Hong Kong citizens and qualified applicants will be able to apply for the next-generation HKSAR electronic passport (e-Passport) and the electronic document of identity for visa purposes (e-Doc/I) from next Tuesday onward, with the processing time to be significantly shortened.
The Immigration Department announced on Thursday that the new e-Passport and e-Doc/I will continue to be produced in compliance with the standard of the International Civil Aviation Organization, with the holder’s personal data and facial image stored in digital form in the contactless chip embedded in the back cover of the document.
The security features of the new documents will be further enhanced. A specially made transparent window with the holder’s portrait engraved thereon by laser engraving technology will be added to the bio-data page, of which the main theme is the Golden Bauhinia Square. Full-color ultraviolet printing technology will be also adopted for visa pages, on which a night view of the northern part of Hong Kong Island will appear under UV light.
To provide applicants with more convenient services, the department has updated related software, shortening the processing time by five working days from 10 at present, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.
The processing days will also be reduced to 10 from 14 if the applicant is under the age of 11 and without a Hong Kong identity card.
A total of 28 brand new self-service kiosks made for application purposes will be gradually introduced by the department from May 14 to its headquarters in Wan Chai as well as at its six branch offices to replace the existing ones, which will be fully retired on Saturday after they have been put into service for 10 years.
During a presentation of the new kiosk to media on Thursday, Chan Tin-chee, the department’s assistant director (personal documentation), said that all an applicant needs to do is put his or her ID card on the scanner and then choose a photo, either taken immediately at the kiosk or prepared by himself or herself for scanning, that will be displayed on the new passport before filling in the application form.
The applicant then signs it and then pays the application fee, which remains unchanged, with an Octopus card or via the EPS system.
The whole process is expected to take within five minutes, or about one-third of the time that is needed using the existing kiosk.
Noting that the new kiosks cost HK$2.3 million in total, Chan said that one of their major features is that they are equipped with a high-end single-lens reflex camera that allows an applicant to take a passport photo, free of charge, up to three times with three photos produced for selection.
While the existing kiosks cannot be used by those aged under 11, the new ones are usable for anyone who is at least 1.25 meters tall.
The department will also allow citizens to submit passport applications or change of passport applications through its mobile app starting from May 14 and they will be able to get an application result in two working days.
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