Pre-departure Planning

Whether this is your first time to live overseas or not, there is much to plan and prepare before departing for the host country. The pages in this section provide an outline of the major items to help you with pre-departure planning.


Your passport proves your citizenship. It is the most important document when outside of your country. Check your current passport to make sure it does not expire within six months of your planned return to Hong Kong.

If you do not have a passport or need to renew the one you have, apply as soon as possible. Allow at least six weeks for regular processing.

Visas (Destination Country)

Visas are issued by the consulate or embassy of the destination country. Students are advised to contact the appropriate consular offices of their host country once they have been nominated to a partner institution to establish whether a visa is required and what are the application procedures. In most cases, you will need to apply for a visa while you are in Hong Kong. In all cases where a visa is required, you will need the acceptance documents from the host institution before you can apply.

Please note that visas are not the responsibility of HKUST; it is the responsibility of students. Visa requirements vary from country to country. The name on your passport is the legal name under which you may travel. It is advisable to use the name on your passport for your visa applications and flight bookings.

Hong Kong Student Visas (HKUST Non-local Students)

If you are a non-local student studying at HKUST on a student visa, you must ensure that the validity period of your Hong Kong visa covers the exchange period. In general, Hong Kong student visas issued to degree-seeking UG students cover the entire four years of the study period. However, if your Hong Kong student visa expires while you are completing your exchange studies overseas, please remember to have it renewed before you depart for the host institution.

If your Hong Kong student visa has expired when you return to Hong Kong after your exchange ends, you will experience difficulties re-entering. If your travel document requires a visa in order to enter Hong Kong, you will not be able to do so. If your travel document allows visa-free access to Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Immigration Department will grant you entry as a tourist, but it will be illegal to study. In this case, you should submit an application for student visa renewal to the Hong Kong Immigration Department as soon as you re-enter Hong Kong. Once your student visa is renewed, you will need to re-enter Hong Kong to activate your student status.

International Student Identity Card

Your HKUST student ID may not be honored in some countries. The International Student Identity Card (ISIC) gives students a single document recognized worldwide as proof of student status. ISIC cards can be applied from the International Student Identity Card Association (http://www.isic.hk).

The benefits of ISIC vary widely from country to country, but may include student discounts on airfares, transport and accommodation, and discounts on admission to museums, theaters, cultural events and other attractions.


Flights should be booked ahead of time, especially if you plan to travel during the peak seasons. For students participating in overseas learning programs, we advise you consider the following:

  • Do not purchase your flight ticket until you have received official acceptance from your host institution
  • Try to buy a ticket that allows you the flexibility to change dates free of charge
  • How much baggage you will take and whether the ticket has an excess baggage allowance for students, or what are the rates charged for excess baggage
  • Shop around and make reservations early

Your HKUST Network Abroad

HKUST’s worldwide network of alumni is keen and interested in supporting HKUST exchange students settling in new places. You can find out about the network by visiting the website.

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