LCQ18: Mainland Travel Permits for Hong Kong and Macao Residents
It has been reported that after the full resumption of normal travel between Hong Kong and the Mainland, quite a number of members of the public intend to return to their hometowns to visit relatives or go north to the Mainland for tourism, but the current appointment quotas for renewal of, re-issuance of, or first-time application for the Mainland Travel Permits for Hong Kong and Macao Residents (commonly known as Home Return Permits) cannot meet the demand of the public, and those who have recently made appointments even have to wait until September this year before they can receive services. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether it knows the current number of expired Home Return Permits issued to Hong Kong residents, and the respective daily quotas for Permit processing services provided by various entry permit service centres of China Travel Service (Hong Kong) Limited;
(2) as it is learnt that some members of the public do not know how to use the online appointment booking service or fill in the relevant forms for Permit replacement, whether the authorities will discuss with China Travel Service Entry Permit Service Hong Kong Limited (CTS) the arrangements for assisting members of the public in making online appointment bookings and resuming on-site distribution of queue tickets; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(3) whether it has discussed with CTS the provision of Permit replacement services on Sundays and public holidays within a specified period of time to meet the demand of the public; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(4) given that the National Immigration Administration of the People's Republic of China announced at the end of last month that starting from May 8 this year, the validity of Home Return Permits with a specified expiration date will be extended until December 31 this year, and holders of Home Return Permits may apply for the renewal of their Permits at the Exit and Entry Administration Offices of the Public Security Bureau at the county or above level after entering the Mainland, whether the Government will conduct publicity and encourage members of the public to return to the Mainland for renewal of their Home Return Permits, so as to further mitigate the current tide of applications for Permit replacement; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(5) as it is learnt that quite a number of schools have gradually resumed exchange activities on the Mainland, whether the authorities will discuss with the Mainland authorities the issuance of one-time entry permits to students who have not applied for a Home Return Permit, so that they will not miss the opportunity to participate in exchange activities on the Mainland; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Due to the epidemic, quite a number of Hong Kong residents are unable to timely renew their Mainland Travel Permits for Hong Kong and Macao Residents (commonly known as Home Return Permits) (Permits) which have expired. After the full resumption of normal travel between Hong Kong and the Mainland in February this year, great demands for renewal of, re-issurance of and new applications for the Permits have been accumulated which led to prolonged waiting time.
The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) is very grateful to the country's exit and entry administration authority for the new measures introduced on April 28 this year. Starting from May 8 this year, the validity period of Permits will be extended. The validity period of those Permits with expiry date from January 1, 2020 to December 30, 2023 will be extended until December 31, 2023. Holders of the abovementioned original Permits can go through the normal cross-boundary inspection procedures for travelling to and from the Mainland. After entering the Mainland, relevant persons may apply for renewal of Permits at the exit and entry administration departments of public security authorities at the county level or above in the Mainland. Under the new measures, Hong Kong residents no longer need to rush to renew their Permits for traveling to and from the Mainland and the channels for renewing the Permits have increased. These measures greatly alleviate the earlier situation of a large number of citizens waiting for renewal of Permits.
Regarding the Hon Yang Wing-kit's question, after consultation with the Security Bureau and the Education Bureau, our consolidated reply is as follows:
(1) – (3) Based on the HKSAR Government's understanding from the relevant Mainland authorities, at present, the number of expired Permits held by Hong Kong residents is about one million. The entry permit service centres of China Travel Service (Hong Kong) Limited (CTS) have adopted a number of measures to facilitate Hong Kong residents (in particular elderly and students) in applying for the Permits. The measures concerned include extending the date of quotas available for appointment to December 31, 2023 (excluding Sundays and public holidays); extending the service hours of the entry permit service centres in Kowloon East and New Territories East from 5pm to 9.30pm; releasing new quotas on the website for appointment booking (www.ctshk.com/mep/zh/ch-visabook/); providing on-site quota allocation service to elderly aged 70 and above; opening of online appointment green channel for elderly aged 70 and above and infants under 3 months which allows them to make priority online appointments; people with impaired mobility due to injury or illness, if it is inconvenient to make an appointment, can go directly to the entry permit service centres for service during service hours; people with urgency, such as visiting patients, attending funerals, seeking medication treatment, studying, attending to urgent business matters, etc., but cannot make an online appointment can go to the entry permit service centres for urgent processing. Besides, CTS has arranged personnel to provide on-site assistance to those in need to fill out online application forms, etc. The HKSAR Government does not have the information on daily quotas for Permit processing services provided by individual entry permit service centres.
In addition, based on the understanding of the HKSAR Government, CTS is actively exploring the extension of service hours of the remaining three entry permit service centres and the set up of temporary entry permit renewal centres so as to alleviate the accumulated applications of the existing five entry permit service centres. The HKSAR Government will continue to maintain close liaison with the relevant Mainland authorities and CTS to take forward more facilitation measures for assisting citizens.
(4) After the relevant Mainland authority has announced the launch of the new measures mentioned above, Hong Kong citizens have, through different channels, obtained information regarding the renewal of Permits by relevant Mainland authorities. The HKSAR Government will maintain close liaison with the Mainland authorities and release more information to the citizens in a timely manner, so as to facilitate them in renewing the Permits at the Mainland units concerned. The Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau and the five Mainland Offices of the HKSAR Government have released, through online platforms, the relevant information regarding renewal of Permits of Hong Kong residents in the Mainland on May 8 this year.
(5) Regarding the participation of Hong Kong students in exchange activities in the Mainland, the Education Bureau (EDB) has been appealing to teachers and students in need to renew or apply for the Permit as soon as possible. As Mainland study tour is an integral part of the curriculum of the subject of Citizenship and Social Development (CS), EDB has co-ordinated with CTS earlier on to provide facilitation services for teachers and students who need to participate in CS Mainland study tours scheduled for April or May this year but have yet to renew or apply for the Permit. Besides, CTS has expedited the processing of application for Permits from students who are going to participate in examinations and various exchange activities in the Mainland.
Ends/Wednesday, May 10, 2023
Issued at HKT 11:36
Issued at HKT 11:36