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Authentication of Foreign Documents for Probate Applications in Hong Kong

Authentication of Foreign Documents for Probate Applications in Hong Kong

Authentication of Foreign Documents for Probate Applications in Hong Kong

Wednesday, 02 June 2010 15:18

By Alfred Ip, Partner, Notary Public and CEDR Accredited Mediator

Applications for Probate and Letters of Administration often require production of a number of public documents in order to prove the applicant’s entitlement, such as Certificates of Birth, Death, Marriage and Adoption.

The Hong Kong Probate Registry requires such documents to be properly authenticated if they are issued by foreign authority, in order to ensure their authenticity.


Very often those documents would be sent to a Notary Public for authentication. The Notary Public produces a Notarial Certificate confirming the authenticity of the public document issued by the local Government and attaches his Notarial Certificate. The signature of the Notary Public would then be confirmed with an Apostille or certified by the Chinese Embassy. Three or more different offices are involved in the whole authentication process, a lot of time is spent on such tedious process and fees are paid again and again.

Unfortunately, it is NOT an acceptable way to authenticate a foreign public document to the Hong Kong Probate Registry.

In order to authenticate a public document properly, the signature of that public document must be certified by the relevant authority. Countries participating in the relevant “Hague Convention” would issue a Certificate of Apostille for that purpose. Different countries have different departments responsible for issuing such Certificate of Apostille, and you should consult your local government to determine which department is responsible for the same.

For countries outside said Hague Convention, the signature of the public document would be certified by a designated government department. For use in Hong Kong, such certification must then be certified by the Chinese Embassy or Consulate in that country. The Chinese Embassy should be able to direct you to the relevant local authority for certifying the signature of the public document.

In Hong Kong, public documents are authenticated by the High Court of Hong Kong SAR. Public documents authenticated in such manner do not require the assistance of a Notary Public.

Consult OLN before engaging yourself in the complex document authentication process.



This article is for information purposes only. Its contents do not constitute legal advice and readers should not regard this article as a substitute for detailed advice in individual instances.