The issuance of the HKSAR passport is controlled strictly by the Immigration
Department. Under the HKSAR Passports Ordinance, only Chinese citizens who are
Hong Kong permanent residents holding Hong Kong permanent identity cards are
eligible for the HKSAR passport. The passport contains advanced anti-forgery design
Applications can be made either by post or in person. Those from overseas can
be sent to the Immigration Department through the nearest Chinese diplomatic or
consular missions. All HKSAR passports are prepared centrally by the Immigration
Department in Hong Kong, for collection either here, or at the relevant Chinese
diplomatic or consular missions overseas. During the year, the number of HKSAR
passport applications received was 496 736, including 4 419 from overseas.
The HKSAR Passports Appeal Board handles appeals against refusal of
applications for HKSAR passports. It received 14 (8 overseas and 6 local) appeals in
To keep pace with international efforts to enhance the security standards of
travel documents, HKSAR electronic passports will be introduced on February 5, 2007
in line with the specifications recommended by the International Civil Aviation
During the year, the Immigration Department continued to lobby for visa-free
entry to more countries for HKSAR passport holders. The countries that agreed
included Tunisia. By year-end, a total of 135 countries and territories had agreed to
grant visa-free access or visa on arrival to HKSAR passport holders.
Other travel documents issued by the Immigration Department include
Documents of Identity for Visa Purposes (DIs) and Re-entry Permits (REPs). DIs are
issued for international travel and are valid for seven years. They are issued to Hong
Kong residents who are not eligible for the HKSAR passport and who are unable to
obtain a national passport or travel document of any other countries or territories.
REPs are issued to Hong Kong residents for travelling to the Mainland and the Macao
SAR. During the year, 58 296 DIs and 109 346 REPs were issued.
The Immigration Department also issues identity cards to Hong Kong residents.
There are two types of identity cards: the Hong Kong Permanent Identity Card issued
to residents who have the right of abode in Hong Kong, and the Hong Kong Identity
Card issued to residents who do not have that right.
Except those who are required to obtain Certificates of Entitlement, people who
claim to have the right of abode in the HKSAR must apply for verification of their
eligibility for a permanent identity card. In 2006, 63 729 applications were received.
Of these, 51 769 were approved.
Smart Identity Card
Since June 23, 2003, the Immigration Department had introduced a new
generation of identity cards for Hong Kong residents. The new smart cards employ
state-of-the-art technologies and are more secure and fraud-resistant. The
cardholder's personal particulars are engraved on the card by laser. Templates of the
holder's two thumbprints and facial image are stored in a chip and protected by
sophisticated cryptographic techniques. The smart identity cards enable the
Immigration Department to use the fingerprint identification technology to quickly
authenticate the cardholders' identity and enable cardholders to enjoy the
convenience of the automated passenger clearance (APC) system and the automated
vehicle clearance (AVC) system.
The APC system has been introduced in phases at all control points since late
2004. Eligible Hong Kong residents aged 11 or above, holding smart identity cards
may enjoy self-service immigration clearance. In addition, the AVC had been
introduced in phases at vehicular control points since April 2005. It provides
automated clearance for eligible cross-boundary drivers holding smart identity cards.
The territory-wide arrangement for replacing the old identity cards with the new
smart cards is making good progress. By the end of 2006, a total of 4 859 673 smart
identity cards were issued.