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LCQ12: Direct issue of Hong Kong full driving licence

     Following is a question by the Hon Paul Tse and a written reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Ms Eva Cheng, at the Legislative Council meeting today (February 29):


     An investigation conducted by a British Broadcasting Corporation programme has revealed that certain intermediaries used fake proofs of residential addresses in Hong Kong to assist applicants of different nationalities who held overseas driving licences to obtain full Hong Kong driving licences by direct issue without test, and then made use of the agreement on mutual exchange of driving licences between Hong Kong and the United Kingdom ("UK") to assist such applicants to exchange for Great Britain ("GB") driving licences without test.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether it knows, in the past three years, how many foreign nationals had, by the aforesaid means, obtained Hong Kong driving licences first and then applied to the British transport authorities for exchanging their driving licences for GB driving licences;

(b) whether the Government will verify the information provided by each foreign national who applies for a Hong Kong driving licence by the aforesaid means (including proof of the applicant's residential address in Hong Kong and the authenticity of the applicant's overseas driving licence); if it will, of the details; if it will not or will only conduct random checks, the reasons for that and the details;

(c) given that it has been reported that the Transport Department made enquiries with overseas consulates or transport departments and with relevant mainland authorities regarding 401 such applications and, as a result, 106 applications were rejected and 126 were subject to further verification, of the reasons for rejecting the 106 applications; the number of applications which were suspected of involving the provision of false application information by intermediaries; and

(d) of the measures in place to curb the aforesaid fraudulent practices of those intermediaries who profiteer through the illegal use of the Hong Kong-UK agreement on mutual exchange of driving licences?


     Under regulation 11(3) of the Road Traffic (Driving Licences) Regulations (Cap374B) (the Regulations), the Commissioner for Transport may issue a Hong Kong full driving licence directly to an applicant on the strength of his/her driving licence issued by any country or place listed in the Fourth Schedule of the Regulations.  There are at present a total of 32 countries or places listed in the Fourth Schedule of the Regulations.  From 2009 to 2011, there were about 93,780 successful applications for direct issue of Hong Kong full driving licence.

(a) United Kingdom (UK) is one of the countries recognising Hong Kong full driving license for direct issue reciprocally.  The authority to issue UK driving licence by direct issue rests with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).  The Transport Department (TD) does not have figures of direct issue applications on the strength of Hong Kong full driving licence processed and approved by DVLA.

(b) An overseas driving licence holder applying for direct issue of Hong Kong full driving licence has to satisfy the requirements set out in the law, including that his/her overseas driving licence must be valid or has not expired for more than 3 years; and must be obtained through passing of driving test held in the issuing country or place.  He/She is also required to submit the original and photocopy of each of his/her identity documents, overseas driving licence and other relevant supporting documents, and proof of address in Hong Kong for verification by TD.

     TD will prudently process and vet each of the direct issue applications to ensure that the applicants have fully satisfied the statutory requirements and produced true and accurate supporting documents.  During the vetting process, if there is any doubt on the authenticity of an applicant's overseas driving licence, TD will seek clarification and confirmation with the relevant consulate or transport authority.  Doubtful applications will not be further processed unless the authenticity of the documents submitted has been verified.

(c) In vetting the applications for direct issue of Hong Kong full driving licence, TD will seek clarification and confirmation with the relevant consulate or transport authority on doubtful cases.  In 2011, TD made enquiries in respect of 401 applications with the consulates or transport authorities of overseas countries and the Mainland public security authorities responsible for issuing driving licences.  Of these 401 applications, 169 were approved while 106 were rejected.  The remaining 126 applications are pending which require further verification.  The reasons for rejection include: the information provided by the overseas or Mainland authority was inconsistent with that shown on the driving licence held by the applicants, or the overseas driving licence had already been cancelled.  There were no cases of suspected use of fraudulent documents.

     In accordance with existing legislations, there is in general no requirement for an applicant to submit in person his/her application for licence or permit , including the application for direct issue of Hong Kong full driving licence.  The applicant may submit application in person or through an authorised representative.  There is no breakdown by channels of applications or submissions in the licence/permit application record of TD.

(d) TD attaches great importance to possible abuse associated with the arrangement of direct issue of Hong Kong full driving licence.  It will conduct investigation into applications suspected to involve the use of fraudulent documents.  These cases may also be referred to the Police for consideration of taking prosecution actions depending on the circumstances.  Hong Kong driving licences found to have been issued based on fraudulent documents will be cancelled by TD.  In relation to UK, TD has been working closely with DVLA.  Upon request from DVLA concerning suspected applications for direct issue of UK driving licences, TD would verify the authenticity of the Hong Kong driving licences of the applicants, and provide relevant information and assistance.

Ends/Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Issued at HKT 11:36


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