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Hong Kong extends biometric border program to 420K foreign ID holders

Hong Kong extends biometric border program to 420K foreign ID holders

Beginning July 21, approximately 420,000 foreign domestic helpers, non-local students with Hong Kong ID cards, and other imported workers aged 11 and above can use the faster, biometric self-service clearance channels at Hong Kong border checkpoints who wish to exit or re-enter the city, according to the South China Morning Post. These individuals are the last group of ID holders to be granted access to e-channel services.

The department expects that approximately 350,000 local domestic helpers, 10,000 imported workers, and 60,000 non-local students will benefit from the new system. Moreover, the department predicts that processing time for travel documents at staffed counters would be reduced by 8 seconds.

To use the e-channels, new participants must first verify their identity with selfie biometrics using the government’s “iAM Smart” mobile app and register their ID with the department’s mobile contactless e-channel service.

During the self-serviced clearance process, users can choose to produce a QR code from the app or their ID cards for scanning. They will then undergo a facial recognition check as the final step of the clearance process.

Non-local ID holders must still visit manned counters and produce their visas when arriving in the city for the first time. Likewise, foreign domestic workers must also use manned counters when re-entering the city after making the mandatory return home for at least seven days between contracts. They will automatically be eligible for e-channel service when their new visas are shown at the counter.

OR Chung-yuk, assistant director of the department’s information systems says, “This new arrangement would certainly allow our department to flexibly deploy our manpower … [and] we can have more counters to cater to other travelers who cannot use our e-channel services.”

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