Seal from China's Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911).
Seal from China’s Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911). Photo: Smithsonian Institution

Today, I learned something about making a statutory declaration that could save you money.

What is a statutory declaration?

If you buy or sell international property, you may be asked to provide a statutory declaration, stating your residential address and other personal details.

The declaration doesn’t prove that this information is accurate, just that you have sworn an oath that the data is correct. There is usually a penalty of criminal prosecution for knowingly providing false information.

The declaration carries the seal and signature of the official who witnessed your oath. Countries have different formats for producing and requirements for accepting statutory declarations.

Where to make a statutory declaration?

The first time I made a statutory declaration, it was at a notary public’s office and cost over HK$2,000 (~US$260). Notaries have a guild-like trade body, with fixed prices.

The second time, I went to the Canadian consulate in Hong Kong. The consulate currently offers this service twice a week, on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. You can book an appointment online. The waiting list is several weeks long. The cost was about HK$400, which was a bargain compared to the notary. (As of January 2023, it appears the Canadian consulate in Hong Kong no longer provides this service.)

Today, I used the service provided by the Home Affairs Bureau of the Hong Kong Government. The service is free of charge. It is available five days a week at locations all over Hong Kong. No appointment is necessary, and the staff were friendly, efficient and helpful. It took 30 minutes.

Other options

If you’re not Canadian or a resident of Hong Kong, check with your local government office or embassy before you spend money with a notary.

Click here for more articles about international property.

Christopher Dillon is the author of the Landed series of real estate books. He has been a commercial and residential landlord in Hong Kong and Tokyo. Landed Global, which includes examples and data from over 110 countries and territories, is available from Amazon.

* * *