Biometric border pact between Hong Kong and Germany
05 November 2014 16:36 GMT

German nationals enter Hong Kong using its e-Channel system following the deal’s implementation on 1 November, while, Hongkongers can use Germany’s EasyPASS.

Following a successful two-month test phase, German nationals entering Hong Kong can now use the city’s automated immigration clearance system, and vice versa.

German nationals enter Hong Kong using its e-Channel system following the deal’s implementation on 1 November, while, Hongkongers can use Germany’s EasyPASS.

While the German system relies on the passport's electronic photo for facial recognition, Hong Kong's system uses fingerprints for identification. Both methods require a one-time enrolment in the traveller’s home country.

Corrado Chow, assistant director of information systems for Hong Kong's Immigration Department, told the South China Morning Post that the arrangement would cut immigration processing times for visitors from 60 seconds to 30 seconds.

"Hong Kong has actually been in talks with many countries with automated immigration systems to discuss the possibility of similar services," Chow said. "It's just that with Germany, everyone was on the same wavelength and they were extremely efficient."

Travellers from Hong Kong will still have their passports stamped by German border security officers, as required by European law.

Germany's Federal Police and Federal Ministry of the Interior are planning to expand automated border checks using the EasyPASS system in 2014 and 2015, with about 100 EasyPASS lanes to be added at the Frankfurt, Munich, Düsseldorf and Hamburg airports.