Sunday, December 17, 2006

Old Hong Kong ID cards to become invalid

A quick reminder for anyone who still hasn't changed their old HK ID cards to the new Smart ID cards with the chip inside: Please hurry up and do so before your card becomes invalid!

Old ID cards for people born between 1943 and 1969 are already invalid. The next batch to become invalid hasn't yet been announced but it will almost certainly affect 'bbcs' born in the 70s.

UPDATE: From 17th September 2007, old style (non-Smart) ID cards for those born between 1970 and 1979 will become invalid.

Official government info is here

HK government FAQ on the Right of Abode issue is here.

Please pass this on to anyone you know who still needs to change their card!

Related: New website explains Right of Abode in Hong Kong


Anonymous said...

Was that your Hong Kong ID card??

burntbreadboy said...

Nope, it's just a sample (and I'm not a girl!).

Anonymous said...

but what would actually happen if you try to use a invalid id card to enter hong Kong and you "pretend" you don't have a British (or other)passport - will they not let you in at all?

burntbreadboy said...

I expect it will be treated like an invalid passport i.e. you won't be allowed in. If there are mitigating circumstance, maybe Immigration would let you appeal but I wouldn't count on it! Best to get your card changed to be safe.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the warning. Do you know what the consequences are if you don't renew? My callout year has passed but I haven't been back to HK. I guess I can use my British passport to get in if I have any problems but other than that, are there any other urgent reasons why I should renew sooner rather than later?

burntbreadboy said...

You can still use your old card until it is officially declared invalid, so it's not a big problem if you missed your renewal period. You can enter using your old ID card, then go to one of the many Smart card ID centres and get it updated there and then.

If your card is invalid it might cause problems when entering HK, or if you ever need HK identification when in HK. But as you say, you could enter on your British passport instead. It's probably more of an inconvenience issue than anything else.

The main reason for going back is - for many people, I think - more to do with retaining your right of abode in HK. Technically if you are born overseas you are meant to return to HK at least once in 3 years to maintain full right of abode. If at some future date you want to claim your right of abode in HK but don't possess a valid ID card, it might raise questions (although right of abode is not directly dependent on having a valid ID card).

Basically I think it's less hassle if you change your card before it is officially made invalid! Hope that helps.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for that bbb. You mentioned about returning every 3 years to maintain right of abode in HK. I was told something similar - to keep the ID card active you have to go back every 3 years. Do you know how strictly this is enforced and is it really necessary to go back every 3 years?

burntbreadboy said...

Hey there,

I don't think the authorities are actively trying to 'root out' people who haven't been back in 3 years but if it was discovered that you hadn't (e.g. when applying for new ID card) by law they would have to revoke your right of abode.

I know someone who lost their right of abode after revealing details of their absence when upgrading their card, and I have also had to sign a declaration when the subject came up at immigration.

Anonymous said...

Does this suggest that its likely that you will lose your right of abode when you upgrade your ID card and haven't been back to HK for a while? Any ideas why your friend lost their right of abode and you were OK? Was it the length of time away? Sorry for all the questions but I'm thinking of getting mine upgraded and now you've got me thinking....

burntbreadboy said...

I think the friend basically blurted out that they had been away for many years. The official, on hearing this, was bound by the law to revoke their right of abode.

I was asked if I had been away for more than 3 years when I went back to do my old, pre-1997 ID card, and had to sign a declaration that I hadn't (this was a long time ago).

However, I was NOT asked when I did the smartcard upgrade recently. That process was more informal and a quick, in & out formality. It seemed like they weren't really 'out to get' people on the 3yr issue.

The impression I got is that they are not actively rooting out people who've been away 3+ years (I'm sure they have bigger problems to deal with than that), but if you make it obvious that you have, they would have no choice but to revoke your right to abode. Perhaps it's more a case of 'just be careful what you say'! Speak to HKers and relatives about it too.

Anonymous said...

I'll keep my absence quiet in that case! Thanks again for raising this topic, bbb, and for explaining what to expect when I'm there. I didn't didn't realise the old cards were becoming invalid until I stumbled upon your blog :-)

Anonymous said...

Hi, thanks for the posting. Have a question, my I.D card expired a long time ago (1998, was meant to renew it within 1 month of my 18th birthday) and I was wondering how hard it would be to get a new one? I have been back to HK intermittently over the past 8 years but didn't really think to renew it. Will it be awkward if I get it done now?

burntbreadboy said...

Hi Saw Paw, are you sure your card actually expired? If so, I'm sure you can still renew it and your right of abode will probably be unaffected as long as you do not give the impression that you have been away for more than 3 years to the official. They may ask more questions than usual if your card is very old, but I really doubt you will be refused an new one as long as you let them know you have been back several times and just never got round to changing it. It always helps if you can go to the SmartCard ID centre with a HK-based relative or a local just to help you out too. Hope it works out for you!

An additional tip for anyone: When you do the Smartcard there is one question on the form which asks for your nationality. I very nearly put 'British' down as my answer but in fact you should write China or Chinese, even if you hold a UK passport, since for the purposes of the HK ID card and right of abode, you are a Chinese national. The official did not offer any guidance on this when I completed the form (I don't think they're allowed to) so watch out!

Anonymous said...


I'm assuming that the card has expired as I didn't renew it after my 18th birthday (I'm now 26!)

Plus the fact I look nothing like I did when it was issued (thank God), I'm guessing it's not valid anymore!

Will they ask for proof of my visits since? I haven't been back for 2 years and I'm such a worrier. My cantonese is terrible as well so that makes me even more nervous!

burntbreadboy said...

Hi saw paw,

No I don't think they would ask for proof of your visits but they may ask you to sign a declaration that you have not been back more than 3 years. If your card is very old and you were born overseas, they might ask to see your parents birth documents and ID cards etc. as this would have a bearing on your right to abode.

I seem to remember that when I did my pre-1997 ID card update, my parents had to bring their documents too in order to establish that they were born in HK and that I could therefore continue to have right of abode.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the help!

Have been looking at the cheap flights that Oasis Hong Kong are doing so might have to go back soon...

I also have another problem, getting both of my parents over at the same time as they have to renew as well! But I don't think that's a problem you can help me with. :)

burntbreadboy said...

'Fraid not, saw paw :) but there's some pics and info on Oasis flightshere. Hope it all works out for you!


Anonymous said...

im a chinese born 1980 in the Philippines. I just renewed my HK ID (one year late). My right of abode was revoked as I didn't went back in 3 years (I was supposed to but I was in a delicate pregnancy on the 3rd year). you cannot keep mum about it because they check in the database your HK in and out dates.

my sister retained her ROA because she went back every year.

my problem now is one of the requirements in renewing British National Overseas (BNO) passport is to have a Permanent HK ID (Right of Abode). would anyone know? pls email me at

K said...

I know this sounds weird, but this just popped up after googling HK ID Renewal. I was just wondering if you've heard of any cases where people got away with not being back for 3 years when they had to renew their card. I haven't been back for around six now, and I was supposed to renewal my HK id for the adult one around two years ago now. To be honest I wasn't even aware of the three year rule.

I just found out about the smart id recently as well. I'm kinda scared to go back and try renew my hong kong id but I know I probably should. How long does the whole process take? Should I lie through the declaration or ?

Anonymous said...

After reading what you guys have to say, I'm also nervous about changing my ID. I'm going back in a few days and made an appointment to renew it. I haven't been back for 5 years. Not horrible, but I didn't know there's the 3 years rule. Honestly speaking, I wasn't even aware that I haven't been back for 5 yrs now. As Karen said, should we lie through the declaration??

Anonymous said...

When you enter Hong Kong, the immagration people store your information such as what dates you enter and leave Hong Kong. So if you havent been back to hong kong for more than three years, they know it straight away in the airport when entering your id card number into their computer and they may ask you questions about it. When I renewed my amart id card, I had to sign a declaration that I will not leave Hong Kong for more than three years or I will loose the right of abode. The best thing for you to do now is to have a look at the government web site and ring them up to ask about your queries. or you can also book an appointment online as well. Hope this helps.

Anonymous said...

I haven't heard about the 3 year rule for retaining the right of abode in HK but I've been told that if you have 3 stars (***) on your old or new HKPID then you have a right to reenter HK and when the 3 stars is combined with the letter A which indicates the HK right of abode then you have the *permanent right of abode in HK*.
Personally, I've been in the US and UK for about 20 years before going back to HK early last year and I had no problem getting one of those new fangled smart ids. Neither did I get any grief at the airport entering using my old HKPID.

Anonymous said...

Hi there, found this post while searching on Google about the '3 year expiry' date.

I'm really curious about this, since I cannot seem to find any information stating the requirement to return to HK before 3 years is up. The page seems to indicate that they've removed the 3 year requirement? It's a bit of a hassle really, I don't want to waste money to go to HK every 3 years (a bit boring there for an illiterate BBC to be honest :)) just to get my right of abode retained.

burntbreadboy said...

I think the page that explains it is here:

and the rule does seem to still stand.

Anonymous said...

Ah thank you, not exactly the first place I'd look at for such important information :)

Anonymous said...

Hi all,

this seems a plausable place to find an answer to my question.

I am British, I was born in HK and lived there contiuously for 15 years. I now live in the UK.

I have my birth certificate and my passport names HK as my place of birth. I have an old ID card (which I undersatd id now useless) and I have not been back to HK to have it updated at all.

My partner has just been offered a transfer to HK with his work, and naturally I will be following. My question is would I carry the right to abode on the basis of my birth and having lived there for over 7 consecutive years even having not been back for 10?

Grateful of any help.

Anonymous said...

Hello All,
I have a question regarding this so called HK PIC as well. Hopefully someone knows the answer to this.

I've been living in the USA with Greencard status for over 15 years now. Why my folks never went around to getting me American citizenship is beyond me.

I was born in HK to Chinese parents in 1990 and have a BNO Passport, which had expired many, many years ago (expired when I was 9, I'm now 20). After we finally settled down, I'm guessing my parents never saw the need to renew my passport as I was not going anywhere outside of the states.

Recently, I've been offered to visit some college friends abroad in Germany which renders me the need to update my BNO Passport.

The one thing that concerns me is I am not sure whether my Hong Kong PIC has expired or not. The renewal form states that it needs the original copy in order to properly and swiftly process my application. I am concerned that the age of my HK PIC will ultimately give me problems down the road.

I went back and forth between NY and Hong Kong numerous times between 1995 to 1998 so that was the last time all of the ID was ever used.

If anybody has any insight on this, it would be greatly appreciated.

Dabid said...

Hi all,

I just wanted to ask about the technicalities of entering HK with my new ID card that was issued to me in 2008. (I am BBC with Brit passport, living in London, and went through the arduous process of getting a HK ID card with my parents, and now assuming that I have to visit HK at least once very 36 months).
I'm guessing that I don't need to fill in any form on the plane, and at the airport I head to the 'Residents with Permanent Identity Cards' queue, right? What happens at the desk? Will I be asked any specific questions? Can I just say that I am visiting and normally live in the UK? And when leaving HK I assume I will use the ID card. How about visiting Macau - can I just use my ID card, or would my British passport be more appropriate?

Any info would be much appreciated!


Sally yau said...

Any one know can you renew your old ID cards without going back to HongKong? Say in Seattle or Vancouver?
Thank you so much!Sally yau