China, I thought I’d write a post specifically for those planning outbound travel from Hong Kong. The hope is to clarify whether you’re allowed to travel, and whether you’d need a PCR test to do so or not.

a photograph of Hong Kong Airport in 2022
Unlike many news outlets at the moment, this blog post with a huge picture of Hong Kong Airport is actually talking about Hong Kong Airport


For most countries that are requiring a COVID-19 test for entry at the moment, a picture of a rapid antigen test kit will not suffice, unlike the requirement to enter Hong Kong. Instead, you’ll need either a PCR test certificate, or a certificate from a clinic-administered rapid antigen test. I have no sponsorship from any of these companies, but off a quick Google search I’d recommend INDICAID Labs, which is charging HK$380 for a COVID-19 test certificate.

a test strip with a red x
Sacrificing my blog’s aesthetic appeal to emphasise that a picture of a home test kit is NOT ENOUGH!

Since nobody is providing clarity at the moment, I’ve provided links directly to information sources for whether Hong Kong is involved, even if the source itself isn’t the clearest information communicator:

Countries that ARE requiring negative COVID-19 tests for Hong Kong travelers

  • The US is requiring a test conducted within 2 days (48 hours) of their departure from Hong Kong for passengers flying on direct flights/originating from China and connecting via any third country, as well as those flying from Seoul Incheon (ICN), Toronto Pearson (YYZ), or Vancouver (YVR) who have been in China/Hong Kong/Macau over the past 10 days (you need to test even if you’re connecting, but you’re exempt if you’ve tested positive between 10 and 90 days before your flight). This is for flights arriving from 5th January onwards
  • France is requiring masks onboard planes and an antigen/PCR test taken less than 48 hours before departure, with random on-arrival testing, commencing with flights arriving 5th January
  • Italy is asking for a PCR test within 72 hours of departure or an antigen test within 48 hours of departure AND an antigen test on arrival
  • Australia is requiring a negative test result taken less than 48 hours before departure commencing with flights arriving 5th January
  • India specifically requires a PCR test result with 72 hours of departure, with random on-arrival testing, for Hong Kong travelers starting with flights arriving 1st January
  • Canada is requiring a test taken with 48 hours of departure starting flights arriving January 5, with exemptions for those testing positive between 10 and 90 days ago
  • Qatar requires a PCR test taken within 48 hours of departure, but only if entering Qatar (not if transiting)
  • Spain is requiring travelers from China to either test, or be fully vaccinated (most Chinese vaccines not accepted, which leads me to think that those from Hong Kong with a Chinese-administered vaccine must test)
  • South Korea backtracked on their Hong Kong exemption, and passengers must show evidence of testing (Hong Kong travelers continue to be exempt from mandatory on-arrival testing)
  • Ghana‘s health declaration form doesn’t list Hong Kong as a country, so presumably you’ll have to click that you’ve been to China (which presumably would require a test)

people walking in a large airport
A pre-departure test is required to fly to Sydney (SYD) from 5th January

Countries where Hong Kong travelers are EXEMPT from mainland China testing restrictions

  • The UK has expressly stated that their restrictions on mainland China do not apply to Hong Kong
  • Japan is exempting Hong Kong passengers from testing on-arrival, however airlines have experienced flight caps from the city
  • Taiwan left Hong Kong out of their new Mainland China on-arrival testing requirements
  • Malaysia is temperature screening everybody, but no testing required
  • Morocco has placed a ban on all China arrivals from Jan 3, though Hong Kong isn’t included
  • Israel have not explicitly placed bans on Hong Kong, and Chief Secretary Eric Chan hasn’t included these regions in his appeal to consulates to redact Hong Kong testing requirements
  • The EU (apart from France) isn’t indicating that Hong Kong passengers must test before departure – in particular, Germany has exempted Hong Kong here, and Belgium here
    • For countries not stated, not enough information has been provided – a few countries have only indicated they are mandating tests for Hong Kong travelers a few days after imposing the China test mandate

a large illuminated christmas tree in a terminal
Heathrow is asking for travelers from mainland China to test pre-departure, but not travelers from Hong Kong

I’m flying somewhere else this week – should I keep on my toes?

Yes – the situation is evolving quite quickly and new restrictions are being put on travelers from China every day. I’d almost recommend you get evidence of a negative test pre-departure regardless of where you’re flying, though obviously the feasibility of this varies for everybody.

Here are a list of countries that are “monitoring the situation”, or have said something in the past:

  • The Philippines “sees the need to intensify the monitoring and implementation of border control”


As the situation in mainland China evolves (and the case numbers in Hong Kong inevitably increase), it can be quite nerve wracking to not know what countries are requiring for entry. I’ll update this post with information as it comes, though hopefully it’s a worthy collation if you’re travelling from Hong Kong.


  1. Is the U.S. requirement for a COVID test within 48 hours of departure from Hong Kong applicable if one is only transiting HKG? For example, if one’s flight is BKK to JFK via HKG? The wording seems ambiguous.

    1. Without a doubt you’ll need it if you’re transiting HKG, but the wording of the press release is confusing to me too regarding whether you need it if you’re transiting somewhere else with your origin at HKG.

      1. Just FYI, I dug a little deeper on the CDC website and found the following: “…the Order does NOT apply if you transited through an airport in China, Hong Kong, or Macau en route to the United States from another country, or if you spent less than 24 hours in China, Hong Kong, or Macau.” Are you seeing something different?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *