No vehicle is allowed to be driven or used on a road unless it is registered and licensed. 

Registration, which is normally a one-off matter, means giving the vehicle a registration mark and putting it into its appropriate class, e.g. private car, light goods vehicle, etc. Licensing, which is annually or four-monthly, conveys the right for a vehicle to be driven on a road. A local motor vehicle agent usually applies for registration and licensing of a vehicle on behalf of its client. However, if a person imports a vehicle, he has to do it himself.

Registration and Taxation

Vehicles, no matter what class it is, imported into Hong Kong are not subject to any Customs tax, but in general, an importer is required to lodge with the Customs and Excise Department an accurate and complete declaration within 14 days of importation.

The import declaration can be lodged in the following ways:

(a) For importer already registered with one of the two service providers appointed by the Government, he can lodge import declaration to the Government directly from his personal computer.
(b) For occasional importer and individual, they can lodge import declarations at the service centres set up by the service providers and their partners to convert paper declarations for electronic transmission.

For further information about the electronic lodgement service, or to register for using the service, please call (in alphabetical order) Brio Electronic Commerce Ltd at 2111 1288, Global e-Trading Services Ltd at 8201 0082, or Tradelink's Electronic Commerce Ltd at 2599 1700.

Under the Motor Vehicles (First Registration Tax) Ordinance (Chapter 330), a person who carries on business of importing motor vehicles for use in Hong Kong either on his own behalf or for a distributor for sale should within 30 days of commencing to carry on that business register as an importer. A person who carries on business of distributing motor vehicles by sale for use in Hong Kong either on his own behalf or to another distributor should within 30 days of commencing to carry on that business register as a distributor. 

Besides, under the Motor Vehicles (First Registration Tax) Ordinance (Chapter 330), an importer of a motor vehicle for use in Hong Kong should file an Import Return to the Customs and Excise Department within 30 days of the importation of the motor vehicle, and not less than five working days before delivering that motor vehicle. Apart from those who import motor vehicles for the purpose of sale or distribution for use in Hong Kong, persons who import motor vehicles for their own use are also required to submit Import Returns. A registered distributor of motor vehicles for use in Hong Kong is required to publish a retail price list of the make and model of a motor vehicle offered for sale or distributed by him. He is also required to deliver a copy of the retail price list to the Customs and Excise Department not less than seven days before the publication.

Further information concerning registration of importer/distributor, filing of Import Return and submission of Published Retail Price List can be obtained from the Motor Vehicles Valuation Group of the Customs and Excise Department at 3/F, Customs Headquarters Building, 222 Java Road, North Point, Hong Kong (Tel 2231 4391).

If a person wishes to register a vehicle which he has purchased from a local distributor or has imported into Hong Kong, he must apply to the Hong Kong Licensing Office of the Transport Department at 3/F, United Centre, 95 Queensway, Hong Kong on application form TD 22 together with relevant documents as prescribed in the application form, including original or photocopy of proof of present address (residential/company address and correspondence address) which is issued not more than 3 months from now (e.g. water/electricity/gas/mobile phone bill or bank correspondence). Documents not in English or Chinese should be produced with an English translation prepared by a consulate.

On the first registration of a motor vehicle, a first registration tax is charged. The first registration tax is calculated on the basis of the taxable value of the vehicle and in accordance with the percentage for that vehicle class as specified in the schedule of the Motor Vehicle (First Registration Tax) Ordinance (Chapter 330). In general, the taxable value of a vehicle is calculated on the basis of the published retail price of the vehicle or the provisional taxable value assessed by the Customs and Excise Department.

A vehicle may be registered only in the name of an individual person aged 18 or above or of an incorporated body. If the vehicle is registered in the name of a limited company, the name and address of the registered office of the company should be given and the declaration should be signed by a person nominated by the company.

Trailers are also required to be registered in the same manner as motor vehicles but with some exceptions, e.g. a trailer owner is not required to pay first registration tax, nor is he required to produce any third party risk insurance certificate or cover note for his vehicle.

In registering a vehicle, the Transport Department will issue a registration mark and a vehicle registration document containing particulars of the vehicle to the registered owner.

Licensing of vehicles takes place after registration. On licensing, the registering owner is issued with a licence which he is required to display on the left-hand side of the vehicle's windscreen. In the case of a motorcycle or a vehicle without a fixed windscreen, the licence must be displayed in a conspicuous position on the left-hand side. 

The registered owner and a registered distributor (if applicable) should also declare to the Hong Kong Licensing Office on application form TD 469 the details of accessories fitted to and/or taxable warranty obtained for the motor vehicle within six months after first registration, and pay the additional first registration tax attributable to the increase in value of the motor vehicle. Such declaration should be made within five working days after the fitting of the accessories or within five working days after the date on which to contract for taxable warranty is entered into.

Further information concerning first registration of vehicles can be obtained from the Hong Kong Licensing Office at 3/F, United Centre, 95 Queensway, Hong Kong (Tel 2804 2637).

Allocation of Registration Marks

If an application for registration of a vehicle is in order, the vehicle will be assigned a registration mark consisting of a number of not more than 4 digits other than special registration mark (commonly known as 'lucky numbers'), with prefix letters. In the case of trailers, the registration mark will consist of a number of not more than 5 digits and the suffix 'T'.

'Lucky numbers' are allocated only after sale by public auction which takes place from time to time. The proceeds of the auction goes to the Government Lotteries Fund to be used for charitable purposes. 

Once allocated, a special registration mark cannot be transferred to another person. If the owner of a vehicle with a special registration mark wishes to transfer the vehicle to someone else, the Transport Department is legally bound, before registering the transfer, to recover the special registration mark, register the vehicle with ordinary registration mark and then register the transfer. However, on payment of a prescribed fee, the owner of a vehicle with a special registration mark may apply on form TD 129 to transfer the special registration mark to another vehicle registered in his name.

Third Party Risks Insurance

Any person (including the registered vehicle owner and driver) has the responsibility of ensuring the presence of a valid third party risks insurance policy for the vehicle concerned whilst using it on roads. Person who contravenes such requirement commits an offence and is liable to a fine of $10,000 and imprisonment for 12 months, and will also be disqualified from holding or obtaining a driving licence (for a period of 12 months to 3 years). The Commissioner for Transport may refuse to license the vehicle concerned or cancel the vehicle licence concerned.

Traffic Accident Victims Assistance Scheme

On the first issue/renewal of a vehicle licence, contribution has to be made to the Traffic Accident Victims Assistance Scheme.

Vehicle Examinations

With the exception of type approved new private cars, motor cycles and vans, all motor vehicles are subject to mechanical examination to certify that they comply with the Road Traffic Ordinance and its subsidiary legislations (in particular the Road Traffic (Construction and Maintenance of Vehicles) Regulations and the Road Traffic (Safety Equipment) Regulations), the Air Pollution Control (Vehicle Design Standards) (Emission) Regulations and the Noise Control (Motor Vehicles) Regulation prior to registration.

In addition, private cars manufactured not less than 6 years before licensing, all goods vehicles and commercial vehicles are required to undergo examination prior to re-licensing.

Any person who uses or permits to be used on any road any vehicle which does not comply in all respects with the provisions of any enactment relating to the Road Traffic (Construction and Maintenance of Vehicles) Regulations shall be liable to an offence. If you are in doubt as to whether or not your vehicle does comply with the laws relating to construction and maintenance, you may contact the Vehicle Safety and Standards Division at 34/F, Immigration Tower, 7 Gloucester Road, Hong Kong (Tel 2829 5466).

Renewal of Vehicle Licence

Vehicle licence may be renewed within four months before expiry on application form TD 558 with the appropriate fee and relevant supporting documents including original or photocopy of proof of present address (residential/company address and correspondence address) which is issued not more than 3 months from now (e.g. water/electricity/gas/mobile phone bill or bank correspondence). If an application is made after the expiry of the licence, the renewed licence will run from the date of issue of licence. The total fee paid in this case is the licence fee plus an additional charge, which is 0.33% of the licence fee for each day of the unlicensed period since the previous licence expired. 

Since the introduction of Appointment Booking Service for renewal of vehicle licence in March 2010, applicants, who prefer to renew vehicle licence over the counters of licensing offices of the Transport Department, are advised to make appointment booking of their preferred time slot and licensing office through Internet or by phone (tel. no. : 3763 8080).

Duplicates

If your vehicle registration document or licence has been lost, destroyed or defaced, you should apply for a duplicate. In the case of loss of registration document, you should report to a police station in the district where the loss occurred. With a police certificate, you should apply to a licensing office for a duplicate, using form TD 151 and paying the prescribed fee.

Vehicle Transfer

Within 72 hours on the change of ownership of a vehicle, a notice of transfer on form TD 25 must be lodged with the Transport Department licensing office, as proof that the transferor and transferee agree to the transaction. As required by law, the new owner should deliver the original of the notice to the Transport Department, and the former owner the duplicate. There were cases in which transferees failed to take this procedure, thus, no transfer is registered and the vehicle remains registered in the name of the former owner, to whom all fixed penalty tickets are sent. Therefore, it is advisable that the former owner should call at the licensing office together with the new owner to hand in both portions of the notice of transfer (duly completed and signed) so as to effect the transfer immediately. A former owner should not hand over the vehicle registration document to the new owner until the Transport Department has registered the transfer. The new owner's original identification documents should be produced.

When applying for transfer of ownership, the former owner and the new owner should also declare the transaction price of the motor vehicle on form TD 25. If the declared transaction price is greater than the last taxable value, the value of exempted accessories (if any), the value of unexpired portion of a warranty other than a manufacturer's warranty (if any) plus the first registration tax paid, the former owner should apply to the Hong Kong Licensing Office on application form TD 468 for approval and should pay the additional tax before the transfer of ownership is effected.

It is equally important for a prospective transferee to ensure that there are no outstanding penalties or possible licence suspension in respect of the vehicle. There are numerous cases whereby a transferee finds himself legally liable to payment of fixed penalty tickets, or the vehicle licence is suspended because the former owner has failed to disclose such information.  To guard against this, a new owner is advised before acquiring a vehicle to apply to a licensing office for the relevant Certificate of Clearance. The Certificate, issued free of charge, is valid for 72 hours and certifies that the vehicle is free of outstanding penalties and is not liable to licence suspension.

Change of Registration Particulars

A registered owner is required by law to notify a licensing office of the Transport Department on form TD 559 within 72 hours of any change in respect of registration particulars, e.g. his name, address, identity document, or the colour, engine number, or seating capacity of his vehicle, etc. For cases of change of name or change of identity document, the driving licence holder/registered vehicle owner shall also deliver to the Commissioner for Transport the existing original driving licence (if applicable), original driving instructor's licence (if applicable), original vehicle registration document (if applicable), vehicle licence (if applicable) and Certificate of Allocation of Personalized Registration Mark (if applicable) for amendment.

Application by Post

Applications may be submitted in person to any of the licensing offices of the Transport Department or by registered post to (excluding the application for a duplicate vehicle registration document and transfer of ownership of a vehicle):

P.O. Box 79, Shatin Central Post Office

The relevant application forms should be properly and clearly completed, signed and forwarded together with the appropriate fee and relevant supporting documents including original or photocopy of proof of present address (residential/company address and correspondence address) which is issued not more than 3 months from now (e.g. water/electricity/gas/mobile phone bill or bank correspondence) (please refer to notes printed at the back of the application form). Do not send cash by post. Cheques should be made payable to either 'The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region' or 'The Government of the HKSAR' and crossed. Photocopies of identity card (or acceptable alternative identity document) are acceptable.

If your application is in order, your new vehicle licence and other documents will be sent to you by registered post within 10 working days upon receipt of application. Enquiries about applications by post may be made by telephone on 2158 5960.

Application through Drop-in Box

Applications for renewal of vehicle licence may also be submitted through the drop-in box at the licensing offices of the Transport Department. The relevant application forms should be properly and clearly completed, signed and forwarded together with the appropriate fee and relevant supporting documents including original or photocopy of proof of present address (residential/company and correspondence address) which is issued not more than 3 months from now (e.g. water/electricity/gas/mobile phone bill or bank correspondence) (please refer to notes printed at the back of the application form). Do not put in cash with drop-in applications. Crossed cheques should be made payable to either 'The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region' or 'The Government of the HKSAR'. Photocopies of identity card (or acceptable alternative identity document) are acceptable. Detailed application procedures are displayed at the drop-in box. 

If your application is in order, your new vehicle licence and other documents will be sent to you by registered post within 10 working days upon receipt of application.

Online application

You can now access application for renewal of vehicle licence through GovHK (website: http://www.gov.hk/). 

Notes

(1) If a change occurs in the name, address or identity document of a driving licence holder/registered owner previously provided by the driving licence holder/registered owner to the Commissioner for Transport, the driving licence holder/registered owner shall, within 72 hours of the change, notify the Commissioner for Transport in writing or by submitting the completed Transport Department Form (TD559) with the proof of change. Any person who without reasonable excuse contravenes such requirement commits an offence and is liable to a fine of $2,000. For cases of change of name or change of identity document, the driving licence holder/registered owner shall also deliver to the Commissioner for Transport the existing original driving licence (if applicable), original driving instructor's licence (if applicable), original vehicle registration document (if applicable), vehicle licence (if applicable) and Certification of Allocation of Personalized Registration Mark (if applicable) for amendment;
(2) The Commissioner for Transport may, in processing licensing application, require the applicant to produce proof of present address (residential/company and correspondence address, e.g. water/electricity/gas/mobile phone bill or bank correspondence), and may suspend the processing of the application until the production of such proof. Applicants please bring along your proof of present address which is issued not more than 3 months from now for presentation as and when requested by officers of licensing offices;
(3) With effect from 16 September 2008, applicants are required to produce proof of present address (residential address and correspondence address) which is issued not more than 3 months from now (e.g. water/electricity/gas/mobile phone bill or bank correspondence), when applying for the Registration of Vehicle, First Issue of Learner's Driving Licence / Full Driving Licence / Driving Instructor's Licence / Temporary Driving Licence / Vehicle Licence, Renewal of Full Driving Licence / Vehicle Licence, Direct Issue of Full Driving Licence and Change of Address. Transport Department may suspend the processing of the above applications until the production of address proof; and
(4) For any change of address notified under any Transport Deparment application form, all vehicle/driving licence records of the applicant under the same identity document held by this Department will also be changed.

Enquiries

Application forms for registration and licensing of vehicles are available at the licensing offices of the Transport Department, the Home Affairs Department's public enquiry service centres and post offices. Application forms can also be obtained through the fax-on-demand service of the Transport Department Customer Service Hotline or Transport Department website.

Please dial the Transport Department Customer Service Hotline 2804 2600 (24-hour service) or visit the Transport Department website http://www.td.gov.hk/.