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Visas & Work Permits in Hong Kong

Getting a Hong Kong ID Card

Unfortunately, dealing with red tape isn’t over for expats who have arrived in Hong Kong. You still need to register for an ID card. However, obtaining a Hong Kong ID card is a fairly easy process and once you apply for it, you will have it in no time.

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When you arrive in Hong Kong with a valid visa that allows you to stay there for longer than six months, only one small step separates you from becoming a legal non-permanent resident: the Hong Kong ID card. Registering for one is a mandatory procedure for all residents aged 11 or older. Your ID card comes with an embedded microchip. It not only serves as an identification document, but it can also be used for services such as public libraries.

Getting a Hong Kong ID card is not a very complicated endeavor and if you follow the steps outlined in this article, you shouldn’t come across many issues.

About the Hong Kong ID

Hong Kong ID cards are credit card-sized smart cards, similar to the Octopus Card for public transport in Hong Kong. Each one has an integrated microchip which contains immigration-related data such as thumbprints. This enables you to enter and exit the country through automated fingerprint kiosks. You may also choose to activate your card to be used for various non-immigration-related functions, for example, it can also serve as a library card.

Hong Kong law requires you to carry your ID card with you at all times. From time to time, the police make spot checks. Therefore, if you are still waiting for your ID card, make sure to carry your passport as well as the document that shows you have applied for the ID card. If you plan to leave Hong Kong for three months or longer, you have to inform the Registration of Persons Office. You might be required to hand in your Hong Kong ID card before leaving.

The Hong Kong ID card for non-permanent residents only shows your right to reside in the territories for a specific period. It does not grant you any rights reserved for citizens such as the right to vote, nor can it be used as a travel document. You still need to have your valid passport from your home country to travel outside of Hong Kong.

How to Apply for a Hong Kong ID Card

Once you have arrived with a valid visa, you should apply for a Hong Kong Identity Card within 30 days of your arrival. Applying for an ID card guarantees you the right to remain in the country. All of your dependent family members must apply for a card as well unless they are children under 11-years-old –– they do not need a Hong Kong ID.

To apply for the card you have to go to the Registration of Persons Offices and file the necessary information. While you do not have to register for an appointment, doing so will help you avoid queueing up once you arrive at the office. You can register for an appointment online.

When registering, you can select the date for the appointment within the following 24 working days, Saturdays included. The form will ask you to fill in the number of your travel documents and provide a four-digit Enquiry Code that will allow you to change the date of or cancel the appointment. You can register up to four people for one appointment.

When the day arrives, all you need to bring with you to in order to apply is your valid travel document and your visa. This proves that you have legally entered the country and are permitted to stay for a certain period of time. Children between 11 and 17 years of age also need to produce their birth certificate.

To make the process smoother, just download the application form for the Hong Kong Identity Card and fill it out beforehand. If you don’t have time – don’t worry, you able to fill in the form once you are at the office. During the application process, you will be asked to have your thumbprints scanned and your picture taken. After your eligibility is confirmed and all the documents are submitted, you will be issued an acknowledgment of application document.

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Hong Kong ID?

The Hong Kong ID is completely free. The only case you will be charged is if you need a replacement or if you want to change your personal data.

How Long Does It Take To Get a Hong Kong ID?

Usually, your ID card will be ready within ten working days (excluding the weekends and holidays) after submitting your application. You can check the exact date on your acknowledgment of application. You do not need an appointment for collecting your card. Simply bring along your acknowledgment document to the office. If you are unable to pick up the card in person, you can appoint an authorized representative to do so instead.

Hong Kong Permanent Residence ID

Once you have been living in Hong Kong for at least seven consecutive years, you are eligible to apply for permanent residence. In your application, you need to show that you have your habitual residence in Hong Kong, that your family is there with you and that you have sufficient income.

The regulations for Chinese nationals are slightly different. The Hong Kong government provides detailed information on who is eligible for permanent residence.

If your application is successful, you will receive a permanent ID card. This gives you the right of abode in Hong Kong: You may stay in the country indefinitely and you cannot be removed or deported. Furthermore, as a resident with a permanent ID card, you have most of the rights which Hong Kong citizens enjoy, like the right to vote in local elections.

New Smart Hong Kong ID

Starting from 2018 to 2022 the Hong Kong government is replacing all the Hong Kong IDs issued before 26 November 2018 with a newer, more secure version of the document. The process is gradual and split into phases according to the birth year of the cardholder. All Hong Kong residents are required to give up their old resident cards and must apply for a new one by visiting one of the designated offices. The application process is the same as getting issued a new card.

Updated on: January 30, 2019
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