e-Channel, also known as The Automated Passenger Clearance System, is a border control system introduced by the Hong Kong Immigration Department in 2004, designed to speed up border immigration processes for residents of Hong Kong, Macau and frequent visitors to Hong Kong entering and exiting the territory whether it be by land, air or sea via the use of self-service kiosks employed at various border control points.
Basic Requirements to use the e-Channels
- A Hong Kong permanent resident aged 11 or above (using a smart identity card)
- A Hong Kong resident aged 11 or above holding a Document of Identity for Visa Purposes (using a smart identity card and carrying a valid Document of Identity for Visa Purposes)
- A person aged 11 or above who has the right to land or is on unconditional stay in Hong Kong (using a smart identity card)
- A non-permanent resident issued with a notification label (using a smart identity card and carrying a valid travel document)
- A registered cross-boundary primary school student under the age of 11 (using the enrolled valid travel document)
- A registered frequent visitor aged 18 or above (using the enrolled valid travel document)
- A registered Macau permanent resident aged 11 or above (using a Macau permanent identity card)
- A registered Republic of Korea citizen aged 17 or above and enrolled under Smart Entry Service (SES) scheme (using the Republic of Korea Passport valid for at least 6 months and having no adverse record in the HKSAR)
- An enrolled holder of a Republic of Singapore Passport aged 11 or above (using a Republic of Singapore Passport valid for at least 6 months, completed 3 trips in past 12 months and having no adverse record in the HKSAR)
- An enrolled holder of a Federal Republic of Germany Passport aged 18 or above (using a Federal Republic of Germany Passport valid for at least 6 months and having no adverse record in the HKSAR)
- An enrolled holder of an Australian Passport aged 16 or above (using an Australian Passport valid for at least 6 months and having no adverse record in the HKSAR)
The user upon entrance to the e-Channel inserts his Hong Kong Identity Card into the card reader (which reads the embedded chip) or place his registered travel document / Macau Identity Card onto the document reader, the channel gate will open, the user takes his resident card and steps in and the gate will close behind him, next he would be requested to place his thumb or finger onto the fingerprint reader, once identity has been confirmed, another set of gates in front of him will open allowing him to pass. If an issue arises whether identity cannot be confirmed or a malfunction occurs, an immigration supervisor will be on hand to assist.
First made available on 16 December 2004 in Lo Wu Control Point, over the past several years the locations have expanded to include:
- Hong Kong International Airport (T1 & T2)
- Lo Wu
- Hung Hom
- Lok Ma Chau Spur Line
- Lok Ma Chau
- Man Kam To
- Sha Tau Kok
- Shenzhen Bay
- Hong Kong China Ferry Terminal
- Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Terminal
- Kai Tak Cruise Terminal
- Tuen Mun Ferry Terminal
By allowing registered users to utilise the self-service kiosks to pass through Hong Kong immigration, processing time averages around 12 seconds making E-channels far more efficient than traditional immigration counters.
Since its first inception where only Right to Abode Hong Kong Permanent Identity Card holders were permitted to use the self-service kiosks, the program expanded on 12 September 2006; allowing not only those of Right to Land or those with unconditional stay in Hong Kong but also to those residents and non-residents with notification labels to use the E-Channels.
The program was expanded further again on 10 December 2009 to allow holders of Macau Resident Identity Card to register for and use of the Hong Kong E-channels to enter and exit the territory.
Vice versa, Macau have reciprocated and have their set of E-Channels and Hong Kong ID Card holders can register for those as well. Border cities to Macau and Hong Kong on the Mainland China's side - Zhuhai and Shenzhen (respectively) have their set of E-channels for use of the Home Return Permit cards.
Example: A Hong Kong resident arrives at Lo Wu and passes through Hong Kong's E-Channel with his Hong Kong Identity Card allowing him to exit Hong Kong, upon approaching a border check point at Shenzhen, he uses his Home Return Permit on China's E-Channel to enter Mainland China. Thereby cutting down time compared with using traditional immigration counters.
A Hong Kong resident departs from the Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Terminal clearing through Hong Kong immigration via E-channel, upon arrival of Macau's Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal, he can use his Hong Kong Identity Card to clear through Macau's set of E-Channels, instead of queuing up at immigration counters.
Frequent Visitor Automated Passenger Clearance
Not only has Macau Resident Card holders been permitted to register for this program but frequent visitors to Hong Kong can register for this as well, this is known as Frequent Visitor Automated Passenger Clearance, you would need a valid travel document with a multiple visit visa (if applicable), plus on one of the following documents:
- A valid HKSAR Travel Pass or
- An APEC Business Travel Card with the economy code ‘HKG’ or
- Hong Kong International Airport Frequent Visitor Card or
- Frequent Flyer Programme Membership Card issued by an airline which has joined this arrangement (please enquire with your airline).
e-Channel Service for foreign nationals
The Frequent Visitor program was further expanded to nationals of the following countries. Such arrangements are recipocal and eligible HKSAR passport holders may also enrol for the respective automated border clearance schemes under these countries:
- Republic of Korea enrolled under Smart Entry Service (SES) scheme (Since 16 December 2013)
- Singapore (Since 22 September 2014)
- Germany (Since 1 November 2014)
- Australia (Since 20 June 2016)
One Stop Customs and Immigration Clearance
A special vehicular E-Channel has been erected for Shenzhen Bay known as One Stop Customs and Immigration Clearance for goods vehicle passing through the Shenzhen Bay Control Point, indicating how versatile this system is, and an asset for the Hong Kong Immigration Department[clarification needed].
- Smartgate - a similar system operated in Australia and New Zealand
- ePassport gates - a similar system operated in the United Kingdom
- Smart entry service - a similar system operated in the Republic of Korea
- Global Entry
- NEXUS (frequent traveler program)
- Airport of Entry
- Port of entry