| Import/Export of Food
1. What is the regulatory control for import of food in Hong Kong?
In Hong Kong, the legal framework of food safety control is laid down in Part V of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap. 132) and its subsidiary legislation. The basic requirement, as stipulated in section 54 of the Ordinance, is that no food intended for sale should be unfit for human consumption.
Importers can place an order for the main Ordinance and its subsidiary legislation with the Information Services Department, Publications Sales Section at Room 626, 6/F, North Point Government Offices, 333 Java Road, North Point, Hong Kong or through online service at the website http://www.bookstore.gov.hk. For enquiries, please call 2842 8844 or 2842 8845. Moreover, details of the food laws can also be browsed at website www.legislation.gov.hk.
The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department is responsible for implementing territory-wide policies of food safety control and enforcing the food legislation. To this end, part of its duties is to exercise the power provided under Section 62(1) of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap. 132) to take food samples at points of entry to the territory for various kinds of tests, including chemical analyses and microbiological examinations.
Food importers, through close liaison with exporting countries, are responsible for ensuring that food items they procure comply with the local legislation. To ensure hygienic standards of food, importers are encouraged to obtain health certificates issued by issuing entities of countries of origin to accompany their imports certifying that the food products concerned are fit for human consumption.
There are specific legal requirements or administrative arrangements for the import of the following selected food items due to their perishable or high-risk nature -
(a) game, meat, poultry and eggs;
(b) milk and milk beverages;
(c) frozen confections; and
(d) marine products.
The Department has prepared individual leaflets advising on the proper procedures for importing the above food items respectively. Besides, import guides are also available at the Department’s website http://www.cfs.gov.hk/english/import/import_ifc.html.
The leaflets mentioned above and the application forms for importation of food can be collected at the Centre for Food Safety of Food and Environmental Hygiene Department at 43/F, Queensway Government Offices, 66 Queensway, Hong Kong or downloaded from the Department’s website http://www.cfs.gov.hk/english/public/public.html. Completed application forms can be sent in by mail, fax (fax no. 2521 4784), e-mail (e-mail address: email@example.com) or in person. Electronic submission of an application can also be made by means of e-form and details are available at http://www.cfs.gov.hk/english/public/public.html.
For further enquiries, please call the Department’s Health Inspector (Import/Export) Import Registration at 2156 3041 or 2156 3042; or 24-hour hotline at 2868 0000.
For import control and quarantine of livestock and plants, please browse the website of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) at
2. Does import of food into Hong Kong require prior approval?
Import requirements for food are imposed for public health reasons. Certain high risk imported food like game, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, milk beverages, frozen confections are governed by subsidiary legislation of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap. 132). Import of game or eggs requires the prior permission of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department and import of meat, poultry or eggs is confined to sources recognised by the Department. For the release of imported food, importers are required to provide health certificates issued by the issuing entities of exporting countries/places. Importation of foodstuffs other than the above mentioned high risk food does not require prior approval.
3. Is there any guideline for import of food into Hong Kong?
At present, the importation of foods other than milk, frozen confections including ice cream, meat, poultry, game and eggs does not require this Department's prior written permission or licence. The Department has issued the following guidelines for the food importers:
- Guide to Import of Mainland Chilled Chickens into Hong Kong
- Guide to Import of Food into Hong Kong
- Guide to Import of Milk and Milk Beverages into Hong Kong
- Guide to Import of Frozen Confections into Hong Kong
- Guide to Import of Game, Meat, Poultry and Eggs into Hong Kong
- Guide to Import of Marine Products into Hong Kong
- Guide to Application for Import Licence for Frozen Meat, Chilled Meat, Frozen Poultry and Chilled Poultry
- A Guide to Application for Health Certificate for Foods of Animal Origin
- Monitoring Pesticides Residues in Food
- Guide to Application for Permission in Writing for Import of Eggs
The above guidelines are available at http://www.cfs.gov.hk/english/import/import_ifc.html.
In addition, food trades are advised that all foods for sale in Hong Kong, whether imported or locally produced, shall comply with Part V (Food and Drugs) of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap. 132) and its subsidiary legislation, and that they shall be fit for human consumption. It is recommended that every imported consignment of the food to be accompanied by a health certificate issued by the issuing entitiy of the country/place of origin certifying that the food product is fit for human consumption.