Apostille and Legalization are usually an "Either-Or" arrangement after completion of the notary public for Hong Kong corporate documents using overseas, and today, you are going to know the difference between Apostille and Legalization, this article is a brief outline of Apostille, Legalization and China Attestation arrangements in Hong Kong.
Difference between Apostille and Legalization
Apostille and Legalization are different terms that carry similar meanings, to authenticate or verify a document that is produced locally while to be used in a foreign country. For countries that signed the Hague Apostille Convention, they share the common procedure to authenticate or verify a document, and that procedure is called "Apostille"; then, for the rest of the countries, they follow their own procedure that usually called "Legalization" or any other terms, for example, in China, it is called "China Attestation".
A simple way to know what procedure you should follow is to check whether the country you use the documents, is a part of the Hague Convention country; and here is the link to the Hague Apostille List of Countries and Authorities, and feel free to utilize below flow chart for your easy reference.
When will you need Apostille or Legalization?
As you can tell, Apostille or Legalization is a higher standard that is one step above the notary public, and therefore, you will need to perform Apostille or Legalization for some of the serious and important commercial deals or for the purpose of submission to the government authorities, for example
A take-over deal that requires the verify the buyer's identity and execute in two(2) different countries;
An incorporation application involves a major Shareholder that is a foreign country company;
A Power of Attorney to authorize a local director or officer to in-charge of an application with the Bank, Chamber of Commerce, Immigration Department ... etc.
Because Apostille, Legalization and China Attestation are quite different procedures, follow up is the introduction on how you could arrange the respective procedures here in Hong Kong
How to arrange Apostille in Hong Kong
The Competent Authorities to arrange Apostille in Hong Kong is the Registrar of the High Court, and because the documents are required to be signed by a notary public in Hong Kong, usually, the law firm that notarizes the documents will handle the apostille procedure for clients as well.
Then, very often, we were asked about where to verify the legitimacy of the documents, and indeed, you can visit the Apostille Verification page of the High Court to conduct a search with the information shown upon the Apostilled Document, like this below screen capture, a sample of company document issued by Companies Registry being apostilled
And in return, the below result will be shown that matches with the information on the document.
How to arrange Legalization in Hong Kong
Regarding Legalization, it is usually handled by the Consulates-General of respective countries in Hong Kong. There is no standard format or procedure in terms of the legalization arrangement, for example, take Finland Consulates-General, only one sentence in relation to the legalization service, that means the law firm is required to liaise with the office of the Consulate-General for every case, and often, a translation to the local language is essential as well, which resulting in a higher cost and longer time to complete the process.
Although the law firm usually will handle the legalization as a whole, in case you need to arrange the legalization on your own, here is the link where you can find the office of the Consulate-Generals in Hong Kong for your easy reference.
How to arrange China Attestation in Hong Kong
For documents to be used in China, instead of Apostille or Legalization, it is required to go through a separate system, China Attestation. All China Attestations are in-charged by the Association of China-Appointed Attesting Officers Limited here in Hong Kong, you can find a member of the Association to perform the China Attestation, together with the Chinese translation documents, present to the Association for registration as an official attested document.
To remind with, because the China Attestation process is under a separate system, you don't need to arrange notary public in advance, simply approach a member of the Association of China-Appointed Attesting Officers Limited will do.
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