Who is a Notary Public in Hong Kong? Understanding Notaries Public and the Notary Public System in Hong Kong

The role of a notary public is crucial when conducting cross-border transactions or handling international business matters. So what is a notary public? A notary public is a person authorized to notarize legal documents. Their main duty is not only to authenticate documents, but they are also the protectors of your legal rights. From witnessing signatures, verifying originals and copies, to issuing notarized documents, let’s take an in-depth look at what a notary public actually does and how they can provide you with the safest service possible.

What is notarization? Introduction to the international notary system

The Notary Public system is a globally recognized notarial procedure designed to provide a mechanism for ensuring that notarized documents are accepted in all countries, helping to enhance the credibility and acceptance of notarized documents.

It is worth noting that the scope of work of most international notaries is limited to confirming the authenticity of the source of facts or documents, such as the authenticity of signatures and seals. They do not take responsibility for the content of the document or issue any comments. Such work is essentially notarization of a formal nature.

What is the difference between a notarized and certified copy?

A notarized copy and a certified copy of a genuine document both indicate that the document is genuine and legal.

However, there is an important difference between them. A certified true copy is only recognized in the country where the document was certified, whereas a notarized document is recognized internationally.

To learn more about certified copies, see “What is a Certified True Copy? What does it do?”

Notaries Public in Hong Kong?

The notarial system in Hong Kong is based on that of England and Wales. Notaries public are appointed, registered and regulated in accordance with the Legal Professionals Ordinance. Notaries Public are generally appointed by the Chief Justice of the High Court and are usually solicitors who have practiced in Hong Kong for more than seven years and have passed the Hong Kong Society of Notaries Examination. The accreditation and signatures of these notaries public are filed with the High Court of Hong Kong.

According to historical records, the first notaries public in Hong Kong were appointed in 1844, and until the handover in 1997, notaries public in Hong Kong were appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury of the United Kingdom.

In practice, the countersigning procedure of the High Court of Hong Kong is precisely the verification of the identity and notarial qualifications of an international notary public, as well as the authenticity of signatures, seals or stamps on notarized instruments.

It is worth mentioning that if a Hong Kong lawyer handles international notarization business, he will be witnessing or notarizing in the capacity of an international notary public (not in the capacity of a lawyer).

Duties of Notaries Public and Scope of Notarized Documents

A notary public prepares, executes and validates document processing and legal documents for overseas use, confirming the identity of the signatories and that they know and understand the contents of the document. Notaries also check the authenticity of documents and, where necessary, provide notarized certificates attesting to the authenticity of the documents:

Drawing up authorizations for clients for overseas use

Ensure that the copy of the document is a certified true copy.

witnessing the signing of documents

Witnessing the act of taking an oath as an Oaths Officer

Verify the identity of persons appearing before them

Conducting document identity verification to facilitate:

Purchase or sale of land or property abroad

Verify personal documents for immigration, marriage, adoption or inheritance

Verify business documents

Provide a secure record of transactions, documents or events

Various legal/commercial documents including:

Commercial contracts


Real estate transaction documents

Personal documents for overseas use, e.g. academic certificates, proof of identity, marriage certificates, etc.

Certificate of Incorporation, Business Registration Certificate, Memorandum and Articles of Association, Board of Directors’ Resolutions for Hong Kong registered companies

Power of attorney

Religious/non-religious oaths

Statutory declaration

Notarization of witness signatures

Notarization of original and duplicate copies, etc. The above information is for reference only. If you have any enquiries about tax return (personal tax return, corporate tax return, accountant tax return), we welcome you to contact our professional consultants and will provide you with a free quote and consultation service in due course.

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