How to skip the queues at Hong Kong Airport passport control

How to skip the queues at Hong Kong Airport passport control

Australian passport holders, selected frequent flyers and other regular visitors to Hong Kong can bypass the queues at the country’s passport checkpoints in favour of automated e-Channel lanes, after completing a quick registration process.

Once registered, you’ll be able to come and go from Hong Kong just like a local – whether jetting through Hong Kong International Airport, taking the ferry to Macau or crossing one of the many Chinese land borders.

Here’s what you need to know about the e-Channel service, and how you can register on your next visit to Hong Kong.

e-Channel fast-track processing Hong Kong: who’s eligible?

Under recent changes to the e-Channel scheme, all Australian passport holders are eligible for registration, even on their first visit to Hong Kong, as are travellers with passports from South Korea and Germany.

If you’re not a citizen of those countries, a shiny frequent flyer card can be just the ticket, with the service also open to Qantas Gold, Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman’s Lounge members, plus Air New Zealand Airpoints Silver, Gold and Elite flyers and all Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Club members.

Joining that list are British Airways Executive Club Silver and Gold travellers, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Gold cardholders and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Gold, PPS Club and Solitaire PPS Club members, plus the frequent flyers of many other schemes.

Following the launch of non-stop Melbourne-Hong Kong flights, Australian Business Traveller understands that Virgin Australia is reviewing its e-Channel position, but is not currently part of the program.

You can also enrol if you hold an HKSAR Travel Pass, an APEC Business Travel Card endorsed with ‘HKG’, or an HKIA Frequent Visitor Card.

If that long list still doesn’t find you eligible for enrolment, you’ll be able to register after making three trips to Hong Kong via Hong Kong International Airport on the same passport within the 12-month period prior to your registration request.

Some arrangements are also in place for residents of Macau and Singapore, and for frequent Chinese mainland visitors from Hong Kong, which we won’t cover here.

Regardless of how you’re eligible, you’ll need to have no ‘adverse record’ in Hong Kong – which means no criminal history and no record of overstaying your welcome in the country – and your passport will need to be valid for at least six more months on the date you enrol.

The age at which you can enrol varies by eligibility, with Australian passport holders able to register from 16 years of age, Koreans from 17 years, Germans from 18 years, and most other travellers who qualify through frequent flyer status or the number of visits also from 18 years.

e-Channel fast-track processing Hong Kong: how to enrol

Most travellers will find it easiest to enrol upon arriving at Hong Kong International Airport.

Complete ‘manual’ passport control one last time – and before you walk through to the baggage hall, veer to the far left or the far right to find the e-Channel registration offices.

The North Hall office is open from 10am until 6pm, while the South Hall office is open from 7:30am until 11pm daily.

You can also enrol at Hong Kong Immigration Headquarters in downtown Hong Kong at Level 7, Immigration Tower, 7 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai from 8:45am to 5pm Monday to Friday, or at the arrival hall of Macau Ferry Terminal:

Wherever you enrol, you’ll need to present your passport, sign some paperwork, have your fingerprints scanned and have a photograph taken, which can take anywhere from five to 15 minutes.

If you’re qualified by way of frequent flyer status, APEC Business Travel Card, HKSAR Travel Pass or HKIA Frequent Visitor Card, you’ll need to present this card for verification also.

Once enrolled, a barcode will be affixed to the rear of your passport, enabling your access to the e-Channel lanes at Hong Kong International Airport, Macau Ferry Terminal, China Ferry Terminal, Kai Tak Cruise Terminal and Tuen Mun Ferry Terminal.

You can also use the fast-track lanes at Lo Wu, Lok Ma Chau Spur Line, Hung Hom, Shenzhen Bay, Sha Tau Kok, Man Kam To and Lok Ma Chau – but if you’re travelling with others who are not yet enrolled in the scheme, you can still opt for manual processing at all border points to go through together.

Registration is valid until the expiry date shown on your passport photo page, so if your passport is replaced, you’ll need to complete the enrolment process again once your new passport is in-hand.

e-Channel fast-track processing Hong Kong: skipping the queues

Once enrolled, look for the e-Channel signs at Hong Kong passport control (both arrivals and departures), or for screens displaying ‘Enrolled Frequent Visitor’.

Note that some of the e-Channel lanes are reserved for Hong Kong residents and are not compatible with foreign passports – so if you notice this on the sign above, move to a different lane.

Then, simply insert your passport into the reader as shown, remove it when prompted and step through the first barrier.

The next step involves providing a fingerprint: in most cases, that’ll be your thumb or index finger, and once a match is confirmed, a small landing slip will be printed (upon arrival only) and the final gate will open.

If you are given a landing slip, take this with you and keep it with your passport for the duration of your Hong Kong stay.

Watch this one-minute video to see how everything works in practice:

You can use the e-Channel lanes an unlimited number of times while your enrolment is current – up to 10 years if you enrol when your passport is brand new – provided you always observe the immigration stay periods indicated on your landing slip and depart the country before the date shown.

As a bonus, there’s no need to complete a Hong Kong arrival or departure card when using the eChannel: you simply waltz on through like a local.

 

7 Comments

  • chris p

    Booster

    3 Aug, 2017 07:24 pm

    This makes a big difference getting into and out of HK. 
    The cues in/out in the evening are getting longer..
    It's well worth the effort which in my case was minimal as no one else was waiting so took around 5 mins.And best of all you don't loose a page in your passport (like you do with the Singapore equivalent ).Just remember to seek this out before entering the baggage claims area.(although I managed to walk back through the door into immigration without being challenged).


    No member give thanks

  • Graeme Bray

    Livewireshock

    3 Aug, 2017 10:01 pm

    While I have had this for several years, it does not help at most of the mainland border crossings during busy periods. This is due to Mainland Chinese and Foreigners being forced to use the same E-channel gates, meaning long lines and even the HK Immigration staff will direct foreigners to the shorter manual processing lines. Mainland Chinese qualify by crossing at any border point 3 times in 12 months, meaning there are many people using the E-channel, which is is a long line but still shorter than the manual processing lines. A short line is only ensured when travelling by ferry.
    No member give thanks

  • leek

    leek

    4 Aug, 2017 03:09 am

    Given you have no checkins and did online check in, go straight to T2. Most of the time, no queue is required! Yes, there's an annoying train ride, but is worth it if your gate requires a train ride anyways (ie 2XX, 5XX, 4X...), then you can just transfer to the other train.
    No member give thanks

  • Rod Yates

    Rod Yates

    4 Aug, 2017 03:33 pm

    I have been doing it for some time, as a frequent visitor but a also with my Apec Card. trouble now is that everyone will be doing it and creating long cues, of course that is unless HK airport adds more automated gates

    No member give thanks

  • HonestJohn

    HonestJohn
    Banned

    4 Aug, 2017 04:19 pm

    I'm not usually one to act like a "grammar Nazi" (especially as parts of my family were persecuted by said regime), but two people in this discussion thread have used the word "cue" in place of "queue". A cue is a stick I hold in my hands to play pool with. Pull your socks up.
    Member who gave thanks

    keips

  • tronixstuff

    tronixstuff

    8 Aug, 2017 01:42 pm

    Thanks for this, we applied on Saturday and it works a treat. 
    No member give thanks

  • memed

    memed

    12 Aug, 2017 02:23 am

    The new scheme for Australian passport holders no longer require a sticker to be attached at the back as they can now access the chip inside
    No member give thanks

Guest

18 Aug, 2017 09:12 am

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