In response to the UK launching their BN(O) visa scheme for eligible Hong Kong residents, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the PRC and the Hong Kong Government announced that they will no longer recognise BN(O) passports as valid travel documents or proof of identity with effect from 31 January 2021. For Hong Kong residents, this means that the BN(O) passport cannot be used for immigration clearance in Hong Kong or as any form of proof of identity in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong permanent residents will need to use their Hong Kong Permanent Identity Cards as proof of identity, and either their HKSAR passports or Hong Kong Permanent Identity Cards for immigration clearance when entering or departing Hong Kong. For those Hong Kong permanent residents who are not of Chinese nationality (and therefore not eligible for a HKSAR passport), and who only hold a BN(O) passport and not any other valid travel document, they may apply to the Immigration Department for a Document of Identity for Visa Purposes for international travel. Airlines will be required to ask passengers to present their HKSAR passports or Hong Kong Permanent Identity Cards or other valid travel document (except BN(O) passports) when boarding flights for Hong Kong.
It has been reported by the SCMP that Cathay Pacific, who may be concerned about the operational impact of the non-recognition of BN(O) passports, are strongly encouraging their local Hong Kong employees to stop using BN(O) passports and to use HKSAR passports as travel documents.
Kathryn Weaver, Partner and Head of Hong Kong Office
Katy Lee, Legal Assistant
Tanya Mirchandani, Paralegal
Local Cathay Pacific aircrew have been asked to switch their British National (Overseas) passports to Hong Kong SAR ones by February 28, after China’s decision to no longer recognise the BN(O) as a travel document or proof of identity.