This aerial photo taken on Jan 8, 2023 shows a shuttle bus from Hong Kong entering Zhuhai through the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge in south China. (PHOTO / XINHUA)
Hong Kong residents will be able to drive their own cars to Guangdong province starting July after the government announced the launching of a program which will be open for applications from June 1.
The program is expected to benefit 450,000 private car owners, allowing them to travel between Hong Kong and Guangdong via the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB).
A maximum of 200 applications per working day will be accepted through computer balloting in the first week. This will be increased to 300 from the second week onwards and may be further expanded after review.
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Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu said on Monday that the program provides a convenient way for Hong Kong residents to self-drive to Guangdong via the HZMB for business, visiting family or sightseeing on a short-term basis, thereby embracing the opportunities brought by the HZMB and facilitating further connection among cities in the Greater Bay Area.
Hong Kong driving license holders can apply for a mainland driving license, without having to take a driving test on the mainland, at counters of the vehicle management office of the traffic management department of the public security organs above prefecture level in Guangdong
Calling it another milestone in the economic integration and development of the Greater Bay Area, Lee thanked the central and Guangdong governments for pressing ahead with the program.
According to the program, drivers must possess valid driving and vehicle licenses for both Hong Kong and Guangdong. Hong Kong driving license holders can apply for a mainland driving license, without having to take a driving test on the mainland, at counters of the vehicle management office of the traffic management department of the public security organs above prefecture level in Guangdong.
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Their vehicles must also be examined at designated places in Hong Kong. Motorists can also insure their cars by taking out “unilateral recognition” insurance policies issued by Hong Kong insurance companies.
Eligible residents need to book their days of travel online in advance.
On each trip, Hong Kong residents traveling under the program can stay up to 30 days on the mainland, with the total number of days capped at 180 every year.
Residents must register to enter a ballot for a slot through a designated website. The first round of balloting will be held on May 29 and 30, with results announced on May 31.
Those who are successful through the draw can submit their applications for the program within a specified period starting from 9 am on June 1, according to a government statement. The designated submission dates will be assigned randomly by a computer system.
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The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) – the city’s largest political group – expressed support for the program, saying it will facilitate transportation for Hong Kong residents to mainland cities in the Greater Bay Area, and further promote integration and exchanges between the two places.
A similar program has been in place since January between Macao and Guangdong province. It is estimated that over 100,000 vehicles had traveled under the program by April 3.