Application for Declaration of Change of Nationality

Before Applying

Application for Declaration of Change of Nationality

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Introduction

Under the Nationality Law of the People's Republic of China (CNL), Hong Kong residents who are of Chinese descent and born in Chinese territories (including Hong Kong) are regarded as Chinese citizens. They are not entitled to consular protection in the HKSAR and other parts of the People's Republic of China notwithstanding that they hold or have held British Dependent Territories Citizen passports, British National (Overseas) passport, or any other foreign passports.  If such Hong Kong residents holding foreign passports choose to be treated as foreign nationals in the HKSAR, they may make declarations of change of nationality to the HKSAR Immigration Department. Upon approval, they will no longer be regarded as Chinese citizens and can enjoy consular protection from the country of their declared nationality.

Eligibility

If the applicant is a Chinese citizen holding a foreign passport, he/she can apply for declaration of change of nationality at the HKSAR Immigration Department. The application will be approved if the applicant meets the following requirements:

  • he/she is aged 18 or over and of sound mind (if the applicant is aged under 18, the declaration should be made by his/her parent or legal guardian);
  • he/she is a Chinese national under the CNL, as explained by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress;

Nationality Law of the People’s Republic of China and the “Explanations”

  • he/she is a Hong Kong resident;
  • he/she is able to produce evidence (such as a foreign passport) to show that he/she has a foreign nationality;
  • “there is no indication that the documents he/she uses to prove his/her foreign nationality are forged or have been obtained by illegal means; and
  • he/she will not become a stateless person after disclaiming Chinese nationality.
Consequences of Declaration in Relation to Right of Abode in the HKSAR

If the applicant chooses to declare a change of his/her nationality, he/she should note that it may affect his/her right of abode in the HKSAR.

Circumstances in which the applicant can continue to enjoy the right of abode in the HKSAR

The applicant will continue to enjoy the right of abode in Hong Kong after his/her declaration of change of nationality has been approved if:

(a) the applicant had the right of abode in Hong Kong before 1 July 1997, AND

  1. he/she was settled in Hong Kong immediately before 1 July 1997; or
  2. after he/she ceased to be settled in Hong Kong immediately before 1 July 1997, he/she returned to settle in Hong Kong within 18 months commencing on 1 July 1997; or
  3. after he/she ceased to be settled in Hong Kong immediately before 1 July 1997, he/she returned to settle in Hong Kong after the period of 18 months commencing on 1 July 1997 but only if he/she had been absent from Hong Kong for a continuous period of less than 36 months.

OR

(b) the applicant is able to meet the criteria applicable to a non-Chinese citizen –

  1. he/she has entered Hong Kong with a valid travel document, has ordinarily resided in Hong Kong for a continuous period of not less than seven years and has taken Hong Kong as his/her place of permanent residence before or after the establishment of the HKSAR (the applicant is required to make a declaration in the form which the Director of Immigration stipulates that he/she has taken Hong Kong as his/her place of permanent residence); or
  2. he/she is under 21 years of age and was born in Hong Kong before or after the establishment of the HKSAR, provided that at the time of his/her birth or any time thereafter before he/she attains the age of 21, one of his/her parents has the right of abode in Hong Kong (the applicant has to re-qualify for the right of abode as other foreign nationals do when he/she reaches the age of 21); or
  3. immediately before the establishment of the HKSAR, he/she had the right of abode in Hong Kong only.

Circumstances in which the applicant will lose his/her right of abode in the HKSAR

As a person not of Chinese nationality, the applicant will lose his/her right of abode in the HKSAR if:

  1. he/she has been absent from Hong Kong for a continuous period of not less than 36 months since he/she ceased to have ordinarily resided in Hong Kong, or
  2. being a person who before the establishment of the HKSAR had the right of abode in Hong Kong only, he/she has been absent from Hong Kong for a continuous period of not less than 36 months after he/she obtained the right of abode in any place other than Hong Kong and had ceased to be ordinarily resident in Hong Kong.

If the applicant loses his/her right of abode in Hong Kong, he/she will automatically acquire the right to land, which will enable him/her to enter the HKSAR freely and to work, study or live without any restriction on the condition of stay in Hong Kong. The applicant will also be able to re-acquire the right of abode if he/she subsequently satisfies the requirements applicable to a non-Chinese citizen in paragraph (b)1 above.

Meaning of Related Terms

The following definitions will help the applicant understand the conditions under which the right of abode is extended to foreign nationals.

Settled in Hong Kong

The applicant is settled in Hong Kong if:

  • he/she is ordinarily resident in Hong Kong; and
  • he/she is not subject to any limit of stay in Hong Kong.

Ordinary residence

  • The applicant is ordinarily resident in Hong Kong if he/she remains in Hong Kong legally, voluntarily and for a settled purpose (such as for education, business, employment or residence etc.), whether of short or long duration.

The applicant shall not be treated as ordinarily resident in Hong Kong :

  1. during any period in which he/she remains in Hong Kong-
    • with or without the authority of the Director of Immigration, after landing unlawfully; or
    • in contravention of any condition of stay; or
    • as a refugee; or while in detention pending determination of refugee status or removal; or
    • while employed as a contract worker, who is from outside Hong Kong, under a Government importation of labour scheme; or
    • while employed as a domestic helper who is from outside Hong Kong; or
    • as a member of a consular post within the meaning of the Consular Relations Ordinance; or
    • as a member of the Hong Kong Garrison; or
    • as a holder of a prescribed Central People's Government travel document; or
  2. during any period of imprisonment or detention pursuant to the sentence or order of any court.

Parent and Child

The relationship of mother and child is considered to exist between a woman and any child born to her in or out of wedlock, but the relationship of father and child is considered to exist only between a man and a child born to him in wedlock (any child born out of wedlock and subsequently legitimised by the marriage of the child’s parents will be treated as if born in wedlock).  In the case of adoption, the relationship of a parent and adopted child is considered to exist only if the child is adopted in Hong Kong in accordance with the Adoption Ordinance (Cap 290).

Frequently asked questions about Chinese Nationality

Applying

Application for Declaration of Change of Nationality

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Means of Application

The application should normally be made while the applicant is in Hong Kong. Applicants can submit their applications in person or by post to :

Nationality Sub-section
Travel Documents and Nationality (Application) Section
Immigration Department
4/F, Immigration Tower
7 Gloucester Road
Wan Chai
Hong Kong

If the applicant is outside Hong Kong, he/she can send the application directly by post to the HKSAR Immigration Department at the above address or submit it in person at the nearest Chinese Diplomatic and Consular Mission.

Statement of Purpose for Data Collection

The personal data that the applicant is asked to provide in the application form will be used by the Immigration Department for one or more of the following purposes:

  • To process the applicant’s application for declaration of change of nationality;
  • To administer the Nationality Law of the People’s Republic of China and the Explanations of Some Questions by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress Concerning the Implementation of the Nationality Law of the People’s Republic of China in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region” adopted by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on 15 May 1996;
  • To administer/enforce relevant provisions of the Immigration Ordinance (Chapter 115); Immigration Service Ordinance (Chapter 331) and to assist in the enforcement of any other Ordinances and Regulations by other government bureaux and departments through carrying out immigration control duties;
  • To process other person’s application for immigration facilities in which the applicant is named as a sponsor or referee;
  • For statistical and research purposes on the condition that the resulting statistics or results of the research will not be made available in a form which will identify the data subject or any of them; and
  • Any other legitimate purposes as may be required, authorised or permitted by law.

The provision of personal data in the application process is voluntary. However, if the applicant does not provide sufficient information, the Immigration Department may not be able to process his/her declaration.

The personal data provided by the applicant may be disclosed to government bureaux, departments and other organisations for the purposes mentioned above.

The applicant has the right to request access to and correction of his/her personal data as provided for in sections 18 and 22 and Principle 6 of Schedule 1 of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance. The applicant’s right of access includes the right to obtain a copy of his/her personal data provided in the declaration form subject to the payment of a fee.

If the applicant has any questions about the personal data collected, including access and corrections to it, he/she should contact::

Chief Immigration Officer
Travel Documents and Nationality (Application) Section
Immigration Department
4/F, Immigration Tower
7 Gloucester Road
Wan Chai, Hong Kong
Telephone: (852) 2829 3093

Supporting Documents

If the applicant is aged 18 or above, he/she should produce the following documents and photocopies upon application:

  • Proof of his/her identity and Chinese nationality including:
    • Hong Kong identity card (if any);
    • birth certificate
    • valid Hong Kong Special Administrative Region passport (if any)
  • documentary proof of his/her foreign nationality (e.g., foreign passport)

If the applicant is under the age of 18, the application should be made by his/her parent or legal guardian. On top of the documents listed above, he/she should also produce proof of relationship with his/her parent or legal guardian, e.g.,

  • Hong Kong identity card or travel document of the parent/legal guardian.
  • his/her birth certificate, parents’ marriage certificate or court order granting guardianship.
  • If the applicant is under the age of 18 and married, he/she should produce his/her marriage certificate and consent from his/her parent/legal guardian is not required for the application.

(a)

For applications submitted directly to the HKSAR Immigration Department

If the applicant submits the application in person, original documents with photocopies are required. If the applicant submits the application by post to the HKSAR Immigration Department, only photocopies of the supporting documents should be sent with the application. Original documents should not be sent by post. The applicant will be required to produce the original documents for verification at subsequent interview(s). If the applicant is outside Hong Kong, he/she will have to provide the name and address of a local referee who will be contacted by the Immigration Department to produce the originals of the documents for verification.

(b)

For applications submitted through Chinese Diplomatic and Consular Missions

If the applicant submits the application in person to a Chinese Diplomatic and Consular Mission, he/she will have to show the original supporting documents for verification.

Fee

(a)

For applications submitted directly to the HKSAR Immigration Department

A fee of HK$145 is payable upon submission of application. However, the collection of fee does not constitute any guarantee or assurance that the applicant’s declaration of change of nationality will be approved. If the applicant pays by cheque or bank draft, it should be crossed and made payable to The Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. No cash should be sent along with the application.

For applications submitted by post from overseas, the bank draft should be drawn on a bank in the HKSAR in HK or US Dollars (HK$145 or US$19). If the cheque or bank draft is not drawn on a bank in the HKSAR or not in HKSAR currency, the applicant should also include a bank handling charge of HK$100 (or US$13) in the same cheque or bank draft.

Alternatively, the applicant can provide the name and address of a local referee who will pay the fee on his/her behalf after receiving notification from the Immigration Department.

The fee paid is non-refundable in all circumstances.

(b)

For applications submitted through Chinese Diplomatic and Consular Missions

If the applicant submits his/her application through a Chinese Diplomatic and Consular Mission, he/she will be required to pay a handling charge and the expenses of forwarding his/her application to the HKSAR Immigration Department in addition to the application fee mentioned in paragraph (a) above.

The fee paid is non-refundable in all circumstances.

Processing Time

It will normally take one to two weeks to process the application, excluding the time taken in delivery of the application and despatch of the confirmation letter if the application was submitted from overseas.

After Applying

Application for Declaration of Change of Nationality

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After Submission of Application

After the application for declaration of change of nationality has been approved, the applicant will be issued with a letter confirming the registration of the change. He/She will no longer be a Chinese national and will have to surrender his/her Chinese passport or HKSAR passport or certificate of naturalisation as a Chinese national (if any) for cancellation.

Under regulation 18 of the Registration of Persons Regulations, the applicant is required to report any change in particulars (such as nationality claimed) that he/she has submitted in the registration for identity card to the Registration of Persons Office. The applicant can do so by post using form ROP18, which can be downloaded through the following link.

Form ROP18: Notification of Change of Particulars Previously Registered

Registration of Persons Offices

If the Director of Immigration subsequently finds that the applicant has provided false or inaccurate information, his/her declaration of change of nationality will become null and void. Action may be taken against him/her in accordance with the law.

If the applicant declares a change of nationality and later wishes to resume Chinese nationality, he/she will need to apply for restoration of Chinese nationality. More information is available through the following link.

Application for Restoration of Chinese Nationality

Consequences of Declaration in Relation to Right of Abode in the HKSAR