Leaving Hong Kong? Check this to-do list, twice
Waving goodbye to the 852? Keep track of all those loose ends and check this to-do list (twice!) before packing up and leaving Hong Kong.
Regardless of whether you’ve been in Hong Kong your entire life or only for a few months, goodbyes are never easy and relocation never straightforward. With admin left, right and centre — much of it needing to be done well in advance of leaving Hong Kong — we’ve put together a quick reference list to check and make sure that nothing is left undone. Leaving you more time for tearful drinks with friends and last-minute souvenir shopping.
Make sure to do these things before leaving Hong Kong
Pay the tax man
If you’re a temporary resident, you’ll need to settle your taxes before taking to the skies. It pays (literally) to give Inland Revenue (IR) plenty of notice before leaving Hong Kong in order to organise tax payments. This can be done either by telephone or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org stating your name, HKID number and file number.
Give no less than one months notice in order to receive your final green tax form, which will need to be completed within 14 days. Your current employer will also be required to give notice of your salary up to your agreed leaving date by completing an IR56G form, which can also be done electronically. From here, you’ll need to settle your final bill in person and keep your fingers crossed for a rebate. If you’re self-employed in Hong Kong, you will still want to make sure you tell Inland Revenue of your departure.
Make plans for your MPF
If you opt for early withdrawal of MPF, you’ll need to declare you’re departure — requiring a trip to the Public Enquiry Service Centre to fill out a form. Remember: you can only take your pension out once before it’s locked in for retirement — so if you have plans to return, think carefully about whether or not you want to withdraw your MPF funds before leaving Hong Kong. The process is fairly simple, with only a need for your HKID, proof and declaration of your move and filling out of a claim form “for payment of MPF on grounds of permanent departure from Hong Kong.” Once the application is complete, allow up to one month for the funds to appear in your designated bank account. To make the process simpler, you may want to first consolidate your MPF if you have have multiple accounts and schemes open.
Settle your bills and utilities
If utility bills such as electric, gas and water are currently in your name, you’ll need to give notice of account closure (along with notice to your landlord). A recommended month’s notice is required for this process, and if you plan on closing your accounts with no intention of opening a new one, you should allow at least 14 days to be refunded your deposit.
Perhaps the trickiest utility to cancel, if you have a set contract with your provider, your best bet might be to try and sell your contract on to a friend or someone moving to Hong Kong. Quite often there isn’t much wriggle room when it comes to terminating your phone contract. It may be that you would need to pay out the remaining months, however check the details with your service provider. They may be merciful. Good luck!
For terminating your internet contract “at least 30 days advance notice is required for a contract with a fixed term” — however, this also varies depending on your provider. In some cases, if notice given is less than 30 days you may be required to pay out the remainder of your contract, or there may be a standard fee for early termination. Make sure to leave plenty of time to dig into the specifics.
Subscriptions, memberships and additional insurance plans
Unless you’re able to carry these over when leaving Hong Kong (i.e your Netflix account), make sure to cancel the following before you’re charged for another month, or your credit cards are cancelled:
- Disney Plus/Netflix (in the case that this isn’t available at your destination)
- Gym membership
- Club membership
- Additional medical insurance
- Subscriptions to Hong Kong-only apps
Consolidate and close your bank accounts
If you plan on returning to the city, then you might want to keep your bank accounts open for the time that you’re away. Bank accounts like HSBC Premier can easily transfer funds to a new location and in your preferred currency, but if you’re leaving Hong Kong for the foreseeable, then make sure to fill out a ‘Consolidation and Closure’ form, which can take three days to process.
(Re) direct to the point
If you’re concerned that any important mail will forever remain in the depth of the new tenant’s mailbox, consider setting up a postal redirect to ensure that you won’t miss that rebate cheque. Head to Hong Kong post office and fill out the designated form, including a forwarding address for just $125 for three months.
Waste not, want not
Regardless of whether you’re being treated to a relocation package, forking out for movers off your own back or just winging it with a couple of suitcases, you’re more than likely going to have accumulated quite a few things over your time here. Unless you’re particularly attached to your IKEA furniture, odds are that selling or donating is the best way to go. List your things up on faithfuls such as Facebook Marketplace, Carousel and Asia Expat, or considering donating to a charity like the Refugee Union who are always grateful to receive clothes, kitchen items and old electronics.
Start ticking off that bucket list
Admittedly not an easy feat if you’re looking to relocate amidst social distancing measures and pandemic-curbing restrictions, however there is still plenty that you can start ticking off on that Hong Kong bucket list. Embark on a solo outing to your favourite outlying island, book a table for two at one of your most coveted restaurants, scarf down the best char siu and dumplings or organise a picnic in front of your favourite harbour views. For those last few weeks Hong Kong is your oyster — assuming that you’re in groups of no more than two, of course.