Holding a valid Hong Kong Identity Card isn’t just necessary for those planning to live in Hong Kong for more than 180 days; it’s also a vital requirement for starting a business in the region.

If you’re thinking about becoming a resident of Hong Kong, whether for personal or business purposes, here’s everything you need to know about applying for your Hong Kong ID card. Let’s explore and gather all the essential details!

Know the basics of the Hong Kong ID

A Hong Kong Identity Card (HKIC/HKID), often referred to as the smart identity card, is a mandatory identification document for non-permanent residents living in Hong Kong for more than 180 days. It’s issued by the Hong Kong Immigration Department.

Who must apply for the HKID?

Under Hong Kong law, every resident over the age of 11 and those who plan to remain there over 180 days are required to have an HKID. The definition includes both permanent residents and non-permanent residents living in Hong Kong for work, study, or any other reason.

The explanations below will help you better understand the subject of this requirement:

Permanent residents

They are individuals who have the right of abode in Hong Kong, which typically includes Chinese nationals born or individuals who have acquired the right of abode through other means (e.g. continuous residence in Hong Kong for at least 7 years)

Non-permanent residents/ foreigners

These are people who are residing in Hong Kong for a temporary period, such as foreign workers, students, and accompanying family members on dependent visas.

When to apply for the Hong Kong ID?

Complying with the required timeline is crucial for both permanent residents and foreigners. You can identify your specific case below:

For Hong Kong residents

  • Applying for an identity card is mandatory within 30 days of turning 11 years old. In the event the child is overseas during those months, the ID card must be applied for within 30 days of returning to Hong Kong.
  • Holders of juvenile identity cards must switch to an adult card within 30 days after their 18th birthday. Failure to do so on time can result in a fine of HK$10,000 and imprisonment for up to one year.

For foreigners (new arrivals and returning residents from other countries)

  • New arrival: If you are at least 11 years old and permitted to stay in Hong Kong for over 180 days, you must register for an identity card within 30 days of your arrival.
  • Returning residents: If you hold a permanent identity card issued overseas along with an HKSAR passport issued abroad, you must apply for a new card within 30 days of returning to Hong Kong (not required for individuals under 11 years old)

In short, whether for personal reasons or doing business in Hong Kong, you are obliged to apply for your HKID within 1 month of setting foot in the region.

What is the physical HKID like?

The physical Hong Kong Identity Card is a small, plastic card, roughly the size of a credit card. It contains various security features to prevent counterfeiting and ensure its authenticity:

  • The front of the HKID usually displays the holder’s photograph, and name in English and Chinese characters, along with the HKID number. It may also include the holder’s date of birth.
  • The back of the card typically contains additional information, such as the holder’s signature, the date of issue, and the date of expiry. It may also include other details relevant to the cardholder’s status or conditions of stay in Hong Kong.

Since 2003, HKIDs have evolved into smart identity cards with advanced features. In addition to securely storing personal data, these cards offer convenient functions such as serving as library cards and medical ID cards in certain situations.

It’s important to note that while smart identity cards provide convenience, they don’t replace traditional forms of identification or immigration documents. However, they are necessary for various transactions, such as opening bank accounts and accessing government services. Additionally, residents must carry them at all times, whether for work or residential purposes.

HKID Smart Identity Card

Sample of the latest Hong Kong Identity Card (source: Gov HK)

Exceptions to HKID holding requirements

The specific exempted categories are detailed as follows:

Genuine Travellers in Transit or Short-term Stay

Individuals passing through Hong Kong in transit or those permitted to stay for not more than 180 days are exempt from applying for an identity card.

Children of Consular Staff

In particular, children under 11 years old of the following persons are exempt from the HK ID requirement:

  • Consuls
  • Consular staff, or
  • The Head/ Members of the Office of the Commission of the European Communities in Hong Kong.

Children under 11 applying for HKSAR Passports

Residents under 11 years old are exempt from applying for an identity card, except for Hong Kong permanent residents who must apply for permanent identity cards concurrently with their applications for HKSAR passports.

Exemption by the Commissioner of Registration

These cases include the aged, the blind, and the infirm who have been specifically exempted from registering for an identity card by the Commissioner of Registration.

Simply put, these exemptions ensure that certain groups of individuals are not burdened with the requirement to obtain an identity card in Hong Kong under specific circumstances.

Varieties of Hong Kong Identity Cards

Hong Kong offers various identity cards to meet the needs of different groups of foreigners residing in the city. Below are the main categories you should keep in mind when applying for your own HK ID.

Based on the holder’s rights

There are two fundamental types of Hong Kong identity cards available.

Hong Kong Permanent Identity Card

Under Article 24 of the Hong Kong Basic Law and paragraph 2 of Schedule 1 to the Immigration Ordinance, Hong Kong permanent resident status can be obtained by:

  • Chinese nationals born in Hong Kong.
  • Chinese nationals born outside Hong Kong, but lawfully allowed to, and have resided in Hong Kong for 7 years.
  • Chinese nationals born outside Hong Kong to a father/ mother who was already a Hong Kong permanent resident at the time of the applicant’s birth.
  • Foreigners (non-Chinese nationals) who have legally lived in Hong Kong for 7 years and taken it as a permanent place of residence.
  • Foreigners under 21 born in Hong Kong to a permanent resident parent. When they turn 21, they must establish their permanent resident status under one of the mentioned categories, or they will lose their status.
  • Individuals with no right to reside anywhere other than Hong Kong before the establishment of the Hong Kong SAR.

The holders of permanent identity cards shall earn the right to abode in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

Hong Kong Identity Card

On the other hand, the Hong Kong Identity Card is for individuals planning to stay in Hong Kong for over 180 days but don’t intend to apply for permanent residency.

The application criteria are simpler. Therefore, it’s a preferred choice for expats or foreign entrepreneurs. However, note that holders of HKID do not possess the right of abode in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

Based on the age group

Depending on the age of the individual, the card types can also be further categorized into:

  • “Child” IDs (for individuals below age 11 and not compulsory): These cards might later be required while obtaining a passport with a Hong Kong permanent resident number.
  • “Youth” IDs (for individuals aged 11 to 18).
  • “Adult” IDs (issued for individuals aged 18 and above).

As per the Registration of Persons Ordinance, all residents of Hong Kong aged 11 or above are generally obliged to register for an identity card except for certain cases.

Steps to the application for Hong Kong Identity Card

The process to apply for a Hong Kong Identity Card generally involves the following steps. Here’s an overview so you can navigate better:

Step 1: Schedule a meeting with the Immigration Department

First, you need to make an appointment in advance via the Hong Kong Immigration Department Mobile Application or their online site.

Upon entering the system, you will be required to read through and agree with the policies. Next, please provide your personal information (e.g. ID number, birth certificate, birthdate, etc.), or travel document number as identity proof. After that, set a 4-digit code for managing or canceling your schedule online.

Please keep in mind that only a maximum of 4 people can be registered per appointment. Furthermore, to allow the authority to manage their resources more effectively on your behalf, you should book your appointment at least 24 working days in advance.

Step 2: Prepare the necessary documents to bring to the appointment

Notably, several essential documents will be needed for your meeting with the authority. Depending on your residence status, the required paperwork shall vary.

Particularly as a foreigner, preparations to make will encompass:

  • Valid travel documents, including your visa and passport
  • Birth certificates for children aged 11-17
  • Entry permit or one-way permit (for individuals from Mainland China)
  • Affidavit confirming your residency status in Hong Kong

You should consult the governmental authorities beforehand if your certain case requires more documentation.

Step 3: Attend the appointment and submit your documents

After the preparations are completed, you can attend the Registration of Persons Office meeting at the time and place determined with confidence. At the appointment, you will be asked to present the paperwork for verification purposes mentioned above and answer a few questions.

Regarding the application fee, first-time applicants don’t need to pay any fee when applying. However, the replacement of your misplaced or damaged ID will cost HK$370.

Step 4: Collect your Hong Kong Identity Card

Upon successful application, your HKID will be ready for collection within 7 to 10 working days.

You can retrieve your card in person or designate an authorized representative to collect it on your behalf. To authorize someone else for collection, simply complete form ID678 and remind your representative to bring this form along when collecting your ID.

Once you have received your ID card, it’s advisable to handle it with care and store it securely for usage.

To wrap up

In conclusion, obtaining your own Hong Kong Identification Card is mandatory if you plan to reside in Hong Kong for more than six months. This official document not only serves as proof of identity but also facilitates access to various services and benefits available to residents.

By following the outlined steps and staying compliant with the law, you’ll be well-prepared for your stay, whether for personal or business reasons.

Have questions about doing business in Hong Kong? Don’t wait any longer – reach out to us today via service@bbcincorp.com or sparking up a conversation in the chatbox. Our support team will be ready to assist you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Hong Kong Identity Card?

The Hong Kong Identity Card (HKID) is an official identity document issued by the Hong Kong Immigration Department to residents of Hong Kong. It is a proof of identity, residency, and eligibility for various government and private services.

This is a strict requirement for individuals staying in Hong Kong for more than 180 days.

How long is the validity period of HKIDs?

For adults, HKIDs don’t have a set expiration date, but you might need to update yours when newer versions come out. As a non-permanent resident, your HKID is valid only for as long as your visa allows you to stay in the region.

What if you lose or damage your ID?

If your HKID is lost or damaged, you must apply for a replacement at the Registration of Persons Office within 14 days of the incident. Please note that a fee of HK$370 applies for lost, damaged, destroyed, or defaced cards.

What if I want to change the information on my ID?

To update your information on your ID, you’ll need to submit the following documents to the Registration of Persons Office:

  • A completed ROP73 form.
  • Any necessary proof documents.

You can submit these in person, by post, through an online application, or via the Immigration Mobile Application.

The Office will then schedule an interview where you’ll need to present the original supporting documents and pay a fee of HK$460. Note that you must return your existing ID to the Office for cancellation.

Disclaimer: While BBCIncorp strives to make the information on this website as timely and accurate as possible, the information itself is for reference purposes only. You should not substitute the information provided in this article for competent legal advice. Feel free to contact BBCIncorp’s customer services for advice on your specific cases.

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