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Copy of True Copy Certification in Hong Kong

A certified true copy is a copy of the document that is examined and confirmed by a qualified third party as an accurate copy of the original.

In Hong Kong, qualified certifiers include lawyers, notaries public, certified public accountants (CPAs), company secretaries, and consular officers.

Hong Kong banks typically require certified true copies to be dated within 3 months of an account application submission.

When you apply for a business account in Hong Kong, you may be asked to provide documents that are certified as true copies, commonly known as a certified true copy of the original documents.

In this case, document certification is an essential part of your application process. If not done correctly, it can cause delays in verifying your documents and getting your company bank account opened.

That's good to know, but the real question is whether you are familiar with document certification. Most people are not.

Below are a number of helpful guidelines you should follow to get your document certification appropriately done.

What Is a Certified True Copy?

A certified true copy is a copy of an original document that has been verified by a qualified third party.

When applying for a new account, the bank will request that you provide copies of some original documents like identity documents, proof of address, and banking records.

To confirm that the copied documents have not been edited or altered, you will be asked to get them certified by a qualified third party.

The duty of this qualified third party is to certify that the copied documents are exact and true copies of the originals.

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Note: A certified copy, true copy, and certified true copy are interchangeable and all refer to the same thing.

Key Things to Keep in Mind

Before we proceed, here are some essentials you should be aware of.

The document certification process is not the same as getting a bank certificate.

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A notarised copy is a special type of certified true copy. 

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Which Documents Must Be Certified and Summitted to Open a Business Bank Account?

Because banks cannot keep original documents, they require certified copies for business verification and record-keeping.

However, different banks have different specifications on which documents they need you to have certified in order to approve your bank account application.

However, general banking practice is to require the following documents certified:

  • Proof of ID: A passport, national ID, or sometimes a driving licence is required to prove your identity. For business accounts, proof of identity is needed for all directors, shareholders, and the ultimate beneficial owners of the company.
  • Proof of Residential Address: Acceptable documents include a recent utility bill, appointment or follow-up letters from a hospital or doctor, and letters from a government department. The same rules apply to each individual providing valid proof of ID.
  • Company Documents: Incorporation documents include the business registration certificate, certificate of incorporation, articles of association, registers of directors and shareholders, and other relevant documents, depending on where your company is incorporated.

It is important to inquire with the relevant bank about the exact documents they require you to show for proof of identity and proof of residential address.

Otherwise, you may risk certifying the wrong document and having to start the process again, wasting your time and money.

Who Can Certify Documents in Hong Kong?

In Hong Kong, your documents must be certified by a professional who is qualified to conduct document certification, including:

  • A lawyer
  • A public notary
  • A solicitor
  • A certified public accountant (CPA)
  • A company secretary
  • A consular officer of your home country.

You can find a qualified professional for your needs by contacting the official bodies representing Hong Kong-registered CPAs, attorneys, and notaries.

Here are a few helpful websites to get you started.

Irrespective of what the law dictates, you are dealing with the bank for the opening of the account. Essentially, the bank has the final word on which third party they deem qualified to certify the documents.

And again, to save time and money, it is recommended that you confirm this information with the bank before having any document certifications done.

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What Should Your Certified Document Look Like?

To be acceptable, the certified copy of your document must be legible. Also, the general banking practice is that certified documents must be dated less than 3 months at the time of submission.

The certifier will need to complete the following steps:

  • Write on the document: "Certified to be a true copy of the original seen by me" or any similar wording
  • Sign and date the document
  • Print their name under the signature on the document
  • Add their occupation (i.e. solicitor or notary public), address, and telephone number
  • Stamp the document with their professional stamp

The certification must be done on a copy of the document to be validated successfully. Below are examples to show the format of a certified true copy.

Certified True Copy:

______(Signature)_______________

Name

HKICPA Number:

Date:

I, the undersigned, do hereby certify that I have examined this document with its original and that the same is a true and complete copy of the original.

______(Signature)_______________

Name

Solicitor

Date

example of certified true copy certification in hong kong
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Important: Banks and government bodies in Hong Kong expect the statement of certification to be in Chinese or English.

Do Certified True Copies Expire?

Technically, certified copies do not have an expiration date and remain valid as long as their originals do. However, in practice, Hong Kong banks commonly require documents to be certified within 3 months of application submission to ensure the copies reflect the current status of the original documents.

How Much Does Document Certification Cost?

When you need to get documents certified by an appropriate certifier, there is usually a fee attached to the certification services.

That fee can significantly vary depending on the certifier. Typically, having documents certified by a lawyer in Hong Kong starts at around HKD 280.

Alternatively, if you need to certify your business registration certificate (BRC), you can apply for document certification online via the GovHK website. The fee for this service is only HKD 160.

The Difference Between Document Certification and Document Authentication

Authentication (also called legalisation) is a process where various seals are placed on a document issued in one country so it will be recognised in another country not just as a certified document but as a legal document.

Below, we explore the key differences between the 2 concepts.

Document Certification

Document Authentication

Definition

Only verifies that the document is a true copy of an original document.

Confirms the authenticity of a document’s signature and seal, ensuring it is recognised internationally.

Performed by

Certifying authorities, such as lawyers, notaries public, solicitors, and CPAs.

Involves government authorities, and may include embassies or consulates.

Purpose

Needed for local transactions where a true copy of a document is necessary.

Required when documents must be legally recognised in foreign countries for purposes like education, legal proceedings, or business agreements.

Process

A qualified professional confirms the document copy is true to the original and marks it with their signature and seal.

Involves multiple steps: local certification, possibly an Apostille, and consular legalisation if the destination country is not part of the Hague Convention.

Example

Certifying a copy of a property deed for use in a local court case.

Authenticating a birth certificate for use in an overseas immigration application.

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Did you know? Hong Kong High Court offers the apostille service at a cost of HKD 125.

Please note that different countries have different levels of authentication and other procedures. Ensure to check the specific standards and processes required in the destination country before proceeding.

Final Note

Now, you should have all the information you need to know about certified true copies. Always consult with your chosen bank to confirm their current requirements and avoid delays in your account opening process.

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FAQs

What are certified true copies?

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Certified true copies are documents that have been examined, checked and confirmed as an accurate copy of the original. They are used to show that there has been no interference, and no changes made, when copying an important document.

How long does a certified true copy remain valid?

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Why are certified true copies important for Hong Kong businesses?

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Who can certify your documents?

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Is a certified true copy the same as an authenticated copy?

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