Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Passport - Historical Background

Historical Background

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The issuing of Hong Kong SAR passports began on 1 July 1997, following the transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to the People's Republic of China.

PRC citizens who have right of abode in the HKSAR and who hold Hong Kong permanent resident identity cards, whether or not they are holders of British National (Overseas) passport or Hong Kong Certificate of Identity or other travel documents, are eligible to apply for the Hong Kong SAR passport. Note that acquisition of British citizenship in the British Nationality Selection Scheme itself does not affect the eligibility for a HKSAR passport. Nor does the holding of any foreign passport itself affect the eligibility for a HKSAR passport, provided that one remains a PRC citizen.

Under Hong Kong Basic Law, the Government of Hong Kong is responsible for immigration control in the territory. The Hong Kong SAR passport is issued by the Immigration Department of Hong Kong under the authorisation of the Central People's Government (or the State Council). Its design is distinct from other types of People's Republic of China passports and the holders enjoy visa-free entry to more countries than other PRC passports.

Hong Kong official travel documents prior to 1997 included the Hong Kong Certificate of Identity (CI), British Dependent Territories Citizen (BDTC), British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) and British Citizen (BC) passports. After 1997, BN(O) and BC passports are still valid but CIs and BDTC passports are no longer in use.

The number of Hong Kong SAR passports in circulation by year is as follows:

  • 2010: 4,261,263
  • 2009: 4,088,337
  • 2008: 3,934,288
  • 2007: 3,920,780
  • 2006: 3,670,115
  • 2005: 3,326,200
  • 2004: 2,959,900

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