Commons documents for notarisation & apostille

Commons documents found for Notarisation and when necessary for Apostille?:

  • Birth Certificates
  • Marriage Certificates signed by Deputy Registrar of Marriage
  • Death Certificates
  • Certificate of Absence of Marriage Record
  • Certificate of Registered Particulars issued by the Director of Immigration

The above documents may be sent for direct apostille if so authenticated, issued or certified by the Government's competent authority.

Other documents may have to be notarised beforehand:

  • Power of Attorney
  • Copy of Passport
  • Copy of Driver License
  • Transcripts
  • Diplomas
  • Authorization Letter
  • Corporate Power of Attorney

Notarial Service provided by Notary

Not all legal documents require Apostille. Apostille is required only if the receiving party has made such a request to do so. Therefore, when arranging for Notarisation, enquire with the receiving party of the document: Is Apostille required?

Our two notary public may notarize an oversea document for you in Hong Kong.  If the Notarised documents require an Apostille, you may instruct to do so on your behalf but you may elect to do it yourself (DIY). You may need a Notary Public:-

  • To certify identity of a person or a director of a company
  • To authenticate the originality of a document e.g. a degree diploma or simple an identity document or certificate
  • When dealing with international business transactions such as dealing a real property or acquisitions of assets or shares abroad 
  • To witness the execution of Powers of Attorney 
  • When setting up a business or company abroad 
  • When sending your child overseas appointing a guardian or custodian. This often happens in Canada.

Therefore, a notary witnesses, attests, authenticates and certified a document or a fact or a signature, as the case may be.Other legal services: www.solicitor.hk


When Apostille Required?

"Apostille" means "certification". Our law firm can get an apostille signature and seal on an oversea document notarized by us. You need an apostille seal:

  • When you have a foreign document required by the oversea party or authority that you have to go through this legalization process known as apostille.
  • When you wish to authenticate the genuineness of the signing authority of the Notary Public (his signature, seal and capacity as a duly appointed notary) or the public official signing on the official document e.g. contract, declaration, affidavit etc.

Documents acceptable for apostille

The High Court of Hong Kong provides apostille service. We may act as your agent to get an apostille on your oversea document.

Documents accepted for apostille service in Hong Kong are broadly classified into the following two categories:

  1. Documents signed by a notary public or a Commissioner for Oaths in Hong Kong. For example, (a) Notary Public - Power of Attorney: Certified true copy (b) Commissioner for Oaths: Declaration. Therefore, documents signed and sealed by our Notary Public are acceptable for apostille by the authority in Hong Kong.
  2. Public documents bearing the true signature of an official party such as a Hong Kong SAR Government recognized officer. For example:
    1. Marriage Certificate, ie. certificates signed by Deputy Registrar of Marriage (For certificates signed by civil celebrants or issued by the church/temple, please obtain a certified true copy from the Record Office of the Marriage Registry) 
    2. Certificate of Absence of Marriage Record
    3. Birth and Death Certificate - Certificate of Registered Particulars
    4. Business Registration Certificate
    5. Certificate of Incorporation (With effect from 16 January 2012, applicant shall attach a print-out of the relevant company search made within 3 working days to each of the original copy of the ‘Certificate of Incorporation', 'Certificate of Change of Company Name', 'Certificate of Continuing Registration', or 'Certificate issued under section 305(1) of the Companies Ordinance', etc. issued by the Registrar of Companies to be apostilled. Photocopy of the print-out is acceptable.) 

Apostille is done by the High Court

Apostilles are affixed by Competent Authorities designated by the government of a state which is party to the Hague Convention. The Hague Conference on Private International Law maintain a list of these authorities. Examples of designated authorities are embassies, ministries, courts or (local) governments.

  • United States: the Secretary of State of each state and his or her deputies are usually competent authorities. 
  • United Kingdom: all apostilles are issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Milton Keynes.
  • Hong Kong: the High Court is eligible of placing an apostille on the documents.

Eligibility for an Apostille in Hong Kong

Not all documents are eligible for an Apostille. Please visit other pages of this website.


The Hague Convention or The Apostille Treaty

The Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement for Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents, the Apostille convention is shortly known as the Hague Convention. It is also generally known as the Apostille treaty. Hong Kong is bound by the treaty.

The Apostille treaty is an international treaty drafted by the Hague Conference on Private International Law.

  • It specifies the modalities through which a document issued in one of the signatory countries can be certified for legal purposes in all the other signatory states. 
  • Such a certification is called an apostille (French: certification). 
  • It is an international certification comparable to a notarisation in domestic law.

What is an Apostille Seal?

Apostille is a French word meaning "certification." An Apostille seal does not mean the stamp or seal of a notary public stamp. In USA, apostille seals are administered only from the secretary of state's notary public. In Hong Kong, the apostille seal is affixed by the High Court of Hong Kong.

Background

Apostille seals were introduced to the 1961 Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents. The convention established rules governing the international recognition of legal documents. Not all countries are its treaty members.

Notarial or legalization importance of an apostille seal

An Apostille seal means the document can be used legally in a foreign country. However, only countries that signed Article 12 of the 1961 Hague convention will honour an Apostille. The rest or non-member states or countries may require legalization by the emabssy or consulate-general.

Official requirements

In Hong Kong, not all documents may be submitted for an apostille. A document signed by a notary public is one of the two types of documents qualified to be apostilled. See Documents acceptable for apostille in Hong Kong


Contact us for notarial & apostille services

Our Notary Public can attend your notarial & apostille needs at our Wanchai or Cheung Sha Wan offices: 

  • Wanchai (Hong Kong Island): Unit 1503, 15/F, Yue Xiu Building, 160-174 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong (Wanchai MTR Exit A1)
  • Cheung Sha Wan (Kowloon): Rooms 813-4, 8/F, Tower 1, Cheung Sha Wan Plaza, 833 Cheung Sha Wan Road, Kowloon (Lai Chi Kok MTR Station)
  • Enquiries: Miss Law +852 6888-9999 
    Online Enquiry Form
  • Names of our two notaries: Tse Lin Chung and Tse Lin Fung, Charles.

Apostille :Eligible Documents, Legalisation

The Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement for Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents, the Apostille convention, or the Apostille treaty is an international treaty drafted by the Hague Conference on Private International Law. It specifies the modalities through which a document issued in one of the signatory countries can be certified for legal purposes in all the other signatory states. Such a certification is called an apostille(French: certification). It is an international certification comparable to a notarisation in domestic law.

Procedure

Apostilles are affixed by Competent Authorities designated by the government of a state which is party to the convention. A list of these authorities is maintained by the Hague Conference on Private International Law. Examples of designated authorities are embassies, ministries, courts or (local) governments. For example,

  • In Hong Kong, the High Court acted by the Registrar.
  • In the United States, the Secretary of State of each state and his or her deputies are usually competent authorities. 
  • In the United Kingdom, all apostilles are issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Milton Keynes.

To be eligible for an apostille, a document must first be issued or certified by an officer recognised by the authority that will issue the apostille. For example,

  • In Hong Kong, the High Court maintains specimen signatures of all notaries public, so documents that have been notarised are eligible for apostilles.
  • Likewise, courts in the Netherlands are eligible of placing an apostille on all municipal civil status documents directly. 
  • In some cases, intermediate certifications may be required in the country where the document originates before it will be eligible for an apostille. For example, in New York City, the Office of Vital Records (which issues, among other things, birth certificates) is not directly recognised by the New York Secretary of State. As a consequence, the signature of the City Clerk must be certified by the County Clerk of New York County to make the birth certificate eligible for an apostille.
  • In Japan all the official documents are issued in Japanese language, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA, JAPAN) then provides an apostille for these documents.
  • In India the apostille certification can be obtained from the Ministry of External Affairs.

Information

The apostille itself is a stamp or printed form consisting of 10 numbered standard fields. On the top is the text APOSTILLE, under which the text Convention de La Haye du 5 octobre 1961 (English: Hague Convention of 5 October 1961) is placed. In the numbered fields the following information is added:

Country ... [country name]
This public document
has been signed by ... [name]
acting in the capacity of ... [function]
bears the seal/stamp of ... [authority]
certified
at ... [location]
the ... [date]
by ... [name]
No ... [apostille registration number]
Seal/stamp ... [of the authority giving the apostille]
Signature ... [signature of authority giving the apostille]
The information can be placed on the (back of the) document itself, or attached to the document as an allonge.

Eligible Documents

Not all documents are accepted for Apostille service.

Documents accepted for apostille service are broadly classified into the following two categories :

  • Public documents bearing the true signature of an official party such as a Hong Kong SAR Government recognized officer. For example, - Marriage Certificate, ie. certificates signed by Deputy Registrar of Marriage (For certificates signed by civil celebrants or issued by the church/temple, please obtain a certified true copy from the Record Office of the Marriage Registry) - Certificate of Absence of Marriage Record - Birth and Death Certificate - Certificate of Registered Particulars - Business Registration Certificate - Certificate of Incorporation 
  • Documents signed by a notary public or a Commissioner for Oaths in Hong Kong. For example, (a) Notary Public - Power of Attorney - Certified true copy (b) Commissioner for Oaths - Declaration

Legalization

States that have not signed the Convention must specify how foreign legal documents can be certified for its use. Two countries may have a special convention on the recognition of each other's public documents, but in practice this is infrequent. Otherwise, the document must be certified by the foreign ministry of the country where the document originated and then by the foreign ministry of the government where the document will be used; one of the certifications will often be performed at an embassy or consulate.

In practice this means the document must be certified twice before it can have legal effect in the receiving country. For example, as a non-signatory, Canadian documents for use abroad must be certified by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs in Ottawa or by a Canadian consular official abroad and subsequently by the relevant government office or consulate of the receiving state.