The Hong Kong Immigration Department says it will start replacing the identity cards of all residents, including foreign domestic workers, with more advanced smart cards in late December.

The citywide ID card replacement program will be rolled out in phases based on age groups and will start on December 27, according to a government release issued on October 18.

Holders of existing Hong Kong ID cards will be invited to attend one of the nine newly established Smart Identity Card Replacement Centers to get their replacements within specified periods.

No fee will be charged for the new smart identity cards under the replacement program.

However, those who fail to acquire a new identity card during the specified period without a valid reason could face a fine of HK$5,000 (US$637).

The new ID cards will have enhanced security features, better durability, and chip technology for personal data protection.

It is estimated that the replacement exercise will take about four years.

Law enforcement and government officials will be the first group to change their ID cards from December 27.

The next group to be called will be Hong Kong ID card holders born in 1985 or 1986. They will be invited to replace their cards between January 21 and March 30 next year, followed by those born in 1968 or 1969.

The Immigration Department offered some advice on how people can ensure that their personal photo on the new smart ID card looks good. It said that if makeup or other facial cosmetics are used, they should be light in tone.

For those who wear glasses, a pair of non-reflective lenses will produce better results.

Dark-colored clothing with a collar will also help result in the best look in the picture.