Jan 29, 2021 08:20 PM

Beijing Will No Longer Recognize Hong Kong Residents’ British National Overseas Passports

What’s New: China will not recognize the British National (Overseas) (BNO) passport as a valid document for travel or identification starting on Jan. 31, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian announced during a press conference Friday.

Zhao added without elaboration that China “reserves the right to take further action.”

Why it matters: Beijing’s move is a countermeasure to the U.K.’s offer of settlement and potential citizenship to the about 3 million BNO passport holders in Hong Kong from Jan. 31.

Britain made the offer last year in response to the Chinese national legislature’s move to pass and enact a national security law in the semi-autonomous city.

The background: BNO is a type of British nationality created for Hong Kong residents who had held a different class of British nationality prior to the 1997 return of Hong Kong to China. 

From Jan. 31, BNO passport holders may apply to the U.K. for limited leave to remain allowing them to work or study in the country for 5 years, and apply for settled status after that. Holders may then apply for citizenship 12 months later.

Quick Takes are condensed versions of China-related stories for fast news you can use.

Contact reporter Lu Zhenhua ( and editor Heather Mowbray (

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