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Hong Kong, mainland authorities propose to take the headache out of cross-border licences

Guangdong officials’ plan to make applications and renewals simpler for drivers could save Hongkongers a trip to Guangzhou every year

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 August, 2016, 5:44pm
UPDATED : Friday, 19 August, 2016, 7:15pm

Renewing licences for cross-border vehicles could become a much easier with authorities confirming a revision of the process on Friday.

Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong lawmakers said on Friday that plans to streamline the cross-border licence renewal process were underway.

Speaking in at a press conference yesterday, lawmaker Ip Kwok-him said Guangdong Provincial Public Security Department officials had suggested that under the review, all new cross-border vehicles could be exempt from the annual examination process in their first year only.

He added that copies of relevant documents required for renewals will be also accepted instead of originals.

But Yip said the mainland officials did not indicate when the changes might be implemented.

More than 40,000 private cars and 20,000 vans registered in Hong Kong are allowed to travel on both sides of the border, but the renewal process for such licences has long been extremely complicated, lawmaker Chan Kam-lam, who attended the meeting with Ip last week, said.

Under the current system, cross-border vehicle drivers are required to renew their licences every year, which involves a trip to Guangzhou to submit all documents for approval, a vehicle examination session and a check at Shenzhen Customs.

While drivers are allowed to mail the relevant files to mainland authorities, many still end up travelling to Guangzhou because they fear the documents will be lost or misplaced.

Changing the rules to allow copies to be submitted for the annual renewal would save the city’s drivers the trip to Guangzhou every year, Chan said.

“The current procedures are too complicated and many are repetitive,” said Chan.

He said mainland officials agreed that the process was too complicated and needed to be simplified.

To accelerate interactions between the two sides, Chan said mainland authorities were also considering setting up one-stop licence renewal centres in Shenzhen or authorising certain agencies in Hong Kong to grant permits on their behalf.

Chan stressed that the proposed centres would not involve mainland law enforcement officers coming to Hong Kong as it would a violation of the Basic Law.

“The demand [for cross-boundary vehicle licences]will definitely increase upon the launch of Hong Kong-Macau-Zhuhai bridge [in 2017],” he said, adding the party would also asses ways to lower the payment thresholds for applying for cross-border permits.