Hong Kong identity cards are issued in the form of smart cards, each embedded with an integrated circuit or ‘chip’ that stores and processes data. This webpage sets out information on the types of smart identity card, its physical features, the benefits and obligations of using the identity card, how the holder’s personal data is protected and where to read a list of frequently asked questions about the smart identity card.
There are two types of smart identity card:
Starting from 26 November 2018, a new form of smart identity card has been issued to replace the existing smart identity card. The new smart identity card has improved in its durability, security features as well as the chip technology and protection of personal data.
(1) Paper Identity Card
The earliest identity cards issued were made of stiff paper in yellow, pink and light blue colours.
(2) Laminated Identity Card
Laminated identity card was introduced in June 1960. It bore the photograph and the left thumbprint of the card holder on the front while the reverse side contained the name and other personal particulars.
(3) New Laminated Identity Card
A revised laminated identity card was introduced in November 1973. Changes included textual modification, removal of thumbprint impression and addition of place of birth.
(4) First Generation Computerised Hong Kong Identity Card
The first generation computerised identity card was introduced in March 1983 and the territory-wide identity card replacement exercise was commenced in phases.
(5) Second Generation Computerised Hong Kong Identity Card
From July 1987, a revised computerised identity card was issued in phases for use beyond July 1, 1997. The second generation computerised identity card was introduced in two types: Hong Kong permanent identity card and Hong Kong identity card. The Hong Kong permanent identity card contained a statement that the holder has the right of abode in Hong Kong.
(6) Smart Identity Card
The Immigration Department started issuing smart identity cards from June 23, 2003. Featuring state-of-art technologies, the smart identity card stores in its microchip the template of the holder's thumbprints, which serves as a very effective deterrent against counterfeits.
(7) New Smart Identity Card
Coupling with the implementation of the Next Generation Smart Identity Card System, the new smart identity card has been issued starting from 26 November 2018 to replace the existing ones. There is enhancement in security features, card durability as well as chip technology and personal data protection of the new smart identity cards.
The smart identity card is the size of a standard credit card, and is made from polycarbonate, a durable material strongly resistant to environmental influences as well as mechanical, chemical and thermal stress. Each smart identity card is embedded with an integrated circuit or ‘chip’ that stores and processes data. Besides, to cater for the needs of the visually impaired, the six digits of an identity card number (excluding the prefix and the number in bracket) can be printed in braille on the back of a smart identity card in order to facilitate the visually impaired to identify their identity cards. Apart from the braille printings as mentioned above, a braille-printed smart identity card has no difference with other smart identity cards.
Card Face Design
The front and back faces of the smart identity card (including braille-printed smart identity card for the visually impaired) are shown as follows:
|Smart Identity Card with date of issue between 23 June 2003 and 24 November 2018
|Smart Identity Card with date of issue starting from 26 November 2018
|Front of the smart Identity Card
|Back of the smart identity card
|Back of the braille-printed smart identity card
Information on the front of the Smart Identity Card
|Holder’s eligibility for a HKSAR Re-entry Permit
|The holder is aged 18 or over and is eligible for a HKSAR Re-entry Permit
|The holder is aged between 11 and 17 and is eligible for a HKSAR Re-entry Permit
|Holder’s residential status in the HKSAR
|The holder has the right of abode in the HKSAR
|The holder’s stay in the HKSAR is limited by the Director of Immigration at the time of registration of the card
|The holder has the right to land in the HKSAR
|The holder’s stay in the HKSAR is not limited by the Director of Immigration at the time of registration of the card
|Holder’s reported place of birth
|The holder’s reported date of birth or place of birth has been changed since first registration
|The holder’s reported name has been changed since first registration
|The digit or alphabet in brackets is not part of the identity card number. It is used to facilitate computer data processing
The chip of new smart identity card issued from 26 November 2018 is placed at the back with contactless interface. It stores the data showing on the card face and has segregated compartments that support immigration applications and non-immigration applications.
For details of non-immigration applications, please visit the webpage of the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer:
To combat forgery, the smart identity card has a number of sophisticated features. More information is available through the following link:
Photo on the smart identity card should show your full frontal face with clear facial features.
The following situations will not be accepted if you in the photo are:
Tips to get a good photo on smart identity card
Photo Taking Tips for Application of Hong Kong Identity Card
The benefits of using a smart identity card are as follows:
Smart identity card holder can use the Multi-purpose Self-service General Application Kiosk to:
No fees are charged for using these kiosks. Information on kiosk locations is available through the following links.
While enjoying the benefits of its advanced technology, holders of a Smart Identity Card should remember that the smart identity card is an important identification document. Although the card is made of a very durable and secure base material, the holder needs to protect it properly against damage. The following guidelines will help in keeping the card in good condition at all times:
Smart identity card holders are obliged to keep their cards in proper condition and carry them at all times. If the card is lost, destroyed, damaged or defaced, the holder must apply for a new card at a Registration of Persons Office within 14 days, or within 14 days of his/her return if he/she is outside Hong Kong. Recovered cards must be surrendered to a Registration of Persons Office or police station.
Personal data on the smart identity card are fully protected by the following measures: