With the resumption of free movement between Mainland China and Hong Kong, and the implementation of the quota-free scheme for Macau private cars traveling to Guangdong (the Macao-Guangdong scheme), the Hong Kong government has announced that it will do its best to implement a quota-free scheme for Hong Kong private cars traveling to Guangdong (the Hong Kong-Guangdong scheme) in the first quarter of this year. But when will the scheme be launched? What kind of insurance do you need to have for using the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HKZM Bridge)? What should you do if you are involved in an accident on the Mainland? In this article, the experts at Kwiksure will answer all the above FAQs for you and then some.
What is the Hong Kong-Guangdong scheme?
The scheme allows Hong Kong private vehicles to travel to Guangdong Province via the HKZM Bridge on a self-driving tour for brief stays, without the need to apply for a permit under the “regular quota” system. Drivers can stay for up to 30 days each time, and spend up to 180 days on the Mainland per year.
When will the Hong Kong-Guangdong scheme be launched?
The Hong Kong government has finalized the basic arrangements with the relevant departments in Guangdong and the Mainland, including driver and vehicle requirements, duration of stay, etc. Qualified drivers will be exempt from paying customs duties and making guarantee arrangements with Mainland Customs. The specific details will be announced in the first quarter of 2023, and the scheme will be implemented within this year.
Application procedures and driver qualifications for the Hong Kong-Guangdong scheme
- Applicants must hold a valid Hong Kong Identity Card and Mainland Travel Permit (commonly called the “Home Return Permit”)
- Applicants must have private car driving licenses from both Hong Kong and the Mainland
- The applicant must be the registered owner of the relevant private vehicle
- The vehicle must be a private vehicle not for commercial purposes
- The vehicle must have 8 seats (including the driver’s seat) or fewer, and the length of the vehicle must not exceed 6 meters
- The vehicle must have the relevant vehicle licenses of the two places (including the Closed Road Permit for Cross-Boundary Vehicles and the vehicle licenses)
- The insurance requirements of both places must be met, including those relating to Statutory Automobile Liability Insurance (SALI) of the Mainland
- The vehicle must pass an inspection by the China Inspection Co., Ltd., and there is no need to undergo further vehicle tests in the Mainland
Specific application details for the Hong Kong-Guangdong scheme has yet to be announced.
Tip: The Hong Kong-Guangdong scheme will not affect the current "regular quota system" for cross-border private cars in Guangdong and Hong Kong. The two systems will operate in parallel.
Is there any quota under the Hong Kong-Guangdong scheme?
How do I apply for a Mainland driving license or get a Mainland driving license test-exempted?
You must make an appointment before applying for a Mainland driving license. You may visit the Shenzhen Traffic Police Online Vehicle Management Office website (szjj.sz.gov.cn/CGZL) or follow the WeChat official account "Shenzhen Traffic Police" on your mobile phone, log in to the user platform, and follow the prompts to make an appointment. Select "test-exempted replacement for Hong Kong driving license", fill in the information, and register, after which you can apply for an appointment.
After making an appointment, bring the required documents (i.e. Hong Kong ID card, Hong Kong driving license, Home Return Permit, medical examination report, and 4 ID photos with a white background) to a license window of the designated Public Security Vehicle Management Office in Guangdong on time. Offices that are more convenient for Hong Kong people to visit include the "Shenzhen Bay Port Police Medical Postal Service Station", "Shenzhen Vehicle Management Office", and "Luohu Vehicle Management Branch Office". Generally, the Vehicle Management Office will issue a driving license within 1 to 3 working days, and the license is valid for 6 years.
If you hold a full Hong Kong driving license (any type)
You can get a Mainland driving license for the following vehicle class test-exempted
Type 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, or 21 driving license
Small car (Class C1)
Driving license for Class A vehicles with automatic transmission (except Class 3 and Class 22)
Small automatic-transmission vehicles (Class C2)
Driving license for Class 3 motorcycles or Class 22 motor tricycles (except Class A)
Two-wheeled motorcycles (Class E)
What is the Closed Road Permit for Cross-Boundary Vehicles?
The starting point of the HKZM Bridge is within the artificial island area, and one section of the road is a closed road, which means it is a restricted area of Hong Kong. Therefore, a "Closed Road Permit" is required along with Hong Kong car insurance.
If my China-Hong Kong license plate already has SALI, do I need to secure additional insurance for my Hong Kong vehicle traveling to Guangdong?
If you have already secured SALI through any means, you already meet the insurance requirements for using the HKZM Bridge, and there is no need to secure additional insurance.
What types of insurance are needed for Hong Kong cars traveling on the Mainland?
SALI will have to be secured for Hong Kong vehicles traveling on the Mainland, and the statutory minimum coverage is RMB ¥180,000 - though this amount is likely to be inadequate. Kwiksure recommends that drivers purchase additional commercial insurance to protect themselves by adding RMB ¥1,000,000 or even RMB ¥2,000,000 to the sum insured of RMB ¥180,000, in effect securing the equivalent of third-party insurance in Hong Kong.
How can I secure Mainland car insurance in Hong Kong?
Most Hong Kong insurers have established working relations with Mainland insurers. Thus, Hong Kong drivers can now secure SALI and commercial insurance for the Mainland through Hong Kong insurers.
How should a car crash on the Mainland be handled?
If a third party is involved in a traffic accident, you must notify the local police and your insurer to handle it on-site. On the other hand, where there is no third party involved (e.g. you carelessly hit a lamp post), you may directly contact your Mainland insurer to handle it on-site.
What should I pay special attention to if I drive an electric vehicle on the Mainland?
1. The electric vehicle charging system on the Mainland is different from that used in Hong Kong
At present, the world's mainstream electric vehicle charging standards are the four major standards from Europe, North America, China, and Japan. Hong Kong follows the European standard Type 2 / CCS 2, while China has its own GB/T national standard. Since there is no DC adapter from CCS2 to GB/T at present, Tesla 3/Y and all European-standard electric vehicles cannot use any DC fast charging equipment on the Mainland, and can only use a charging adapter to “bridge” the national-standard AC charger for charging.
2. There is a shortage of charging stations on the Mainland
The use of electric vehicles is strongly supported by the Mainland government, and according to data from the Ministry of Public Security, by 2022 there were already 13.1 million electric vehicles nationwide. Despite that, there is a shortage of charging stations.
Based on Tesla's official map of charging stations, Shenzhen has fewer charging stations than Hong Kong. If you go to other places in Guangdong, such as Zhuhai and Guangzhou, it will likely be even more difficult to find charging stations. Therefore, Kwiksure recommends that drivers of electric vehicles carefully plan their itinerary before driving to Guangdong, and do their best to locate charging stations along the route in advance so that their vehicles will not run out of power while on the road.
Reportedly, the Hong Kong government is looking into the possibility of "pee bag trucks" (“pee bag” is a colloquial term in Hong Kong for “power bank”), with the hope of deploying them on the Mainland for emergency use by Hong Kong drivers.
What benefits are made possible by the Hong Kong-Guangdong scheme?
In addition to making short-term business trips, family visits, and travel between the two places more convenient, the scheme also brings about some other benefits to drivers, including:
1. Oil is way cheaper on the Mainland than in Hong Kong
It is a well-known fact that oil prices in Hong Kong are the highest in the world. If you drive on the Mainland, you may consider filling up your gas tank before returning to Hong Kong to save money. According to the Consumer Council’s Fuel Price Information Bulletin on 1 February 2023, the local price of unleaded gasoline per liter (98 octane rating) ranges from HKD $18.09 to $22.09, depending on the pricing of different oil companies. By comparison, the price of unleaded gasoline per liter (98 octane rating) in Guangdong on the same day was only RMB ¥9.42, which was equivalent to HKD $10.94, almost only half of the cost in Hong Kong.
What’s more, unlike in Hong Kong (where it has always been that only 98-octane standard unleaded gasoline and 98-octane premium unleaded gasoline are available), cheaper 92 and 95-octane gasoline are available in addition to 98-octane gasoline on the Mainland. Based on data from February 1, 2023, the prices per liter of 92 and 95-octane gasoline are RMB ¥7.64 (HKD $8.87) and RMB ¥8.28 (HKD $9.62) respectively, and the gap with Hong Kong prices is even larger.
2. Vehicle maintenance and repair is more affordable on the Mainland
Since there is still a gap between the price levels in Guangdong and in Hong Kong, Hong Kong car repair shops charge much more for rent, labor, and parts compared to their counterparts on the Mainland. Maintenance services, repair, cleaning, car repainting, waxing, PPF, coating, and other car beauty services on the Mainland are much cheaper than they are in Hong Kong. It’s little wonder there is speculation that once the Hong Kong-Guangdong scheme is launched, a wave of closures of local car repair shops will soon follow.