Hong Kong Chief Executive announced that parents of babies born in the SAR over the next three years will get a cash handout of HK$20,000 during his second policy address on Wednesday. The move, called the newborn baby bonus, is a government-backed initiative to stimulate the city’s declining population growth. On Thursday, Deputy Chief Secretary Warner Cheuk Wing-hing explained how eligible families can apply for this bonus. Read on to find out whether you are eligible for the handout and the steps to follow during the application process:
Who is eligible for the newborn baby bonus?
Both parents and the newborn have to fulfil certain criteria to avail the bonus:
- Parents: At least one of the parents should be a Hong Kong Permanent Resident
- Child: The child should be born between October 25, 2023 and October 24, 2026
How do I apply for the cash handout?
Parents can apply for the bonus when they register their baby’s birth and apply for the birth certificate. They can do this in two ways:
- In person: Either parent can go to the Life and Death Registry at the Immigration to apply for a birth certificate, and ask staff for an application form to fill out for the bonus.
- Online: Hongkongers who have an iAM Smart account can apply for the handout online.
Under Hong Kong law, it is mandatory to register a child’s birth within 42 days after delivery. However, parents who register a baby’s birth within this time but who do not submit an application for the bonus can still apply for the handout within six months after the baby is born.
What information do I need to provide for the bonus?
Applicants need to provide the following details in their application form:
- Name of the account holder for the recipient of the bonus
- A bank account number to deposit the cash handout
- Local phone number that can receive SMSes
The Treasury department will send successful applicants an SMS notification to let them know when the bonus has been deposited in their account, which will typically be 2-3 weeks after they send in their applications. The government will start making their first payments in the first quarter of 2024, after the move gets funding approval from LegCo.
During his policy address, Lee revealed that a certain number of flats will also be reserved for couples with newborns for the next three years, and these families will have their wait time for public housing reduced by one year. The Chief Executive added that the government will increase the accommodation-related tax deduction ceiling by 20% for taxpayers who live with their first child born on October 25, 2023 onwards, until the child turns 18 years old.
The other measures that the government will roll out to encourage Hong Kong couples to have more children include supporting families struggling with fertility issues by providing them a deduction for any expenses they incur for assisted reproductive services, opening 10 more aided standalone child care centres, extending the After-School Care Programme for Pre-primary Children to cover all districts in the city, and raising the Working Family Allowance by 15%.
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