Hong Kong permanent Identity Card

If you’re a long-time Hong Kong resident and want to make it your home for the long term, you’ll want to get your hands on a Hong Kong Permanent Identity Card issued by HK’s immigration department. Having a Permanent Identity Card means that you have right of abode in HK – the equivalent of a green card there. It remains unless you depart Hong Kong for another place of residence and remain outside HK for a period of 36 months.

Who is eligible for Hong Kong permanent resident status?

To get this this status, you must be a person not of Chinese nationality who entered Hong Kong with a valid travel document, has ordinarily resided in Hong Kong for a continuous period of not less than seven years and has taken Hong Kong as your place of permanent residence.

Ordinarily resident

The seven-year period must be continuous and only includes the period for which you have been in Hong Kong lawfully.

You don’t need to be present in Hong Kong for literally the entire seven years, but you must be ‘ordinarily resident’ there during that period. Ordinary residence may continue even if you leave for a temporary purpose, such as a holiday or for business visit. Exactly what constitutes an acceptable length of time to be out of the country isn’t specified, but in the application form for the card, you will be required to state the period, reason and whereabouts if you were absent from HK more than six months during the period of ordinary residence.

Settled purpose

You must be in Hong Kong for a settled purpose (such employment, education or business purposes) during the entire seven-year period.

Dual citizenship

China does not recognize dual citizenship, so it is not possible to be a ‘Hong Kong citizen’ without undergoing naturalization and becoming Chinese citizen, giving up your existing nationality in the process. However, having a Hong Kong Permanent Identity Card does not affect your existing national status.

The application is free of charge.

Processing time

If everything is in order, it should take the Immigration Department about six weeks to process the document. If there are complications or missing documents, or there has been an influx of other applications, it may take longer.

Once it has been processed, you will be given a document confirming your right of abode, which you can use to get the card – that should take a further two weeks.

Documents needed to apply for a card

  1. Copy of existing Hong Kong identity card (if any).
  2. Copies of documents showing seven years of continuous ordinary residence in Hong Kong leading directly up to the date of the application for permanent resident status. Documents can include school documents, proof of employment, official receipts, bank statements or income tax receipts.
  3. Copy of your travel documents showing your entry into Hong Kong – basically all of your passports from the last seven-year period – and your current condition of stay in Hong Kong (such as your visa, investment documents, employment contract etc).
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