Using your Australian passport in Hong Kong’s e-Channel lanes

Skip the queues at Hong Kong Airport by registering for access to the time-saving automated passport lane.

By David Flynn, August 30 2023
Using your Australian passport in Hong Kong’s e-Channel lanes

After a long flight to Hong Kong, the last thing you want to face is a long queue at immigration – thankfully, your Australian passport can let you take the fast track through Hong Kong airport’s time-saving automated ‘frequent visitor’ e-Channel gates.

Australia is among a handful of countries which can access the “automated immigration clearance service on a reciprocal basis” – the other qualifying passports are from Germany, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand.

Travellers from other countries can enrol for e-Channel access on the strength of their frequent flyer status – and while the Hong Kong government doesn’t publish a list of which airlines’ loyalty programs qualify, Executive Traveller understands the following all make the cut:

  • Air New Zealand Airpoints Silver, Gold and Elite tiers
  • British Airways Executive Club Silver and Gold tiers
  • Cathay Pacific’s Cathay Silver, Gold and Diamond tiers
  • Malaysia Airlines Enrich Silver, Gold and Platinum tiers
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Gold, PPS Club and Solitaire PPS Club tiers
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer Gold, Platinum and Platinum One tiers
  • United Airlines’ MileagePlus Premier Silver and all Premier tiers

Mid- and high-tier frequent flyers on other international airlines may also qualify, so it certainly doesn’t hurt to apply on that basis – especially as the registration process is fairly quick and completely free.

Your Australian passport unlocks access to Hong Kong airport's time-saving e-Channel immigration gates.
Your Australian passport unlocks access to Hong Kong airport's time-saving e-Channel immigration gates.

Enrolling your Australian passport for e-Channel access

You can register your Australian passport for e-Channel lane access on arrival at Hong Kong airport, or at the Immigration Headquarters building in Wan Chai.

In both cases you need only present your Australian passport, complete a form which will be supplied to you at the registration deck, have a photo taken and have your fingerprints scanned (both your photo and fingerprints are used for biometric ID at the immigration lanes).

Remember: this same process also applies if you’re holding a German, Singaporean, South Korean or Thai passport.

e-Channel registration at Hong Kong airport

There are two e-Channel enrollment offices at Hong Kong airport – both are located after you clear immigration but before the luggage belts:

  • the Arrival North office, on the left side of the arrivals hall, is open daily from 10am to 6pm
  • the Arrival South office, on the right side of the arrivals hall, is open daily from 7:30am to 11pm

(To make things a little easier, on your arrival at Hong Kong airport, veer to an immigration checkpoint on the same side as the e-Channel enrolment office you intend to visit: for example, if you’re coming in on an early morning or evening flight, head to an immigration checkpint on the right, as the Arrival South enrolment office is the only one of the two open at those times.)

There are two e-Channel enrolment offices at Hong Kong International Airport.
There are two e-Channel enrolment offices at Hong Kong International Airport.

However, you might not want to go through the enrollment process after a long flight – you could be in more of a mood to be on your way into the city (especially if you don’t need to wait around for checked luggage) for a meeting, dinner with friends or the comfort of your hotel bed.

e-Channel registration in Hong Kong

That’s certainly how I felt after my first post-pandemic visit to Hong Kong after almost three years away – during which time my passport had expired, so it was necessary to enrol my new passport in the e-Channel program.

Rather than wait around at the airport, I decided to visit the Hong Kong government’s Immigration Headquarters in Wan Chai, which is open Monday to Friday from 8.45am to 5pm.

The tall black building is located at 7 Gloucester Road, and one of the easiest ways to get there is via the overhead walkway from Wan Chai MTR station, which crosses Lockhart Road, Jaffe Road and Gloucester Road (if you’re hopping the MTR to Wan Chai, take exit A5).

This busy walkway takes you to the upper floor of Immigration Headquarters, from where you can take the stairs or escalator down to the main lobby and then catch an elevator up to the seventh floor.

When the lift arrives on level seven, do a sharp U-turn to the right and you’ll end up at a small e-Channel enrolment office.

After handing over the completed registration form and my passport, having a photo snapped and my fingerprints scanned, my passport was returned within minutes with a sticker declaring it was “successfully enrolled for e-Channel service”.

And that’s all it takes. Once your passport is endorsed you can sidestep the usual airport passport lanes for foreigners and make a beeline for the dedicated ‘Frequent Visitor e-Channel’ gates when both arriving at and departing from Hong Kong.

As a bonus, there’s no need to complete a Hong Kong arrival card once you’ve been approved for the e-Channel lanes – just waltz on through like a local.

For more information, visit the Hong Kong Government e-Channel Services for Visitors web page.

Worth noting that you can only enrol one passport (maybe that’s obvious?) - in November I turned up and had forgotten my UK passport, which has my eChannel barcode on it. I thought I’d see if I could enrol my Aussie one since I was there and there was no queue, but no. So I had to remember to carry both last time I was there.

UK passport expires soon, so I’ll give it another go when that happens (although UK passports (and only UK, afaik) allow 180 days instead of 90 day entry, if that’s a consideration for anyone who has the choice).

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 521

Yes, always use the passport that allows the longest stay or easiest method of entry. 

Update to this, I was in HK again a week ago, my UK passport is now less than six months from expiry and I got "trapped" in the eChannel - it let me in, but then wouldn't let me out after the fingerprint part. Lady explained it was because I didn't have enough for 180 days entry, so I had to enter the "normal" way.

Minor inconvenience, but I was carrying both passport this time, five minutes in the eChannel office and they swapped the registration from UK to Aussie passport (new photo and fingerprints, sign a new form, that was it). Only change, there's no "HK Immigration" barcode on the sticker any more, just a "enrolled for eChannel" label - I used to scan the barcode in the egates to enter, I assume I'll just scan the passport bio page in future, but will find out soon enough.

TL;DR - easy enough to switch it to a new passport if you have both of them on you.

QFP

22 Jan 2013

Total posts 98

Hello,

How long dose the registration last? Is it the term of the passport, even if you only travel to HGK every now and then?

Thanks

05 Aug 2023

Total posts 4

As an Australian or Taiwanese passport holder, you can also enrol for  the automated clearance channels at Macau, at: https://www.gov.mo/en/services/ps-1474/ps-1474g/

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

03 Jul 2011

Total posts 186

And if you dont or cant qualify you can go the old fashioned way, and then use the e-channel to depart.  As I found out last week.  Oh and the little docket you get given, with the dupicate of the entry form - if you loose them, dont panic, just use the e-gate to leave HK and no drama.  Which I also found out about last week after a flight from LHR.

06 Mar 2017

Total posts 12

What if you have a HK Permanent ID card which is nominally 6 months out of date because of Covid? Can I use this on arrival before an appointment in Wanchai to renew it?


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