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Hong Kong (HKSAR) Travel Pass – The SECRET to crossing the border quickly!

Like most foreigners living in Shenzhen, you probably go to Hong Kong at least every so often.  I personally go several times per month and I know many people who go almost every day.  If you have a Hong Kong resident permit, you can skip this article, as you can already cut the tourist lines.  However, most of us go through the tourist line both in and out of Hong Kong.

You’ve probably noticed that more and more Chinese are going to Hong Kong on a regular basis due to the relaxing of the travel policy, especially for Guangdong province residents.  While this is excellent news for our Chinese friends (easier travel) and great for the Hong Kong economy (mainlanders love to spend money in Hong Kong), the lines are growing increasingly long and it sometimes can take an hour just to get through.

What you may not know is that Hong Kong has a program called the Hong Kong HKSAR Travel Pass, which lets frequent visitors to Hong Kong use the Hong Kong residents line instead of the tourist line.  An additional benefit is that they will stamp this separate passport-like booklet instead of your passport, thus saving valuable passport pages.

You may be thinking that it would be difficult to qualify for such a travel pass and I’d be lying if I said that *anyone* can qualify.  However the requirements really aren’t that steep…

1. Fly into Hong Kong airport at least 3 times within 12 months.

The requirements state that “Application is open to frequent visitors who hold valid passports and are eligible to come to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) without a visa or entry permit for visit purpose.  Applicants should have genuine needs to visit the HKSAR frequently, and have come for visits trouble-free on three or more occasions (other than return from side trips to the Mainland of China or the region of Macao) in the 12-month period immediately preceding the application, or can satisfy the Director of Immigration that their visits may bring substantial benefits to the HKSAR.”

NOTE: It doesn’t matter if you’re going on holiday or going to your home country or on pleasure or work.  Just be able to show 3 of the “black airport stamps” within 12 months.  It doesn’t even need to be within the calendar year, just within the past 12 months.

2. Have your company (or spouse’s company) write a letter explaining why you need to come to Hong Kong often.

NOTE: It doesn’t matter if you work for a company formally or whether you have your own company.  It doesn’t matter why you need to come to Hong Kong, just have a good reason – attending sourcing fairs, meetings with clients, customers in Hong Kong – all these are sufficient.

3. Have a Hong Kong resident write a letter explaining why you need to come to Hong Kong often.

NOTE: Again, it doesn’t matter what the reason is, as long as it makes sense and it’s written by a Hong Kong resident, either personally or on behalf of a company.

Once you have these 3 things and your photos are prepared you can take the application to:

Other Visas and Permits Section
7/F, Immigration Department
Immigration Tower
7 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong

Take the MTR to Wanchai and there is an exit (exit A but not sure) for the Immigration Tower.  You’ll get a letter mailed to the Hong Kong resident who vouched for you in a couple weeks informing you to take this letter and claim your travel pass on a certain day.

Pay the 575HKD fee and you’re line free at the border for 3 years!  So what are you waiting for – download the application today:

Application for Hong Kong HKSAR Travel Pass

HKSAR Hong Kong Travel Pass



21 Comments for “Hong Kong (HKSAR) Travel Pass – The SECRET to crossing the border quickly!”

  1. i want to know that after i get travel pass how long i can stay in hong kong
    can i stay in hong kong mor then 4 to 5 weeks

  2. i want to know that after i get travel pass how long i can stay in hong kong
    can i stay in hong kong mor then 4 to 5 weeks

  3. Dear Marshall,

    Do I need to fulfill all three requirements? Or only one of them?

    Regards
    Mario

  4. I followed the 1st step and received my HKIA card after only 4 weeks ( they say 8 weeks on the online application)!

    And the big update is that you can now apply e-channel if you have the HKIA (airport card), without any other documents!!!

    • Gullhem, is the e-channel only for the airport or can it be used for all the borders? Previously it was only for the airport.

      • Any update on this? I am just about to get my new residence permit, and – thanks to your great advice marshall – intend to apply for the Travel Pass… but I would love to go through the E-Channel at Shenzhen Bay or Futian Kou An… can apply for this with a HKIA Card?? Appreciate your advice.

        • Simon, unfortunately the only people who can use the E-Channel at the Mainland China border are those with a Return Home card (Chinese Citizens). Having a travel pass from Hong Kong or even a Hong Kong resident card does not entitle you to use Mainland China’s E-Channel system. If your nationality though is part of the APEC program, you may try to get an APEC card, which you then can use the Special Lane line at the border.

  5. Thanks for this Marshall. I just submitted my application and documents. I also had our HR Manager in HK office talk to them directly. I live in SZ same as you do. I always take the ferry to Shekou, so i only had 1 airport black stamp (late flight) in all my arrivals but many ferry terminal and border crossing stamps. Its okay as long as you explain to them your situation and as you stated, write up a nice letter of how the travel pass will benefit HK and you. Im a transplanted tianjiner also. Much nicer down here………:-)

    • Glad it was helpful Brian. I originally was in Tianjin for 4 months when I came to China in 2003 before coming down to Shenzhen. Tianjin is great but I agree Shenzhen is much nicer :) . I think the weather is mainly the cause.

  6. excellent idea, i am considering applying, but i travel frequently in/out of HK, and with few stamps in the book, and a cost of 575 HKD, it may not be worth it. although, on the other hand, i despise waiting in those long lines (currently, i have a HK student visa and school ID card, and can use the HK resident permit line, but this expires April 2011, so ill consider this after). Thanks !

  7. I had this a few years ago. Indeed convenient. But if you’re crossing daily you’ll find that there is limited space in the book. Each page can only take 2 stamps or something. None of this squeezing in stamps wherever there’s blank space like passports. I think total 60 spaces or so. Fills up fast and gets expensive re-applying. In the end worth the time saving if you’re an everyday crosser, but still quite costly overall.

    If you fly to HK airport a lot, they have a special frequent visitor sign-up where you can go through the automatic immigration booths. Unfortunately only for the airport, not for other border crossings.

    • If you have the Travel Pass can you also get the Airport Frequent Visitor pass? I think you can use the e-channel if you have that, but only at the airport. Everytime my flight gets in, the office is closed.

  8. Great information. Thank you

  9. On target mate! Do you know if a flight from say… Shenzhen airport to HK would qualify? Perhaps I could work the “I have a elderly family member living in HK” card. I only come through the HK airport once or twice per year so I would need to find a way to qualify via cheap flights in or work my magic with immigration. Thanks for doing the research and putting this article together – VERY HELPFUL!

    • David,

      I’d say flights within the mainland to Hong Kong probably wouldn’t qualify but I’m not sure. There are always cheap flights to Thailand, Singapore, Philippines, Vietnam, etc. I would suggest that. Because the pass is valid for 3 years, it’s worth doing it.

  10. Great information Marshal

  11. Is it necessary that you need go by airport or is a stamp from crossing China-HK in Futian also possible to apply for the pasport for past 12 months? I am a foreigner and not Chinese. I live in China and am in HK many times a year but never flew to their in my life.

    Thanks for the reply.

    • Ronny, the rules explicitly state that the trips cannot be just from Mainland China to Hong Kong and back. The example of an acceptable trip is one through the Hong Kong airport. However if you don’t meet that criteria there is also the possibility of convincing them what value you bring to Hong Kong. I would still suggest you try and apply, or discuss it with the immigration department. They are very friendly and helpful.

  12. awesome, thanks for sharing this Marshall I just tweeted it to my friends awaiting the news!

    now i gotta get this checklist done, how long does it take to get once you submit the paperwork? says 2 weeks after your HK resident mailed in the letter vouching for you

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The Contributor

Marshall has been living in China for the past 7 years, starting off in Tianjin before making his way to Shenzhen. Marshall is employed by Gloucester, Massachusetts based TradeStone Software as an Implementation Manager, in the retail PLM space. In his free time, Marshall enjoys staying up to date on the latest IT trends, spending time with his wife Hong Xia and sons Max and Spencer as well as helping out at the Cheers Bar and Jordons Bar in Shekou, which is owned and operated by family and friends.

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