Apec business travel card holders can apply for new mainland China travel permit for Hongkongers

By South China Morning Post | Created at 2024-07-10 11:50:17 | Updated at 2024-07-21 20:39:47 1 week ago
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Apec business travel card holders can apply for a new five-year mainland China travel permit for non-Chinese Hong Kong permanent residents, the chairman of the agency handling applications has clarified.

Confusion over their eligibility arose after notices posted at the service counters at the Mong Kok and Tuen Mun centres of China Travel Service (Hong Kong) (CTS) on Wednesday informed people that if they applied for the new permit, their other forms of mainland visas would be cancelled. Those holding Apec business travel cards were not eligible for the new permit, the notices said.

But CTS Hong Kong chairman Perry Yiu Pak-leung later clarified that those with valid Apec business travel cards could apply, according to his understanding.

“It is OK for Apec business travel card holders to apply for the new permit. All they need to do is bring all three documents required, including a valid passport, Hong Kong ID card and the document issued by the Immigration Department,” Yiu said.

He was referring to a “Notice of Application for Access to Information” stating their Hong Kong permanent resident status and nationality information.

“The goal of the new permit is to facilitate their return to the mainland and reduce their inconvenience,” he said.

The new five-year permit allows non-Chinese nationals with permanent residency in Hong Kong and Macau to enter the mainland multiple times for purposes such as visiting relatives, tourism, business, seminars and exchanges, up to 90 days each stay.

They can also enjoy self-service clearance at control checkpoints once they have their fingerprints taken at ports of entry.

The Apec business travel card scheme is intended to make it easier for businesspeople to move among Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation countries, according to the Immigration Department.

A notice at the Mong Kok CTS centre informing people that those holding Apec business travel cards are unable to apply for the new permit. Photo: Oscar Liu

Once all economies make a pre-clearance decision, the applicant will be issued a listing of the approved travel destinations. Each economy manages its own pre-clearance application.

The card, valid for five years, is good for multiple visits of two to three months each to 19 participating economies, without the need to obtain a visa if pre-clearance has been granted.

Participating countries include China, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Australia and Russia, and among others.

Foreigners with valid passports and with China listed on the back of the card can enter the mainland without a visa and stay for up to 60 days, according to the National Immigration Administration.

To qualify for a card in Hong Kong, a businessperson must have a valid national passport and a Hong Kong permanent ID card without a record of entry denial or criminal conviction and must be actively involved in trade, services or investment activities, excluding entertainers, musicians, artists or similar professions.

A supporting letter from the applicant’s employing company is also required.

Johannes Hack, president of the German Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, said Apec business travel cards were very popular among the city’s permanent residents in the business community.

But he added it was “less practical” than the new five-year permit for entering the mainland as Apec card holders were unable to use e-channels for clearance.

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