BEA Wander

How I Got My HK Passport Without Living There for 7 Years!

6 min read

Were you told that you had to live in HK for 7 years?

Or that you’d need to visit HK every 3 years to maintain your status?

Yeah, me too…

…but I didn’t have to do either.

This is how I got my HKSAR passport. Maybe you can too!

Get Your HK Identity Card 香港永久性居民身份證

Okay, so I’m assuming that you already have your HK ID card.

Because you need it in order to even think about getting your HK passport.

BUT do you have the right one?

That’s right – there are 2 different types!

Two Types of Identity Card

There’s a normal one and a permanent one.

What’s the difference?

Well, the permanent one has “Permanent Identity Card” written on the front, and has “the right to abode in Hong Kong” written on the back. This is the one that you need in order to get the HK passport!

Looks like this: 


The normal one doesn’t.

3 Stars vs 1 Star

Also, here’s the low down about the whole 3-stars and 1-star thing.

*** does NOT mean you’re permanent.

It’s more for indicating age –  * is for a child and *** means you’re over 18.

Here’s a breakdown of what every part of the ID card means!

hk-id-card-explained hk-id-card-legend-explanation

HK ID Eligibility

According to the HK Immigration Government website, there are 6 categories of people who are eligible for an HK ID.

These 6 sub-categories are listed under 2 main categories.

Chinese National

1 – Born in HK

2 – Lived in HK for 7+ years

3 – Born outside of HK to a parent who is either 1a or 1b (that’s me!)

Non-Chinese National

4 – Declare HK place of permanent residence for last 7+ years

5 – Born in HK to a parent who has permanent residence in HK (must be under 21 at time of application)

6 – Everyone else that falls outside of the 5 categories listed above must meet specific conditions.

I’ve extremely simplified these 6 categories based on my interpretation, which may be incorrect, so read the actual webpage here.

Still unsure if you have ROA (Right to Abode) in HK?

Check out this not very good looking, but official flowchart. I took it directly from their site.


How to Apply for HK ID Card

Literally, follow these instructions here

Here’s a quick summary though:

  1. Fill out the right form

    There are 4 different ones, pick the one that most applies to your situation. For most people, it’s probably Form ROP169

  2. Bring supporting documents with you to the immigration office.

    This depends on your situation, see here.

    Typically, it’s some sort of proof that you have ties to HK – either birth certificate (your or your parents) or proof that you’ve been living in HK for last 7 years.

  3. Apply with 1 of 3 ways:
    1. Snail Mail (not recommended)
    2. Online Application (most convenient)
    3. In-person (Good option if you’re already in HK)

      Just drop off your documents at one of their immigration offices – there’s an actual drop-off box = no line up!

Cost of HK ID Card

It’s FREE!

Only pay when you lost it and need a replacement.


After you submit it, you’ll have to wait up to 6 weeks to hear back by mail to see if you were successful or not.

Sidenote: I haven’t gotten my updated HK ID card yet. I don’t THINK it costs anything since the government is the one who is telling us to upgrade it…can anyone verify for me?

Need more help?

Read their FAQs here

Want to pick up the phone or email someone?

  • Immigration e-Services Hotline at (852) 3128 8668 between 7am and 11pm daily.
  • For general enquiries, please call (852) 2824 6111, fax (852) 2877 7711 or send email to [enquiry @ immd. gov. hk] 

Remember, you need the PERMANENT HK Identity Card in order to get your passport.

That means that if you weren’t born there yourself, then at least one of your parents need to be born in HK and have some sort of HK government-issued ID.

I’m lucky that my dad was born in HK and he helped me register for my HK permanent ID back in 2009…so my memory of this particular process is quite fuzzy.

Apply for HK Passport 香港特區護照

Why get HK passport when I have a Canadian one already?

Well, 1) both HK and Canada allow dual citizenship, so why not? 2) I can get another ID – why not? And 3) I can travel to more visa-exempt countries 🙂

Once you get the PERMANENT ID card, it’s quite easy and straightforward.

Double Check Eligibility

According to the HK Government Immigration website, a person is eligible to apply for a Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Passport if he/she is:

  • a Chinese citizen;
  • a permanent resident of the HKSAR; and
  • a holder of a valid Hong Kong permanent identity card.

With your new HK permanent ID card, you should fit all 3 criteria. 

Fill Out Application & Prepare Supporting Documents

Here’s Form ID 841. This application form is literally one page.

If you already have the permanent HK ID card, then there’s not much you need to bring with you besides:

  • Your HK Permanent ID
  • Money for passport photos and application fee  
  • 40 mm(W) x 50 mm(H) Photo
    • Better yet, get it done there while you’re waiting – they need exact sizes
    • For 60 HKD you get 4 pictures, you only need one though
  • The completed application form above (printed out)


Book Appointment

You have 3 options:

  1. Book an appointment with immigration online
  2. just show up and wait in line, OR
  3. use one of the self-service kiosks (only for 18 years or older)

I booked an appointment online but got there early, grabbed a number and waited a bit. Then I thought to myself…why not try using one of the kiosks?!

So I did.

It was a bit finicky, but I somehow was able to complete the application, so I ain’t complaining. I did see a few people who just gave up after trying a few times – must have been user error??

I finished my application before my number was even called, and went straight to pay!


Cost of HKSAR Passport

It’s cheap compared to a Canadian passport.

It was only 370 HKD for a 32-page passport. That’s only $80 CAD – that’s cheap for a 10-year passport!

Processing Time

10 business days to hear back via mail, but I think mine was processed faster. #HKEfficiency

I got a letter in the mail telling me when and where to pick up my passport.

Authorize Someone to Collect Your HK Passport

Note that if you don’t drop off, then you NEED to pick up yourself. You got to show up at least once, so they can verify that it’s you.

Fill out Form ID 678 and give it to the person that will collect your new passport. They’ll need to show immigration this completed form.

I tasked my mom with this big responsibility as I was frolicking around in Taiwan.  

And that’s it!

Easy peasy, right?

Need more help?

FAQ here.

Contact details (same as above!)

  • Immigration e-Services Hotline at (852) 3128 8668 between 7am and 11pm daily
  • For general enquiries, please call (852) 2824 6111, fax (852) 2877 7711, or email to

Return Home Permit 回鄉證

So the next step for me is to get the Return Home Permit, so I don’t need to stand in the foreigner line or even need to get a visa to go into China again!

My only worry is that I’d have to give up my Canadian citizenship in order to get the Return Home Permit. That naturally is not ideal or even worth it to me…

Will update after I actually get it 🙂

Update Nov 2019: Did not have to give up anything but there were a few loops to jump through. Learn more to fast track your Home Return Permit application here!

13 thoughts on “How I Got My HK Passport Without Living There for 7 Years!”

    • Hey Harry!

      I’m not sure if I would qualify for HKSAR passport by birthright since all of the immigration officers told me that I couldn’t get it unless I lived there for 7 years! My situation is: I’m born overseas while my dad was born in HK, and after his HK passport expired years ago he never renewed it.

      I’m just happy that I was able to get it!

  1. Hi! I’m confused about my situation. I’m born in HK have the AZ on my permanent HK ID card but no stars at all. I am also not Chinese and my 2 filipino parents are born in Phil but both have permanent id cards too as they’ve lived in HK for decades. I haven’t visited HK since 2011 but my parents still live there. So would I be able to apply? I read somewhere on their website that “persons who are not of Chinese race may apply to be naturalised as Chinese citizens”. Like you, I live in Canada so would like to have the dual citizenship

    • Hey Jennalyn,

      Sorry – your situation seems a lot different than mine and I wouldn’t want to give you the wrong information. Best to email or call them directly to ask.

      Would be great if you could come back to let us know what they said 🙂

  2. Hi are you living in HK right now? My situation is like yours. I’m Canadian but my parents are born in HK. Looks like I need to be living in HK to apply…

    • I’m nomadic, so I go where I want – currently in Mexico, actually!

      You definitely need to be there when you apply – though you may be able to get someone else to drop off the documents for you(?)

  3. I have ***AO on my HKID and I was born in PH. I also grew up, studied, and worked there until I was 25 y/o then migrated/went back to HK (Family’s decision, I love the PH btw!). My Dad is from HK (Let’s say from really old generation HK Chinese) while my Mom is from PH.

    My Mom holds permanent HKID but without the *** thing, she got her ID because she is married to my Dad. Last year, She wanted to apply for HK passport (for convenient visa-free compared to a PH passport) but the immigration dep’t told her that she needs to change her citizenship to Chinese (this includes having a Chinese name) and renounce her Filipino citizenship. My Mom didn’t like the conditions. Obviously, she’s not willing to renounce her current citizenship for number of reasons, especially now, HK is just a total mess.

    In case of me, I didn’t have to undergo to those kind of procedures because my Dad is a HK Chinese in the first place. So I guess your situation is much more related to my Mom’s.

    On a side note, I am holding PH, HK, and UK(BNO) passports which really sound cool!

  4. Hey there! I’m glad I see this! So my mom was born in Hk has her hkid but i am like you and mine doesnt say permenant hkid and i have RO i was born outside of HK (Canada) But wait.. where were you born in?

    • I thought I wrote it down somewhere, but maybe not…I was born in Canada 🙂

      You need the permanent HK ID card, or else they won’t let you get anything else – HK passport or home return permit.

  5. As I understand it, if you are born in Hong Kong or have become a permanent resident, AND are of Chinese descent (full or mixed) then you can be considered a citizen and be given a passport. If you are not of Chinese descent you can become permanent resident but cannot be a citizen and cannot get a passport. Although I have heard it may be possible on condition that you surrender other nationality.

  6. Very interesting, I have the HKID but wasn’t aware I could apply for the passport.

    The self-service kiosks, do you know if there is an option in English? I can not ready Chinese… I guess I could get someone to help me.

  7. Thank you for sharing your experience! I have 2 questions.

    1) You mentioned that your father was born in HK, how about your mother? The HK Immigration also checks your mother’s situation, right?
    2) What documents did your father show to the HK Immigration in order to get HK permanent ID for you? My father was also born in HK, we have tried many times to apply for HK permanent ID, but Immigration kept saying that my father already gave up his British nationality when I was born.

  8. I’m the same situation as you and applied and got all of the above many years ago. I was able to apply from the Chinese embassy here in Vancouver to get the hkid. Then I went to hkg to get my passport and return home permit.

    I am hearing that with the new hkid, we need to write down “Chinese” as nationality and not Canadian. I wonder with all that is going on in HKG if this will change anything. I was told to write down Chinese otherwise I lose my current Chinese status as they don’t allow dual citizenship … I can’t find anything on this however…


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