Working in Hong Kong



Hong Kong's steady economic growth and reputation in the financial industry continues to entice the expat community. There are indeed several opportunities for expats in this city, and it also offers a lot of cultural experiences in Asia.

Office communication is largely in English, but from employee to employee, Cantonese is still the norm. For the dress code, it is safe to go with conservative Western-style suits and ties, dresses or blouses and skirts.

Some sources for vacancies are the classified section of the South China Morning Post (Thursday and Saturday editions are most helpful) and the Hong Kong Standard (Friday editions) and job section of HK Magazine. Job-seeker tabloids like Recruit and Jiu Jik are available on Wednesdays and Fridays at most Mass Transit Railway (MTR) stations for free. Try looking for Job Market Weekly and Career Times issues as well.

Key industries

Hailed as the "Movie Capital of Asia", Hong Kong ranks as the third largest film industry in the world (after Hollywood and Bollywood). Also, with recent developments in medical facilities, Hong Kong is poised to become the next medical tourism destination in Asia.

"I come from France, and compared to French Administration, Hong Kong is incredibly easy. Things go fast. People are helpful. Forms are simple. No worries on this aspect!"- Julien Rio, Expat in Victoria, Hong Kong

Expats who want to land a white-collar job in Hong Kong need to practice a great sense of professionalism and must come with a substantial work experience and expert knowledge to make a cut amidst the severe competition. Primary industries recruiting include finance, telecommunications, IT, accountancy, human resources, legal, logistics and engineering.

"I came to Hong Kong without the work visa as I was travelling on a monthly basis back to Singapore due to work needs. Working in the recruitment industry always has a demand for non – local talent hence obtaining a work visa with a new employer was not difficult. My work visa was sponsored by the employer."- Charlene Choo, Expat in Victoria, Hong Kong

Candidates with a good command of Mandarin will get an upper edge. In fact, there is a huge demand for English teachers. 

To avoid any legal predicaments, you should secure a work permit and Hong Kong ID before you relocate. Visitors with tourist visas are prohibited from taking up employment, starting up their own business or attending school - although there are instances of employers providing work such as teaching English, translating, modelling, acting in films or bartending, you do not want to take the risk of getting punished along with your Hong Kong employer. For further details on the procedure and work requirements, visit Hong Kong's official immigration website.

"With employment, a visa was an easy thing for me, apparently not the case for everybody. Administration is very efficient here."- Albane, Expat in Hong Kong

Working Hours

Office hours are from 9 am to 5:30 pm or 6 pm on weekdays and from 9 am to noon or 1 pm on Saturday. Office lunch break is from 1-2PM.

Banks are open from 9 am to 4:30/5:30 pm on weekdays and 9 am to 12:30 pm on Saturday. Shops are typically open from 10am-7pm daily; shops for tourists are open longer. Restaurants are open from noon to 3 pm and dinner is served from 6 pm until 11 pm.


Foreigners who work in Hong Kong are employed on either expats or local basis. Those hired on an expat basis have a significantly higher pay package which comes with housing allowance and other job perks.

Hong Kong follows laissez-faire economics, and with its adaptable labour market; there is no official minimum wage. However, in light of the recent recession, the government recently introduced a bill to set a salary standard to benefit low-income employees. The government has enforced a minimum allowable wage of HK$3,580 (US$460.89) for foreign domestic helpers since 1973.

Wages in Hong Kong can be on an hourly, daily, monthly or piece rate basis.

Business Etiquette

There are a few cultural issues that expats are expected to observe, such as the handing of business cards which should always be done with both hands, and always letting the boss pay for dinner.  

"Once you have a job, a work visa goes with it, and it is renewed upon their request. Local companies provide only local medical cover. International medical is your choice and cost."- Andrew Robertson, Expat in Hong Kong

Cordiality and being able to maintain good relationships with colleagues are important. Saying "yes" does not agree with you - it usually means, "I understand." People avoid "no," so make sure to read between the lines.

In Hong Kong, time is money, so meetings or negotiations are normally fast-paced, clear and efficient. Punctuality is therefore expected from both parties and, in a case of inevitable conflicts, "courtesy time" (30 minutes extension) is allowed. Face-to-face meetings are usually preferred for conducting business transactions.



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Work Guide

Expat Services in Hong Kong