ID fines on the cards for 90,000

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 November, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 November, 2003, 12:00am

At least 90,000 Hong Kong residents have just three days to get a new 'smart' identity card or face a $5,000 fine.

About 200,000 of the 290,000 residents born in 1968 and 1969 have applied to replace their cards since September 15, according to the Immigration Department.

The group is the first to be required to obtain the hi-tech cards. From Monday, residents born in 1966 and 1967 will have two months to apply for replacement cards at nine centres.

People who fail to apply by Saturday's deadline and who were not absent from Hong Kong during the application period could face prosecution and a $5,000 fine.

Anyone who was absent has 30 days' grace after their return to the city.

It is unclear how many of the 90,000 card-holders are outside Hong Kong.

If they were all fined $5,000, the government would have $450 million - enough to fund four more Harbour Fests.

A department spokesman said applications for new cards took about 30 minutes, and urged people not to leave their applications to the last minute.

The department said employers of foreign domestic helpers should give their helpers time off to apply for cards.

Hong Kong's 6.9 million residents are being invited through public announcements to swap their cards.

The credit card-sized replacements carry a computer chip to record the holder's name, date of birth and ID number, a digital photograph and thumbprint, and are difficult to forge.