Hong Kong residents aged between 35 and 55 - the age group which travels the most frequently - are likely to be the first to replace their old identity cards with the new smart cards in July.
The Immigration Department's ID card replacement programme is expected to first target frequent travellers in order to speed up the clearance time at immigration desks.
The new cards will maximise use of the department's planned automated clearance system, shortening the processing time from 15 to nine seconds.
About two million people are likely to have the smart ID cards by the time the new clearance system is in place late next year.
The new cards will contain a photograph, thumb print and laser-engraving technology to make them fraud-resistant.
Other than basic immigration information, the cards also will be able to store other personal information, such as driving licence details and addresses.
The department expects about one-third of all immigration counters and all counters serving cross-border trucks will be equipped with the new automatic system by 2006.
The ID card replacement programme should be completed in stages over the next four years.
Residents will not be individually alerted about when to renew their cards as the department plans to launch an extensive promotion programme to draw attention to the deadline for each group of residents.
For those who are abroad and unable to return to Hong Kong in time to renew their cards before the deadline, the department said it would allow them to do so whenever they returned.
The Immigration Department is planning to offer professional make-up tips to help improve the quality of the photographs on the smart cards.
The department plans to ask models to test the impact of wearing various shades of make-up to find the best outcome for digital photographs.
One definite no no: heavy make-up apparently brings undesirable results, with lips and eyes appearing too dark in the black and white picture.
The laser-engraved photo on the new cards will carry a black and white picture as switching to colour would require the adding of a layer of lamination and this could compromise security features.