Fabulous Fridays: Hong Kong Automated e-Channel Registration For Foreign Visitors

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Our Fabulous Friday topic this week is the Automated Visitor e-Channel Program in Hong Kong that allows nationals of certain countries to quickly register and then use the e-channel for immigration.

These automated entry/exit channels can make a huge difference as the lines at Hong Kong International Airport and the Macau Ferry Terminals can be very long at times.

The system has been in place for quite some time now (actually John wrote an article about it in 2013 – see here) but the qualification and enrollment criteria changes every now and then.

Previously one needed three entries into Hong Kong within the last 12 months or be a member of  frequent flyer program participating in the eChannel program. This has now been apparently been relaxed and the Frequent Visitor Card program which previously served as the basis for eChannel enrollment is no longer in operation.

Interested participants are now directed to the Hong Kong Immigration website where the requirements are outlined.

Detailed questions can also be directed via email to: fv_echannel@immd.gov.hk

I just updated my membership this week as I changed to a new passport which was done quickly and efficiently.

Unfortunately they now don’t assign a barcode sticker anymore which was very convenient but for new registrations require the entire passport data page to be scanned. For this purpose you have to press it flat on the scanner which really isn’t great for passports but well, no choice here.

All nationals (restrictions are not apparent) are eligible for the eChannel registration but some are participation on a reciprocal basis between Hong Kong and their home country:

  • Australia
  • Germany
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Thailand

Australian, German and Korean nationals are not required to fulfill any secondary criteria such as being a member of a frequent flyer program or having three entries within the last 12 months. This is still required for Thai and Singapore nationals.

Australian Business Traveller has previously compiled a list of participating airlines (read more here):

  • Air Canada
  • Air China
  • Air France
  • Air New Zealand: Airpoints Silver, Gold, Gold Elite
  • ANA
  • Asiana Airlines
  • British Airways: Executive Club Silver, Gold
  • Cathay Pacific: all Marco Polo members
  • Dragonair
  • China Airlines
  • China Southern
  • Delta
  • Ethiopian
  • Eva Airways
  • Finnair
  • Hainan Airlines
  • Hong Kong Airlines
  • Hong Kong Express
  • Japan Airlines: Mileage Bank Fly On Crystal, Sapphire, Premier, Diamond; JAL Global Club
  • Jet Airways
  • Kingfisher
  • KLM
  • Korean Air: all Morning Calm members
  • Lufthansa: Miles & More Frequent Traveller, Senator, HON Circle
  • Malaysia Airlines: Enrich Silver, Gold and Platinum
  • Philippine Airlines
  • Qantas: Gold, Platinum, Platinum One, Chairman’s Lounge
  • Qatar Airways
  • Royal Brunei
  • Singapore Airlines: KrisFlyer Elite Gold and PPS Club
  • Swiss: all Miles & More members
  • Thai Airways
  • United: MileagePlus Premier Silver, Premier Gold, Premier Platinum, Premier 1K
  • Virgin Atlantic: Flying Club Gold

Now in the meanwhile there might have been changes / additions to this list (check with them through the email above if you want to be certain) but in general it’s very easy to fulfill this requirement as it doesn’t stipulate that you gotta be a status customer, just a regular member who can present a membership card is enough.

ANA and Japan Airlines still do send out physical membership cards for their new members who enroll online. Maybe a printed card would suffice in case your airline of choice won’t send you one?

All other nationalities are subject to the same rule so best is to have your membership credentials ready when going to the enrollment office.

Conclusion

This eChannel system has saved me hours over the years and I wish more countries had such uncomplicated mechanisms in place to enroll for automated immigration. Most are still quite restrictive and limit it to U.S Passport holder who have to be simultaneous Global Entry participants (like Taiwan, and even then it’s pretty expensive). Hong Kong’s signup process is very easy and most of all it’s free.

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