Hong Kong is a developed city with a vibrant and eclectic culture. So it makes perfect sense that there are quite a lot of people out there who don’t mind splurging on vintage and classic cars. And one of the most talked-about topics among these hard-core gear-heads is importing an antique car into Hong Kong and even driving it on Hong Kong roads. While our previous articles have touched on what to consider when buying a classic car at an auction, and top automobile events, today we at Kwiksure will look at how you can register these dream cars in Hong Kong.
Three ways you can get your classic car hit the road
From time to time on car forums or social media, we see post threads about witnessing a car with no plate or a foreign car plate on the road. However, chances are these motors have actually been exempted from having a car plate by the Hong Kong Transport Department. Basically, there are three channels through which you can drive your vintage automobiles.
Apply for a movement permit
The reason that the above-mentioned car can drive without exhibiting a car plate is that they have applied for a movement permit for a classic car. Below are the following conditions of issue.
The applicant should be the owner of the vehicle to which a movement permit is sought.
The vehicle under application must be at least 20 years old. It should only be driven for the purposes of proceeding from one site to another and for joining the events
organized/participated by the Classic Car Club or other approved organizations.
The permit is non-transferable and the permit fee is non-refundable.
The movement permit authorizes the vehicle to be driven on the road for a maximum of 12 days during the 12-month validity period of the permit. A fresh permit must be obtained if more trips are required.
Drivers are required to display the permit on the left-hand side of the front windscreen so that it is clearly visible from the front of the vehicle. Failure to do so may result in cancellation of the permit and a fine of HK$2,000.
The upside to having this permit is that you won’t have to pay for the import tax or license tax every year. The regulation for this type of car is rather loose so it can even be a left-hand drive vehicle. However, the downside is oblivious - it cannot be used for daily commute or travel as you will need to seek approval from the transport department every time before you drive. Also, you won’t be able to carry passengers.
Go with regular procedures
Drivers can indeed register the car according to the common procedures, which means that the car will still need to exhibit a car plate but there won’t be limitations on the use of the car.
First, you will have to get your car to the Government Vehicle Testing Centre where examiners will test the qualities of your car to ensure that the vehicle meets Road Traffic Regulations such as exhaust and noise emissions. Then you will have to undertake tax assessment for your car at the Customs and Excise Department. Afterward, you will have to apply for a legitimate third-party car insurance plan before finally applying for a license to transport department. However, this is not a popular option because of the taxes and high insurance premium, which we will further discuss later.
If you are just testing the functions of the car, you can also obtain a trade license for use on non-left hand drive vehicle, aka a “red plate” since it has red letters on white background. According to the government site, the red plate is applicable to the following cars.
An unregistered non-left-hand drive vehicle in the course of delivery to a motor dealer or exhibitor;
A non-left-hand drive vehicle for the purpose of presale demonstration to a potential customer;
A non-left-hand drive vehicle for the purpose of a mechanical test; or
A non-left-hand drive vehicle for the purpose of examining, repairing or presale retrofitting the vehicle.
What about insurance for vintage cars?
For vehicles over 12 years, the insurer will classify it as an old vehicle and incur a higher premium and these cars have to be examined every year in the Government Vehicle Testing Centre before the vehicle license can be renewed. But even with the higher premium, almost no insurers will provide comprehensive coverage for vintage cars as it is extremely hard, if not impossible, to find the right technician and machine parts to repair a damaged vintage car.
If you are going to get a full license from the transport department, be prepared that the premium will be much higher than for other cars even if for third-party car insurance only.
An alternative is the so-called ‘classic car insurance’, which has a much lower premium but only covers a certain amount of driving distance over a year. This is especially suitable for drivers with a movement permit as their driving distance most likely won’t exceed the limit.
Kwiksure: an award-winning motor insurance expert
With over 19 years of experience, Kwiksure is an established motor insurance brokerage that has close working relationships with 60+ major insurers in town. Make use of our online quotation tool and a free online quote is just a few clicks away. On top of that, our team of experienced experts has deep motor insurance knowledge and can offer you impartial insurance advice. Contact us today for any insurance-related questions you have or get a free plan comparison!