I need to fly to the US for a conference so I have been trying to fill out the ESTA application. My situation is a bit complicated. I am a UK citizen but I'm currently studying in Canada on a study permit. I also have an adult Hong Kong permanent ID card.

I'm confused about the following questions on the ESTA application:

  1. Have you ever been issued a passport or national identity card for travel by any other country?
  2. Are you now, a citizen or national of any other country?
  3. Have you ever been a citizen or national of any other country?

Does having a Hong Kong ID card mean I have to answer Yes to #1?

Does having a Hong Kong ID card automatically mean I am a Chinese national, and therefore have to respond Yes to #2 and #3?

My parents applied for a Hong Kong ID for me when I was really young, but I have never lived there and only visit once every 5 years or so. I also don't have a Hong Kong or China passport, only a UK one. Do any of these facts imply my Chinese nationality for the purposes of the ESTA application?

  • 2
    ID cards do not create citizenships -- but it may be that the Hong Kong authorities only issue an ID card to you be cause they already consider you their citizen independently of the card, and it is possibly that by applying for the card you're legally agreeing with them that you're their citizen. So what you'll need to figure out is why you have that card in the first place -- the reason you got it may also be a reason to answer yes to the second question. Or it might not. Feb 9, 2018 at 1:20
  • 3
    What are the symbols under your date of birth on the card? Do they include 3 asterisks and/or "A"? As I understand it (barely) there are a number of ways to end up being eligible for a permanent HKID card, not all of which imply anything about nationality, but if you are eligible for a HK reentry permit (3 asterisks) or have right of abode ("A") without ever residing in HK you probably did get the card based on an assertion of Chinese nationality.
    – user38879
    Feb 9, 2018 at 1:29
  • 1
    The symbols on my card are: ***AO
    – Simon
    Feb 9, 2018 at 2:16
  • Whats strange about this is that I have UK citizenship and Article 9 states that I should automatically lose chinese nationality because of it. So presumably I couldn't have been considered a national at the time of the application (my parents dont remember as it was a long time ago)
    – Simon
    Feb 9, 2018 at 2:18
  • Whats the best way to find out why I have the card? My parents cant remember as it was 20 years ago, and I cant find any immigration lawyers in canada that have this level of familiarity with the HK system
    – Simon
    Feb 9, 2018 at 2:20

2 Answers 2


As mentioned in comments, having a HKPR ID doesn't imply citizenship. There are plenty of non-Chinese people with one. There are also plenty of HK people with two (or more) citizenships, whatever the law says. I have plenty of friends in this case.

Since you have three stars, you're a PR based on filiation. You are technically a Chinese citizen, even though you never applied for a HK passport. You say you go to HK every 5 years or so: that's a sign you're a "native" HKPR, not a foreigner: if you were a foreigner in the eyes of HK and China, you would have lost your PR the first time you came back to HK: foreign PRs need to visit HK once every 3 years at most, failing that, they forfeit their PR status.

But the best way to ascertain this would be to contact HKID, either directly, or by visiting the Chinese consulate. What comes next is whether you want to keep this citizenship, or abandon it (note: as a native HK, losing your citizenship means losing your PR too).


Although this answer is 1 year old , this comes up high on the google search list, and unfortunately has incorrect information so I wanted to correct it for future searches.

Three stars means you're of Chinese Descent. (this is not the same as Chinese Nationality) Technically there is no such thing as a Chinese Citizen, that terminology is not used. Chinese Nationality is as follows. (main points)

Article 4:

Any person born in China whose parents are both Chinese nationals or one of whose parents is a Chinese national shall have Chinese nationality.

Article 5:

Any person born abroad whose parents are both Chinese nationals or one of whose parents is a Chinese national shall have Chinese nationality. But a person whose parents are both Chinese nationals and have both settled abroad, or one of whose parents is a Chinese national and has settled abroad, and who has acquired foreign nationality at birth shall not have Chinese nationality.


So the question for the original poster would be.

Were you born in Hong or China, if so, yes you probably are a Chinese National.

If you were born overseas, were your parents still Chinese Nationals, if so, then yes you are a Chinese National, if not, then no.

The requirements to get HK passport have changed over the years, previously Chinese descent was enough to get a HKSAR passport, now you need to be a Chinese National.

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