Hong Kong Identity Card

Hong Kong Identity Card
Hong Kong Permanent Identity card
HKID pic-adult-front sample.jpg
front of HK permanent ID card
Traditional Chinese 香港永久性居民身份證
Hong Kong Identity card
Traditional Chinese 香港身份證

The Hong Kong Identity Card (abbreviation: HKID, ID card) is an official identity document issued by the Immigration Department of Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Permanent Identity Card is a class of HKID issued to Hong Kong residents who have the right of abode (ROA) in Hong Kong SAR.[1] According to the Registration of Persons Ordinance (Cap. 177), all residents of age 11 or above who are living in Hong Kong for longer than 180 days must, within 30 days of either reaching the age of 11 or arriving in Hong Kong, register for an HKID.[2] HKIDs contain amongst others the name of the bearer in English, and if applicable in Chinese. It does not expire as long as you are resident in Hong Kong.



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The use of identity documents has a long history in Hong Kong, starting with manually-filled paper documents, to the smart card introduced on 23 June 2003.[2]

Before 1949, people could move freely into and out of Hong Kong (then a British colony), and China (then Republic of China). Hong Kong residents who held Republic of China citizenship were not registered. In 1949, when the Government of the Republic of China retreated to Taiwan and the People's Republic of China was established on the mainland, the Hong Kong Government began to register Hong Kong residents in order to issue compulsory identity documents.[3] These measures were put into practice in order to halt the large influx of refugees from Communist China and control the border with mainland China.[citation needed] The registration was completed in 1951. Although registration was compulsory for all residents, people were not required to carry their documents with them at all times when going into public.

Beginning on 1 June 1960, the government introduced the second generation of ID cards.[3] These bore the holder's fingerprint and photograph, and an official stamp. The information was typed, and the card was laminated. Males had a blue card and females had a red card. The format of card was replaced in November 1973 with a card without fingerprints.[3] The colour of the stamp identified and differentiated permanent residents (black) from non-permanent ones (green). New immigrants subsequently became known colloquially as "green stamp tourists" (Chinese: 綠印客).

From 24 October 1980, carrying the identity card in public areas and showing it when requested by a police or immigration officer became compulsory. This law was passed in order to halt large numbers of illegal immigrants arriving in the city. The government adopted a policy of deporting illegal immigrants to China within three days if they could not produce a valid ID card.

From March 1983, digitally processed identity cards was introduced to reduce forgery.[3] This also simplified border controls. On 1 June 1987, the Immigration Department produced cards without the coat of arms of British Hong Kong,[3] which would last through the handover on 1 July 1997. In 2003, the government began replacing the cards with smart IDs in stages.

Classes of HKID

There are two classes of Hong Kong Identity Card:

  • Hong Kong Permanent Identity Card — states that the holder has the right of abode in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
  • Hong Kong Identity Card — which does not state that right.[1]

The card types can be further divided into cards bearing the term "child" (below age 11 and not compulsory. The card can be requested to obtain later a passport with a Hong Kong permanent resident number), "youth" (from age 11 up until 18), and "adult" (issued from age 18 onwards).

Permanent HKID and right of abode

Paper Hong Kong Permanent Identity Card

Permanent HKID holders have the Right of Abode (Chinese: 居留權) in Hong Kong. Under the Basic Law of Hong Kong, a person who belongs to one of the following categories is a permanent resident of the HKSAR with right of abode privileges:

  • (a) Chinese citizen born in Hong Kong before or after the establishment of the HKSAR
  • (b) Chinese citizen who has ordinarily resided in Hong Kong for a continuous period of not less than seven years before or after the establishment of the HKSAR.
  • (c) Person of Chinese nationality born outside Hong Kong before or after the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to a parent who, at the time of birth of that person, was a Chinese citizen falling within category (a) or (b).
  • (d) Person not of Chinese nationality who has entered Hong Kong with a valid travel document, has ordinarily resided in Hong Kong for a continuous period of not less than seven years and has taken Hong Kong as his place of permanent residence before or after the establishment of the HKSAR.
  • (e) Person under 21 years of age born in Hong Kong to a parent who is a permanent resident of the HKSAR in category (d) before or after the establishment of the HKSAR if at the time of his birth or at any later time before he attains 21 years of age, one of his parents has the ROA in Hong Kong.
  • (f) Person other than those residents in categories (a) to (e), who, before the establishment of the HKSAR, had the ROA in Hong Kong only.

Paper versions of the Hong Kong Identity card (such as the one on the right) are issued by the Registration of Persons Office for temporary use until a smart card can be manufactured. This process requires two weeks, and the smart card must be collected within six weeks.

Hong Kong Identity Card

The following conditions are required to receive a non-permanent Hong Kong Identity Card: (to be expanded)

  • Right to Land — free from any condition of stay (including a limit of stay) or removal from HKSAR (and does not possess the right of abode)
  • Anyone 11 years of age or above who enters and is permitted to stay in Hong Kong for more than 180 days


Residents of Hong Kong are required to obtain an HKID card at the age of 11. Hong Kong residents age 18 or over are required to carry legal identification with them at all times (that is, the HKID card).[4] Bearers of a "youth" HKID card must switch to an "adult" HKID within 30 days after their 18th birthday. The "youth" card will be invalid as re-entry travel document 30 days after the 18th birthday.

Photographs are not required on HKID for children under the age of 11and cannot be used as a travel document. A Hong Kong Re-entry Permit is issued in its place.

HKID number

HKID cards contain the bearer's HKID number, of which the standard format is X123456(A). X represents any one or two letters of the alphabet. The letter U followed by any letter of the alphabet (UH and UY are common[citation needed] but others exist. These are usually given to mothers who have just given birth, but may or may not have right of abode in Hong Kong, and are therefore temporary until a proper number can be established, and used most commonly in hospitals.[citation needed] Also, the babies cannot hold HKIDs but hospital filing systems are based on ID number, hence the need to assign temporary ones). The numerals may represent any Arabic number. A is the check digit which has 11 possible values from 0 to 9 and A. There are 26 million possible card numbers using only the one-letter prefix, and 676 million using a two-letter prefix. The numbers of dead people are not recycled.

Information on first and second-generation computerised Hong Kong identity cards

First generation of computerised HKID
Second generation of computerised HKID
  • Name in Chinese (if any)
  • Name in English
  • Name in Chinese Commercial Code (if any)
  • Sex
  • Date of birth
  • Symbols
  • Holder's digital image
  • Month and year of first registration
  • Date of registration
  • Date of expiry (first-generation computerised Hong Kong ID card only)
  • Identity card number (Note)

Information on the face of a smart identity card

  • Name in Chinese (if any)[6]
  • Name in English
  • Name in Chinese Commercial Code (if any)
  • Sex
  • Date of birth
  • Symbols
  • Holder's digital image
  • Month and year of first registration
  • Date of registration
  • Identity card number (Note)

Only the codes *, ***, A, C, R, U, Z, X, W, O, B, N can be shown on the card.

Note: The check digit in brackets is not part of the identity card number, but appended solely to facilitate computer data processing.

Hong Kong Smart Identity Cards

From 23 June 2003, only Smart ID cards were issued .Between August 2003 to 2007, all Hong Kong ID cards were replaced.

On 23 June 2003, the Immigration Department of Hong Kong began issuing a new revised Smart Identity card.[2] The new cards contain an embedded microchip, which stores the bearer's information electronically. Previous HKIDs remained valid until the Executive Council, through the Secretary for Security, declared them invalid. In addition, existing holders of HKID documents were called to apply to have their old-style HKID documents replaced by the new cards. This eligibility was offered to existing HKID holders based their date of birth on a rolling basis in order to prevent the volume of applications exceeding the pace at which the government could issue these revised documents. The Government of Hong Kong has been gradually moving the window of applicants eligible for replacement. Persons born in 1993 to 1996 or 1986 to 1989 should have applied/apply for smart identity cards at the Registration of Persons Offices when they attain the age of 11 or 18.[2]

The introduction of Smart Identity Cards was, motivated partially by the influx of counterfeit HKID documents being produced in China,[citation needed] and partially in order to speed up processing at Hong Kong's Immigration checkpoints, especially into Shenzhen, China. In the latter checkpoint, an estimated 7,200 Hong Kong residents commuted daily to Shenzhen for work and 2,200 students from Shenzhen commuted to school in Hong Kong in 2002.

Names in Chinese and Roman script

It is common for ethnic Chinese Hongkongers to adopt western-style English names (such as John, Mary, etc.), in addition to their phonetic English names, after being registered on the birth register. Some of them may wish to include their western-style English name as part of their official English name (this is known as 'adding an English name' locally). They can apply to the Immigration Department for including such name as part of their official English name (example: someone named 'Tai Ming CHAN' may have adopted a Western-style English name Peter and wish to have this name shown as 'Peter Tai Ming CHAN' ('Peter' as a first name) or 'Tai Ming Peter CHAN' ('Peter' as a middle name) on his HKID card and the government's records.). This is not considered by the Immigration Department as a name change. The Immigration Department considers that his or her original name (in the format of 'Tai Man CHAN') is an alias, and that the newly lodged name (usually in the format of 'Peter Tai Man CHAN' or 'Tai Man Peter CHAN') is the proper name of the applicant (in the sense that such name is the 'proper name' of the applicant).

Normally, when non-ethnic Chinese register for their first HKID card, the space reserved for a Chinese name is automatically left blank by the Immigration Department. It is possible, however, to add the person's name in Chinese characters if desired at any time by making an application to the Immigration Department. This may be important for some who wish their children born in Hong Kong to also have a name in Chinese characters, as it is possible to register a Chinese surname on the birth certificate only if the father's HKID bears his Chinese name in Chinese characters.

Use as a travel document

The Hong Kong identity card by itself can be used to travel to Macau, as long as the holder has the right of abode in Hong Kong (the holder is able to stay for up to one year in Macau visa-free).[7]

Some foreign territories require Hong Kong Special Administrative Region passport holders to present their HKID as well in order to benefit from a visa exemption scheme: these territories include Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and Taiwan.

See also


  1. ^ a b Yearbook.gov.hk. "Yearbook.gov.hk." Hong Kong 2006. Retrieved on 2008-02-07.
  2. ^ a b c d Immd.gov.hk. "immd.gov.hk." The government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Retrieved on 2008-02-07.
  3. ^ a b c d e Immd.gov.hk. "immd.gov.hk." Registration of persons, proof of identity. Retrieved on 2008-02-07.
  4. ^ Immigration Ordinance (Chapter 115) Section 17C, Hong Kong Law
  5. ^ Immigration Dept - HKID card details
  6. ^ Smartid.gov. "Smartid.gov." 'Smart ID FAQ. Retrieved on 2008-02-07.
  7. ^ 非本澳門居民之入境及出境

External links

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