Hong Kong 2006
Chapter 20:
Population and Immigration
Immigration Department
Personal Documentation
Nationality Matters
Assistance to Hong Kong Residents Outside Hong Kong
Births and Deaths
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Personal Documentation

Travel Documents

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 features.

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 2006.

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 Organisation.

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.

Identity Cards

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.

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