Hong Kong Government Press Release
22nd March 2023 – (Hong Kong) A spokesperson for the Security Bureau said today that the Secretary for Security has made the Immigration (Advance Passenger Information) Regulation (the Regulation) under section 6A of the Immigration Ordinance (Cap. 115), which seeks to provide legal backing for implementation of the Advance Passenger Information (API) system in Hong Kong. The Regulation will be published in the Gazette on Friday.
In 2018, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) implemented a new requirement under the updated Convention on International Civil Aviation (CICA), requiring each Contracting State to establish the API system. In short, the API system is an electronic communications system whereby personal data of travellers (API data) and their respective aircraft information are collected and transmitted by the airline concerned to the border control agency prior to/after flight departure, so that the border control agency can immediately conduct a risk assessment of border security for issuing boarding directions in respect of the travellers. The People’s Republic of China is one of the signatories to the CICA, and the CICA is also applicable to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
“To enable Hong Kong as an international aviation hub to meet the requirement and recommendations of the ICAO, as well as to facilitate the Immigration Department (ImmD) to further enhance its passenger clearance and enforcement capabilities to prevent undesirables, including potential non-refoulement claimants, from boarding flights heading to Hong Kong, it is necessary to implement the API system in Hong Kong and give legal effect to it through the Regulation”, the spokesperson said.
The Regulation will specify the requirements on the airlines with respect to the provision of the API data and the respective aircraft information of each traveller through the API system designated by the ImmD prior to/after flight departure for Hong Kong. The airlines are required to comply with the Regulation for flights heading to Hong Kong from a place outside Hong Kong, and flights departing from Hong Kong are not affected by the Regulation. The Regulation will be tabled at the Legislative Council for negative vetting on 29th March.
The API system of the ImmD is currently under development and is set to be rolled out by phases from the third quarter of 2024. The Regulation, except for the parts relating to offences, penalty and defence, is planned for commencement alongside the roll-out of the API system in the third quarter of 2024. To allow time for over 100 airlines to connect to the API system and to ensure the smooth and orderly running of the system, a transitional period of around 12 months will be adopted such that the offences, penalty and defence for non-compliance with the requirements under the Regulation will only take effect after full implementation of the API system. Having regard to the readiness of the API system and the airlines, the Secretary for Security will make a Commencement Notice in due course to specify the commencement date for the Regulation and the transitional period concerned.