Hong Kong’s government, through the letter, emphasized that instead of BN(O) passports, citizens should use Hong Kong’s passport.
In January last year, Britain launched a new visa scheme offering full citizenship for Hong Kong citizens seeking to leave the Chinese-ruled territory.
Authorities in Germany have been “accused” of not recognizing the British National Overseas’ passports BN(O). Such claims have been made by visa holders who reported several cases when they were not permitted to enter the country with such passports.
The British National Overseas passports are British passports issued to persons with British National Overseas Citizenship.
The move follows a letter sent by the Hong Kong government to 14 countries’ consulates to stop accepting the British travel document, as it is no longer considered as a valid document since January 31, 2020, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
But this document is used by many Britons to apply for working holiday visas in European countries as well as in North America and some Asian parts.
Such a decision has been taken by authorities in Britain after Hong Kong passed a sweeping national law last year, which according to critics, is crushing dissent in the former UK colony.
“Hong Kong participants under the Working Holiday Scheme should be confined to holders of the HKSAR passport,” the Hong Kong government told Reuters, alluding to the document of the Hong Kong special administrative region.
“The HKSAR government has formally notified the 14 partner countries which had signed working holiday agreements with Hong Kong,” the government stressed.
According to Hong Kong’s government, Germany, Britain, Sweden, Canada, Ireland, and Australia are among the countries included in the scheme from which Hong Kong has required to stop accepting the BN(O) passports.
Some countries like Japan, Italy, South Korea, and New Zealand still recognize the BN(O) passport.
Still, the instances where authorities in Germany did not recognize BN(O) passports from Hong Kong were reported before Hong Kong urged foreign governments to stop accepting the British National Overseas passport.
A Hongkonger who held a working holiday visa with her BN(O) passport in 2019 filed an application for a student visa in February 2021 for her studies in Germany. However, the temporary permit listed her Hong Kong passport’s details instead of the BN (O) passport.
“The officials insisted that BNO is not a nationality and is only a travel document. As Hong Kong is part of China, I need a Chinese passport in order to stay in Germany,” she pointed, adding that they told that staff members at the German Consulate in Hong Kong had “made a mistake” by approving her working holiday visa in the first place.
In addition, her nationality was listed as China in her residence permit.
This is not the first case that BN(O) passport holders report such a problem; several other persons with similar difficulties have raised their voices in order to find a solution to this problem.
About three million Hong Kong residents already hold or are eligible to obtain a BN(O) document.
Despite Hong Kong’s attempts to prevent the usage of these documents abroad, the UK’s government has emphasized that Britain will continue to issue such documents that remain valid travel documents.