Hi-tech system to spread reach

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 June, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 24 June, 2005, 12:00am

The automatic immigration clearing system installed at the Lowu border may soon be open to foreign visitors coming to Hong Kong as well, the Immigration Department said yesterday.

The news came after the number of travellers passing through border checkpoints increased by 7 per cent, to 77.2 million, in the first five months of this year compared with last year.

Assistant immigration director for information systems Raymond Wong Wai-man said the department was hoping to open the automatic e-channels to frequent visitors as well as non-permanent residents. The system is now only open to permanent residents holding the new smart ID cards.

The department is planning to open the channels to non-permanent residents also holding smart ID cards in November, and early next year to frequent visitors who agree to give their fingerprints to the department.

About 270 e-channel gates will be installed at various checkpoints in phases and the whole project is set for completion by the middle of next year. The department's computerised immigration control system recently won an international information-technology Pioneer Award.