Expatriates can now use a vehicle to pick up and drop off passengers in Hong Kong, a move that has raised eyebrows in the United States.
The move is being hailed as a step towards the future of Hong Kong taxis, which are often a low-cost way of transporting goods across the city, particularly in the form of small cargo vans.
It has been suggested the move could boost the city’s reputation as a low cost option for international tourists.
Under the law, anyone who travels to Hong Kong without a passport or driving license is considered an expatriate, which means they cannot legally drive cars or operate a commercial vehicle.
A number of other jurisdictions, including the US, the UK and Australia, also have laws similar to that in Hongkong.
However, expatriation does not allow residents of Hongkongs territory to operate a business.
For a driver, it is not clear whether a vehicle will become legal or illegal to use as a pick up vehicle.
The National Taxi Association (NTA) said the move was aimed at encouraging more people to use taxis and the industry was on the upswing.
NTA president and general secretary Wong Shui-min said the industry needed to grow to accommodate more foreign tourists.
The NTA said the change to a low level driver would help attract more foreign visitors to Hongkou, and also reduce congestion.
“Drivers will have more freedom to pick their passengers up, and they can choose their destinations and fares,” Mr Wong said.
He said the government would also introduce incentives to encourage drivers to use the vehicle.
But there were concerns that the move would allow unscrupulous drivers to make quick profit.
NTC chairman Mr Wong criticised the move saying the drivers would be unable to pay the fares or other fees they would need to make up the shortfall.
New York State has a similar ban on drivers using vehicles in public.
The move comes as the number of people coming to the territory to work as domestic workers and for the tourism industry has skyrocketed.