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LCQ8: E-licensing initiatives of the Transport Department
     ​Following is a question by the Hon Lai Tung-kwok and a written reply by the Secretary for Transport and Logistics, Mr Lam Sai-hung, in the Legislative Council today (February 22):
     It is learnt that at present, the Transport Department (TD) still adopts the methods of on-site queuing, on-site distribution of queue tickets, submission of paper documents, etc., in processing applications for first registration and licensing of vehicles, and does not even accept electronic payment. There are views that the relevant procedures are time-consuming and not environmentally friendly. To tie in with the Government's policy objective of adopting a wider use of technology in the provision of public services, the Government, in a paper submitted to the Panel on Transport of this Council in May last year, pointed out that the TD had been planning to further implement e-submission, e-processing, e-tracking and electronic payment means in processing licences issued by the TD in order to facilitate the provision of relevant services. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the latest details, timetable and progress of the various e-licensing initiatives mentioned in the aforesaid paper;
(2) whether it has included the application procedures for first registration and licensing of vehicles in the aforesaid electronic services; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(3) whether it has assessed the amount of annual savings in administrative costs, and the average amount of time that can be saved for members of the public for each licence application, after the introduction of the aforesaid initiatives; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(4) of the payment methods currently accepted by the Hong Kong Licensing Office under TD, and whether the Office has plans to accept electronic payment?
     To sustain improvement in Hong Kong's regulatory environment, the Government has launched the "Be the Smart Regulator" (BTSR) Programme which aims to improve the efficiency, transparency and business-friendliness of the licensing regime, with a view to reducing the compliance costs for businesses and their administrative burdens. Under the BTSR Programme, bureaux/departments will adopt measures for end-to-end e-processes (i.e. e-submission, e-processing, e-tracking, e-payment and e-licence). As one of the departments performing regulatory role and providing licensing services, the Transport Department (TD) has all along been striving for innovation in licence management through streamlining procedures and implementing e-initiatives, and has been a pioneer in the Government in adopting "iAM Smart" and using technology to improve public services.
     My reply to the various parts of the question raised by the Hon Lai Tung-kwok is set out below.
(1) In May 2022, we consulted the Panel on Transport of the Legislative Council on the TD's various e-licensing initiatives. They include upgrading and extending online services, electronic form of permits (ePermits), electronic vehicle licences (eVLs) and electronic driving licences (eDLs). Good progress has been made on these initiatives and is summarised as follows:
(i) on upgrading and extending online services, the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer has set up "iAM Smart" registration kiosks in the TD's Licensing Offices since May 2022 to help members of the public make registration, with a view to further promoting public usage of online licensing services. Members of the public who have registered for "iAM Smart+", which comes with a digital signing function, can use the TD's online services to submit applications for renewal of vehicle licences (VLs) and first issue/renewal of various driving licences (DLs) without having to queue up for counter services at the Licensing Offices. The TD will send the renewed VLs and the first/renewed DLs to successful applicants by registered mail. Moreover, the TD has extended online services to application for learner's DL, duplicate DL and duplicate driving instructor's licence in November 2022, and is preparing to further extend to other licensing services such as International Driving Permit and duplicate copy of driving test appointment letter or certificate of driving test result, by phases from this year onwards;
(ii) on ePermits, the Government has made the Road Traffic (Parking) (Amendment) Regulation 2022, Road Traffic (Public Service Vehicles) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulation 2022 and Road Traffic (Registration and Licensing of Vehicles) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulation 2022 (collectively referred to as "the Amendment Regulations"). The Amendment Regulations seek to introduce electronic form for the majority of the permits, licences and certificates (collectively referred to as "permits") of the TD by issuing them in portable document format (pdf) and sending them to applicants by email for the applicants to print and display. Upon commencement of the Amendment Regulations in December last year, the TD has been rolling out the various types of ePermits progressively. It is anticipated that the rolling out of all types of ePermits covered by the Amendment Regulations will be completed in the first quarter of this year;

(iii) on eVLs, the TD plans to further digitalise the information on VLs so that vehicle owners will no longer need to replace their paper-form VL upon each renewal after the first issuance; and to streamline the application procedures for VL renewal and pave way for full automation of processing. The Government is now drafting the legislative amendments, with a view to completing the implementation of eVL by 2024; and
(iv) on eDLs, the TD plans to introduce this measure as a supplementary and additional form of DL. While the physical DL will continue to be issued, the eDL will be presented via a mobile application with the authentication by "iAM Smart". The eDL can be accepted in lieu of the physical DL, so that its holder can choose to bring along either the physical DL or the eDL when driving. The Government is now drafting the legislative amendments with a view to introducing eDL by 2024.
(2) On the application for first registration of vehicles, the TD accepts electronic submission of the Application for Registration and Licensing of a Vehicle and the documents required for preliminary vetting by its Licensing Offices. However, when processing such applications, the TD has to inspect carefully the original copies of the supporting documents (including the formal sales contract of the vehicle concerned, the invoice or payment receipt issued by the distributor, etc.) provided by registered distributors, in order to effectively prevent fraudulent activities relating to the sale and first registration of vehicles, as well as protecting government revenue from the first registration tax for vehicles. Therefore, upon receipt of the results of preliminary vetting, applicants should submit the original copies of all the documents required for their applications to the TD for further vetting.
(3) The TD has introduced various e-licensing initiatives by phases since last year. These initiatives will encourage more members of the public to submit licence applications online without the need to queue up in person at the Licensing Offices for making applications, thereby saving their time. For example, upon streamlining of the application procedures for VL renewal and full automation of processing, it is expected that the processing time of online VL renewal applications which do not involve manual checking can be reduced from 10 working days to less than three working days by next year. Besides, the TD will redeploy the resources saved under the e-licensing initiatives to enhance the efficiency of other work and the overall operation of the Licensing Offices.
(4) Currently, for applications made via counter services at the Licensing Offices, in addition to accepting payment by cash, crossed cheque or cashier order, EPS and FPS are also accepted. For applications submitted via drop boxes or by post, payment by crossed cheque or cashier order is accepted while for online applications, payment by FPS, PPS and credit card are accepted.
Ends/Wednesday, February 22, 2023
Issued at HKT 12:30
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