Hong Kong - Country Commercial Guide
Strategic Trade Controls for Exports to Hong Kong

Includes the U.S. government export controls that companies need to abide by when exporting to this country

Last published date: 2022-01-21

The United States imposes export controls to protect national security interests and promote foreign policy objectives related to dual-use goods and less-sensitive military items through implementation of the Export Administration Regulations (EAR). The Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) is comprised of two elements: Export Administration (EA), which is responsible for processing license applications, counseling exporters, and drafting and publishing changes to the EAR; and Export Enforcement (EE), which is responsible for compliance monitoring and enforcement of the EAR. BIS works closely with U.S. embassies, foreign governments, industry, and trade associations to ensure that exports from the United States are secure and comply with the EAR.  

Additionally, BIS officials conduct End-Use Checks (EUCs). An EUC is the verification of a foreign party to a transaction to determine whether the party is a reliable recipient of items subject to the EAR. An EUC verifies the bona fides of transactions subject to the EAR, to include confirming the legitimacy and reliability of the end use and end user; monitoring compliance with license conditions; and ensuring items are used, re-exported or transferred (in-country) in accordance with the EAR. These checks might be completed prior to the export of items pursuant to a BIS export license in the form of a Pre-License Check (PLC), or following an export from the U.S. during a Post-Shipment Verification (PSV), regardless of whether or not a BIS license was required. BIS officials rely on EUCs to safeguard items subject to the EAR from diversion to unauthorized end uses/users and destinations. The verification of a foreign party’s reliability also facilitates future trade when completed pursuant to BIS license reviews. If BIS is unable to verify the reliability of a foreign party, it may receive more regulatory scrutiny during license application reviews or be designated on BIS’s Unverified List or Entity List. 

In December 2020, BIS published a regulatory amendment confirming that exports, reexports and transfers (in-country) to Hong Kong will be treated as transactions destined for the People’s Republic of China (China). This includes a policy of denial for law enforcement equipment and firearms controlled for Crime Control reasons pursuant to the Tiananmen Square Sanctions (Section 902(a)(4) of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 1990 and 1991, Public Law 101-246). In light of this change, exporters and re-exporters of regulated items, including electronics and other sensitive goods, should ensure that their licensing obligations have not changed.  As noted in the Market Overview section, in July 2021 the United States government issued an advisory to U.S. businesses regarding potential risks to their operations and activities in Hong Kong, which should be consulted when considering export controls.

In addition to U.S. strategic trade controls, Hong Kong maintains its own strategic trade control system, requiring licenses for the import or export of items commonly found on internationally supported strategic trade control lists, including those adopted by the United States. Hong Kong’s licensing system is administered by the Trade and Industry Department (TID), and applications for licenses in Hong Kong may require evidence that a shipment from the United States has been lawfully made. More information can be found on TID’s website.  

Recordkeeping requirements for multilaterally controlled items destined to and from Hong Kong are still applicable.  Prior to exporting items controlled on the Commerce Control List (CCL) for national security (NS), missile technology (MT), nuclear nonproliferation (NP column 1), or chemical and biological weapons (CB) reasons, exporters are required to obtain a copy of a Hong Kong import license or a written statement from the Hong Kong government that such a license is not required, including website guidance from the Hong Kong Trade and Industry Department (HKTID). The same requirements apply for re-export of U.S. origin items from Hong Kong. More information on this requirement can be found in the BIS’s Country Guidance website.

BIS has developed a list of “red flags”, or warning signs, and compiled “Know Your Customer” guidance intended to aid exporters in identifying possible violations of the EAR.  Both of these resources are publicly available, and their dissemination to industry members is highly encouraged to help promote EAR compliance. 

BIS also provides a variety of training sessions to U.S. exporters throughout the year. These sessions range from one to two-day seminars that focus on the basics of exporting to coverage of more advanced, industry specific topics. Interested parties can check a list of upcoming seminars and webinars or reference BIS provided online training. BIS’s Export Control Officers (ECOs) located at U.S. embassies and consulates in seven overseas locations also conduct outreach to raise awareness of re-export control requirements with foreign business communities.

BIS and the EAR regulate transactions involving the export of “dual-use” and less-sensitive military items (commodities, software and technology) as well as some U.S. person activities. For advice and regulatory requirements on items under the export control jurisdiction of other U.S. Government agencies, exporters should consult the other U.S. Government agencies. For example, the U.S. Department of State’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls has authority over the defense articles and services that are not subject to the EAR. A list of other agencies involved in export control can be found on the BIS website or in Supplement No. 3 to Part 730 of the EAR. The EAR is available on the BIS website and on the e-CFR (Electronic Code of Federal Regulations) and is updated as needed.   

The Consolidated Screening List (CSL) is a list of parties for which the United States Government maintains restrictions on certain exports, reexports or transfers of items. The CSL consolidates eleven export screening lists of the Departments of Commerce, State and the Treasury into a single data feed as an aid to industry in conducting electronic screens of parties to regulated transactions. Exporters should determine the export requirements specific to their proposed transaction by classifying their items prior to export, and reviewing the EAR’s requirements specific to the item(s) and the proposed end use and end user, as well as consulting the CSL to determine if any parties to the transaction may be subject to specific license requirements.

Assistance is available from BIS by calling one of the following numbers:  

  • (202) 482-4811 - Outreach and Educational Services Division (located in Washington, DC – open Monday-Friday, 8:30am-5:00pm ET) 
  • (949) 660-0144 - Western Regional Office (located in Irvine, CA – open Monday-Friday, 8:00am-5:00pm PT) 
  • (408) 998-8806 - Northern California branch (located in San Jose, CA – open Monday-Friday, 8:00am-5:00pm PT) 

or by e-mailing your inquiry to the Export Counseling Division of the Office of Exporter Services at: ECDOEXS@bis.doc.gov  

Contact information for BIS’s overseas ECOs can be found at:

https://www.bis.doc.gov/index.php/enforcement/oea/eco