Hongkongers with expired Home Return Permits can buy express rail tickets from the MTR from today as the central government's extension to these travel documents takes effect.
The National Immigration Administration last month announced the permits that originally expired between January 1, 2020 and December 30 this year will remain valid until December 31. This came after citizens flocked to renew their documents after almost three years of Covid
border closure, causing long queues.
The MTR Corporation yesterday said travelers holding expired home return permits can buy high-speed rail tickets from today to December 31.
Citizens can buy tickets on the mainland's ticket-buying website 12306 and its mobile application, ticketing counters and machines at the West Kowloon high-speed rail station and designated ticket agents. MTRC will deploy more staff at the West Kowloon station to assist passengers and enhance broadcasting ticket-purchasing information. The mainland authorities earlier said that many Hong Kong and Macau residents could not renew their travel documents in time due to the Covid
As the border between Hong Kong and the mainland is now fully reopened, increasing demand for residents of the two SARs traveling to and from the mainland resulted in a surge in the waiting time for authorities and recognized bodies to issue the permits.
The extension will allow Hongkongers to travel to the mainland using the expired permit without waiting for months for their turn to apply for the renewal at China Travel Service - a travel agent that issues permits and visas to the mainland. They can head to mainland security authorities for the renewal instead of waiting in the SAR.
Mainland media yesterday reported that all mainland authorities are ready for the extension arrangement.
It is understood that the Ministry of Transport, National Railway Administration, Civil Aviation Administration of China and China Railway adjusted their information and verification systems during the May 1 Golden Week holiday to make sure Hong Kong and Macau citizens can enter the mainland smoothly.
All border checkpoints have updated the document verification machines. Hongkongers with emergencies will also be allowed to renew their permits faster through a "green channel" in the mainland. Education and medical authorities, as well as banks, have also adjusted their systems to allow Hongkongers holding an expired home return permit to enjoy various services in mainland cities.