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Business Travel Information

Business Customs

Hong Kong society has developed as a unique blend of Chinese tradition and Western modern technology. Most people who are familiar with the region know that Hong Kong means business. Above all, it is a society that emphasizes hard work and success.

Macau’s business culture retains a strong mix of Chinese tradition with a distinctive Portuguese cultural influence.

Americans encounter few if any cultural problems when conducting business in Hong Kong and Macau. Business meetings tend to be more formal in Hong Kong and Macau, and business acquaintances are usually addressed as Mr. or Ms. unless they state that their first name should be used. Business cards are exchanged frequently, and the exchange should be fairly formal; the card should be accepted with both hands and a moment taken to read it carefully. "Face" is very important, and problems or areas of disagreement are handled indirectly to avoid loss of "face." While a study of local customs and practices is helpful, most businesspeople in Hong Kong and Macau are familiar with Western customs and are tolerant of cultural differences. Western business attire (suit and tie for men, business suits for women) is appropriate.

Americans should be aware that personal names in Chinese culture follow a number of rules different from those of personal names in Western cultures. Most noticeably, a married Chinese woman in Hong Kong usually retains her maiden name as her family name, rather than the adopted name of her husband. This is also the case in mainland China. In some exceptional cases in Hong Kong, especially among civil servants, married Chinese women sometimes put their husband’s name, hyphenated, in front of their maiden name.

Travel Advisory

The U.S. Department of State issued a worldwide caution on July 29, 2009 to remind U.S. citizens of the continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against Americans, U.S. citizens and interests overseas. The U.S. Government is also concerned about the potential for demonstrations and violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests overseas. U.S. citizens are reminded to maintain a high level of vigilance and to take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness. The Department of State remains concerned about indications that al-Qa’ida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks against U.S. interests in multiple regions, including Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Terrorist actions may include, but are not limited to, suicide operations, assassinations, hijackings, bombings or kidnappings. These may involve aviation and other transportation and maritime interests. Terrorists do not distinguish between official and civilian targets, including facilities where U.S. citizens and other foreigners congregate or visit. U.S. Government facilities worldwide remain at a heightened state of alert. As the Department of State continues to develop information on any potential security threats to U.S. citizens overseas, it shares credible threat information through its consular information program documents, available on the Internet at www.travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_1764.html.

In addition to information on the internet, travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the U.S. or outside the U.S. and Canada on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Monday through Friday, Eastern Time (except U.S. federal holidays.)

For information on Avian Influenza, please see the section on Health below.

Visa Requirements

Hong Kong

Visas are not required for American citizens who visit Hong Kong for less than 90 days. For more information regarding visa requirements for other nationalities, refer to the Hong Kong Immigration Department website: www.immd.gov.hk/index.html.

Additional information on Hong Kong entry/exit requirements and general travel information can be found on the U.S. State Department Travel website: travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1136.html.

Macau

Visas are not required for American citizens who visit Macau for less than 30 days. For more information on visa requirements for other nationalities, please refer to the Macau Immigration Department website: www.fsm.gov.mo.

Additional information on Macau entry/exit requirements and general travel information can be found on the U.S. State Department Travel website: travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_955.html.

U.S. Visas

U.S. Companies that require travel of foreign businesspersons to the United States should be advised that security evaluations are handled via an interagency process. Visa applicants should go to the following links.

State Department Visa Website: travel.state.gov/visa/
American Consulate General Hong Kong Consular Section website: hongkong.usconsulate.gov/visa_services.html

Visas to mainland China

Important: Travelers who transit Hong Kong or Macau on their way to mainland China must apply for a visa from the People’s Republic of China. For more information, visit: www.china-embassy.org/eng/hzqz/zgqz/default.htm or www.ctshk.com/english/useful/chinesevisa.htm

Telecommunications

The telecommunications infrastructure is excellent in Hong Kong and Macau. Although Hong Kong has more carriers and service providers, using your mobile phone in both cities is convenient. Most of the wireless systems used around the world (GSM 900, CDMA, WCDMA, 3G) operate in Hong Kong and Macau.

Hong Kong

Mobile operators in Hong Kong have roaming agreements with most overseas operators, enabling visitors to use their own mobile phone when they come to Hong Kong. Before leaving home, U.S. visitors should check with network providers to make sure they have a roaming arrangement with a Hong Kong telecom operator. You can also buy a local SIM card and rent a mobile phone when you arrive in Hong Kong, at the airport or in town. Most hotels in Hong Kong rent cellular phones to guests through their business centers. Rates vary between US$20-US$50 per day. For longer stays visitors can arrange rentals on a weekly basis at Hong Kong’s telecom operator for approximately US$100 per week plus airtime. Another option is to purchase a relatively cheap mobile phone with a prepaid SIM card for approximately US$10 from Hong Kong telecom operators and retail shops.

Macau

U.S. visitors can purchase phone cards for US$4 to US$12 that can be used in public phones located throughout Macau. In the busiest areas there are also credit card phones. To use a mobile phone in Macau, you can contact the following mobile phone service providers by dialing 1000 (CTM), 1118 (Hutchison Telecom) or 1628 (SmarTone). Hutchison Telecom Network also provides a Mobile Tour Guide Service. Visitors can listen to the voice information service by dialing the Spot Code #83.

Internet Accessibility

90 percent of the households and all commercial buildings in Hong Kong have access to broadband. In Hong Kong, consumers enjoy a wide and sophisticated range of services at competitive prices. As of April 2013, there were 167 ISPs in Hong Kong, and an unlimited broadband connection cost about US$20 per month. The affordability of Internet services has a direct effect on the penetration of Internet usage; there were approximately 2.2 million broadband subscribers in Hong Kong as of April 2013.

Mobile Internet access is also gaining momentum in Hong Kong. As of April 2013, there were more than 18,500 public Wi-Fi hot spots in the city and the number is growing. Location information of Wi-Fi access points can be found at: http://www.hotspot-locations.com

Wireless Macau Internet access is gaining ground in Macau. The main Macau Internet provider, CyberCTM, offers citywide Wireless Broadband Service. Several hotels and the conventions centers also offer wireless internet access. Wireless access is also available in the airport.

Transportation

Hong Kong

Hong Kong has a very good public transportation system. Major modes of transportation include buses, the Mass Transit Railway (underground subway system), trams, ferries, and taxis. In addition, almost all major airlines service Hong Kong.

Travelers have a choice of transport from Hong Kong's Chek Lap Kok Airport to their hotel. Options include the Airport Express train (US$13 and US$6.50 for children 3 to 11), hotel shuttle buses and express public buses (US$6), or taxis (US$65). The distance is approximately 25 miles.

The Airport Express train is the fastest way to reach Hong Kong Island from the airport. Trains depart every 12 minutes, and the ride to the terminus at “Hong Kong Station” in Central, Hong Kong Island, takes only 25 minutes. From there it costs less than US$6 (and another 5-10 minutes) for a taxi ride to most hotels in the Central, Admiralty and Wan Chai districts. One-way or round-trip tickets for the Airport Express may be purchased from vending machines located immediately beyond baggage claim/customs (these require Hong Kong dollars in cash) or from the Airport Express counter located in the center of the public arrivals hall. Trains are at the platform level and there are storage areas for luggage just inside the trains. If you take the Airport Express train to Hong Kong Station (last stop) you will find taxis available directly ahead as you exit the train terminal and proceed through the terminal exit gate. The Airport Express in-town check-in from Hong Kong Island and Kowloon Station is an extremely convenient service for travelers departing Hong Kong. It allows you to check your bags in town and then proceed to the airport directly.

Transportation between Hong Kong and Macau

The most convenient way to travel between Hong Kong and Macau is by high-speed ferry. The journey takes approximately one hour, and ferries depart every 15 – 30 minutes from the Shuntak and HK China Ferry Terminals in Hong Kong and the Macau Pier and Cotai Strip Pier in Macau. Schedules and rates for the various services are listed at the websites indicated below:

Turbo Jet: www.turbojet.com.hk
First Ferry: www.nwff.com.hk
Cotai Jet: cotaijet.com.mo

First Ferry and Turbo Jet also operate a number of ferry services between points in Hong Kong (such as the International Airport) and destinations in mainland China. There is also a helicopter service between Hong Kong and Macau. The journey takes 15 minutes. More information is available at: www.skyshuttlehk.com

Transportation in Macau

Major modes of transportation in Macau include buses and taxis. Getting around the relatively small area of Macau (and its bridge-connected islands of Taipa and Coloane) is relatively easy. Free shuttle buses also operate between the two ferry piers and the major hotels and casinos.

Money Exchange

The Hong Kong dollar is pegged to the U.S. dollar, with the rate set at approximately HK$7.75 per US$1. Upon arrival in Hong Kong, money exchange (Travelex) is available in the area immediately outside of baggage claim/customs. There are ATM machines for direct withdrawals or for cash advances (for holders of Master Card using the Cirrus network and Visa Card using the Plus systems) and most major hotels offer currency exchange.

The Macau Pataca is similarly pegged to the Hong Kong dollar at approximately HK$100 to MOP 103. The Hong Kong dollar is widely accepted – and often preferred -- for commerce as well as retail purchases in Macau.

Language

English and Chinese are the official languages in Hong Kong. English is widely used in the Hong Kong Government, the legal system and business sectors. Chinese and Portuguese are the official languages in Macau. Cantonese is the most widely spoken language in Hong Kong and Macau and English is widely spoken in tourist establishments. Mandarin Chinese (Putonghua) is also widespread and becoming ever more common in both Hong Kong and Macau.

Health

Hong Kong has high public health standards, and health care in Hong Kong is similar in quality to that found in the United States, although it can be extremely expensive. Hospitals and clinics expect payment when service is rendered and in general, do not accept health insurance for payment. Pharmacies will accept only prescriptions from local physicians and may not be open after usual business hours. It is recommended that the traveler bring an adequate supply of prescription medications for the duration of his/her stay. For a list of medical providers in Hong Kong and Macau, please visit the U.S. Consulate Hong Kong website at: hongkong.usconsulate.gov/acs_medical.html

Mainland China and Southeast Asia have been the world epicenter for several viral illnesses in recent years such as SARS and Avian Influenza (AI). Travelers are encouraged to review the following websites for more information on AI:

The Hong Kong Government AI site: www.info.gov.hk/info/flu/eng/home.htm
U.S. Centers for Disease Control Website: www.cdc.gov/flu/avian
U.S. State Department AI fact sheet: travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/flu/flu_1181.html

Local Time, Business Hours, and Holidays

Hong Kong and Macau are 12 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, and 13 hours ahead during daylight savings time.

Business hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday. Many companies now have a 5-day workweek. Starting from July 1, 2006, most government offices are now closed on Saturdays, but their opening hours on weekdays have been extended.

2013 Holidays (For both Hong Kong and Macau unless indicated)

Date (Day)

Holiday

June 12 (Wednesday)

Tuen Ng Festival

July 1 (Monday)

Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day (Hong Kong only)

September 20 (Friday)

The day following Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival

October 1 (Tuesday)

National Day

October 2 (Wednesday)

The day following National Day (Macau only)

October 14 (Monday)

The day following Chung Yeung Festival (Hong Kong only)

November 2 (Saturday)

All Souls’ Day (Macau only)

December 20 (Friday)

Macau Special Administrative Region Establishment Day (Macau only)

December 24 (Tuesday)

Christmas Eve (Macau only)

December 25 (Wednesday)

Christmas Day

December 26 (Thursday)

First weekend after Christmas Day (Hong Kong only)

2014 Holidays (For both Hong Kong and Macau unless indicated)

Date (Day)

Holiday

January 1 (Wednesday)

New Year’s Day

January 31 (Friday)

Lunar New Year’s Day

February 1 (Saturday)

Second Day of the Lunar New Year

February 3 (Monday)

The fourth day of the Lunar New Year (Hong Kong only)

April 5 (Saturday)

Ching Ming Festival

April 18 (Friday)

Good Friday

April 19 (Saturday)

The day following Good Friday

April 21 (Monday)

Easter Monday (Hong Kong only)

May 1 (Thursday)

Labour Day

May 6 (Tuesday)

Buddha’s Birthday

June 2 (Monday)

Tuen Ng (Dragon Boat) Festival

July 1 (Tuesday)

Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day (Hong Kong only)

September 9 (Tuesday)

The day following Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival

October 1 (Wednesday)

National Day

October 2 (Thursday)

Chung Yeung Festival

December 8 (Monday)

Feast of Immaculate Conception (Macau only)

December 20 (Saturday)

Macau Special Administrative Region Establishment Day (Macau only)

December 22 (Monday)

Winter Solstice (Macau only)

December 24 (Wednesday)

Christmas Eve (Macau only)

December 25 (Thursday)

Christmas Day

December 26 (Friday)

The first weekday after Christmas Day (Hong Kong only)

Temporary Entry of Materials and Personal Belongings

Hong Kong Customs generally does not restrict the temporary import of goods into Hong Kong, such as laptop computers, software and general exhibit materials, for business purposes, provided the goods are not restricted items that normally require an import license. The temporary import of supercomputers, which is a controlled item, or of any exhibit materials that are also controlled items would require a license even if the commodity is being shipped in only for exhibit purposes. See www.tid.gov.hk/english/import_export/ie_maincontent.html.

Web Resources

American Consulate General Hong Kong American Citizens Services: hongkong.usconsulate.gov/acs.html
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: www.cdc.gov
Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department: www.customs.gov.hk
Hong Kong Center for Health Protection: www.chp.gov.hk
Hong Kong Immigration Department: www.immd.gov.hk
Hong Kong Tourism Board: www.discoverhongkong.com
State Department Visa: travel.state.gov/visa/visa_1750.html
Macau Government Tourist Office: www.macautourism.gov.mo/en/
Macao Customs Service: www.customs.gov.mo/
Government of Macao Special Administrative Region Health Bureau: www.ssm.gov.mo