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Under the Nationality Law of the People's Republic of China (CNL), Hong Kong residents who are of Chinese descent and born in Chinese territories (including Hong Kong) are regarded as Chinese citizens. They are not entitled to consular protection in the HKSAR and other parts of the People's Republic of China notwithstanding that they hold or have held British Dependent Territories Citizen passports, British National (Overseas) passport, or any other foreign passports.  If such Hong Kong residents choose to be treated as foreign nationals in the HKSAR, they may make declarations of change of nationality to the HKSAR Immigration Department. Upon approval, they will no longer be regarded as Chinese citizens and can enjoy consular protection from the country of their declared nationality.

Consequences of Declaration in Relation to Right of Abode in the HKSAR

If you choose to declare a change of your nationality, please note that it may affect your right of abode in the HKSAR.

Circumstances in which you can continue to enjoy the right of abode in the HKSAR

You will continue to enjoy the right of abode in Hong Kong after your declaration of change of nationality has been approved if:

    (a) you had the right of abode in Hong Kong before 1 July 1997, AND

  1. you were settled in Hong Kong immediately before 1 July 1997; or
  2. after you ceased to be settled in Hong Kong immediately before 1 July 1997, you returned to settle in Hong Kong within 18 months commencing on 1 July 1997; or
  3. after you ceased to be settled in Hong Kong immediately before 1 July 1997, you returned to settle in Hong Kong after the period of 18 months commencing on 1 July 1997 but only if you had been absent from Hong Kong for a continuous period of less than 36 months.

OR

    (b) you are able to meet the criteria applicable to a non-Chinese citizen –

  1. you have entered Hong Kong with a valid travel document, have ordinarily resided in Hong Kong for a continuous period of not less than seven years and have taken Hong Kong as your place of permanent residence before or after the establishment of the HKSAR (you are required to make a declaration in the form which the Director of Immigration stipulates that you have taken Hong Kong as your place of permanent residence); or
  2. you are under 21 years of age and were born in Hong Kong before or after the establishment of the HKSAR, provided that at the time of your birth or any time thereafter before you attain the age of 21, one of your parents has the right of abode in Hong Kong (you have to re-qualify for the right of abode as other foreign nationals do when you reach the age of 21); or
  3. immediately before the establishment of the HKSAR, you had the right of abode in Hong Kong only.

Circumstances in which you will lose your right of abode in the HKSAR

As a person not of Chinese nationality, you will lose your ROA in the HKSAR if:

  1. you have been absent from Hong Kong for a continuous period of not less than 36 months since you ceased to have ordinarily resided in Hong Kong, or     
  2. being a person who before the establishment of the HKSAR had the right of abode in Hong Kong only, you have been absent from Hong Kong for a continuous period of not less than 36 months after you obtained the right of abode in any place other than Hong Kong and had ceased to be ordinarily resident in Hong Kong.

If you lose your right of abode in Hong Kong, you will automatically acquire the right to land, which will enable you to enter the HKSAR freely and to work, study or live without any restriction on the condition of stay in Hong Kong. You will also be able to re-acquire the right of abode if you subsequently satisfy the requirements applicable to a non-Chinese citizen in paragraph (b)1 above.

Meaning of Related Terms

The following definitions will help you to understand the conditions under which the right of abode is extended to foreign nationals.

Settled in Hong Kong

You are settled in Hong Kong if:

  • You are ordinarily resident in Hong Kong; and
  • You are not subject to any limit of stay in Hong Kong.

Ordinary residence

You are ordinarily resident in Hong Kong if:

  • You remain in Hong Kong legally, voluntarily and for a settled purpose (such as for education, business, employment or residence etc.), whether of short or long duration.

You shall not be treated as ordinarily resident in Hong Kong :

1. during any period in which you remain in Hong Kong-

  • with or without the authority of the Director of Immigration, after landing unlawfully; or
  • in contravention of any condition of stay; or
  • as a refugee; or while in detention pending determination of refugee status or removal; or
  • while employed as a contract worker, who is from outside Hong Kong, under a Government importation of labour scheme; or
  • while employed as a domestic helper who is from outside Hong Kong; or
  • as a member of a consular post within the meaning of the Consular Relations Ordinance; or
  • as a member of the Hong Kong Garrison; or
  • as a holder of a prescribed Central People's Government travel document; or

2. during any period of imprisonment or detention pursuant to the sentence or order of any court.

Parent and Child

The relationship of mother and child is considered to exist between a woman and any child born to her in or out of wedlock, but the relationship of father and child is considered to exist only between a man and a child born to him in wedlock (any child born out of wedlock and subsequently legitimised by the marriage of the child’s parents will be treated as if born in wedlock).  In the case of adoption, the relationship of a parent and adopted child is considered to exist only if the child is adopted in Hong Kong in accordance with the Adoption Ordinance (Cap 290).

Who Can Apply

If you are a Chinese citizen holding a foreign passport, you can apply for declaration of change of nationality at the HKSAR Immigration Department.   The application will be approved if you meet the following requirements:

  • You are aged 18 or over and of sound mind (if you are aged under 18, the declaration should be made by your parent or legal guardian);
  • You are a Chinese national under the Chinese Nationality Law, as explained by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress;
  • You are a Hong Kong resident;
  • You are able to produce evidence (such as a foreign passport) to show that you have a foreign nationality;
  • There is no indication that the documents you use to prove your foreign nationality are forged or have been obtained by illegal means; and
  • You will not become a stateless person after disclaiming Chinese nationality.

 

How to Submit Your Application

You can submit an application for declaration of change of nationality in Hong Kong by post or in person to the following address:

Nationality Sub-section
Travel Documents and Nationality (Application) Section
Immigration Department
4th Floor, Immigration Tower
7 Gloucester Road
Wan Chai
Hong Kong

If you are outside Hong Kong, you can send your application directly by post to the HKSAR Immigration Department at the above address or submit it in person at the nearest Chinese diplomatic and consular mission.

Application Forms

The application forms and guides to applicants can be downloaded through the following links:

Local applications

Overseas applications

(These forms are also available from Chinese diplomatic and consular missions.)

Statement of Purpose for Data Collection

The personal data that you are asked to provide in the application form will be used by the Immigration Department for one or more of the following purposes:

  • To process your declaration of change of nationality;
  • To administer the Nationality Law of the People’s Republic of China and the “Explanations of Some Questions by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress Concerning the Implementation of the Nationality Law of the People’s Republic of China in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region” adopted by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on 15 May 1996;
  • To administer/enforce relevant provisions of the Immigration Ordinance (Chapter 115); Immigration Service Ordinance (Chapter 331) and to assist in the enforcement of any other Ordinances and Regulations by other government bureaux and departments through carrying out immigration control duties;
  • To process other person’s application for immigration facilities in which you are named as a sponsor or referee;
  • For statistical and research purposes on the condition that the resulting statistics or results of the research will not be made available in a form which will identify the data subject or any of them; and
  • Any other legitimate purposes as may be required, authorised or permitted by law.

The provision of personal data in the process of your declaration is voluntary.  However, if you do not provide sufficient information, the Immigration Department may not be able to process your declaration.

The personal data you provided may be disclosed to government bureaux, departments and other organisations for the purposes mentioned above.

You have the right to request access to and correction of your personal data as provided for in sections 18 and 22 and Principle 6 of Schedule 1 of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance. Your right of access includes the right to obtain a copy of your personal data provided in the declaration form subject to the payment of a fee.

If you have any questions about the personal data collected, including access and corrections to it, please contact:

Chief Immigration Officer
Travel Documents and Nationality (Application) Section
Immigration Department
4th Floor, Immigration Tower
7 Gloucester Road
Wan Chai, Hong Kong
Telephone: (852) 2829 3093

Supporting Documents

(a) If you are aged 18 or above, you should produce the following documents and photocopies upon application:

  1. your Hong Kong identity card or permanent identity card (if any);
  2. documentary proof of your foreign nationality (e.g., foreign passport)
  3. your valid Hong Kong Special Administrative Region passport (if any)

(b) If you are under the age of 18, the application should be made by your parent or legal guardian.  On top of the documents listed in paragraph (a) above, you should also produce proof of relationship with your parent or legal guardian, e.g.,

  • identity card or travel document of your parent/legal guardian.
  • proof of legal guardian such as your birth certificate, parents’ marriage certificate, court order to prove the legal guardianship in respect of you.
  • If you are under the age of 18 and married, you should produce your marriage certificate and consent from your parent/legal guardian is not required for the application.

Original documents with photocopies are required. If you submit your application by post to the HKSAR Immigration Department, only photocopies of the supporting documents should be sent with the application. You will be required to produce the original documents for verification afterwards. If you are outside Hong Kong, you will have to provide the name and address of a local referee who will be contacted by the Immigration Department to produce the originals of the documents for verification.

If you submit your application in person to the Chinese diplomatic and consular missions, you will have to show the original supporting documents for verification.

Fee

(a) For applications submitted directly to the HKSAR Immigration Department,

A fee of HK$145 is payable upon submission of application. However, the collection of this fee does not constitute any guarantee or assurance that your declaration of change of nationality will be approved. If you pay by cheque or bank draft, it should be crossed and made payable to ‘The Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’.

For applications submitted by post from overseas, the bank draft should be drawn on a bank in the HKSAR in HK or US Dollars. Alternatively, you can provide the name and address of a local referee who will pay the fee on your behalf after receiving notification from the Immigration Department.

The fee paid is non-refundable in all circumstances.

(b) Application submitted through Chinese diplomatic and consular missions

If you submit your application through a Chinese diplomatic and consular mission, you will be required to pay HK$145 plus a handling charge, and a charge for delivery of your application to the HKSAR Immigration Department.

The fee paid is non-refundable in all circumstances.

After Submission of Application

After your declaration of nationality change has been approved, you will be issued with a letter confirming the registration of the change. You will no longer be a Chinese national and you will have to surrender your Chinese passport or HKSAR passport or certificate of naturalisation as a Chinese national (if any) for cancellation.

Under regulation 18 of the Registration of Persons Regulation, you are required to report any change in particulars (such as nationality claimed) that you have submitted in the registration for identity card to the Registration of Persons Office. You can do so by post using form ROP18, which can be downloaded through the following link.

If the Director of Immigration subsequently finds that you have provided false or inaccurate information, your declaration of change of nationality will become null and void.  Action may be taken against you in accordance with the law.

If you declare a change of nationality and later want to resume Chinese nationality, you will need to apply for restoration of Chinese nationality. More information is available through the following link.

Processing Time

It will normally take one to two weeks to process your application, excluding the time taken in delivery of the application and despatch of the confirmation letter if the application was submitted from overseas.

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Last review date: March 2010

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