In 1949, Hong Kong started to require all residents to register for identity (ID) cards. The very first type of ID cards were made of paper.
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In 1960, the Registration of Persons Ordinance was implemented. Paper identity cards have been replaced by laminated cards.
In April 1977, the Immigration Department of Hong Kong started to take care of all duties relating to the registration of persons in Hong Kong
In 1983, the territory-wide Identity Card Re-issue Exercise was launched to introduce more secure ID cards.
On 1 July 1987, the second Identity Card Re-issue Exercise started where the ID cards contained a statement that says “the holder had the right of abode in Hong Kong were issued to permanent residents, and Hong Kong identity cards without such statement were issued to non-permanent residents.”
Starting on 23 June 2003, the Immigration Department started to issue Smart Identity cards to Hong Kong residents. The ID cards were turned into more secure and fraud-resistant cards. The templates of the card holder’s two thumbprints and facial image are stored in a data chip on the card where they were protected by cryptographic techniques. Personal details were engraved by laser on the card surface.
In 2004, the HK Smart ID cards were enabled for Automated Passenger Clearance System (e-Channel) at control points, including ID card holders who were permanent residents and were at age or over 11.
In 2006, the use of e-Channel was enabled for more residents including certain categories of non-permanent residents.
On 10 December 2009, the Macao Automated Passenger Clearance System was enabled for the Hong Kong Smart identity cards including residents at age persons traveling to Macao.
See more information before applying for a Hong Kong ID Card.
Sample HK ID card: