Due to pollution and climate change, private car ownership is largely discouraged by the Hong Kong government and motoring costs reflect the government's policy. When buying a new car a first-time registration tax has to be paid based on the size and value of the car.
If you still intent on buying a car, you need to be a resident as you will need to have a Hong Kong identity card, a local driving licence, and an address when registering, or transferring it to your name if it’s a used car. Insurance companies will ask for the same information. Other than that, buying a car in Hong Kong is relatively straightforward. All cars must be right-hand drive, as road users drive on the left.
New cars are expensive in Hong Kong but even used cars can cost a lot when you add up the costs of the vehicle licence fee, insurance, repairs and general maintenance.
You will find just about any model in Hong Kong. Luxury cars like Rolls Royce, Bentley, Jaguar, Mercedes Benz, BMW and other European brands are status symbols and are in great demand. Even fast cars like Ferrari, Porsche and Lamborghini are seen racing around the mountainous roads of Hong Kong.
A good-condition, second-hand European luxury car can be bought for about HK$150,000 and a Japanese car can be bought for about HK$80,000 depending on the model and age. You can buy older European models for much less but it will cost you to maintain them as parts and servicing for older European cars are expensive. They also don’t seem to do too well in the heat and humidity. Japanese cars like Lexus, Honda and Toyota are often favoured because of the high resale value and low maintenance costs.
There are dealerships for new cars throughout Hong Kong. Alternatively, there is a high turnover in the second hand market with new cars devaluing relatively quickly. All brands have their own showrooms, mainly in Wan Chai along Gloucester Road and some in Causeway Bay and Happy Valley. New cars are also displayed in malls like Pacific Place and car shows are held in the Convention Centre. Used cars can be bought through dealers like Expat Motors and Fookie Motors or from individuals as a private sale. Private car sales are a great way to find a good deal, especially if an expatriate is leaving and needs to sell up quickly.
Generally, cars in Hong Kong don’t have too much mileage because of the limited driving opportunities, so what you buy should be reliable, unless it’s very old and has changed hands many times. You will find advertisements in newspapers, free magazines like Dollarsaver, and on supermarket notice boards in expatriate areas like Repulse Bay, Stanley and Mid-Levels.
When buying from a dealer, negotiating is expected but the age, model, condition and mileage will of course influence the price. You should drive the car and have a garage check it out.
As for buying a used car, it is advisable to see the car's service history to help validate the stated mileage. It is also advisable to get the car checked by an independent source to ensure that it is in good running order and has no major problems. Anyone planning to buy a used car should apply to the Licensing Office for the relevant Certificate of Clearance before going through with the transaction. This certificate, which is free, is valid for 72 hours and certifies that the car is free of outstanding penalties and not subject to any licensing suspension.