For information
on 19 February 1998

Provisional Legislative Council
Panel on Security

Entry Visa for Taiwan Visitors and Visitors from Overseas

I. Introduction

Hong Kong is one of the most popular destinations for tourists and other visitors. In 1997, about 6.3 million overseas visitors came to Hong Kong. Our immigration policies aim to facilitate easy travel with minimal but necessary control.

II. Overseas Visitors

2. People from over 170 countries and territories can visit Hong Kong visa-free. Hong Kong operates a liberal visa regime and nationals of only 40 countries/economies need to apply for visas for visits.

3. In 1997, Immigration Department received over 56,000 applications for visit visas, and was able to issue visas to over 94% of applicants within 4 weeks.

4. We have also in place one of the most efficient immigration clearance arrangements in the Asia and Pacific Region. We manage to clear on average 92% of all visitors within 30 minutes waiting time at all control points. At Kai Tak Airport, all passengers are cleared for departure within this targeted time, despite being one of the busiest airports in the world in terms of passenger throughput.

5. To enhance the mobility of frequent visitors to Hong Kong, we have introduced a Travel Pass Pilot Scheme in January 1998. A total of 10,000 Travel Passes will be issued on a first-come first-serve basis. The Travel Pass is valid for three years and good for multiple entries to Hong Kong for a stay of 2 months on each trip. The holder of a Travel Pass will be allowed to use Hong Kong resident counters for arrival and departure. The Immigration clearance procedure will be simplified and the processing time will be reduced as a result.

6. Applications for Travel Pass are open to frequent visitors who hold valid passports and are eligible to come to Hong Kong without a visa or an entry permit. Applicants should have a genuine need to visit the Hong Kong frequently and have come for visits trouble-free on 5 or more occasions (other than return from side trips to the Mainland or Macau) in the 12-month period immediately preceding the application, or can satisfy Director of Immigration that their visits may bring substantial benefits to Hong Kong.

7. We will also participate in the APEC Business Travel Card Trial Scheme, together with Australia, the Philippines, Republic of Korea and Chile. We plan to start receiving applications for APEC Cards in March 1998. Under the Trial Scheme, a maximum of 2,000 APEC Business Travel Cards valid for three years will be issued to Hong Kong Permanent Identity Card (HKPIC) holders. HKPIC holders will submit their applications to the Director of Immigration. The applications will be referred to the designated authorities of other participating economies for their assessment and pre-clearance. An APEC Business Travel Card will be issued after the pre-clearance is completed.

8. An APEC Business Travel Card is good for multiple visits of 2 months to participating economies without visas. Card holders will also enjoy streamlined immigration clearance for departure and arrival at the control points of participating economies. In Hong Kong, Card holders from participating economies will be allowed to use resident counters where available.

III. Taiwan Visitors

9. Taiwan residents are frequent visitors of Hong Kong. Over the past 3 years, the annual number of Taiwan visitors amounts to around 1.8 million, representing a daily average arrival figure of about 5,000. They were either the second or third largest tourist group visiting Hong Kong in the period.

10. To enter Hong Kong, most Taiwan residents use Taiwan Visit Permits (TVPs) issued by the Immigration Department. There are 3 types of TVPs, details of which are tabulated below:



Period of Stay

Processing Time

Fee ($)


3 months

15 days -

3 months

15 working days


Regular-size multiple-


(16 pages)

1 year

14 days on each landing

5 working days


Jumbo-size multiple-journey

(32 pages)

3 years

14 days on each landing

5 working days


11. New applications for TVPs have to be submitted to the Immigration Department via authorized offices of a total of 21 airlines in Taiwan. Renewal applications for TVPs may either be submitted to the Immigration Department by the applicants, their authorized persons, or through the authorized airline offices in Taiwan.

12. The Administration have made continuous efforts to facilitate Taiwan residents to travel to Hong Kong over the past few years. These efforts have brought about a number of improvements to the TVP system. They include -

  1. the period of stay granted to TVP holders was extended from 7 days to 14 days;

  2. the requirement for local reference for all applications was normally waived;

  3. the number of types of TVPs was reduced from 7 to 3 to simplify the application procedure;

  4. the processing and issue of TVPs were computerised. The processing time of applications was reduced from 7 to 5 working days;

  5. computer-assisted optical character readers have been installed at immigration control points to scan machine-readable travel documents, including TVPs. Immigration clearance time for TVP holders was reduced by 20 seconds to 70 seconds; and

  6. validity of the jumbo-size multiple-journey TVPs was extended from 2 to 3 years.

13. As a result of the above efforts, Taiwanese residents can now visit Hong Kong on strength of their multiple-journey TVPs valid for 1 or 3 years and good for a stay of 14 days on each landing. They can also make use of the single-journey TVPs, which are valid for and good for a stay of up to 3 months, to visit Hong Kong.

14. To further improve the system, the Immigration Department have also recently issued multiple-journey TVPs with pre-printed landing conditions in January 1998. This has further enhanced travel convenience of Taiwan visitors.

15. We will also look into ways to shorten the current 2 weeks lead time required of the issue of multiple-journey TVPs. Under present arrangements, apart from the 5 working days required by the Immigration Department for processing applications for multiple-journey TVPs, an additional one week or more is needed for the collection and despatch of batches of applications by the authorised airline agents and for the despatch of approved TVPs back to Taiwan. We consider that the time spent on collecting TVP applications by the airline agents can be shortened and we will work on that. We will make it an imperative that the airline agents have to be more careful in handling these applications so as to minimise the time required for data correction.

16. Another way to enhance travel convenience of Taiwan residents in entering Hong Kong is to promote greater use of 3-year multiple-journey TVPs. According to our record, only 20% of multiple-journey TVP applicants ask for 3-year TVPs (the remaining 80% opts for 1-year TVPs). We will liaise with the tourist industry to encourage more use of the 3-year multiple-journey TVPs.

17. We will continue to explore other ways of facilitating bona fide visits of Taiwan residents.

IV. Way Forward

18. As part of our efforts to enhance travel convenience for bona fide visitors from all over the world, including those from Taiwan, to enter Hong Kong, we are continually reviewing our policies and exploring possible ways to simplify procedures and shorten the time required for processing entry visa applications and clearance at immigration control points.

Security Bureau
19 February 1998