Non-Franchised Bus Service in Hong Kong

This article gives you a brief introduction to non-franchised bus (NFB) services, how to apply for operating them and how to become a smart NFB passenger.

What are NFB services?

There are eight types of public NFB service. A brief description of these services and their respective service endorsement can be found in following links:

Types of Service

Respective Service Endorsement

Tour Service


Hotel Service


Student Service


Employees’ Service


International Passenger Service


Residents’ Service


Multiple Transport Service


Contract Hire Service (to meet ad hoc service demand not covered by the other seven types)


The operation of NFB services is regulated under section 4 of Public Bus Services Ordinance, Cap 230 and section 27(4)(b) of the Road Traffic Ordinance, Cap 374.  For more details on the existing regulatory regime on NFB services, please refer to the below paper to Panel on Transport of Legislative Council.

Regulatory framework on NFB services (pdf file)

How to apply for operating NFB services?

Operators should obtain Passenger Service Licence (PSL) issued by the Commissioner for Transport under section 27 of the Road Traffic Ordinance, Cap. 374 and its subsidiary legislation before they can operate any NFB service.  The law requires that each vehicle operating under a PSL should be issued with a PSL Certificate. A PSL may authorise the holder to operate one or more of the eight types of public NFB services. A PSL holder has to obtain separate endorsement as well as approval for individual route operation as appropriate from the Commissioner for Transport. Application forms for each type of NFB services are available on the link below.  

Application forms for each type of NFB services

In order to have better control and effective monitoring of those NFB services which are regular in nature, all regular NFB services, including shuttle services provided under hotel service (A02), student service (A03) for tertiary education institutions, employees’ service (A04) international passenger service (A05), residents’ service (A06) and certain types of contract hire service (A08) of a regular nature with the sameor similar departure/destination areas, are required to operate in accordance with schedule of service approved by the Commissioner for Transport. The operators will be subject to inquiry for any unauthorised deviation from the approved schedule.

In general, an application for a PSL for operation of NFB services can be processed in about 6 to 8 weeks.  However, the actual processing time will depend on the complexity of the application.

According to the existing NFB policy, applicants applying for additional bus would be given a period of 6 months to source vehicles from the existing NFB fleet in the market. For applicants who are able to acquire the required bus from the existing registered NFB fleet and the existing owner of the bus concerned agrees not to purchase replacement vehicle, their applications will be processed by the Transport Department accordingly.  For applicants who are unable to acquire the required bus from the existing fleet, their applications will be reviewed at the end of the 6-month period.

How to become a smart NFB passenger

Please do not make use of unauthorised NFB services. These unauthorised services may not have valid insurance to protect passengers’ interest when they are involved in accidents.  As a smart NFB passenger, you should check against the legality of the NFB services, especially those Residents’ Services before you make use of it.  You can find out the service details of Residents’ Services that are approved by the Transport Department through the following link:

List of Approved Residents' Services (Hong Kong Island)List of Approved Residents' Services (Kowloon)List of Approved Residents' Services (New Territories)

Besides, you can read the following pamphlet which can help to identify buses which provide Residents’ Services that are approved by the Transport Department.

Don’t Patronize Unauthorised Non-franchised Public Bus Service (pdf file)

If you find NFB services that may be unauthorised, please call 1823 to contact the Transport Department.

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Last review date: June 2022
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