No More Direct Visa-Free Entry Into Hong Kong For Indian Citizens - Pre Arrival Registration Is Now Mandatory

Friday, February 3, 2017

Hong Kong was among a few countries in the world that used to offer a visa-free entry or a visa on arrival for Indian citizens. Better still, Hong Kong never charged any fee for that visa-free entry. Well, no more. A "Pre-Arrival Registration" has become mandatory for Indian nationals willing to visit Hong Kong. This registration will be free of cost but there are other problems associated with the new system. First, only India has been singled out for this requirement of pre arrival registration. Second, the pre arrival registration form is lengthy and requires some information that will certainly take a lot of your time and effort. Third, the funds being carried while visiting Hong Kong (value in HK Dollars) including the cost of accommodation need to be declared in the pre arrival registration. There is no specific requirement mentioned anywhere as to how much money is to be carried, one may just need to guesstimate as to how much to carry and declare. Keep reading for details and some useful links...

Chungking Mansions Hong Kong

Eligibility For Pre-arrival Registration

The eligibility information reproduced below is sourced from the original HK government website:

"You can make use of this online service free of charge to apply for pre-arrival registration for visiting or transiting the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) (if seeking to enter the HKSAR during transit) if you are:
(a) an Indian national holding an Indian passport valid for at least six months; and
(b) intending to visit or transit (except in direct transit by air and not leaving the airport transit area) the HKSAR for a stay not exceeding 14 days.

Pre-arrival registration is not required for Indian nationals in direct transit by air and not leaving the airport transit area.

Pre-arrival registration is not applicable to Indian nationals who have the right of abode or the right to land in the HKSAR, are on unconditional stay in the HKSAR or have a valid permission to remain in the HKSAR for employment, study or residence.

Subject to normal immigration requirements being met, you may visit the HKSAR without pre-arrival registration if you:
(a) hold a valid Indian diplomatic or official passport;
(b) hold an United Nations Laissez Passer and come to the HKSAR or transit the HKSAR to/from a third place for official United Nations business;
(c) have successfully enrolled for e-Channel service for Frequent VisitorsNote;
(d) hold a valid HKSAR Travel Pass; or
(e) have obtained a valid entry visa for the HKSAR.

If you are a member of operating aircrew or operating seacrew on board vessels, or a contract seaman, you may also come to the HKSAR without pre-arrival registration, subject to normal immigration requirements being met.

If you are an Indian national intending to visit the HKSAR for a stay exceeding 14 days or intending to come to the HKSAR for a purpose other than visit (e.g. employment, study, or take up residence in the HKSAR), you must apply to the Immigration Department for an appropriate visa.

A pre-arrival registration is normally valid for a six month period or until the expiry date of the Indian passport linked to it, whichever is earlier. During the validity of the registration, the registrant may make multiple visits to the HKSAR visa-free. On each visit, the registrant may stay in the HKSAR for up to 14 days."

Problems With The New Online Pre-arrival Registration Form

1. Details (Month / Year) of Previous Visits to Hong Kong During the Last Three Years

The online form requires details (month / year) of prior visits to Hong Kong during the previous three years. This is not going to be easy because Hong Kong Immigration people stopped stamping the passports of visitors a few years ago. They have been giving small ATM-type thermal paper tokens instead on which the permitted period of stay and passport number etc. are printed. Most visitors discard the paper token after they leave Hong Kong or even leave the token at the departure immigration counter. Even if the paper token is preserved, because it is printed on a thermal paper, the ink will fade after a while. Hence, recalling the prior visits to Hong Kong during the previous three years will take some effort. One will need to dig out the old emails containing air tickets and hotel bookings. Even that will be impossible if you have travelled to Hong Kong via a ferry service with an on the spot booking of which you will have no record. Imagine you bought a ferry ticket from Macau and visited Hong Kong for a day only and did not stay in a Hong Kong hotel but instead returned to Macau at night again via a ferry. You will not have any record of that visit to Hong Kong because neither Macau nor Hong Kong have been stamping passports during the last three years.  

2. Details (Month / Year) of Previous visits to Foreign Countries/Territories During the Last Three Years

The part of the online pre-arrival registration form does not specify if the visits to foreign countries / territories includes visits to Hong Kong or are supposed to be other than Hong Kong. Again, if you have visited countries / territories like Macau that do not stamp passports, giving these details will be difficult.

3. Details of Accommodation Along With The Address / Booking Number of The Hotel

You will need to mention the exact address / phone number and booking number of the hotel in which you intend to stay during your visit to Hong Kong. It appears that making a day-visit (without overnight stay) to Hong Kong will not be possible. Many people undertake such visits from China or Macau. But since only Indian nationals are impacted, the government of the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong does not seem to care.

Here Are The Official Links

FAQ Link

Scheme Details

Link to Form

Do You Really Need To Visit Hong Kong?

If you are an Indian national and are planning to visit Hong Kong, please sit down and ponder over this. Do you really need to visit Hong Kong? I say, let us wait for this new system to cure itself.

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Posted by Narinder Singh


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I left my day job in October 2013 and became a full time blogger. I love travel and hence a travel blog was the obvious place to start from. The result is I currently live in Bengaluru, India. - Narinder Singh.


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