The new Hengqin border checkpoint officially opened to the public yesterday after an opening ceremony organized by the Macau SAR government and the Zhuhai government.
Named Hengqin Port, the checkpoint has an annual capacity of 80 million crossings, or 220,000 per day.
Hengqin Port is an integrated border boundary project containing immigration facilities for both Zhuhai and Macau. The previous facility was a building that held only Zhuhai’s immigration checkpoints, which were separated from Macau’s border crossing channels by a 1,756-meter-long bridge.
The new port means that Macau has gained a temporarily extended piece of territory, the Lotus Bridge, which was previously under no explicit jurisdiction. Macau will use the former Cotai Frontier (commonly known as Lotus Bridge Checkpoint) for other purposes, such as recreational spaces.
The Macau police authority is operating 35 departure checkpoints and 34 arrival checkpoints. There are eight temporary checkpoints for cars. For now, the new port does not have checkpoints for trucks.
Last year, the Lotus Bridge Checkpoint recorded a total of 9.78 million crossings, the least among all of the city’s immigration facilities. One quarter of the crossings between Macau and other places were made at the Border Gate, which recorded 145 million crossings in 2019.
Hengqin Port will operate 24 hours a day.
On the Macau side, there are three buses currently stopping at the new port facility. On the Zhuhai side, there are 27 buses and 9,300 square meters for hosting 150 taxis. Within 800 meters of the port, there are 11,474 parking spots available for the public on Zhuhai side, 3,625 of which are in Hengqin Port.
During a media tour, representatives of Macau’s immigration authority, customs authority and health authority briefed the local press on the immigration process.
Once finished with checkpoint procedures on the Macau side, passengers will immediately enter an Audiovisual Monitoring Area.
The new port will implement the same policies as the Macau-Zhuhai border of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge (HKZMB). Having said that, it means that the facilities installed inside the building are similar to those at the HKZMB. There are three types of checkpoint: joint automated inspection channels, joint manual inspection channels and manual inspection channels.
There are some minor differences between the new facility’s checkpoint channels and those in other ports. In the new port, not only can Macau and mainland residents use automated channels to cross the border, Hong Kong residents and Taiwan residents can too.
The new port also has an accessible channel for vulnerable individuals.
Before the new Hengqin Port was built, people with disabilities, children under three years old and people over the age of 65 were the only groups who could use the priority lane.
According to representatives of the Public Security Police (PSP), both sides’ immigration authorities have reduced the minimum age for the priority lane to 60 years old at the new Hengqin Port.
In addition, the new Hengqin Port has spaces for passengers to line up in front of the checkpoints.
The new port has set up queues using automated fences. The fences can change between four modes, depending on the number of passengers.