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Information Systems Branch

The Information Systems Branch is headed by an Assistant Director. It handles all matters concerning development and operation of information systems, records management and personal data privacy of the Department.

To cope with the ever changing social and economic environment, the Department has been proactively formulating its information systems strategy to keep pace with the digital era of the 21st century and has been exploring the advanced technologies for delivering efficient and quality services to the public.

Organisation Chart of
the Information Systems Branch

The Information Systems Branch comprises four divisions and is tasked to take charge of the information systems and related matters of the Department. The Information Systems (Development) Division is responsible for formulating and implementing the Department’s information systems strategy, developing new information systems to meet the future business needs. The Information Systems (Production) Division is responsible for management and security of information systems in operation as well as on-going enhancement of the information systems and related processes. The Records and Data Management Division is responsible for all issues relating to data privacy, access to information and management of departmental records. The Technology Services Division provides technical support for the maintenance and development of information systems in the Department. The former three divisions are each headed by a Principal Immigration Officer while the Technology Services Division is under the charge of a Chief Systems Manager.

Systems in Operation

Automated Passenger and Vehicle Clearance Systems (e-Channel)

The e-Channel enables transformation of
the traditional ‘one-officer-one-counter
/ kiosk’ clearance to self-service
immigration clearance.

The e-Channel is an automated system integrated with various technologies and unique business process to enable transformation of the traditional ‘one-officer-one-counter / kiosk’ clearance to self-service immigration clearance. By leveraging the smart identity card and biometric verification technologies, e-Channel service was first rolled out at control points in December 2004 for use by Hong Kong permanent residents. After implementation of the e-Channels, savings have been realised for redeployment to other areas of more pressing needs. In January 2006, after the enactment of Immigration (Amendment) Ordinance 2005, e-Channel service was extended to Hong Kong residents holding Document of Identity for Visa Purposes and in September 2006 to those who have the right to land or are on unconditional stay as well as non-permanent residents who have been issued with a notification label. Eligible Hong Kong residents who are aged 11 or over holding a smart identity card may perform self-service immigration clearance via the e-Channel.

In December 2007, the e-Channel service at the Lo Wu Control Point was extended to cross boundary primary school students under the age of 11. At present, there are six designated e-Channels at Lo Wu Control Point for cross-boundary students.

Officer providing e-Channel enrolment
service to eligible visitors.

In May 2008, the e-Channel service at the Airport was extended to frequent visitors aged 18 or above holding HKSAR Travel Pass, Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation Business Travel Card with the economy code 'HKG' or Hong Kong International Airport Frequent Visitor Card. The e-Channel service was extended to eligible members of frequent flyer programmes of various airlines with effect from 7 September 2009. From late April 2012, frequent visitors holding a valid travel document who do not require an entry visa / permit for entering Hong Kong, who have made visits to Hong Kong by air via the Hong Kong International Airport not less than three times within the past 12 months immediately before enrolment, and who have no adverse record in Hong Kong may enrol for e-Channel service at the enrolment office in the Airport. The e-Channel service for these enrolled frequent visitors has been extended to Lo Wu, Lok Ma Chau Spur Line, Shenzhen Bay, Man Kam To, China Ferry Terminal, Macau Ferry Terminal and Kai Tak Cruise Terminal Control Points.

To enhance the travel convenience between Hong Kong and Macao, from 10 December 2009 onwards, enrolled Macao permanent residents can use the Macao Resident e-Channels installed at the Macau Ferry Terminal and the China Ferry Terminal. The Macao Resident e-Channel service was extended to Tuen Mun Ferry Terminal in July 2011. At present, enrolled Macao permanent residents may also use the e-Channel service at Lo Wu, Lok Ma Chau Spur Line, Shenzhen Bay, Man Kam To, Kai Tak Cruise Terminal and Airport Control Points. Besides, eligible Hong Kong residents can use the Macao Automated Passenger Clearance System (i.e. autogates) at control points in Macao.

Express e-Channels at Lo Wu
Control Point

In March 2009, the Express e-Channel pilot scheme was introduced at the Lo Wu Control Point to provide faster e-Channel service to enrolled Hong Kong residents aged 18 or above who are existing e-Channel users. At present, there are 30 Express e-Channels at Lo Wu Control Point.

The Department keeps on expanding
the e-Channel service target group
to allow more passengers to enjoy
such service.

Starting from 5 December 2011, eligible Mainland frequent visitors may enrol for e-Channel service. Enrolled Mainland frequent visitors may use e-Channels at Lo Wu and Lok Ma Chau Spur Line Control Points with effect from 3 January 2012. The service was extended to Shenzhen Bay, Man Kam To, China Ferry Terminal, Macau Ferry Terminal, Kai Tak Cruise Terminal and Airport Control Points by stages. Meanwhile, other enrolled frequent visitors including foreigners, Taiwan residents and Macao permanent resident identity card holders may also enjoy the e-Channel service at these control points. As at the end of December 2013, a total of 95 e-Channels were installed for visitors and around 685 000 Mainland frequent visitors and 346 000 other frequent visitors had successfully enrolled for the service. The Department also plans to open up the e-Channel service to eligible electronic Exit-Entry Permit holders upon the introduction of electronic Exit-Entry Permit by the Mainland authorities.

e-Channel with voice navigation
function facilitates visually impaired
persons to perform self-service

On 19 September 2013, the Department launched the first e-Channel with voice navigation function in the world for the visually impaired persons to perform self-service departure clearance at Lok Ma Chau Spur Line Control Point. To use the service, the persons should first press the activation button at the entrance of the e-Channel to initiate the voice navigation function and voice instructions would be delivered to guide them to complete the clearance process. The Department has planned to provide the same service at the arrival level of Lok Ma Chau Spur Line Control Point and the arrival and departure halls of Macau Ferry Terminal in 2014, and will consider extending the service to other control points.

The signing of Memorandum of
Understanding concerning the use of
automated clearance service on a
mutual basis marks a new milestone
in the co-operation between Hong
Kong and the Republic of Korea
in immigration matters.

The Department signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the use of automated clearance service on a mutual basis with the Korea Immigration Service on 30 July 2013, allowing for greater travel convenience for holders of the HKSAR passport and the Republic of Korea passport. With effect from 12 December 2013, holders of the HKSAR passport are able to enrol for the automated immigration clearance service in the Republic of Korea whilst holders of the Republic of Korea passport are also able to enrol for the e-Channel service in Hong Kong. The Department is actively discussing with other countries and territories on the mutual use of automated immigration clearance service and it is expected that more countries and territories will become our partners.

Entry / Exit Processing and Records System (EXPRESS)

The EXPRESS is an online information system, which provides efficient and reliable computer service to facilitate speedy clearance of passengers at control points. It also maintains travel records for enquiry purpose.

Officers at control point using the
Portable Clearance Device to perform
immigration clearance service for
enrolled cross-boundary students.

Starting from late August 2012, simplified clearance procedure for cross-boundary students had been implemented by phases at Lok Ma Chau Spur Line, Shenzhen Bay, Lok Ma Chau, Sha Tau Kok and Man Kam To Control Points, and the procedure was extended to Lo Wu Control Point in the 2013-14 school year. With the use of Portable Clearance Devices, more effective and expeditious immigration clearance service was provided to the enrolled cross-boundary students.

The Department has implemented
the non-stamping immigration
clearance arrangement to simplify
the immigration clearance procedure.

To provide more efficient immigration clearance services, the Department introduced the non-stamping immigration clearance arrangement for all visitors on 19 March 2013. All arriving visitors at control points will be issued with landing slips in lieu of stamping on their travel documents. Upon departure, no slip will be issued and their travel documents will not be stamped. The non-stamping immigration clearance arrangement was further extended to non-permanent Hong Kong residents on 19 December 2013.

Deployment Information and Command System (DICS)

Comprising closed circuit television, immigration clearance statistics and counter assignment information, the DICS strengthens the operational efficiency of control points and facilitates the management to monitor the traffic situation real time for flexible deployment of staff.

Face Recognition System (FACES)

The FACES is effective in detecting people who attempt to circumvent immigration control by using different identities. The system facilitates the work of officers at control points, investigation offices and visa-control offices to verify the identity of suspected passengers, immigration offenders and visa applicants.

Smart Identity Card System (SMARTICS)

The SMARTICS is an on-line information system that supports the whole process of smart identity card production, from appointment booking, registration, production to issue of smart identity cards. The system laid the foundation for the introduction of Automated Passenger Clearance System and Automated Vehicle Clearance System. Besides, the card also supports other non-immigration functions, such as library card and storage of e-Certificate, thus promoting e-Government and e-Commerce.

Electronic Passport (e-Passport) System

Travel Document
Personalisation Centre

The e-Passport System supports one-stop-shop passport application service, including appointment booking, application processing, and issuance of travel documents. By adopting the latest information technology, it achieves a paperless working environment and produces electronic passports with more advanced security features. In order to provide better service to the public, a pilot programme has been launched since 29 December 2011 for eligible applicants aged 11 to 17 to submit their passport applications through self-service kiosks at the Immigration Headquarters.

Application and Investigation Easy System (APPLIES) and Electronic Records Programme (ERP)

Case processing becomes more
efficient with the implementation of

APPLIES is an on-line information system for processing applications for visas, permits, travel passes, registration matters relating to births, deaths, marriage and investigation cases. Following the full implementation of APPLIES in December 2008, electronic records can be stored and retrieved via computer workstations. Through the new electronic records and document management systems, there has been service improvement in processing applications and registration matters mentioned above. By adopting advanced technologies and designs, the system is able to handle and maintain operational and administrative records in an efficient and paperless manner. With the interface with the new Electronic Services System, the public can enjoy e-Services, including booking of appointments and submission of applications through the Internet.

iPermit System

The iPermit System was implemented on 18 March 2002 to support the issue of entry permits to visitors from Taiwan. Applications are submitted through authorised airlines in Taiwan and sent to Hong Kong electronically through the Internet. The result is made known to the applicant in just a few minutes. It significantly enhances the travel convenience of Taiwan residents.

Travel Pass Issuing System

The Travel Pass Issuing System supports the issue of Travel Pass to frequent visitors to Hong Kong. The information on the machine-readable Travel Pass is captured through optical character recognition readers and holders can enjoy speedy immigration clearance at the ‘Hong Kong Residents’ counters at control points.

Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) Business Travel Card Issuing System

HKSAR Travel Pass holder and
APEC Business Travel Card
holder are able to enroll for
using e-Channel service.

Hong Kong has participated in the APEC Business Travel Card Scheme since 29 May 1998. By making use of the Electronic Data Interchange System, the Scheme facilitates pre-cleared entry of accredited business people to the participating economies of the Asia-Pacific region. Business travel card holders coming to Hong Kong can use the 'Hong Kong Resident' counters at control points for immigration clearance.

Government Office Automation (GOA) System

The GOA System enables speedy communication and dissemination of information through electronic means within the Department as well as among bureaux and departments of the HKSAR Government.

Government-to-Employee (G2E) Applications

The e-Leave application is the first government-to-employee project. All staff members of the Department can access the web-based application to process their leave applications as well as calculate and keep track of leave records through any networked computer workstation in the Department.

Operations and Administration Support Information System (OASIS)

The OASIS is an online information system which aims at enhancing productivity in operational and administrative areas. It facilitates management of information relating to personnel, stores and inventory. It also supports electronic compilation of duty roster and improves efficiency of staff deployment at control points.

Electronic Records (Administrative) System (e-Records(Adm))

The e-Records (Adm) System helps
our staff improve efficiency in
handling administrative records
in the Department.

The e-Records (Adm) System is an electronic records and document management system developed under the Electronic Records Programme. Leveraging advanced information technology and making use of GOA workstations and scanners, the system aims to improve efficiency in handling administrative records in the Department. Since April 2008, all staff of the Department can use the system to handle administrative records.


The Intranet Portal frontpage

The Intranet provides an electronic channel for fast dissemination of multi-media information; enhances communications among staff; and acts as a platform for online computer-based training within the Department. In 2013, the number of visits to the Intranet Portal was over 2 million, with a daily average of over 6 000 visits.

Immigration Department's Homepage

To better serve the public, the Department has set up a homepage since 31 May 1996. Internet users can browse the latest information of the Department from the homepage and access websites of other related government departments / organisations. In 2013, the number of visits to the homepage was over 6 million with a daily average over 17 000.

Data Warehousing Information System (DWIS)

The DWIS improves the provision of various statistical analyses that facilitate the management in decision making and resources planning.

Mobile Application (Mobile App)

The Hong Kong Immigration
Mobile Application

On 5 December 2013, the Department launched the Hong Kong Immigration Mobile Application to facilitate the Hong Kong residents and visitors to obtain information of the estimated passenger waiting time at all land boundary control points and other information such as office hours of all immigration offices anytime anywhere. The estimated passenger waiting time assessment is updated about every 15 minutes. It aims to serve as a reference for Hong Kong residents and visitors to choose the land boundary control point and the time to travel at their convenience. As at 31 December 2013, over 56 000 downloads had been recorded.

Records and Data Management

The Department attaches great importance to personal data privacy and records management; and is committed to ensuring that all personal data and records are handled in accordance with the provisions of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance, relevant laws, regulations and guidelines. Departmental policies, guidelines and procedures on personal data protection and records management are set out, regularly reviewed and updated to ensure staff compliance in proper handling of personal data and management of records. Training sessions, seminars and workshops are conducted to enhance staff awareness in personal data privacy protection and good records management as well as staff competence in handling data access requests and access to information applications.

Electronic Services

The Department provides various
electronic services which have
been well received by the public.

New electronic services have been implemented by phases at GovHK website since 30 October 2007. Up to 31 December 2013, members of the public can use the following electronic services via the GovHK website:

Electronic Submission

Since 2000, the Department has been accepting electronic information sent by members of the public in specified format, manner and procedures requesting immigration services in accordance with the provisions of the Electronic Transactions Ordinance. Examples are provision of prescribed particulars of crew and passengers by an aircraft captain under the Immigration Ordinance and making a request for the Certificate of Registrar of Marriage for marriage to be solemnised in church under the Marriage Ordinance. Details can be found at the Department’s homepage:

Electronic Forms

Apart from accepting applications submitted by applicants in person or by post, the Department has devised electronic forms for the public to fill in and submit through the Internet for the following purposes:

These electronic forms can be downloaded from the Department’s homepage.

Implementation of the Third Information Systems Strategy

To take forward the third Information Systems Strategy Review (ISS-3) recommendations, the tenders of the first ISS-3 project for the implementation of the New Information Technology Infrastructure and the first Data Centre service were awarded in late 2013. Related system design and development then commenced. The Finance Committee of the Legislative Council approved the funding commitment for the second ISS-3 project of the New Immigration Control System on 8 February 2013. The new system is to cope with continuous passenger growth and to tie in with the future needs and developments of all existing and new control points. The tendering exercise is in progress and phased implementation of the new system was scheduled between late 2015 and mid-2016.

The Feasibility Studies of the other two ISS-3 projects for the implementation of the Next Generation Smart Identity Card System and Electronic Passport System commenced in August 2013 and October 2013 respectively. The studies, among other things, will identify the improvement areas of the current systems and recommend the best options for implementation with cost and benefit analysis. The studies are scheduled to complete in mid-2014. For remaining ISS-3 projects including the next generation systems for visa matters and births, deaths and marriage registration, etc, relevant feasibility studies will be conducted as planned.


The Hong Kong People Engineering Wonders in the 21st Century

The Hong Kong People
Engineering Wonders
in the 21st Century

The Automated Passenger Clearance System (e-Channel) was awarded in the Hong Kong People Engineering Wonders in the 21st Century by the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers on 20 April 2013.

The Hong Kong Information and Communications Technology Awards 2013

The Best Public
Service Application
Bronze Award of the
Hong Kong ICT
Awards 2013

On 8 April 2013, the Cross-boundary Students Clearance System won the Bronze Award of the Best Public Service Application (Transformation) in the Hong Kong Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Awards 2013.