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Hong Kong identity cards are issued in the form of smart cards, each embedded with an integrated circuit or ‘chip’ that stores and processes data. Here you can learn about the types of smart identity card, their physical features, the benefits and obligations of using your card, how your personal data is protected and where to read a list of frequently asked questions about the smart identity card.

Types of Smart Identity Card

There are two types of smart identity card:

  • The Hong Kong permanent identity card, which states that the holder has the right of abode in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR)

            Information on right of abode in the HKSARhttp://www.gov.hk/en/residents/immigration/idcard/

  • The Hong Kong identity card, which does not state that right

Physical Features

The smart identity card is the size of a standard credit card, and is made from polycarbonate, a durable material strongly resistant to environmental influences as well as mechanical, chemical and thermal stress. The card is embedded with an integrated circuit or ‘chip’ that stores and processes data.

Card Face Design

The front and back faces of the smart identity card have distinctive designs.

Front of the smart identity card

Back of the smart identity card

Information on the front of the Smart Identity Card

Symbol

Description

***

The holder is aged 18 or over and is eligible for a HKSAR Re-entry Permit

*

The holder is aged between 11 and 17 and is eligible for a HKSAR Re-entry Permit

A

The holder has the right of abode in the HKSAR

C

The holder’s stay in the HKSAR is limited by the Director of Immigration at the time of registration of the card

R

The holder has the right to land in the HKSAR

U

The holder’s stay in the HKSAR is not limited by the Director of Immigration at the time of registration of the card

Z

The holder’s reported place of birth is Hong Kong

X

The holder’s reported place of birth is the Mainland

W

The holder’s reported place of birth is Macau

O

The holder’s reported place of birth is in other country or region

B

The holder’s reported date of birth or place of birth has been changed since first registration

N

The holder’s reported name has been changed since first registration.

Note:

The digit or alphabet in brackets is not part of the identity card number. It is used to facilitate computer data processing.

The ‘Chip’

The ‘chip’ in the smart identity card allows it to record, store, process and transmit data to and from designated devices. It has segregated compartments that keep immigration-related applications separate from value-added non-immigration applications.

Notes: 

# Cardholders can choose whether to include any non-immigration applications in their smart identity cards.

** Space reserved for possible non-immigration applications.

Security Features

To combat forgery, the smart identity card has a number of sophisticated security features, including the following:

  • A triangle printed with optical variable ink beside the chip, which changes in colour between reddish gold and green when viewed at different angles
  • Multiple laser images of the holder’s photograph and identity card number in the lower left corner, which appear alternately when viewed at different angles
  • Kineprint letters on the left of the multiple laser images – a red letter ‘H’ and a black letter ‘K’, which emerge alternately when viewed at different angles

More information is available through the following link.

Using your Smart Identity Card

The benefits of using a smart identity card are as follows:

  • High security – data are engraved into different layers of the card and stored in the ‘chip’, which helps to prevent lost or stolen cards from being altered or used by other people.
  • Greater convenience – the card may be used in various non-immigration applications: for instance, as an e-Certificate or a library card.
  • Quality service – the smart identity card is the foundation of the delivery of electronic government services. In future, smart identity card holders will be able to enjoy various kinds of public services simply by going on-line at home or making use of smart identity card readers without having to attend government offices in person.
  • More travel convenience – with the thumbprint templates stored in the chip of the identity card, holders can enjoy more convenient immigration clearance via the e-channels of the Automated Passenger Clearance System and the Automated Vehicle Clearance System.

Smart identity card readers are installed in the immigration self-service kiosks at Immigration Headquarters in Wan Chai, the Registration of Persons Offices and immigration control points. Using these readers, you can:

  • View the personal data stored in your card’s ‘chip’
  • View the content and change the PIN of a Hong Kong Post e-Cert if you have one
  • Update your condition of stay or limit of stay if you are a Hong Kong resident subject to a condition of stay

No fees are charged for using these kiosks. The following links will take you to information on kiosk locations.

How to Protect your Smart Identity Card

While enjoying the benefits of its advanced technology, you should remember that the smart identity card is an important identification document. Although the card is made of a very durable and secure base material, you need to protect it properly against damage. The following guidelines will help you keep your card in good condition at all times:

  • Keep the card in an appropriate protective holder
  • Do not bend the card or test it with a magnet
  • Do not place your card together with keys or coins
  • Avoid scratching the chip when using the e-Cert in your card
  • Do not try to remove the chip from the card

Obligations

As a smart identity card holder, you are obliged to keep it in proper condition and carry it with you at all times. If your card is lost, destroyed, damaged or defaced, you must apply for a new card at a Registration of Persons Office within 14 days, or within 14 days of your return if you are outside Hong Kong. Recovered cards must be surrendered to a Registration of Persons Office or police station. 

Personal Data Protection

Your personal data on the smart identity card are fully protected by the following measures:

  • The collection, storage, use and release of data are governed by the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance, Registration of Persons Ordinance and Registration of Persons Regulations.
  • Only authorised departments have access to the relevant database, and there is no sharing of databases among government departments.
  • Privacy Impact Assessments are conducted periodically.
  • You can view the data on your card through smart identity card readers installed at immigration self-service kiosks after your identity has been authenticated.
  • Only minimal data are stored in the chip. More sensitive data are kept in back-end computer systems. All non-immigration applications of the smart identity card are voluntary options.
  • Data for different applications are segregated.  The chip is designed with segregated compartments to separate immigration applications from other value-added non-immigration functions.

Frequently Asked Questions

A list of frequently asked questions about the smart identity card is available through the following link.

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Last review date: December 2010

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