Applying for a Hong Kong Identity Card

Information about how to make the application for a Hong Kong Identity Card and the documentation required...

Hong Kong carefully controls the arrival of immigrants in order to keep the population of immigrants within acceptable limits. Having successfully entered Hong Kong, the right to remain is guaranteed by the possession of a government-issued Smart ID card. These ID cards are used frequently in daily life and by law must be carried at all times by everyone over 15 years of age. Foreign residents are not exempt from police spot checks; while they are waiting for the issue of their ID card, foreign residents should be prepared to provide proof of their identity on demand. This can be in the form of a current passport or the document which shows that application has been made for an ID card.

Smart cards contain an embedded chip that holds a photo image, templates of the left and right thumbprints, and basic identification and immigration status information. The card allows the holder to enter and exit the country through automated immigration kiosks, avoiding queues at borders. In addition, the card can also be used for non-immigration applications, for example, library cards.

  • For further information on the applications of the Smart ID Card: Click here

HK Identity Card Applications

There are two types of identity cards:

  1. A permanent identity card that gives the holder the right to remain in the HKSAR indefinitely.
  2. A card for non-permanent residents that gives the right to remain for a specified period.

New arrivals are unlikely to satisfy the requirements for the permanent card but can nevertheless find information on the Hong Kong Government website regarding the Right of Abode.

Note: The ID card is a separate document from an employment visa.

  • For detailed information on the Smart Identity Card from the Hong Kong government: Click here

Who needs to apply for an ID card

Anyone who intends to remain in Hong Kong for more than 180 days must apply for an ID card. This includes spouses and dependents over the age of 11.

  • Applications should be made within 30 days of arrival in Hong Kong
  • Children need to apply for their card within 30 days of their 11th birthday
  • Teenagers must apply for their adult card within 30 days of their 18th birthday
  • If a card is lost, stolen or defaced, application for a new card must be made within 14 days and the loss reported to the Registration of Persons Office. If a card is later found it must be handed into the authorities – it is an offence to hold more than one card

How and where to apply for an ID card

Most applications for an ID card can be made at any Registration of Persons Office. To avoid waiting, applicants are encouraged to make an appointment.

  • To find contact details of a local Registration of Persons Office: Click here
  • To book an appointment via the Internet: Click here

New arrivals from mainland China holding a One-way Exit Chinese Permit must apply for an ID card at the Registration of Persons Office in Kowloon. Workers arriving under the Supplementary Labour Scheme must apply at the Registration of Persons Office in Kwun Tong.

Application for an ID card is made via an application form ROP1. This can be obtained from any Registration of Persons Office or from the headquarters of the Immigration Department. Some forms can be downloaded via the website.

  • For further details and to download forms: Click here

There are different application procedures and forms for those under 18 years of age and those over 18 years of age. Under 18s must be accompanied by a parent or a legal guardian when they make their application.

Normal processing time for an application is 10 working days. In exceptional circumstances, a card may be issued immediately.

Detailed instructions for the actual process on arrival at the office for an appointment are also given on the website.

Initial cards are issued free of charge but a fee is levied for replacements where there has been a loss of a card or alterations are required.

Documents required

The documentation which must be submitted in support of an application depends on the age and circumstances of the applicant.

  • For details of the documentation required for under 18s: Click here
  • For details of the documentation required for over 18s: Click here

All applicants will be asked for evidence of identity such as a passport, birth certificate (for under 18s) or similar. Any documents that are not in Chinese or English will need to be officially translated.

For new arrivals to Hong Kong, cards will not be issued to first-time applicants unless they can prove that they have been given permission to be there. For many people, this means showing a valid employment visa.

Note: An employment visa is only valid for the position for which it was originally issued and for the specific term of employment. If at any time employment changes, a new visa is necessary. If the holder of a visa loses their job then their status becomes that of a visitor again, and they therefore have no right to work.

Issue and collection of cards

Cards normally must be collected in person. Details of when and where to collect a card are given on the Acknowledgement of Application for an Identity Card. On collection, applicants are asked to place their left and right thumb prints on a scanner to confirm that the chip of the Smart ID card is functioning properly and the personal data stored in the chip is correct.

It is possible to send a representative to collect a card on the applicant's behalf, in this case, an authorisation form (ID 678) must be completed at the time of application, or written authorisation along with proof of signature must be provided.

Change of Personal Details

To update personal details such as a change of address or marital status, Form ROP18 must be filled in and sent either by email or by post to the following address:

  • Commissioner of Registration
    Immigration Tower, 7 Gloucester Road,
    Hong Kong
  • To download the form: Click here

If the holder requires an amendment on the Identity Card, for example, a name change, Form ROP 73 must be filled in. Supporting documents depend on the type of changes to be made.

Leaving Hong Kong

Individuals who plan to leave Hong Kong for a period of three months or longer must notify the Registration of Persons department. Card holders may be required to surrender the ID card for cancellation at that time.