Hong-Kong – Covid-19 – Immigration update

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Update: May 11th, 2020

Smart Identity Card Replacement Centers opening, new call up program

What is the change?

Hong Kong recently announced the reopening of Smart Identity Card Replacement Centers and a new call up program.

Key points:

  • All Smart Identity Card Replacement Centers at Annex 1 will reopen for full services on May 11.
  • Previously, to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19, the replacement of Hong Kong identity cards was suspended at nine Smart Identity Card Replacement Centers by the Immigration Department. In order to help individuals impacted by the suspension to replace their identity cards, the Secretary for Security made the following revisions:

Eligible persons

Revised application period

Holders of existing Hong Kong identity cards born in 1957, 1958 or 1959

November 16, 2019 – July 27, 2020

Holders of existing Hong Kong identity cards born in 1960 or 1961, and members of the sixth term of District Councils

February 18 – July 27, 2020

Holders of existing Hong Kong identity cards born in 1962 or 1963

July 28 – September 22, 2020

Holders of existing Hong Kong identity cards born in 1970, 1971 or 1972

September 23 – December 7, 2020

Holders of existing Hong Kong identity cards born in 1973 or 1974

December 8, 2020 – January 28, 2021

Holders of existing Hong Kong identity cards born in 1975 or 1976

January 29 – March 19, 2021

  • In the event the COVID-19 situation in Hong Kong worsens, officials may move to suspend the replacing of identity cards again. If this is the case, and all nine Smart Identity Card Replacement Centers are not open for 21 days during the period May 11 to July 27, the revised application periods listed in the table will be extended or amended and the Immigration Department will make announcement in advance as far as possible through various channels to inform the public of the latest arrangement.
  • Applicants who have not yet made appointments are to do so using the website, the 24-hour phone booking service at 2121 1234 or by using the Immigration Department’s mobile app.

Last week, the Hong Kong Immigration Department announced that it had resumed most public services, with the exception of the Smart Identity Card Replacement Centers.

The Smart Identity Card Replacement Centers reopening and the new call up program will allow many people in Hong Kong to replace their identity cards with greater ease.

Update: May 5th, 2020

Immigration Department (ImmD) services arrangements

What is the change?

The ImmD has announced that except for its Smart Identity Card Replacement Centres (SIDCCs) service and passenger immigration clearance service, the Department have resumed full public services on Monday, 4 May 2020.

To avoid large gatherings of people, the ImmD appeals to applicants who are not required to visit its offices in person for applications to submit their applications by post, drop-in, online, or through the mobile application. Members of the public who have appointments previously may proceed to relevant offices/registries without making another appointment. To shorten the waiting time for services, those without appointments should make one prior to their visit.

In accordance with existing arrangements, passenger immigration clearance services, except at the Hong Kong International Airport, Shenzhen Bay, and Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge Control Points, will remain suspended until further notice. The operating hours of passenger clearance services at the Shenzhen Bay and Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge Control Points have also been adjusted with effect from 3 April 2020 and 5 April 2020 respectively until further notice:

  • Shenzhen Bay Control Point: Operating hours of all passenger clearance services have been adjusted to 10.00 a.m.–8.00 p.m. daily. Operating hours for cargo clearance will remain unchanged (i.e., from 6.30 a.m.–12.00 a.m. daily).
  • Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge Control Point: Operating hours of the Passenger Clearance Building (i.e., for passengers travelling on cross-boundary coaches and shuttle buses) have been adjusted to 10.00 a.m.–8.00 p.m. daily, and operating hours for the clearance of private cars have been adjusted to 6.00 a.m.–10.00 p.m. daily. Cargo clearance will remain operating 24 hours daily.

COVID-19: Most immigration services now available

What is the change?

The Hong Kong Immigration Department has resumed most public services, with only Smart ID Card Replacement services and passenger immigration inspection services remaining suspended at this time.

Key Points:

  • Most Immigration Department services were available as of Monday, May 4. Authorities urged applicants to submit applications by mail, online or via a mobile application when possible. Those who have appointments are permitted to proceed to the relevant office. Those who do not have appointments have been asked to book an appointment before visiting an office in order to reduce wait times.
  • Hong Kong’s nine Smart ID replacement centers remain closed at this time. Those who missed a deadline to apply for a new Smart ID or who have not been able to pick up their Smart ID because of the COVID-19 pandemic will be asked to make an appointment to do so after normal services resume. Additional information is expected soon.
  • Passenger immigration clearance services remain suspended at all entry points except for the Hong Kong International Airport, Shenzhen Bay and Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge control points. Visit this website for information on the times during which customs clearance services are available at the Shenzhen Bay and Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge control points.

The resumption of most normal immigration services is welcome news, though delays should be expected. Applicants are reminded to submit applications by mail, online or via a mobile app when possible and to book appointments before visiting immigration offices.

Update: April 30th, 2020

Compulsory Quarantine of Certain Persons Arriving at Hong Kong (Amendment) (No.2) Regulation 2020 gazetted

What is the change?

The Government has published the Compulsory Quarantine of Certain Persons Arriving at Hong Kong (Amendment) (No.2) Regulation 2020 (the Amendment Regulation), which will commence at 12.00 a.m. on 29 April 2020.

Under the Amendment, the expiry date for the Compulsory Quarantine of Certain Persons Arriving at Hong Kong Regulation (Cap. 599C) has been extended to 7 June 2020.

The Amendment also allows for broadening the exemptions of person or category of persons from the compulsory quarantine arrangement. Specifically, the Amendment Regulation will further empower the Chief Secretary for Administration to exempt persons fulfilling the following criteria from compulsory quarantine (including all persons arriving from the Mainland, Macao, and Taiwan):

  1. Persons who need to enter Hong Kong in receiving or providing nursery, kindergarten, primary, or secondary education at any school registered under the Education Ordinance (Cap. 279) in Hong Kong or for the safe travelling of these persons for the abovementioned purpose, including cross-boundary students and related personnel and service providers.
  2. Persons whose travelling is necessary for purposes relating to manufacturing operations, business activities, or the provision of professional services in the interest of Hong Kong’s economic development.

Details on the exemption arrangements (including applications for exemption) will be announced in due course. Exempted persons will be subject to medical surveillance by the Department of Health (DH) during their stay in Hong Kong, and will be required to wear masks and report their daily temperatures to the DH.

The Director of Health has also been empowered to, at appropriate time, cancel the quarantine orders against persons arriving from the Mainland or Macao if they can fulfil certain criteria (including producing a certificate of completion for a quarantine period of not less than 14 days in the Mainland or Macao) and are tested negative for COVID-19. The relevant authorities are currently discussing these measures. For the initial stage, the focus will be on the joint prevention and control of COVID-19 with the Guangdong and Macao authorities. Details of the arrangement, including the exact date of implementation, will be announced later

Update: April 24th, 2020

Government enhances testing arrangements for asymptomatic inbound travellers

What is the change?

With effect from 22 April 2020, all asymptomatic inbound travellers arriving at the Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) will be required to wait for their test results at a designated location after their deep throat saliva samples have been collected for COVID-19 testing by the Department of Health (DH)’s Temporary Specimen Collection Centre (TSCC) located at AsiaWorld-Expo.

Depending on the time of arrival, and other considerations for infection control, crowd control, and required testing times, the DH will arrange for asymptomatic inbound travellers who need to wait for test results overnight to be temporarily accommodated at the DH Holding Centre for Test Result (HCTR) set up in the Regal Oriental Hotel.

The DH will issue quarantine orders to all passengers arriving at the HKIA, and electronic wristbands will also be arranged for them. According to quarantine orders, those staying at the DH HCTR shall not leave their hotel rooms or move around in the hotel. Leaving designated rooms will be regarded as a breach of the quarantine order and constitutes a criminal offence. Offenders are subject to a maximum imprisonment for six months and fine of HK$25,000.

Update: April 10th, 2020

Adjusted operating hours of passenger clearance services at Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge Hong Kong Port

What is the change?

With effect from 5 April until further notice, the operating hours of passenger clearance services at the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge Hong Kong Port will be adjusted as follows:

  • Operating hours of passengers clearance services at the Passenger Clearance Building (i.e., clearance for passengers crossing the boundary by cross-boundary coaches and shuttle buses) will be shortened to 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily; and
  • Operating hours for the clearance for private cars will be shortened to 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

The operating hours for cargo clearance will remain unchanged (i.e., 24 hours daily).

Passengers travelling between Zhuhai and Hong Kong or between Macao and Hong Kong are reminded to allow for sufficient travel time to ensure that they can reach the Port within operating hours to complete the immigration procedures.

Update: March 19th, 2020

Travelers from all foreign countries and territories are subject to compulsory quarantine

What is the change?

Hong Kong has launched a compulsory quarantine program for travelers from all foreign countries and territories in a bid to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Key Points:

  • Anyone who has stayed in a foreign country or territory in the past 14 days, regardless of nationality or travel document, will be subject to compulsory quarantine for 14 days upon arriving in Hong Kong.
  • Those subject to quarantine will either be quarantined at a place determined by an authorized officer or at a place requested by the person arriving in Hong Kong, depending on the circumstances. They will also be required to wear a smart wristband so that their whereabouts could be checked.
  • Exemptions are available for air crew, sea crew on goods vessels, government officials, experts engaged in fighting the spread of the COVID-19 virus, those providing materials for carrying out home quarantine and a limited number of others. The full list of exemptions is available here.
  • Some who are subject to quarantine may be tested for the COVID-19 virus.
  • The quarantine program will be in place for three months until June 18.

Hong Kong established compulsory quarantine for anyone traveling from Mainland China, or who have been to Mainland China in the past 14 days from Feb. 8. This order remains in place. When taken together with the new quarantine for anyone traveling from any foreign country or territory, this means that only people traveling to Hong Kong from Macau or Taiwan will not be subject to quarantine.

The change represents Hong Kong’s most significant move yet to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Employers are advised to account for affected travelers and rearrange travel schedules accordingly. The penalties for failing to follow quarantine rules are stiff, including fines of up to HK$25,000 or six months’ imprisonment.

Update: March 17th, 2020

Health quarantine expanded to include travelers from all parts of the world

What is the change?

Chief Executive Carrie Lam has announced that beginning Thursday (March 19), travelers from all parts of the world other than Mainland China, Macau and Taiwan will be subject to 14-day home quarantine upon arrival in Hong Kong. 

Hong Kong’s COVID-19 entry restrictions is summed up as follows:

  • Quarantine center. Travelers who have been in Iran or certain parts of Italy (Emilia-Romagna, Lombardy and Veneto) and South Korea (Daegu and Gyeongsangbuk-do) in the past 14 days are required to stay in a quarantine center for 14 days after arrival.
  • Home quarantine. Beginning March 19, travelers who have been anywhere other than Mainland China, Macau and Taiwan in the 14 days before entering Hong Kong.
  • Quarantine measures announced earlier for travelers arriving in Hong Kong who have been to Mainland China in the past 14 days remain unchanged.

Currently, mandatory home quarantine is limited to travelers who have been in the Schengen Area, South Korea and Hokkaido in Japan. This requirement was set to be expanded to travelers who have been in Egypt, Ireland, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States from March 19. Lam announced today that mandatory home quarantine would be expanded to all travelers except those coming from Mainland China, Macau and Taiwan .

The change represents Hong Kong’s most significant move yet to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Employers are advised to account for affected travelers and rearrange travel schedules accordingly.

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