In Hong Kong, owning your own car isn’t a given. For a start, getting around without one is easy with the MTR covering much of the city, and the bus network filling in the gaps.
For this reason most Hong Kongers see cars as a status symbol, not a way getting around. This is reflected by the statistics: over the past decade private cars made up only 10 percent of Hong Kong’s total daily passenger journeys, with ownership rates of around 50 private cars per 1,000 people during the same period. (source)
If you are still dying to get your own wheels, you had better have deep pockets. Even before you get your new car onto the road, three government departments have their fingers in the pie, the first charge being the “First Registration Tax”. Calculated on the taxable value of your vehicle, multiplied by the appropriate tax rate, for private cars it is as follows:
- 40% on the first $150,000 of taxable value )
- 75% on the next $150,000
- 100% on the next $200,000
- 115% on the remainder
An example is an entry level Toyota Camry with a RRP of HK$249,690 (around US$32,000) – after the First Registration Tax this is HK$384,457 or a 53% tax take.
Don’t think you can avoid taxes by purchasing a second hand car: you also need to pay an annual “Vehicle Licence” fee to keep your car registered. The cost is dependant on the engine capacity, as follows:
- HK$3,929 not exceeding 1,500 c.c.
- HK$5,794 exceeding 1,500 c.c. but not exceeding 2,500 c.c.
- HK$7,664 exceeding 2,500 c.c. but not exceeding 3,500 c.c.
- HK$9,534 exceeding 3,500 c.c. but not exceeding 4,500 c.c.
- HK$11,329 exceeding 4,500 c.c.
For the Camry mentioned before you will have to fork out HK$5,794 each year (around US$740). If that wasn’t enough, once a private car reaches age six, they are required to undergo an annual vehicle examination before they can be re-registered: an extra HK$530 a year.
With all those government fees and charges, once you get your car home I hope you have somewhere to park it. If you are lucky enough to be living in a newer apartment complex, then there are probably spaces available in the basement, provided you are ready to pay the monthly rent to use one. If you live in the older areas of Hong Kong you will not be as lucky, instead you will need to fork out $$$ at whichever parking garage is the closest.
To drive anywhere, you are going to need petrol, which is another big expense. The cost of unleaded is around HK$15 a litre (or US$1.90 a litre) – HK$6.06 of which is fuel taxes.
At least now you have to open road to yourself: Hong Kong’s freeway network is surprisingly uncluttered, at least from the two weeks I spent around the city.
Just keep away from the quagmire that is Hong Kong Island…