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A Complete Guide to Certified True Copy in Hong Kong

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A certified true copy is a copy of an important document that is verified as being a complete, authentic and updated copy of the original at the date of certification.

Key Takeaways

Certified true copies are required for various business activities, government proceedings, and legal purposes. They allow you to provide attested copies of important documents without risking the original documents.

Certified public accountants, lawyers, public notaries, authorized court officers, practicing company secretaries, and consular officers can certify documents.

A certified true copy verifies that a document is an accurate copy of the original, while a certificate of incumbency confirms specific information about a company.

Certified true copies must be signed, dated, and clearly state that they are true copies of the original.

As a business owner, have you been required to certify some of your company or personal documents? Look no further! This article provides a complete guide to certified true copy and other forms of notarization in Hong Kong.

When engaging in any business activity, regardless of its nature, there is a requirement to provide certified true copies of certain original documents. A certified true copy may be required on various occasion such as incorporating your company, applying for a company bank account or a specific permit.

Before we discuss how you can certify your original documents, it is vital first to understand what a certified true copy is and why you need it.

What Is a Certified True Copy?

A certified true copy is a copy of an important document that is verified as being a complete, authentic and updated copy of the original at the date of certification. The document is stamped by a qualified professional to certify that the document is a true copy of the original.

However, it is important to note that a certified true copy does not confirm the authenticity of the original document. It only certifies that the copy in question is, in fact, a true copy of the original document. Common examples of documents that require certified true copies are birth certificates, passports, and driver's licences.

Why Is a Certified True Copy Important?

Providing a certified true copy of original documents is a requirement when engaging in most business activities in Hong Kong as well as other jurisdictions.

These activities range from applying to open a corporate account in any Hong Kong-based bank to using documents made and signed in Hong Kong for international transactions.

Furthermore, the use of certified true copies goes far beyond commercial and business activity. It is often used in government proceedings or for legal purposes as well.

A significant advantage of having a certified true copy is that you do not have to risk giving up the original document. Especially in the case of identity documents as you can provide an attested copy instead.

This point is extremely beneficial where the document contains confidential information or is used to confirm your identity as this avoids any risk of losing or damaging the original document.

Who Can Certify Documents in Hong Kong?

In Hong Kong, a certified true copy will normally be accepted if it is issued by:

  • A certified public accountant
  • A lawyer
  • A public notary

Certain documents can also be certified as a true copy by:

  • An authorized officer of a court in Hong Kong
  • A practicing company secretary in Hong Kong
  • A consular officer of your home country (for non-Hong Kong residents)

What Does a Certified Copy Look Like?

The certified true copies must be signed and dated by the appropriate certifier.

The qualified professional has to clearly print in capitals their name along with their position on the document. The document must also explicitly indicate that the document is a true copy of the original.

Please see below for a sample of the certification chop.

what a certified true copy document looks like

Lastly, the certifying authority usually stamps the document with a certified professional chop confirming its qualification.

Difference Between Certified True Copy and Certificate of Incumbency

Certified true copies and certificates of incumbency serve different purposes.

certificate of incumbency is a document issued by an independent third party (usually a regulated professional). Its purpose is to independently confirm certain information about your Hong Kong company.

What Is a Notary Public?

The Hong Kong High Court appoints a notary, who must also be registered with the High Court on the Register of Notaries Public. The Hong Kong Society of Notaries regulates and governs all notary publics.

A notary is a certified professional certifying documents and attesting the authenticity of a range of different documents. These documents include contracts, passports, driver's licenses, bank statements, and other business transactions, as well as documents relating to the purchase or sale of a property overseas. Notaries public are usually solicitors who have been practicing for at least seven years and then get qualified and appointed as a notary.

The primary function of a notary public is to help prevent fraud. This is carried out by witnessing the signing of documents and verifying the identity of those who sign them. This process also involves testing their awareness regarding the subject matter of the documents and judging their willingness to sign them in the first place.

Other services that a notary is generally responsible for include witnessing the declaration as Commissioner for Oaths and preparing and witnessing Powers of Attorney for a client's use in foreign countries.

What Is a Notarized Copy?

Notarisation is the official term used to avoid document fraud. The method of verifying documents detects any signs of fraud or elements of the document in question that need further investigation or clarification.

It is a necessary process for both businesses and individuals, as failing to notarize a document renders it invalid and unacceptable. This is a huge disadvantage, as it can delay many business proceedings that require notarized documents. Secondly, suppose a document was incorrectly notarized the first time. In that case, correcting the notarization process can be an inconvenience and quite costly as well.

The main difference is that certified true copies are only recognized within the country of certification, whereas notarized documents are globally recognized. In addition, a notary public can only certify a notarized copy.

Other Forms of Legalization: Apostille by the Hong Kong High Court

An alternate form of legalizing and verifying a document is through an apostille service.

You can use the apostille service to authenticate documents drafted in Hong Kong when you are required to submit them to an organization abroad. In most cases, apostilled documents are required when a resident of Hong Kong seeks to open a foreign corporate bank account.

The Hong Kong High Court provides an apostille service. The service is responsible for legalizing documents involving incorporating a company as well as documents previously signed and dated by practicing notary public and certified public accountants. A distinct apostille number is allocated to each document, which proves that the document in question is verified and authentic.

Get Your Certified Copy

Are you required to provide someone with a certified true copy of your personal or company documents?

At Air Corporate, we can help you determine who is the right person to prepare such certified copy (CPA, lawyer, notary) depending on its intended use.

If you register your Hong Kong company with us or appoint us as your company secretary, our certified true copy service includes the certification of your company or personal documents by a qualified partner law firm.


Vivian Au

For many years, I worked at big accounting and company secretary firms in Hong Kong. I started Air Corporate to make the life of entrepreneurs and SMEs easy.

Vivian Au


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