ASIA Travel Tips.com

Anyone who has travelled to Hong Kong International Airport knows that depending on the time of the planes' arrival, the snake like queues at the immigration counters can be a frightening sight. There is nothing worse for the hardened road warrior than the thought of spending an hour or more queuing, just to get into a country.

While the queues can be very long, it rarely takes an hour to get through, but for those of us who frequent Hong Kong often there is an alternative - The Hong Kong International Airport Frequent Visitor Card.

This card available free of charge, allows holders to use special channels at immigration, and while there may well be small queues at some of these counters they are never as bad as the regular counters.

To be eligible for this little treasure, you need to visit Hong Kong a minimum of three times in a one year period, once you have done that then you need to photocopy the stamps and other important pages of your passport, fill in the application form, send it in and wait for your card to arrive. If all is in order you should have your card within 8 weeks.

One you have done this and have been approved, then on your next visit to Hong Kong visit the Frequent Traveller Card Information Centre which is close, but before, immigration on the arrivals side and apply for e-channel access.

It will only take a few minutes and once complete will allow you to enter and leave Hong Kong via the e-channels. This means no queues on arrival or departure. Heaven for a frequent traveller.

Immigration will simply need you to fill in a form, take your fingerprints add a small barcode to your passport and explain how the system works. It is free, that simple and we only wish every country in the world had a similar system for frequent travellers.

The card was first introduced in August 2004, and is an absolute must if you travel to Hong Kong often. You can download the application form here.

WARNING: It has recently (6 September 2010) come to our attention that if you are using the e-gate option on the Frequent Traveller Card the system may not be recording your entries and as such when you try to renew your card they will tell you that you have 0 entries. Obviously this is a serious lack of communication which we hope will be rectified soon. In the meantime, to avoid this rather ridiculous problem, keep the e-gate receipts.

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