I can’t believe it took me so long to register for this, given how often I travel to Hong Kong. Hong Kong has a Frequent Visitor E-Channel, which allows you to use automated kiosks for immigration, both on arrival and departure. While I’ve never had to wait that long for immigration in Hong Kong, there’s certainly some time to be saved by using these machines.
Yesterday I finally registered for E-Channel immigration, and wanted to report back on my experience.
Who is eligible for Hong Kong’s E-Channel?
There are a few ways for foreigners to be eligible for Hong Kong’s Frequent Visitor E-Channel:
- If you’ve entered Hong Kong at least three times in the past 12 months
- If you’re a citizen of Australia, Germany, Singapore, or South Korea, you can register regardless of how often you’ve visited Hong Kong
- If you have elite status with almost any airline program then you’re eligible, regardless of how often you’ve visited Hong Kong; you’ll need to present your physical membership card
How much does it cost to enroll in Hong Kong’s E-Channel?
There’s no cost to enroll in Hong Kong’s E-Channel.
My experience enrolling in Hong Kong’s E-Channel
The easiest way to enroll in the Hong Kong Frequent Visitor E-Channel is upon arrival at Hong Kong International Airport. Once you pass through immigration (before going to baggage claim), there are two enrollment centers. The enrollment center to the left of the immigration checkpoint is open daily from 7:30AM until 11PM, while the enrollment center to the right of the immigration checkpoint is open daily from 10AM until 6PM.
Since we were arriving in the evening after one of the checkpoints had closed, we went to the enrollment center to the left.
There was a desk there with one immigration officer. She asked if I had been to Hong Kong four times in the past year (I thought the requirement was three times rather than four, though she insisted it was four). However, since I have a German passport I told her that I thought there was no requirement. She confirmed that was the case, and started the enrollment process.
The enrollment process literally took two minutes. She took my picture and my fingerprints, then entered some information into the computer, and then printed out a piece of paper for me to sign.
She then added a sticker on the back of my German passport indicating that I had enrolled. There were no questions, or anything.
The enrollment is valid for as long as your passport is, so that’s another reason I was happy to use my German passport, since my US passport expires in 2019, so it would have only been valid for a bit over a year.
Tiffany wasn’t quite as lucky, unfortunately. She hasn’t been to Hong Kong three times in the past year, and the immigration officer verified that this was the case. Tiffany didn’t have a physical elite card on her, and the electronic version of an elite card wasn’t sufficient to register. So they do actually verify how often you’ve entered Hong Kong, and they also need a physical elite card if that’s the method through which you’re registering.
The process of registering for Hong Kong’s E-Channel immigration couldn’t have been easier, as the entire process took a couple of minutes. I’m lucky to have a German passport, since it meant I could register without having to enter Hong Kong a certain number of times. However, the same is true for anyone with airline elite status. So the next time you arrive in Hong Kong and have a few minutes to spare, you might as well register for Hong Kong’s Frequent Visitor E-Channel.
If you’ve enrolled in Hong Kong’s Frequent Visitor E-Channel, what was your experience like?