Hong Kong Digital Nomad Visa: Everything You Need to Know

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Are you a digital nomad looking for a new, exciting destination to live and work remotely? If so, consider Hong Kong one of the world’s most dynamic, cosmopolitan, and culturally diverse cities.

Hong Kong is a particular administrative region of China that enjoys high autonomy and freedom. It is a global financial, trade, and innovation hub that offers many opportunities for entrepreneurs, freelancers, and professionals. It is also a vibrant and lively place with something for everyone, from stunning skyscrapers and modern infrastructure to rich heritage and natural beauty.

However, being a digital nomad in Hong Kong has challenges and complexities. You need to know the visa, tax, cost of living and cultural aspects of living and working in Hong Kong.

This article will cover everything you need to know about Hong Kong digital nomad visa and how to make the most of your experience in this fantastic city.

Digital Nomad Visa Options for Hong Kong

One of the main challenges for digital nomads in Hong Kong is finding a suitable visa to stay and work legally in the city. Hong Kong has yet to have such an option, unlike some countries offering specific digital nomad visas or programs.

However, digital nomads who want to live and work in Hong Kong can use two main visa schemes: the Investment as Entrepreneurs visa and the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme visa.

Investment as Entrepreneur Visa

The Investment as Entrepreneurs visa is designed for foreign nationals who want to establish or join a business in Hong Kong. This visa allows you to stay and work in Hong Kong as an entrepreneur or a partner of a business entity. You can also bring your spouse and dependent children under 18 years old.

To be eligible for this visa, you need to meet the following criteria:

  • You have an excellent educational background, preferably with a degree in a relevant field.
  • You have a good business plan demonstrating your business’s feasibility, sustainability, and contribution to the Hong Kong economy.
  • You have sufficient funds to support your business and living expenses in Hong Kong.
  • Your business is in an industry that benefits Hong Kong’s economic development, such as innovation and technology, creative industries, financial services, tourism, etc.
  • Your business has created or will create local employment opportunities or has introduced or will introduce new skills or technology to Hong Kong.

The application process for this visa involves submitting an online application form, paying a fee of HK$1,090 (about US$140), and providing supporting documents such as your passport, academic certificates, business plan, financial statements, bank statements, etc. The processing time for this visa is usually around four to six months.

The benefits of this visa are that it allows you to stay and work in Hong Kong for up to two years initially, which can be extended for another two years upon renewal.

After seven years of continuous residence in Hong Kong, you can apply for permanent residency. This visa gives you more flexibility and control over your business activities and income sources.

The drawbacks of this visa are that it requires a substantial amount of investment and risk-taking. You also need to prove that your business is viable and profitable, which can be challenging in a competitive market like Hong Kong. Moreover, you must comply with the tax and legal obligations of running a business in Hong Kong, which can be complex and costly.

Quality Migrant Admission Scheme Visa

The Quality Migrant Admission Scheme (QMAS) visa is designed for foreign nationals with exceptional talent or skills in demand in Hong Kong. This visa allows you to stay and work in Hong Kong as a self-employed person or an employee of any company. You can also bring your spouse and dependent children under 18 years old.

To be eligible for this visa, you need to meet the following criteria:

  • You are aged between 18 and 50 years old.
  • You have a good educational background, preferably with a degree in a relevant field.
  • You have at least two years of work experience in your field of expertise.
  • You have proficiency in English or Chinese (Cantonese or Mandarin).
  • You have sufficient funds to support your living expenses in Hong Kong.
  • You have met one of the two points-based tests: the General Points Test or the Achievement-based Points Test.

The General Points Test assesses your qualifications, work experience, language skills, family background, and character based on a scoring system. To pass this test, you must score at least 80 out of 165 points.

The Achievement-based Points Test assesses your outstanding achievements or contributions in your field of expertise based on a scoring system. You must score at least 195 out of 225 points to pass this test. Examples of achievements or contributions include winning prestigious awards, making significant breakthroughs, leading a renowned organization, etc.

The application process for this visa involves submitting an online application form, paying a fee of HK$210 (about US$27), and providing supporting documents such as your passport, academic certificates, work certificates, language test results, etc. The processing time for this visa is usually around six to nine months.

The benefits of this visa are that it allows you to stay and work in Hong Kong for up to two years initially, which can be extended for another two years upon renewal. After seven years of continuous residence in Hong Kong, you can apply for permanent residency. This visa gives you more freedom and choice over work activities and income sources.

The drawbacks of this visa are that it is very competitive and selective. You need to demonstrate that you have exceptional talent or skills in demand in Hong Kong, which can take time to prove. Moreover, you must comply with the tax and legal obligations of working in Hong Kong, which can be complex and costly.

Taxes in Hong Kong for Digital Nomads

Another challenge for digital nomads in Hong Kong is dealing with the tax system and its implications. Hong Kong has a territorial tax system, meaning you only pay tax on the income sourced in Hong Kong. Depending on your income sources and tax residency status, this can be advantageous or disadvantageous.

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Taxable Income Sources

According to the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) of Hong Kong, the following types of income are taxable in Hong Kong:

  • Salaries tax: This applies to income from any office, employment, or pension sourced in Hong Kong. This includes salaries, wages, bonuses, commissions, allowances, benefits in kind, gratuities, etc.
  • Profits tax: This applies to income from any trade, profession, or business in Hong Kong. This includes profits from selling goods or services, royalties, interest, dividends, etc.
  • Property tax: This applies to income from any land or building in Hong Kong. This includes rent, premiums, fees, etc.

Non-Taxable Income Sources

According to the IRD of Hong Kong, the following types of income are not taxable in Hong Kong:

  • Income from any office, employment, or pension not sourced in Hong Kong.

    This means that if you work for a foreign employer or company that does not have a permanent establishment in Hong Kong and you perform your duties outside Hong Kong, you do not need to pay salary tax in Hong Kong.
  • Income from any trade, profession, or business not carried on in Hong Kong. This means that if you run a business that does not have a permanent establishment in Hong Kong and you do not derive any profits from Hong Kong sources, you do not need to pay profits tax in Hong Kong.
  • Income from any land or building that is not situated in Hong Kong. This means that if you own or rent a property outside Hong Kong, you do not need to pay property tax in Hong Kong.
  • Income from dividends or interest paid by a corporation or financial institution not resident in Hong Kong. This means that if you receive dividends or interest from a foreign company or bank that does not have a permanent establishment in Hong Kong, you do not need to pay profits tax in Hong Kong.
  • Income from royalties is paid by a person who is not a resident of Hong Kong and does not carry on any trade, profession, or business in Hong Kong. This means that if you receive royalties from a foreign person who has no permanent establishment in Hong Kong and does not derive any profits from Hong Kong sources, you do not need to pay profits tax in Hong Kong.

Tax Rates for Digital Nomads in Hong Kong

The tax rates for different types of taxpayers in Hong Kong are as follows:

  • Salaries tax: The progressive rates range from 2% to 17% on an individual taxpayer’s net chargeable income (after deductions and allowances). Alternatively, the standard rate of 15% applies to an individual taxpayer’s net income (before deductions and allowances), whichever is lower.
  • Profits tax: The flat rate is 16.5% on a corporation taxpayer’s assessable profits (after deductions and allowances). The flat rate is 15% on an unincorporated business taxpayer’s assessable profits (after deductions and allowances) (such as a sole proprietor or a partnership).
  • Property tax: The flat rate is 15% on a property owner taxpayer’s net assessable value (after deductions and allowances).

Deductions

The deductions for different types of taxpayers in Hong Kong are as follows:

  • Salaries tax: The deductions include expenses incurred for earning the income (such as travel expenses), mandatory contributions to the Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) scheme (a retirement savings scheme), approved charitable donations (up to 35% of the net income), home loan interest (up to HK$100,000 per year), elderly residential care expenses (up to HK$100,000 per year), self-education expenses (up to HK$100,000 per year), etc.
  • Profits tax: The deductions include expenses incurred for earning the profits (such as rent, salaries, utilities, advertising, etc.), depreciation allowances for machinery and plant, industrial building allowances, commercial building allowances, losses brought forward from previous years, etc.
  • Property tax: The deductions include rates paid to the government, 20% statutory allowance for repairs and outgoings, mortgage interest paid to a financial institution, etc.

Allowances

The allowances for different types of taxpayers in Hong Kong are as follows:

  • Salaries tax: The allowances include basic allowance (HK$132,000 per year), married person’s allowance (HK$264,000 per year), child allowance (HK$120,000 per year for each of the first two children and HK$150,000 per year for each of the subsequent children).

    For dependent parent or grandparent allowance (HK$50,000 per year for each dependent aged 60 or above and HK$25,000 per year for each dependent aged between 55 and 59), single parent allowance (HK$132,000 per year).

    For disabled dependent allowance (HK$75,000 per year for each disabled dependent), personal disability allowance (HK$75,000 per year for a taxpayer eligible to claim an allowance under the government’s Disability Allowance Scheme), etc.
  • Profits tax: There are no allowances for profits tax.

  • Property tax: There are no allowances for property tax.

Hong Kong Digital Nomad Visa Filing Requirements

The filing requirements for different types of taxpayers in Hong Kong are as follows:

  • Salaries tax: You need to file a tax return every year if you receive a notification from the IRD or if you have any income chargeable to salaries tax that your employer does not report. The filing deadline is usually one month from the date of issue of the notification.

    You can file online or by mail. You need to pay the tax due within one month from the date of issue of the notice of assessment. You can pay online or by various methods such as cheque, cash, ATM, etc.
  • Profits tax: You must file a tax return annually if you carry on any trade, profession or business in Hong Kong. The filing deadline is usually one month from the date of issue of the notification. You can file online or by mail.

    You need to pay the provisional tax due within one month from the date of issue of the notice of assessment. You can pay online or by various methods such as cheque, cash, ATM, etc. You also need to pay the final tax due within one month from the date of issue of the final notice of assessment. You can pay online or by various methods such as cheque, cash, ATM, etc.
  • Property tax: You must file a tax return annually if you own any land or building in Hong Kong that generates rental income. The filing deadline is usually one month from the date of issue of the notification. You can file online or by mail.

    You need to pay the provisional tax due within one month from the date of issue of the notice of assessment. You can pay online or by various methods such as cheque, cash, ATM, etc. You also need to pay the final tax due within one month from the date of issue of the final notice of assessment. You can pay online or by various methods such as cheque, cash, ATM, etc.
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How to Apply for a Hong Kong Digital Nomad Visa

The following steps will help you in applying for the visa:

  1. Choose the Visa Type

    The first step is to choose the visa type that suits your purpose and situation. There are different types of visas and entry permits for Hong Kong, such as tourist visas, business visas, working visa, student visas, etc.

    You can refer to the web page “Visas/ Entry Permits” on the Immigration Department of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) website for more information on the various admission schemes and entry arrangements.

    You should also check if you are eligible for visa-free entry or stay in Hong Kong. Some nationals can enter Hong Kong without a visa for a certain period of time, ranging from 7 days to 180 days. You can find the list of visa-free countries and stays on the China Highlights website.

  2. Obtain the Application Forms and Supporting Documents

    The next step is to obtain the visa application and declaration forms online and print out the hard copies. Alternatively, you can get them from the office of the nearest Chinese embassy or consulate.

    You must also fill in your particulars in the forms and sign them. In addition, you need to provide supporting documents such as your passport, photos, proof of financial status, proof of purpose of visit, etc.

    The specific requirements may vary depending on the visa type and your nationality. You can check the details on the HKSAR Immigration Department website or contact the nearest Chinese embassy or consulate. (Download from here).

  3. Submit Your Application and Pay the Fee

    The third step is to submit your application to the HKSAR Immigration Department by post or through a local sponsor. You can also submit your application to the nearest Chinese embassy or consulate.

    You need to pay a fee of HK$210 (about US$27) for each application. You can find the addresses and contact details of the HKSAR Immigration Department and the Chinese embassies and consulates on their websites. Before submitting your application, you should check the processing time and payment methods.

  4. Wait for the Processing and Approval of Your Application

    The fourth step is to wait for the processing and approval of your application, which may take four to six months, depending on the visa type and your nationality.

    You can check the status of your application online or by contacting the HKSAR Immigration Department or the Chinese embassy, or the consulate.

  5. Receive Your Visa and Enter Hong Kong

    The final step is to receive your visa and enter Hong Kong. Upon approval of your application, you will receive a notification of the application result. You can pay online through the online payment webpage link in the notification and then download or print the “e-Visa” yourself upon payment. The “e-Visa” is an electronic label that contains your personal information and visa det

    ails. You must present it with your passport when you enter Hong Kong. Alternatively, you can collect your visa from an Immigration Office in person or by an authorized representative. You must pay in cash or by cheque when you collect your visa. When you enter Hong Kong, you will receive a visa label affixed to your passport.

Cost of Living in Hong Kong

Another challenge for digital nomads in Hong Kong is coping with the high cost of living in the city. Hong Kong remains one of the most expensive cities in the world. The average monthly expenses for digital nomads in Hong Kong can vary depending on their lifestyle and preferences, but here are some estimates based on the data from 2023:

Accommodation

This is usually the most significant expense for digital nomads in Hong Kong. The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center is about HK$18,150 (US$2,359.50), while a one-bedroom apartment outside the city center is about HK$13,319.44 (US$1,731.53). Alternatively, you can opt for co-living spaces that offer shared rooms and facilities with other digital nomads or locals.

Food

The average monthly food cost for digital nomads in Hong Kong can be estimated using a combination of grocery prices and restaurant meals. Given the cost of meals at inexpensive restaurants and grocery prices provided, you might spend roughly HK$5,000 (US$650) or more, depending on your dining preferences.

Transportation

The average monthly transportation cost for digital nomads in Hong Kong, including a monthly pass and occasional taxis, is around HK$600 (US$78). This includes public transportation such as buses, trains, trams, ferries, and taxis. You can save money by using the Octopus card, a smart card used to pay for various modes of transport and other services. You can also use bike-sharing services or walk to your destinations if they are nearby.

Entertainment

The average monthly entertainment cost for digital nomads in Hong Kong, including visits to the movies, museums, bars, clubs, concerts, etc., is around HK$3,000 (US$390). You can save money by taking advantage of the free or discounted events and attractions Hong Kong offers, such as the Symphony of Lights, the Avenue of Stars, the Hong Kong Park, etc.

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Health care

The average monthly healthcare cost for digital nomads in Hong Kong remains variable, but for a basic estimate, considering consultations, prescriptions, dental care, etc., it might be around HK$1,000 (US$130).

You can save money using the public health care system, which is subsidized by the government and offers high-quality services. However, you may need to wait longer for appointments and treatments. Alternatively, you can use the private health care system, which is more expensive but offers faster and more personalized services.

The average monthly cost of living for digital nomads in Hong Kong is approximately HK$28,750 (US$3,737.50). This is higher than some other popular digital nomad destinations in Asia. However, Hong Kong also offers many benefits and advantages that make it worth the price.

Living in Hong Kong as a Digital Nomad

Photo by Nitin Sharma via Pexels

Another challenge for digital nomads in Hong Kong is adapting to the culture and society of the city. Hong Kong is a melting pot of different cultures, languages, and religions.

It has a unique identity that combines the influences of its Chinese heritage and its British colonial past. It is also a modern and progressive city that embraces diversity and innovation.

Some of the cultural aspects that digital nomads in Hong Kong need to be aware of are:

Language

The official languages of Hong Kong are Chinese and English. However, most people speak Cantonese, a dialect of Chinese different from Mandarin. English is widely used in business and education settings but not so much in daily life. You may need some help communicating with locals who need to speak English well. You can overcome this by learning Cantonese phrases or using translation apps or tools.

Etiquette

The etiquette in Hong Kong is based on respect and courtesy. Some of the standard etiquette rules are: greet people with a handshake or a nod; address people by their titles or surnames unless they invite you to use their first names; avoid touching or pointing at people with your fingers; avoid public displays of affection; respect the personal space and privacy of others; be punctual and reliable; avoid talking about sensitive topics such as politics or religion; etc.

Customs

The customs in Hong Kong are based on tradition and superstition. Some of the common customs are celebrate festivals and holidays such as Chinese New Year, Mid-Autumn Festival, Dragon Boat Festival, etc.; following the rules of feng shui (the art of arranging objects and spaces to harmonize with the natural forces); avoiding giving gifts that are considered unlucky or offensive such as clocks, knives, umbrellas, etc.; avoid wearing white or black at weddings or funerals; etc.

Values

The values in Hong Kong are based on pragmatism and individualism. Some typical values are: work hard and strive for success; be competitive and ambitious; be flexible and adaptable; be independent and self-reliant; be open-minded and tolerant; etc.

The culture in Hong Kong is rich and diverse. It offers many opportunities for digital nomads to learn, explore, and enjoy. However, it also requires some adjustment and integration from digital nomads who want to live and work harmoniously with the local people.

Wrapping Up

Hong Kong is an excellent destination for digital nomads who want to experience a vibrant, cosmopolitan, culturally diverse city. It has a lot to offer regarding opportunities, attractions, and activities. However, it also has some challenges and complexities that digital nomads must be prepared for. These include finding a suitable visa option, dealing with the tax system and its implications, coping with the high cost of living in the city, and adapting to the culture and society of the city.

To become a digital nomad in Hong Kong, you must research and plan carefully. You need to weigh the pros and cons of living and working in Hong Kong. You must find out what visa option suits your needs and situation best. You need to budget your expenses and manage your finances wisely. You need to learn about the culture and etiquette of

Hong Kong and try to integrate into the local community. You need to be ready for the challenges and opportunities that await you in this fantastic city.

Being a digital nomad in Hong Kong is not easy, but it can be rewarding and fulfilling. Hong Kong might be the perfect place if you are looking for a new and exciting adventure.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Does Hong Kong have a digital nomad visa?

No, there is no specific digital nomad visa in Hong Kong. However, a few visas may be suitable for digital nomads, such as the General Employment Visa and the Investor Visa.

What are the requirements for the General Employment Visa?

To be eligible for the General Employment Visa, you must have a job offer from a Hong Kong employer. You must also meet certain financial requirements, such as having a minimum monthly salary.

What are the requirements for the Investor Visa?

To be eligible for the Investor Visa, you must invest a certain amount in a Hong Kong business. You must also have a net asset value of a given amount.

Can I bring my family with me on a digital nomad visa?

You can bring your family with you on a digital nomad visa. The specific requirements will vary depending on the type of visa you apply for. For example, the General Employment Visa allows you to bring your spouse and dependent children under 18).

What are the benefits of living in Hong Kong as a digital nomad?

Hong Kong is a great place to live as a digital nomad. It is a safe, modern city with a vibrant economy. It is also a relatively tax-friendly place to live. Additionally, Hong Kong is well-connected to the rest of the world, making it easy to travel and explore.

What are the challenges of living in Hong Kong as a digital nomad?

The cost of living in Hong Kong can be high. Additionally, the city can be quite crowded and noisy. However, these challenges can be outweighed by the many benefits of living in Hong Kong.

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