Information paper for LegCo Security Panel
Visa-free travel

The Joint Declaration and The Basic Law state that the Central People’s Government shall assist or authorise the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government to conclude visa abolition agreements with states or regions. The British and the Chinese sides have been discussing arrangements between themselves and with third countries to secure a greater degree of travel convenience for HKSAR passport holders. It should be borne in mind that the HKSAR passport is a new travel document and it will take time to negotiate visa free arrangements with third countries.

Favourable treatment secured hitherto

2. So far:

  1. the UK has announced publicly that HKSAR passport holders would enjoy the same visa-free access arrangements as BN(O) holders. Singapore and Western Samoa have also announced that HKSAR passports would enjoy visa-free access;
  2. Canada has agreed to give visa-free access to HKSAR passport holders in principle, subject to negotiating a technical arrangement with the Hong Kong Immigration Department over practical co-operation in combating alien smuggling and repatriating illegal immigrants, overstayers etc;
  3. USA, Australia and New Zealand do not give visa-free access to BN(O) passports, but they are likely to treat the HKSAR passport no less favourably than the BN(O) passport. Japan has also said that it would treat the HKSAR passport differently from Chinese passports.

Assistance of the tourist industry

3. At the meeting of the Panel on 8 July, Members asked if the tourist industry could assist in promoting the HKSAR passport. We welcomed help to promote the HKSAR passport. We have liaised with operators of outbound tours operators and provided them with a note which they can draw on when they discuss this issue with their contacts. A copy of the speaking note is at the Annex.

Security Branch
23 October 1996

Last Updated on 21 August 1998