• Thu
  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 6:39am
NewsHong Kong

New rules mean British overseas passport holders must submit applications to UK

Applications for British passports will go to a processing centre in the UK from today as part of cost-cutting and security tightening

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 December, 2013, 11:48am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 December, 2013, 10:23am

Holders of British National (Overseas) passports will have to submit renewal applications by mail to a passport office in Britain from today, rather than to the consulate in Admiralty.

The British consulate in Hong Kong said in a statement that the change followed a review by the National Audit Office and was designed to achieve economies of scale, greater security, and consistency in decision making.

British nationals, including British National (Overseas) passport holders, were previously asked to submit passport applications to the consulate's passport centre. Applications will now go to the Passport Customer Service Centre in Liverpool.

BN(O) passports were issued to Hongkongers who registered before the handover in 1997. These passport holders do not have the right of abode in Britain.

A consulate spokesperson said the number of passports issued in the city, including those for British citizens, soared from 25,757 in 2011 to 34,526 last year. At the end of last month, 35,092 had been issued this year.

Current application fees are HK$1,600 for a 32-page passport and HK$1,932 for one with 48 pages. That is about four times the price of an HKSAR passport, which costs HK$370 and HK$460, respectively.

The number of countries and territories that have granted visa-free access or visa-on-arrival to HKSAR passport holders has grown since the handover, and now stands at 147, versus 118 for the BN(O).

On March 30, 1996 - the cut-off date for applying to become a British Dependent Territories Citizen, a prerequisite for applying for a BN(O) passport - a record 21,745 applications were received by the consulate in one day. Scenes of people lining up outside Immigration Tower in Wan Chai - particularly images of four men arrested after coming to blows over queue jumping - captured international headlines.

Christopher Hammerbeck, executive director of the British Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, said he believed the change would have little impact, since the consulate had promised application processing times would not change.

Former Democratic Party lawmaker Cheung Man-kwong said he had travelled frequently since he retired but would not be renewing his BN(O) passport.

"It's very convenient to travel with an HKSAR passport," he said. "The travel value of the BN(O) is no longer critical."


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This article is now closed to comments

so the British Consulate HKG is now a front for lavish lifestyle for its consul & foxtrot everyone else w/o a diplomatic passport ? obviously she took her lifestyle cue from Bowtie
"The British consulate in Hong Kong said in a statement that the change followed reviews by the National Audit Office and was designed to achieve economies of scale,"
"Britain's new consul-general has moved into Hong Kong's most expensive apartment block - giving her the grandest home of any British envoy in the city since Chris Patten left Government House 16 years ago.
Caroline Wilson lives in an apartment that takes up the entire third floor of Opus, the new 12-storey Swire development on Stubbs Road where a higher floor was sold for HK$455 million, making it the world's second most expensive flat.
Wilson's move comes at a time when London's Foreign and Commonwealth Office is slashing mission costs after its budget was cut from £1.6 billion (HK$19.3 billion) to £1.36 billion."
Oh yeah, travel to Europe and the immigrations officials see a big Chinese State emblem on your passport and often hassle you, not knowing the difference between a PRC and an HKSAR passport....definitely not better.
OTOH, with the BNO, if you travel to Europe, most countries have no idea it is different as it looks the same and doesn't say anything about BNO, only its color is different but that is the case with many countries passports issued at different times. Usually, you are treated as having an EU passport, often your passport is not stamped and do not query you when you leave. It's very convenient.
If you want UK consular protection when you travel and if you want to avoid the hassle of being considered a PRC national, then the BNO is always the best way to go. The Visa free access that the HKSAR passport offers are mostly places not worth going, run by despots and who are friendly to China. But you need a Visa to Europe with an HKSAR passport, which you don't with the BNO.
John Adams
I agree !
If I recall correctly the new british* consul-general's flat costs over HK$800,000 per month in rent . That's not just an astounding sum, it's obscene.
And this is the kind of service that not only BN(O) passport holders but even normal British citizens get in return ? What total BS !
BTW: what on earth goes on inside that huge british consulate building ? It's certainly not the nitty gritty work of approving UK visas because for that job the passports are send to Manila where doubtless the brits employ slave labor !
*sorry - under the new london foreign and commonwealth office budget slashing program, capital letters are considered too expensive to use
why does anyone in their right mind still want to retain a colonial bloody brit passport anyway? the country is broke, and if u r ever caught in a hijack the ones with brit and usa passports are the first ones to get shot....and some may say justifiably!
You should check the HK govt website about countries which offer visa free acess to HKSAR passports before making your very outdated comment here. The latest list of these countries updated on August 16 2013 include UK, France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Switzerland, all within the EU zone. In case you are unaware both France and UK are now fighting for PRC big spending tourists and have even granted easier visa acess to our mainlander brothers and sisters.
sudo rm -f cy
Why does the UK still have a consulate in Hong Kong, then, if they have no interest in serving the British (including BN(O)s) here?
Sticks Evans
Are you a friend of Jimmy Kimmel? You talk like him.
Blah, Blah Blah. When someone renews their passport they pay allot of $$ to do so. Way more than just covering the cost.
If a shop can sell globally then why cannot the UK government renew passports globally. Especially in a country like HK. UK Government is already making a profit of HK people and they just want to increase it.
With Technology so cheap today it should be easier than ever!!
SCMP and the British government can use some etiquette and save themselves from being the biggest joke in town for scamming the public and perpetuating propaganda in the Asia-Pacific. After years of complimentary money laundering benefits and illegitimate tax revenues collecting, all Hong Kong people got was a lousy-looking useless "passport"?! The Hong Kong people ought to demand a dozen of those castles in the UK for Halloween purposes, indeed.
TOO SAD, British passport office in London is notorious for misplacing applications and losing old passports.



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