Passenger info rules to be gazetted

March 22, 2023

The Immigration (Advance Passenger Information) Regulation has been made under the Immigration Ordinance to provide legal backing for implementing an advance passenger information (API) system in Hong Kong, the Security Bureau said today.


This follows the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) setting out a new rule under the updated Convention on International Civil Aviation (CICA), requiring each contracting state to establish the API system, the bureau explained.


The API system is an electronic communications system through which travellers’ personal data and their corresponding aircraft information are collected and transmitted by the airline concerned to the border control agency prior to/after flight departure, so that the agency can immediately conduct a border security risk assessment for issuing boarding directions in respect of the travellers.


The CICA is applicable to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the bureau noted.


To enable Hong Kong to meet the ICAO’s requirement and recommendations as well as to facilitate the Immigration Department to 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 and give legal effect to it through the regulation.


The regulation will specify the requirements on the airlines regarding the provision of the API data and the aircraft information of each traveller through the API system.


While airlines are required to comply with the regulation with respect to inbound flights to Hong Kong, it is not applicable to flights departing from Hong Kong.


The Immigration Department’s API system is now under development and is set to be rolled out in 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 rollout of the API system.


To allow time for over 100 airlines to connect to the API system and to ensure it is run smoothly, 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 system's full implementation.


The regulation will be published in the Gazette on Friday and tabled at the Legislative Council for negative vetting next Wednesday, the bureau added.

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