LCQ20: Hong Kong identity cards
It has been reported that recently a number of Hong Kong residents who are outside Hong Kong have returned to Hong Kong for replacement of new smart identity (ID) cards. However, due to the limited quotas for online appointments for ID card replacement at various Registration of Persons (ROP) Offices under the Immigration Department (ImmD), and the unavailability of walk-in quotas at various ROP Offices, many members of the public have difficulty in renewing their ID cards. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the current number of persons who have yet to have their ID cards replaced under the Territory-wide Identity Card Replacement Exercise and, among them, the respective numbers of those who are staying in Hong Kong, overseas and on the Mainland;
(2) given that under the Registration of Persons Regulations (Cap. 177A), the aged, the blind or the infirm who satisfy a registration officer that their personal attendance for registration of Hong Kong ID cards will injure their health or the health of others may, by applying for a Certificate of Exemption (the Certificate), be exempted from applying for the issue or the renewal of an ID card, of the respective numbers of the Certificates issued by the ImmD to each of the three categories of persons;
(3) of the current staffing establishment and strength of the various ROP Offices responsible for processing applications for the issue, renewal and replacement of ID cards respectively, and the daily quotas set by the various ROP Offices for the three types of documentation services respectively;
(4) given that I have received requests for assistance from members of the public who said that due to their holding of an old ID card, they were required, on their landing in Hong Kong, to wait for several hours to have their identity verified before they were allowed to enter Hong Kong, and some members of the public holding an old ID card are worried about being refused entry, whether the ImmD has issued guidelines requiring officers at immigration control points to specifically verify the identities of members of the public holding old ID cards; if so, of the details; if not, whether the ImmD will clarify the relevant arrangements to members of the public; and
(5) given that the ROP - Hong Kong Office provided different kinds of ID card application services on the Ching Ming Festival holiday and the first day of the Easter holidays, whether the ROP - Hong Kong Office, the ROP - Kowloon Office, the ROP - Kwun Tong Office and the ROP - Tuen Mun Office will, within a specified period of time, provide ID card replacement services during public holidays to meet the demand of the public; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
My reply to the question raised by the Hon Yang Wing-kit is as follows:
(1) The Territory-wide Identity Card Replacement Exercise (Replacement Exercise) was launched on December 27, 2018 and ended on March 3, 2023. As at the end date, around 6.84 million identity (ID) card holders had replaced their new ID cards through the Replacement Exercise, representing about 85 per cent of the Hong Kong residents who need to have their ID cards replaced. In addition, together with persons who are required to replace their ID cards, namely the new arrivals, young people who have to apply for adult ID cards upon reaching the age of 18, children who need to apply for juvenile ID cards upon reaching the age of 11, persons whose ID cards have been lost, destroyed, damaged or defaced, persons who wish to amend the particulars printed on their ID cards, and holders of Hong Kong ID cards issued before June 23, 2003, the Immigration Department (ImmD) has issued more than 8 million new smart ID cards. Starting from March 4, 2023, eligible members of the public who have yet to replace their new ID cards should do so at the Registration of Persons (ROP) Offices. As Hong Kong residents are not required to declare their destinations prior to their departure, the ImmD does not maintain a breakdown of the number of Hong Kong residents residing in Hong Kong, overseas and in the Mainland who have yet to replace their ID cards.
(2) According to Regulation 25(e) of the Registration of Persons Regulations (Cap. 177A) (the Regulations), the aged, the blind and the infirm who satisfy a registration officer that compliance with the Registration of Persons Ordinance (Cap. 177) (the Ordinance) and the Regulations will injure their health or the health of others shall not be required to register, apply for the issue of an ID card or for the renewal of an ID card under the Ordinance and the Regulations. They can instead apply for a Certificate of Exemption (Certificate) from the ROP Offices. Statistics on the numbers of Certificates issued to various target groups which are still valid as at March 31, 2023 are tabulated below:
|Target groups||Number of Certificates issued
(as at March 31, 2023)
|The aged||1 194|
(3) Statistics on the staff establishment and strength of the six ROP Offices as at March 31, 2023 are tabulated below:
|ROP Offices||Staff establishment
(civil service establishment)
|(Civil service establishment)||(Non-civil service establishment)|
|Hong Kong Office||82||85||80|
|Kwun Tong Office||38||42||42|
|Fo Tan Office||18||22||4|
|Yuen Long Office||18||19||5|
|Tuen Mun Office||10||16||34|
Prior to the pandemic, the six ROP Offices processed an average of about 10 000 applications per week. The ImmD hopes that by implementing the extended service hours arrangement in four ROP Offices, the overall processing capacity of ROP Offices can be increased by around 80 per cent, i.e. processing up to about 18 000 applications per week.
The issue, renewal and replacement of ID cards form part of the regular duties of ROP Offices, and thus a breakdown of the resources involved is not maintained. At present, the six ROP Offices process up to about 18 000 applications per week. The ImmD will continue to keep in view the situation of various types of applications and deploy resources flexibly to meet public needs.
(4) At present, the old form of smart ID cards are still valid. It can be used normally, say for immigration clearance. Hong Kong residents who cannot have their ID cards replaced due to their absence from Hong Kong may make an appointment for ID card replacement upon their next return to Hong Kong and need not rush back to replace their ID cards. As for those who are in urgent need for replacement as their original one has been lost, damaged, etc, they may visit the ROP Offices without an appointment. Staff of the ImmD will provide assistance as appropriate.
The ImmD has been providing information to the public regarding the arrangements after the end of the Replacement Exercise through extensive promotion. Apart from setting out the information on its thematic webpage (www.immd.gov.hk/eng/services/hkid/general_info.html#replacement), the ImmD also informed the public of the latest situation and arrangements for replacement of new smart ID card through press conferences and/or press releases on January 26, February 1, February 21, March 30, April 10 and April 12, 2023 respectively. Furthermore, the ImmD has been disseminating relevant information to the public through roving exhibitions, advertisements, media interviews and social media, including reminding them that the old form of the smart ID cards are still valid, and that residents abroad need not rush back to Hong Kong for ID card replacement.
(5) Due to the pandemic, many Hong Kong resident staying outside Hong Kong did not have the opportunity to return for replacement of new ID cards in the past few years. In view of this, the ImmD has introduced a number of measures to enhance the capacity of ROP Offices in processing ID card applications, which include, among others, the implementation of extended service hours arrangement at four ROP Offices (namely the Hong Kong Office, Kowloon Office, Kwun Tong Office and Tuen Mun Office) starting from March 6 such that residents who have yet to replace their new smart ID cards can continue to apply for ID cards in an orderly manner. The Hong Kong Office also launched Special Service Days on April 5 (public holiday for Ching Ming Festival) and April 7 (the first day of the long Easter holidays) this year to enable members of the public to apply for ID cards.
On the other hand, in view of the upsurge of demand for replacement of ID card service and other ID card applications since the resumption of normal travel, starting from April 12, the available booking period of the ROP services appointment booking system has been extended from 24 working days to 96 working days, so as to facilitate members of the public to make appointments. The ImmD will continue to closely monitor the public demand for ID card replacement, flexibly deploy manpower according to the actual situation, and subject to the availability of resources, actively explore various service enhancement initiatives to meet public needs.
Ends/Wednesday, April 26, 2023
Issued at HKT 12:15
Issued at HKT 12:15