Move to replace old Hong Kong ID cards kicks in with launch of nine registration centres across city
Change to be carried out in phases and according to age groups, with police, immigration officials, lawmakers and city leader in first eligible batch
Hongkongers can soon replace their ID cards in a 30-minute procedure at nine centres across the city, with the launch of efforts to complete a transition to new cards with updated security features over the next four years.
Announcing the opening of the centres on Thursday, Chan Tin-Chee, assistant director of personal documentation under the Immigration Department, said the application would take about 30 minutes. "People can collect their new ID card at the collection counters or self-service collection kiosks at the centres after about 10 working days."
Replacements will be done according to the year of birth for holders. For example, those born in 1985 and 1986 can go to the centres between January 21 and March 30 next year. The available periods for cardholders will be indicated on the department's website.
Users who miss their window for application can still visit the centres but must give valid reasons. Under the Registration of Persons Ordinance, anyone without a reasonable excuse and who fails to apply for a new card within the specified call-up period can be fined up to HK$5,000.
The new cards will come with updated security details such as built-in radio frequency identification (RFID) technology and higher resolution photographs to support facial recognition.
The move is part of a shift to the new card which will occur over the next four years, covering about 8.8 million users.
Chan said the centres could handle about 7,700 applications daily, among which an estimated 10 to 20 per cent would be walk-in registrations.
The venues are located in nine districts - Kwun Tong, Mong Kok, Tseung Kwan O, Wan Chai, Tsuen Wan, Sha Tin, Sheung Shui, Tuen Mun and Yuen Long.
Chan encouraged people to make appointments and fill up forms in advance online or by the Immigration Department's mobile app before going to centres for quicker processing.
The centres are equipped with self-service facilities, including registration kiosks for users to input and verify data, collect an application form and go to registration booths for photo-taking and fingerprint identifications.
Arrangements for the elderly will also be provided. Applicants called up under their age groups can also bring along two elderly persons aged 65 or more to replace their cards on the same visit, according to Chan.
The first batch of people eligible to replace their existing ID cards at the centres include principal officials, immigration staff, police officers and labour inspectors, as well as the chief executive, lawmakers and members of the Executive Council. Applications for them opened on Thursday and will last till March 30 next year.
Chan explained the group was the first designated batch because their job duties required familiarity with the new smart card.
Alvin Yu, a policeman who applied for the new card at the Hong Kong Island Identity Card Replacement Centre on its first day in operation, said the process was smooth and efficient.
"I registered and filled in the application form online, and it only took around 10 minutes for the whole process at the centre," he said.
The department said it had already issued about 17,000 new smart ID cards from December 10 to 24 this year for groups that include those who have turned 11 or 18, or who have lost or damaged their existing cards.