Residents line up to buy tickets at the Hong Kong West Kowloon Station on Jan 12, 2023. (CALVIN NG / CHINA DAILY)
Starting from Monday, Hong Kong residents with expired home visit permits are allowed to buy high-speed rail tickets and flight tickets through both online and offline channels, according to an announcement by the MTR on May 7.
With the new arrangement, such residents can buy high-speed train tickets via 12306.cn and at ticket counters in West Kowloon Station, and can buy air tickets via airline websites and mobile apps. The special arrangement will be effective until the end of this year
With the new arrangement, such residents can buy high-speed train tickets via 12306.cn, the nation’s official railway ticket-booking website, and at ticket counters in West Kowloon Station, and can buy air tickets via airline websites and mobile apps. The special arrangement will be effective until the end of this year.
The decision follows the implementation of a policy by China’s National Immigration Administration to extend the validity of Hong Kong and Macao home return permits that expired between Jan 1, 2020 and Dec 30, 2023, through to Dec 31 this year. The policy also took effect on Monday.
According to a Sunday statement, the NIA has given its assurance that it is fully prepared to implement the permit extension policy, and border check points will upgrade their systems to ensure smooth customs clearance for Hong Kong and Macao residents with overdue return permits.
The NIA has pledged to closely monitor the implementation of the policy and address any difficulties encountered by Hong Kong and Macao residents in customs clearance and permit replacement.
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Hong Kong lawmaker Gary Zhang Xinyu estimated that the home return permits of more than 1 million Hong Kong residents expired during the COVID-19 pandemic. The new policy will bring them the convenience of being able to go to the Chinese mainland by train or air as usual, and is expected to increase passenger flows on high-speed trains, Zhang said.
Another Hong Kong lawmaker, Dennis Leung Tsz-wing, who is from the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions, noted that due to the limited quotas for local residents to replace the permits in Hong Kong, many people chose to apply for a one-off pass to replace their expired permit on the mainland, but doing so requires an additional service charge.
With the administration’s new policy to temporarily extend the permit, they can freely go to the mainland to replace the document without paying the service charge, which is more convenient.
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Leung noted that the permit replacement centers in Guangdong province can provide 700 to 1,000 quotas for Hong Kong residents per day, which he believes will be sufficient. He advised those planning to visit a permit replacement center to make an appointment in advance before their departure.
Hong Kong resident Lin Dantong said her son’s home return permit is set to expire on May 15. They had been attempting to replace it in Hong Kong from the second half of last year, but had failed to get a quota. She had therefore traveled to Shenzhen with her son in April to get it replaced in time.
She said the new arrangement for cross-border tickets will greatly help those who have an urgent need to go to the mainland.
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