Immigration Department (Hong Kong)

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Immigration Department
HK Immigration Logo.svg
Agency overview
Formed4 August 1961[1]
JurisdictionHong Kong
HeadquartersImmigration Tower, 7 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai
Minister responsible
Agency executive
  • Erick Tsang Kwok-wai, Director
WebsiteOfficial website
Immigration Department
Traditional Chinese入境事務處
Pre-handover Name
Traditional Chinese人民入境事務處
Politics and government
of Hong Kong
Related topics Flag of Hong Kong.svg Hong Kong portal

The Immigration Department (Chinese: 入境事務處, known as 人民入境事務處 before the 1997 transfer of sovereignty) of the Government of Hong Kong is responsible for immigration control of Hong Kong. After the People's Republic of China assumed sovereignty of the territory in July 1997, Hong Kong's immigration system remained largely unchanged from its British predecessor model. Residents from mainland China do not have the right of abode in Hong Kong, nor can they enter the territory freely, both before and after 1997. There are different regulations that apply to residents of Macau, another Special Administrative Region of China. In addition, visa-free entry acceptance regulations into Hong Kong for passport holders of some 170 countries remain unchanged before and after 1997.

In a special arrangement, although Hong Kong's residents of Chinese descent are defined as citizens of the People's Republic of China, as stipulated by the Basic Law, Hong Kong's Immigration Department is independently responsible for issuing Hong Kong SAR passports for Hong Kong residents who are also PRC citizens seeking international travel.


Flag of Immigration Department, 1988–1997.
Badge of Immigration Department, 1988–1997.

Prior to the 1950s, immigration to Hong Kong was not controlled by the government of Hong Kong and migrants freely entered Hong Kong. But the end of World War II the influx of migrants from China to Hong Kong to flee Communist rule resulted in immigration control.

From 1949 to 1961, registration of persons with identification was required under the Registration of Persons Ordinance 1949 and established a Commissioner of Registration.

Until the establishment of Immigration Department on 4 August 1961, immigration control in Hong Kong was handled by the Hong Kong Police Force.[2] The Immigration Service Ordinance 1961 created the new department in charge of immigration control. Later in 1977, the department enlarged its functions to cover registration of persons by amalgamating with the Registration of Persons Office and Director of Immigration also assumed as Commissioner of Registration.[3] In 1979, the department took over from the Registrar General civil registration duties and the Director of Immigration was appointed as Registrar of Births and Deaths, and Registrar of Marriages.

The Department is headquartered in the Immigration Tower in Wan Chai North.


Immigration Centre and Immigration Service Institute of Training and Development in Castle Peak Bay, Tuen Mun

The Department performs the following role.

Directors of the Immigration Department (Since 1 July 1997)[edit]

British National (Overseas)[edit]

The Immigration Department was responsible for BN(O) passport applications and data prior to 1 July 1997. Prior to the handover, all information was transferred to the British Consulate-General, Hong Kong.

Inquiries in regards to BN(O)s are now made to any British diplomatic missions overseas.

See also[edit]


As with all of the HK Disciplined Services, British-pattern ranks and insignia continue to be utilised, the only change being the exchange of the St. Edward's Crown for the Bauhinia Flower crest post-1997.

  • Director of Immigration (similar insignia to a UK General)
  • Deputy Director of Immigration (similar insignia to a UK Lieutenant-General)
  • Assistant Director of Immigration (similar insignia to a UK Major-General)
  • Senior Principal Immigration Officer (similar insignia to a UK Colonel)
  • Principal Immigration Officer (similar insignia to a UK Lieutenant-Colonel)
  • Assistant Principal Immigration Officer (similar insignia to a UK Major)
  • Chief Immigration Officer (similar insignia to a UK Captain)
  • Senior Immigration Officer (similar insignia to a UK Lieutenant with a silver bar beneath)
  • Immigration Officer (similar insignia to a UK Lieutenant)
  • Immigration Officer (Probationary) (similar insignia to a UK Second Lieutenant) (with effect from 19 April 2010)
  • Assistant Immigration Officer (similar insignia to a UK Second Lieutenant) (rank discontinued in November 1998)
  • Chief Immigration Assistant (three silver bars)
  • Senior Immigration Assistant (two silver bars)
  • Immigration Assistant (silver bar)[5]


The current crest of the force was adopted in 1997 to replace most of the colonial symbols:

  • St Edward's Crown replace with Bauhinia
  • Laurel wreath remains but badge with wording Immigration Service – HK" replace with an image of Tsing Ma Bridge is added
  • Motto added with wording "Hong Kong Immigration 香港入境處"

Source: Immigration Department (Hong Kong)


Instead of the Smith & Wesson Model 10 revolver widely distributed between disciplinary services in Hong Kong, the officers are trained in the use of, and issued, the ASP expandable baton and the Sabre Red pepper spray for self-defence options.

A type of pepper gun is also standard issue equipment for officers stationed at the Immigration Service Institute of Training and Development, due to one incident of arson at the Immigration Tower in 2000.

List of notable activists refused entry to Hong Kong[edit]

Name Time
Chen Wei-ting June 2014[6]
Benedict Rogers October 2017[7]
Chang Tieh-chih (張鐵志) December 2017[8][9][10]
Victor Mallet November 2018[11]
Freddy Lim December 2018[12]
Conchita Carpio-Morales May 2019[13]
Albert del Rosario June 2019[14]
Feng Congde June 2019[15]
Dan Garrett September 2019[16][17]


  1. ^ Press Release
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Registration of Persons Department
  4. ^ "Hong Kong Travel Documents". Retrieved 11 November 2012.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Hong Kong Denies Entry to Taiwan Author Who Supported Pro-Democracy Movement". Radio Free Asia. Retrieved 9 October 2019.
  7. ^ Lee, Danny. "British human rights activist refused entry to Hong Kong". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  8. ^ Ng, Kang-chung; Leung, Christy. "Taiwanese politics and culture commentator Chang Tieh-chih barred from entering Hong Kong". SCMP. Retrieved 9 October 2019.
  9. ^ Tong, Elson; Cheng, Kris. "Taiwanese writer Chang Tieh-chih says he was denied entry to Hong Kong". Hong Kong Free Press. Retrieved 9 October 2019.
  10. ^ Miao, Zong-han; Chang, S.C. "Taiwan protests after culture official denied entry to Hong Kong". Focus Taiwan. Retrieved 9 October 2019.
  11. ^ Lum, Alvin; Su, Xinqi; Sum, Lok-kei; Ng, Naomi. "British Journalist Victor Mallet denied entry to Hong Kong as tourist". SCMP. Retrieved 22 September 2019.
  12. ^ Chan, Holmes. "Hong Kong says pro-independence Taiwan band member barred as he lacks 'special skills, knowledge or experience'". Hong Kong Free Press. Retrieved 25 September 2019.
  13. ^ Calonzo, Andreo. "Philippine Official Who Sued Xi Says Denied Hong Kong Entry". Bloomberg. Retrieved 26 September 2019.
  14. ^ "Ex-Filipino minister denied entry to HK: lawyer". RTHK. Retrieved 26 September 2019.
  15. ^ "Ex-Tiananmen leader denied entry into Hong Kong ahead of June 4". Hong Kong Economic Journal. Retrieved 4 September 2019.
  16. ^ "Academic denied entry to HK after US testimony". RTHK. Retrieved 8 October 2019.
  17. ^ "US academic denied Hong Kong entry after US Congress testimony". ABS-CBN News. Agence France-Presse. Retrieved 8 October 2019.

Order of precedence[edit]

Preceded by
Hong Kong Police Force
Immigration Department (Hong Kong) since 1961 Succeeded by

External links[edit]