The Immigration (Advance Passenger Information) Regulation (“Regulation“) made under section 6A of the Immigration Ordinance (Cap. 115) has been gazetted on 24 March 2023 and has been tabled at the Legislative Council for negative vetting on March 29, which seeks to provide legal backing for implementation of the Advance Passenger Information (“API“) system in Hong Kong, requiring airlines to provide travellers’ personal data to the Immigration Department (“ImmD“) in Hong Kong before the flights arrive in Hong Kong (thus will not affect the flights departing from Hong Kong).
By way of background, in 2018, under the updated Convention on International Civil Aviation (“CICA“) implemented by the International Civil Aviation Organization (“ICAO“) which is applicable to Hong Kong, each Contracting State is required to establish the API system, i.e. an electronic communications system whereby personal data of travellers (i.e. API data such as the traveller’s name, date of birth, nationality and travel document information) and their respective aircraft information (such as the scheduled date and time of departure and flight number of the aircraft) are collected and transmitted by the airline concerned to the border control agency prior to/after flight departure, so that the border control agency can immediately conduct a risk assessment of border security for issuing boarding directions in respect of the travellers.
The aim of this Regulation is to enable Hong Kong as an international aviation hub to meet the requirement and recommendations of the ICAO, as well as to facilitate the ImmD to further enhance its passenger clearance and enforcement capabilities to prevent undesirables, including potential non-refoulement claimants, from boarding flights heading to Hong Kong.
The Regulation (except for the parts relating to offences, penalty and defence) is set to be rolled out by phases alongside the roll-out of the API system in the third quarter of 2024.