Renewal of British passport before 1997 | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Renewal of British passport before 1997

Hi there,

For a story I'm writing (as an amateur), I'd like to know if a British citizen traveling to Hong Kong before 1997 could have his passport renewed there then ? (Without being a resident there, just passing by.)

I hope you'll be able to answer me,



Up until 1969 when we left HK my mother always had a British HK passport as she happened to be on her renewal cycle there. I never remember it being a problem in use. She had a British passport again when back in the UK for good.


The "Renewal of British Passport before 1997" query reminded me of the passport for our youngest daughter who was born in the British Military Hospital in Kowloon in 1984. In order to be able to register her birth & get a British passport for her we were presented with a photocopied slip of paper, in Chinese & English, with her name & date of birth written on it, that we had to post to the British Embassy in Dusseldorf, W Germany, along with a a completed form, to get a proper passport for her. Whilst waiting for the passport to arrive, which took a while, the slip of paper was authority enough. She proudly keeps that piece of paper in her current passport. 

Both my parents had Hong Kong passports when theirs came up for renewal. It seemed to count as a British passport where ever they went and they had British passports again when they needed new ones. We were resident in Hing Kong however except when on leave.

jane.hanbridge   your comment about being resident in HK except when 'on leave' evoked deep memories.  'on leave'


Hi Mike,

As a British citizen who was born in HK in 1954 and was still living there after the handover, I can relay my experience. I would have to submit my application and all documents to the Hong Kong Immigration department along with the fee. They would then send this to London and my new PP would be sent back to HK Immigration from where I could collect it. If I remember, it used to take a good three months. As I was born in HK, I could obtain a HK British  PP within a day or two but would have to surrender it when I collected my UK PP. So, while I suspect that it may have been possible the time involved would have made it impractical. 

As Dad was born in HK, I claimed my UK PP through my grandfather who was born in the UK and would have to produce a mountain of documents, plus certified copies, each time I renewed it. When I was born, Dad had to engage in a lengthly correspondence with the authorities in London just to get my PP. I still have all the correspondence and the typically bureaucratic answers which translated to me as  "we can't be bothered , get your son a HK PP ". Dad persisted and I will always be thankful to him for doing so. He knew the issues I would have in the future if I was issued with only a HK PP at birth. 

After the handover, I went to the brand new British consulate to renew my PP armed with a briefcase full of documents that I had always needed to be told that all they needed was my current British  PP. It was ready for me the next day. 

I hope that you find this useful and if you have any other questions, you can EM me direct at

Christopher Watson.


Dear all,

I thank you so much for your responses.

So to be sure, if my character was born in the UK, he shoud have gone to the immigration department in HK (in Wan Chai, right ?), hand over his current UK PP + a few documents (do you konw which ones?), being handed a temporary document proving his citizenship and wait for a couple of days/weeks:months ?

Would love to hear from you again,


I would say that if the person was a UK citizen and had been born in the UK, they would need only their current UK PP and their UK birth certificate in order to obtain a HK British PP. That PP would allow that person to travel but would not allow them to claim residency in the UK. They could then on their return to the UK apply for their UK PP and then turn in the HK PP. Because it used to take such a long time to get one's UK PP, I would apply for the HK one only if I had to travel. The HK British PP was not a proof of citizenship as I mention earlier, it could not be used to obtain or to prove right of UK residency. What was termed "The right of abode in the UK". They really would be little point in any person doing this as it is unlikely that anyone would travel when their PP was close to expiration. And you would have had to turn over your UK PP as no person can have two UK passports at the same time, even if one was a British HK PP and the other was a full British PP.

Hope this helps.


I was issued with a HK British PP on 9 APR 1980 valid until 9 APR 1990 as my UK British PP had expired on 10 MAR 1980 and I was required to do an unexpected business trip to Singapore. It was used for the one round trip only and was cancelled when my UK PP arrived on 8 MAY 1980.

My character intends to renew his UK PP in order to continue his travesl round the world. Actually, he's only passing by HK and doesn't need a HK PP.