Apostille and Notary Public

A) Historical origin of International Notary (Apostille Notary or the Apostille Certification )  :

Historically, the originate of international notary came from Roman times and at that moment they were called "Scribes", "tabellio", which means a duty of coping the original, writing and replication by the requisite appropriate skills and knowledge, it gradually evolved into notary public.

In Europe, the earliest notary was appointed by the monarch and the Pope, the British notary set up the appointment system in the 13th century by Pope, it commissioned notary public which was appointed by the Archbishop Kendall Burleigh as established to develop in the 19th century, the formation of the current system.

Prior to 1997, all Hong Kong International notaries were appointed by the Archbishop of Kendall Burleigh and all international notary work should be done in accordance with the requirement of the Hague Convention 1961.

After 1997, Hong Kong generated a notary public examination system and in view of the fact that China is not a member of the Hague Convention.  All Hong Kong's international notary works are arranged by the continuation of diplomacy and nowadays in Hong Kong, there is no difference between the International Notary and those in 1997.

B) What is a Notary Public in Hong Kong ?

Notaries are qualified and experienced lawyers, practicing for at least seven years. Before 1997, the notary was appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, England. However, Hong Kong has its own notary examination and appointment systems. Since 1993, all appointed notaries in Hong Kong are eligible to get through the examination. Notary public when performing its notary services is subject to "The Legal Practitioners Ordinance" Chapter 159 which specify provisions concerning notaries that are regulated.

C) The Hong Kong International notary tasks:

Notaries in Hong Kong is primarily responsible for the preparation and verification of documents for use abroad. Notary all around the world has been widely recognized. Notaries, in documents signed and stamped by their personal seal, prepare certification documents or verification.  Chop has been for a long time, in most countries, they  are considered to verify the authenticity of documents on important basis. Notary's signature and seal in High Court of Hong Kong and many foreign consulates are registered. There is a  further validated signature and sealed procedure, it is called the "verification" process.

In addition, the notary is empowered under the "Marriage Ordinance" ﹝Cap 181﹞ which gives mandate to marriage celebrants to identity the presided procedures over the wedding.

Common notary services include, but not limited to:

  • i. Birth Certificate
  • ii. Death Certificate
  • iii. Marriage certificate
  • iv. Notary signing affidavits
  • v. Notary and signed power of attorney
  • vi. The court sealed absolute judgment Decree Absolute stamped by the court
  • vii. The court stamped divorce decree. Decree Nisi stamped by the court
  • viii. Certificate of Incorporation
  • ix. Company Name Change Certificate
  • x. Memorandum and Articles of Association
  • xi. Minutes
  • xii. Corporate decision-making
  • xiii. Demonstrate good corporate reputation
  • xiv. Companies House documents
  • xv. Company tax letters
  • xvi. For the preparation and use of a power of attorney witnessed abroad
  • xvii. Witness land or property overseas trading documents
  • xviii. Provide and manage overseas personal property or personal property owned by overseas -related documents
  • xix. Verification purposes such as immigration or relocate personal documents and information
  • xx. Verify companies, commercial and business documents
  • xxi. Maritime report prepared
  • xxii. For the transaction , document or event to provide authentication and preservation of notarial records
  • xxiii. Witness weddings, marriage Commissioner appointed to preside over the wedding .

D)   Notarization under the Hong Kong International certificate, the customer shall provide the notary, the documents according to different situation:-

  • 1.  The documents that need to be notarized, the original documents
  • 2.  The place of the notary content ( must be provided )
  • 3.  The purpose of notary content ( must be provided )
  • 4.  The applicants’ valid identity card or passport .

Unlike China International notary or Hong Kong principals notary, notary public attorney in general usually only partly swear testimony or signature, the authenticity of the document and is not to testify. Or a copy of the original may make proof copy with the original. Documents notarized by a notary public, in order to strengthen the mandate of the notary, customers can choose again : -

  • (1)      by the Hong Kong High Court for seal certification to prove that the signature on the certificate are from internationally recognized lawyer ( this certification , also known as Apostille ) ; or
  • (2)      by the use of notarized documents consulates endorsement certification to prove that the signature on the certificate is an internationally recognized legal person.

If the files require a member of the Hague countries notary, the notary public requested for international (or called Hague notary), some members of the Hague Convention would ask the local consulate to do authentication, so in this situation, make it clear that the notarized document or units / departments request for.