What is the Difference Between Certified True Copy Documents and Apostille Documents?

by Cheap Incorporation Team | January 11, 2024

For those of you who are curious about the purposes of a certified true copy document and an apostille document, this article will thoroughly explain the main differences between the two so you can have a better understanding on the subject.

Certified True Copy Documents

The certificate of incorporation issued by the Hong Kong Companies Registry is a one-time occurrence only. Therefore, it is absolutely imperative to secure your original company documents like business license, certificate of incorporation, incorporation form NNC1 and Articles of Association.  

Accidents do happen sometimes so bear in mind that you can always obtain a certified true copy from the Hong Kong Company Registry’s internal system if the original document ever gets misplaced or distroyed. In some cases, you may have to acquire original documents depending on the nature of your business, as different parties like government bodies, suppliers or buyers may require them for contract signings. Additional assurance may be sought by buyers and suppliers, indicating there is a higher preference for certified copy documents over the original ones.

For instance, when establishing a corporate bank account in Hong Kong, some banks may request certified copy documents. Certified documents typically bear the signature of a Hong Kong Certified Public Accountant (CPA), a notary public (lawyer), or a Hong Kong Chartered Secretary recognized by the HKICS. A certified copy document also includes a declaration asserting its authenticity compared to the original copy in which enhances the reliability and trustworthiness of the document, as it is examined and certified by a professional individual regulated by a professional association.

Apostille Documents

All apostille documents are issued by the Hong Kong High Court which include the signature of an official party. In cases where the document lacks the signature of an official party, it must instead bear the signature of a notary public (lawyers) or the commissioner for Oaths in Hong Kong.

For instance, the Certificate of Incorporation qualifies for an apostille service because it features the signature of the Companies Registrar. It is also important to keep in mind that not all company documents feature the signature of an official party. For instance, the business registration license lacks any signature from an official body.

For documents that lack the signature of a government officer, such as the business registration license, you must coordinate with the Hong Kong Inland Revenue Department to arrange a certified copy document. It will automatically become eligible for an apostille service at the Hong Kong High Court once the government officer signs and certifies the document. Likewise, if there is a need to apostille the incorporation form NNC1, you must liaise with the Hong Kong Company Registry for a counter signature.

Apostille documents are sometimes required for overseas applications, such as when opening a bank account. For example, foreign banks may request apostille documents to verify the authenticity of the submitted documents, particularly if they are unfamiliar with Hong Kong practices. While the appearance of apostille documents may vary, they typically feature a seal or stamp indicating the name of the issuing authority, the document specifies the issuance country, location, department, and the issuing individual’s name. Generally speaking, apostille documents typically remain valid for a period of 3 months.

We hope this article helps you learn more about Hong Kong! If you have further questions or would like to form a company with us, please do not hesitate to contact us via email at info@cheapincorp.com or message us at +852 5404 0902 on WhatsApp. 

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