Hong Kong – Apostille or Authentication?
Documents intended for Hong Kong SAR or Macau SAR must be stamped with an apostille from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and do not follow the same process as documents intended for China (mainland).
What do you need for documents going to Hong Kong?
As a leading provider of notary public services in Sydney, we help many clients with notarising their documents intended for Hong Kong. Sometimes some of those clients also receive different advice about the formal requirements for documents notarised in Australia. In this article, we try to clear the confusion and provide some guidance based on our experience in helping clients in Australia send their documents to Hong Kong.
What kind of documents do we notarise for Hong Kong?
Some common documents that we notarise include:
- The Notice of Intended Marriage for marrying in Hong Kong.
- Registration applications to practice a profession in Hong Kong (ie, we have assisted doctors, dentists, pharmacists, physiotherapists and veterinarians).
- Withdrawing MPF benefits for those who have worked in Hong Kong.
- Certification of identity and identification documents (including the Hong Kong Identity Card)
- Property dealings and transaction-related legal documents for property in Hong Kong.
- Legal documents used in court proceedings in Hong Kong, including probate and estate matters.
- Witnessing the power of attorney or transfer documents relating to property in Hong Kong.
Generally, any kind of document signed and witnessed in Australia, or is a copy of an original Australian government document, must be notarised if it’s going to be used in another country. This also includes documents used in Hong Kong.
Legalising documents for Hong Kong
In addition to notarisation, documents must also be legalised. This involves stamping notarised document with an apostille or having it authenticated by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). Sometimes this level of formality isn’t required, but it’s always best to check. For many clients, just having the documents notarised is enough, but if in doubt then it’s always safer to have the documents properly legalised.
The formality of legalisation applies to documents intended for countries all over the world. However, many clients are confused about what kind of formalities exist between Australia and Hong Kong. The confusion often arises from different and conflicting advice from their lawyers or from government offices. While it’s important to obtain the right advice, not everyone is aware of the requirements.
Sometimes our clients are asked to have their documents notarised, authenticated by DFAT and then legalised by the Chinese Consulate. This is the normal legalisation process that clients must follow when sending documents to China. Even though Hong Kong returned to China in 1997, the Chinese Consulate website advise that documents intended for Hong Kong (and Macau) don’t need to be legalised by the Chinese Consulate. Instead, documents intended for Hong Kong must be notarised and then stamped with an apostille from DFAT. The Chinese Consulate is not involved.
Hong Kong still recognises the apostille
This is important information. Many people (including some lawyers) assume that the legalisation process for documents going to China also applies to Hong Kong. This isn’t correct. Legalisation for documents intended for China doesn’t apply to documents intended for Hong Kong.
“When Hong Kong and Macao were restored to the People’s Republic of China on 1 July 1997 and 20 December 1999, respectively, China declared that the Convention will continue to apply for Hong Kong and Macao.”
Fortunately, this means that the legalisation of documents for Hong Kong will be cheaper and faster – all good news for our clients.
If you’re in Australia and you’re sending your documents to Hong Kong, ask for clear instructions. You should speak to your lawyer, the appropriate government office, or the intended recipient. If they say you must legalise your document through the Chinese Consulate in Australia, provide them with a link to this article. They can also visit the Chinese Consulate or the Chinese Embassy websites for more information. The Consulate and the Embassy will confirm that legalisation of documents for Hong Kong only requires an apostille from DFAT.
Do you have any questions?
Sending documents from Australia to other countries can be complicated. We make it simple.
If your documents must be stamped with an apostille or authenticated and then legalised, we can help with that too. We've also created a flowchart to explain the process.
So, what's next?
Why choose Phang Legal for your notary public services?
We're a leading provider of notary public services in Sydney. We're known for our experience and expertise in notarising documents for other countries, our low-cost fixed fees and service offering, and our availability to help on short notice.
Our office is conveniently located in Parramatta, the geographic centre of the Sydney metropolitan area. We help clients from across Sydney and beyond with personal, professional and timely notary public services.
This website is maintained by Phang Legal, a boutique law firm in Parramatta and a leading provider of quality notary public services to satisfied clients across Sydney.
Ern Phang is a director of Phang Legal and a notary public (since 2005). Ern regularly writes about his experiences as a notary public and the issues faced by his clients in sending documents to other countries.