The Australian Consulate-General can witness your signature on some land, mortgage or property documents, certify documents and complete the DFAT Identity Certificate. We can’t provide legal advice. See below for our step-by-step guide and some other helpful hints. Notary publics http://www.notaries.org.hk can also witness most documents.
We cannot complete Victorian Land Transfer Duties Form 6A. Why? Because this form must be signed and witnessed by a person authorised under section 107A(1) of the Evidence (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1958 per 'How do I complete this form?' on page 1 of your form. Contact your representative to see who else can help you (such as a notary public or Australian lawyer).
Step 1: Seek advice from your Australian legal practitioner, law practice licensed conveyancer, or mortgagee (bank etc). Each document is different and we can’t tell you what you need. Check with the person or organisation which sent you your documents to see if an Australian Consular Officer can witness your signature on the document.
Step 2: Ask your representative to prepare your documents and provide written instructions that include:
Dear Australian Consulate-General Hong Kong
I request your assistance with the following:
- Witnessing of ___ number of copies of documents ____ (insert name of documents). These documents can be witnessed by a ____ (insert list of persons who can witness e.g. consular officer, consul, notary public).
- If applicable; The document does not include the title reference and lot number because ____ (insert reason if applicable e.g. property is yet to be assigned a lot number)
- Certifying ___ number of copies of _____ (insert types of documents e.g. passport, Hong Kong ID card). These must be coloured copies (if applicable).
- Completing a DFAT Identity Certificate for ______ (insert names of clients). Only one certificate is completed per client. Each certificate must be accompanied by at least 1 certified document. Representative must advise what documents are to be included at point (g) on the Identity Certificate.
Step 3: Make an appointment for a "Property Sale or Purchase/DFAT Identity Certificates" at the following link
The appointment includes witnessing of your document, certifying of documents and completing the DFAT identity certificate (depending on your requirements).
Applicants without an appointment will not be seen so please ensure you go online in advance to make an appointment. Please select "Property Sale or Purchase/DFAT Identity Certificates" on the booking page. If you select the wrong service, we may not be able to help at your appointment time.
Urgent appointments: if your document is urgent please contact a notary public. See http://www.notaries.org.hk/index.aspx for a list of notaries in Hong Kong.
Step 4: Visit our office
23/F Harbour Centre
25 Harbour Road
Things to bring to your appointment:
- A letter from your Australian legal practitioner, law practice licensed conveyancer, or mortgagee (bank etc) asking the Consulate to witness your mortgage documents, complete a DFAT identity certificate and certify your documents. The letter should list exactly how many copies of each document are required (see step 2).
- Your documents for witnessing (do not sign before the appointment),
- Your passport and other documents to be certified. You will need to have photo ID that matches the name on the document you are signing.
- A DFAT identity certificate if required. Fill this out before your appointment so we can serve you quickly.
- Hong Kong Dollars or a Credit card to pay Fees.
Step 5: Send your documents to your representative. We do not do this for you.
See below for more information on what we can and can’t do.
Visit Smartraveller http://smartraveller.gov.au/services/legalising-documents-overseas.html under the heading "Selling or buying land or property in Australia?"
'Identifiers Certificates' or 'Verification of Identity Certificates'
The Consulate can complete the DFAT Identity Certificate for land, property or mortgage transactions. The Consulate will not sign any other 'Identifiers Certificates' or 'Verification of Identity Certificates'. Check your requirements with your Australian representative and ask them if you need a DFAT Identity Certificate before visiting the Australian Consulate.
Please note the Consulate cannot sign DFAT Identity Certificate on its own. The certificate states that the consular officer needs to witness the applicant to execute a document such as client authorisation, transfer of land, mortgage of land etc. This means if you require the Consulate to complete the DFAT Identity Certificate, we will also need to witness the execution of a land, property or mortgage document.
See a lawyer for legal advice. Consulate staff do not provide legal advice. We suggest someone from the state where you are purchasing the property.
Who else can do this?
Check with your representative to see if someone else can witness or certify your documents. Each state has different requirements, for example:
- Queensland – witness can be notary publics, or Australian or New Zealand registered lawyers. This information is available from the Queensland Government https://www.business.qld.gov.au/industry/titles-property-construction/titles-property/transactions/death-joint-tenant/signing-and-witnessing
- New South Wales - an eligible witness can be anyone who is over 18 years of age and is not a party to the transaction and has known the person who is signing the dealing as a party to the transaction for at least a year or has taken reasonable steps to confirm the identity of that person. This information is available from the New South Wales Government http://www.lpi.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/163348/Witnessing_obligations_Real_Property_Act_dealings.pdf
- Victoria – Victorian land transfers cannot be witnessed at the consulate under section 107A(1) of the Evidence (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1958. They can be witnessed by a notary public, justice of the peace, an Australian lawyer among others. A full list is available from the Victorian Government http://www.justice.vic.gov.au/home/justice+system/legal+assistance/statutory+declarations. This legislation is currently under review by the Victorian Government and will hopefully be updated to include consular officers. You should discuss this with your representative.
- Western Australia – Transfer of Land Act 1893 includes other witnesses like a Notary public, Australian qualified lawyer, Australian qualified engineer or an Australian qualified teacher. Discuss this with your representative and see the Transfer of Land Act 1893 for a full list http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/wa/consol_act/tola1893160/s145.html.
- South Australia – According to the Registrar-General's Verification of Identity Requirements the identity declarant must be an adult who has known the person for 12 months, not related and not a party to the transaction OR a Bank Manager, a Community Leader, Court Officer, Medical Practitioner, Land Council Officeholder, Local Government Officeholder, Nurse, Public Servant, Legal Practitioner, Conveyancer or Police Officer. This information is available from The South Australian Government https://www.sa.gov.au/topics/planning-and-property/land-and-property-development/conveyancing-and-surveying-professionals/registrar-generals-statutory-instruments/verification-of-identity-requirements-for-conveyancing.
Verification of Identity: An international financial institution or law practice would also be able to use overseas personnel to conduct verification of identity e.g. if you are dealing with an Australian bank with a presence in Hong Kong such as NAB, CBA, ANZ or Westpac they can complete the verification of identity in Hong Kong for free.
For Hong Kong, try the Hong Kong Society of Notaries for a listing of Notaries in Hong Kong.
Sorry the Consulate does not allow urgent appointments for land transfers. See Who else can do this? for alternate options. We may make an exception for Western Australian land transfers but you will need to be flexible with our schedule.