Beijing to offer 5-year travel permits to non-Chinese Hong Kong permanent residents from July 10

Non-Chinese permanent residents of Hong Kong and Macau will be able to apply for five-year travel permits to enter mainland China from July 10, Beijing has said, with local authorities stressing the move could motivate foreign companies and talent to settle in the city.

Holders of the multi-entry permits will also enjoy self-service clearance at control points once they complete procedures such as having their fingerprints taken, the National Immigration Administration said on Monday.

Permit holders can enter the mainland for short-term purposes, such as investment, visiting relatives, tourism, business, seminars and exchanges. They may stay up to 90 days per visit but are barred from working, studying or engaging in newsgathering activities.

Eligible residents, with no restrictions as to their nationality or occupations, may apply through China Travel Service (Holdings) in both Hong Kong and Macau. Permits will be issued within 20 working days if their applications are successful.

An application will cost HK$260 (US$34), while people seeking to renew or replace permits on the mainland will have to pay 230 yuan (US$32), the administration said.

The central government said it decided to issue the permits to further facilitate people-to-people exchanges between Hong Kong, Macau and the mainland, and to help both cities better integrate into overall national development.

Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu said the new policy, announced on the 27th anniversary of the city’s return to Chinese rule, “demonstrated our country’s care and support” for Hong Kong.

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Permit holders will be able to stay up to 90 days per visit to the mainland. Photo: Yik Yeung-man

Lee said many non-Chinese permanent residents had deep roots in Hong Kong, while those working in the city had been particularly keen on seizing the historic opportunities of the country’s rapid developments.

“We firmly believe that international talent of Hong Kong companies can enjoy the long-awaited clearance convenience for northbound travel with this permit,” he said.

The absence of any limits on nationality or occupation of the permit also “fully highlights Hong Kong’s unique status under ‘one country, two systems’ and greatly helps the city maintain its international character and diversity, thereby providing a significant incentive for companies and talent from around the world to settle in”, Lee added.

The new travel permit is among a string of more liberal visa measures Beijing has granted to Hong Kong since early 2023.

Others include launching and expanding the Greater Bay Area exit endorsement for talent in Beijing and Shanghai, extending the duration of stay of business visits in Hong Kong from seven days to 14 days, and introducing multiple-entry “northbound” visas for foreign employees working in the city.

According to the 2021 Population Census, there are about 619,568 non-Chinese people residing in Hong Kong, or about 8.4 per cent of the population.

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