British National (Overseas) passport, commonly known as BN(O) passport, was issued available for 3.4 million Hong Kong people because changes of sovereignty before 1997. BN(O) passport holders understand that they would not be available to enjoy all the rights and privileges of a British Citizenship.

BN(O) is better to have definitely, because if the Hong Kong political structure changes, or ‘one country, two systems‘ is revoked, or other countries withdraw their recognition of the HKSAR passport, BN(O) will get you to other parts of the world, and provide the last amulet, as the last escape door.

British Consulate-General Hong Kong advertised for BN(O) passport renewal in some magazines (e.g. HK Magazine) in 2005. Saying that “Travel with confidence on your BN(O) passport. Reliable. Secure. And renewable for life“. Carry a BN(O) passport is not only a travel document for Hong Kong residents, but also an identity for life, enjoy the same level of consular service and protection in third countries as British Citizenship (Except in People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, United Kingdom) as the last protection for them.

Advertisement of British Consulate-General Hong Kong in 2005

Why BN(O) holders cannot have consular assistant and service in China, Hong Kong, and Macau?

According to the Chinese Nationality Law, British Nationals (Overseas) are Chinese descent, were granted Chinese nationality at the transfer of sovereignty automatically. Individuals who hold Chinese nationality currently with any other nationality, including BN(O) status, are treated and imposed solely as Chinese nationals under Chinese nationality law. Which means, BN(O) holders do not have access to British consular protection while in Hong Kong, Macau, or China. In additional, BN(O)s who are Chinese nationals must use a Mainland Travel Permit Card to enter China.

Difference between BN(O) and HKSAR passports

Passport Fee

British National (Overseas)

Adult (16 and over) Standard 34-page
Online £75.5
Paper Form £85

Adult (16 and over) 50-page frequent traveller
Online £85.5
Paper form £95

HKSAR

Adult (16 and over) Standard 32-page
Online or Paper form HKD$370

Adult (16 and over)      48-page
Online or paper from HKD$460

Working Holiday Scheme in UK

British National (Overseas)

  • No quota limits
  • No sponsorship requirements
  • No local police registration requirements
  • Eligible to apply for 2 years

HKSAR

  • 1000 quotas per year
  • Documents providing, including sponsorship requirements
  • Register at local police station requirements

Visa-free Access and Visa-on-arrival Countries

British National (Overseas)

  • 189 countries and area worldwide
  • Including Bolivia

HKSAR

  • 154 countries and areas only
  • Visa-on-arrival for 90 days in Bolivia

How BN(O) passport was genuine

Case 1 : Wrongly detained for 23 days by Indian Officials, finally verified by the British Consulate-General Hong Kong, 1999

It was reported that a Hong Kong resident, who had travelled to India on his BN(O) passport had been wrongly detained for 23 days. Because his BN(O) passport was suspected to be fake by Indian Officials, and was certified as a forgery by the British High Commission in Bombay without seeking verification from British Consulate-General in Hong Kong, the relevant authority.

However, he soak for assistance and the BN(O) passport was verified by the British Consulate-General in Hong Kong. It was found that his BN(O) passport was genuine.

Source: Wikipedia

Case 2 : Mr. Cheung, BN(O) holder from Hong Kong, was jailed for 16 years in Philippines, family members accused Hong Kong government was incompetent, only the UK government can help, 2000

Hong Kong resident Tai-on Cheung, was imprisoned in Philippines for possession of drugs in 2000. He died in the prison camp in Philippines due to Heart Attack on May 14, 2016. His family went to the Philippines to claim the body and cremated it.

They said that no one answered their phone call at the Chinese Embassy when his family went to Philippines to deal with the aftermath. Finally they asked for help to UK Embassy, received help and full supports.

According to the report of Mingpao Newspaper in Hong Kong, Cheung’s father accused that Hong Kong Immigration Department has claimed to provide them with an interpreter. As a result, they only saw a Filipino driver after arriving in Philippines. As a result, there was no one answered on the phone number of Chinese Embassy which provided by Hong Kong Immigration Department. They continued to seek for help from the UK Embassy.

The Staff from UK Embassy accompanied them to the prison and claim Cheung’s body, process documents until they left.

Family member of Cheung criticized that do not first propose to provide an interpreter, and make them have expectations if the Immigration department did not intend to help. And the with fell through finally.

Cheung’s father interviewed that the British Consulate-General in Hong Kong has been actively following up the incident because Cheung holds BN(O) passport on travelling in Philippines. Including sending money to Cheung every month, and sending people to visit him every year. Cheung’s father said ” The UK has done it’s duty, and the Chinese Embassy has never contacted us for more than a decade.”.

Spokesperson of Hong Kong Immigration Department said that he has been contacted with the Chinese and UK Embassy in the Philippines, and provided a 24-hour interpreter phone number for the Chinese consulate to his family.

Some netizens questioned their oldies in family after reading about the news, who once said “BN(O) is easy to renew, what happens when you leave the country? the UK Government does not care about you, so does Chinese Government. “.

Some people responded that these people “Obviously don’t go abroad, or they have secretly renewed their BN(O).”. Another netizen sighed ” Whenever Hong Kong people needed to get helped in the past few times, the Hong Kong Government was incompetent. Only the UK Government could be available providing help.”.

Source: Mingpao Newspaper (Cantonese)

Case 3 : Kumamoto (Japan) earthquake, Hongkongese accused useless of Hong Kong government, oppositely got traffic instruction and back to Hong Kong by British Consulate in Japan, 2016

Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government issued a yellow outbound travel warning to Kumamoto Prefecture, Kyushu, Japan on April 16 2016. Recommended that Hong Kong people call the Immigration Department’s “Assisting Hong Kong Resident Group” 24-hour helpline “(852) 1868”

However, a Hong Kong person in Kyushu just left a message online, said in fact 1868 was not very useful.

The Hong Kong netizen in Miyazaki, Kyushu said in a message that “calling 1868 is a waste of time.” The operator on Saturday “will only tell you to be safe“, there is no substantive support for citizens who want to return to Hong Kong as soon as possible.

Because the person who hold BN(O) passport to enter Japan, he called the Kyushu British Consulate seeking for help, then he was instructed by the staff of Consulate how to go north to Fukuoka, and even assist in ordering a flight to Tokyo at 8:00 the next day then back to Hong Kong (ticket fees can only be paid after arriving in Hong Kong). How considerate they were, and it proved the consular service and protection of BN(O) while travel again!

Source: GoTrip (Cantonese)

Case 4 : Hopeless by Chinese Embassy in Morocco , March 2020

According to Mad Dog Daily inquired with the British Consulate-General in Hong Kong, was informed that Hong Kong people holding BN(O) passports can board the plane. “Because it is outside China (including Hong Kong and Macao), they are all British nationals under British nationality laws. The British Government will assist them.”. And the relevant department of the Hong Kong SAR Government continued and lied to the world.

The Immigration Department only said that, they were concerned about the local immigration restrictions and the impact on local Hong Kong people. As of 6 o’clock  afternoon, a total of 150 Hong Kong people were received from Morocco seeking for help, including 70 tour group members, 102 of whom have already Return to Hong Kong or arrangements for return to Hong Kong.

The Immigration Department continued to maintain contact with the Security Bureau of Hong Kong SAR, Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the local embassy, ​​the participants and their families, and actively followed up the incident.

UK media BBC reported that a Hong Kong couple holding  Hong Kong SAR passports had no help in Morocco, and was fortunate to have met the Hong Kong people holding a British National Overseas, BN(O) passports. The couple said that these BN(O) holders had asked the British Embassy or consulate for help, and received early notice from the UK government, known that the UK side had arranged new special flights that would allow them to leave Morocco.

It also means that, the ticket may be sold early in the morning, if it is not the BN(O) holder who has known this news from the staff in UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office in advance. “I understand that when you are in accidents overseas, the Hong Kong and Chinese governments may not be able to help.”

Source: Mad Dog Daily (Cantonese)

Case 5 : Escape in Peru, 2020

Peru suddenly “locked the country” in the middle of this month, in order to prevent the spread of Coronavirus in local. It was causing more than 80 Hong Kong tourists to be trapped in big cities such as Lima and Cusco. They were helpless.

Fortunately, good news came today. Hong Kong people Mr. Wong said that at least 4 Hong Kong people, including him, were allowed to board UK chartered flight departing from the Peruvian capital Lima early for holding BN(O) passports. They arrived safely in London. But a lot of Hong Kong people were trapped who only hold SAR passports cannot get on the flight. Mr. Wong thanked people from all walks of life for help. He sighed that never thought of holding BN(O) became the key to getting out of danger, so he called on tourists to bring an extra passport with them.

As of 30 March 2020, some Hong Kong people received good news through the British Embassy in the Peru, and Legislative Councillor Jeremy Tam. BN(O) holders can also take those 2 flights which was provided by UK Government for British nationals and Europeans. Scheduled by British Airways passenger jets (BA9117 and BA9115) returned to London. The authorities first arranged a short-haul aircraft (VV777) to take people trapped in Cusco, such as Mr. Wong to Lima.

Wong pointed out that in fact, estimated that there are more than 200 seated in UK flights, and there are still vacancies. Unfortunately, the UK government strictly stipulates that only BN(O) holders can board the plane. Most Hong Kong people who were trapped in Peru, and who hold SAR passports cannot board and escape in Peru, were disappointed.

Mr. Wong and at least three Hong Kong people are the few lucky people who hold BN(O) can board the flight. According to what he known, one of them is actually only a photocopy of BN(O), but fortunately still can get on the flight.

Please share this

Leave a Reply