WeChat to Replace Travel Docs at Border Crossings, Tencent Says

By Bailey Hu, June 7, 2018

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UPDATE (June 13, 2018 at 1.41pm CST): The title of this article has been changed to reflect that only travel permits, not passports, are required for mainland, Hong Kong and Macau citizens to cross the borders between territories.

Residents of Guangdong and Hong Kong may be among the first to test a WeChat feature that would allow expedited travel between the two areas, no travel documents required, according to Reuters.

The report cited announcements made yesterday by Tencent, the behemoth that owns China's most popular social networking app.

Although no timeline has been given for rollout, Tencent stated that it's working with authorities to implement a 'Scan-WeChat-to-Cross-Border’ program at checkpoints between Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland.

READ MORE: 12 Amazing WeChat Features You Might Not Know About

The scheme would link the travel documents of mainland and Hong Kong citizens (not foreigners, unfortunately) to their WeChat accounts, allowing them to cross the border by scanning faces and codes.

According to Reuters, the new WeChat program has already been approved by the Ministry of Public Security, while Hong Kong's administration gave 'no immediate response' on their stance.

Residents of the Greater Bay area – encompassing Hong Kong, Macau, Shenzhen, Guangzhou and seven other cities in Guangdong – would be the first to try the program whenever it launches.

READ MORE: WeChat Pay Now Accepting International Credit Cards

Encryption would prevent leaks of any personal information, according to Tencent.

It's not a huge stretch for WeChat, which previously partnered with the Chinese government to bring us convenient features such as divorce registration via app. And Tencent is also running a pilot plan for Guangdong residents to link ID cards and drivers licenses with their WeChat accounts, Reuters reports.

Expedited crossings, on top of everything else, would be a boon for frequent cross-border travelers. Currently, even e-channel users must scan their fingerprints, faces and travel documents at Hong Kong-mainland checkpoints. Other travelers face long lines and manual checks of their documents in addition to scans.

READ MORE: Here's How to Skip Airport Lines in China with a Z Visa

[Cover image via Wikimedia/Daniel Case]

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