What types of schools do most expats in your city choose for their children?
The international schools in Hong Kong are very popular among expats. Crown Hong Kong is happy to assist with the screening process and guiding parents through the application procedures for all schools.

What are some examples of these schools?
The English School Foundation (ESF) is the largest provider of international education. ESF schools receive a subsidy from the Hong Kong government to provide an education for English speaking children who cannot access the local school system. The Refundable Capital Levy (RCL) will not apply to new students entering ESF schools starting from August 2015, instead new students entering in and after August 2015 have to pay the Non-refundable Capital Levy (NCL). Please refer to the website for details. The schools are not selective: admission depends on the student’s ability to benefit from an ESF education. 

There are a number of international schools using the British curriculum, for example:

  • The German Swiss International School provides both German- and English streams. Priority is given to German, Swiss or Austrian nationals. The general condition for enrollment is the ability to follow classes in either German or English. The International Secondary Department at GSIS is similar to traditional British grammar schools and prepares the students for GCSE, The school offers IGCSE for students at ages of 14 to 15. For the last 2 years, of secondary the school offers the International Baccalaureate Diploma.
  • The French International School has a French and English stream, where the international kindergarten and primary sections follow the British National curriculum. For year 12 and 13, students follow the International Baccalaureate Diploma.
  • Harrow International School Hong Kong offers a total British curriculum. This school is the first co-educational international boarding and day school in Hong Kong

Other popular international schools include the Hong Kong International School, Kellett School, Singapore International School, Korean International School, Australian International School, Chinese International School, Canadian International School and Hong Kong Academy.

Is there a lot of competition for spots in international schools?
Competition is fierce in Hong Kong due to limited spaces and high demand. Therefore, putting in an application as early as possible is advisable. Each school has a set of criteria for admissions. For example, ESF schools are determined by catchment area. Students are only entitled to apply to the school of zone based on their residential address in Hong Kong. Overseas students can only apply to the school of zone for their expected area of residence in Hong Kong. Both Hong Kong and overseas applicants have an equal status. Zones are adjusted from time to time in the light of changing numbers.

Debentures are a form of long-term debt instrument and are available for purchase by parents and companies. The idea behind debentures are that they are a means to raise funds for building works and other school-associated expenditures. Parents and employers can buy them in certain instances to jump the queue [called a waiting list or waiting pool] for school places. However, different schools have different debenture policies and Crown Hong Kong recommends checking with the schools to which you would like to apply.

Often international schools require that you purchase a debenture upon the child’s acceptance to the school. The debenture secures the child’s place and funds the maintenance and running expenses of the school. The debenture, but not the interest on the investment, is sometimes reimbursed after the child leaves the school. However, the financial administration of debentures may vary from school to school. A debenture is an equivalent to a non-interest loan that you, the parent, pay to the school. Some schools require the purchase of a debenture which will depreciate in value annually, if it is a depreciating debenture. When the student leaves the school, the parents will receive the residual value, if any, after the depreciation has been taken into account.

For all schools, an admissions test is usually conducted prior to an interview to assess English and math skills.

Are pre-schools also widely available (for children approx. 2 to 5 years old)?
There are numerous international preschools in Hong Kong including those in the Montessori system. Demand for places in these kindergartens is high, especially morning spots.

Crown Hong Kong is in close contact with the international preschools and will be able to suggest some that are most suitable for your child.

How are most kids transported to and from school?
School buses are usually arranged by private independent companies or the Parent Teacher Associations (PTA) of the international schools.

When does the typical school year start and end?
The international school year usually begins in late August or early September and ends in June or July. The exception is the Australian International School Hong Kong, which follows the Australian school year. This begins in January and is divided into four terms.

What if English is not my child’s first language, do international school offer English as a Second Language (ESL) support?
There are a number of schools that provide English as a Second Language programs to students whose first language is not English. For example, Delia School of Canada, The Harbor School, International College Hong Kong Hong Lok Yuen and the Korean International School all provide extensive ESL support to students, either within the classroom, or on a one-to-one basis depending on their level of English.

Is there anything else I should know about international schools?
Most of the international schools will have long waiting lists. This is not only due to the short supply of spaces, but also because parents lodge multiple applications to different schools. Once places start to be secured, waiting lists diminish to some degree.

Please note that all applications to international and ESF schools require application fees, which are non-refundable.

Local schools, directly subsidized by the government, are a possible option for some international families. However, the medium of instruction is Cantonese.


Crown Relocations has made every effort to present accurate information. However, regulations, rates and other variables are subject to change and Crown Relocations cannot accept responsibility for the errors that might result. Should you have any questions or need additional information, please contact your local Crown representative.