Identity Verification

How many times as in-house counsel have you been asked to certify a “true copy” of an identity document such as a passport or driver’s licence? I did laugh when I wrote this, as the very first time that I was asked to certify an identity document, having just started as an in-house counsel, it turned out it was for my fellow-employee’s divorce application!

There is a new code of practice relating to identity verification to be aware of if you are certifying identity documents – the Amended Identity Verification Code of Practice 2013 (the 2013 Identity Verification Code). The 2013 Identity Verification Code can be found here: 2013 Identity Verification Code. The information published by the Financial Markets Authority also recommends that the Code should be read in conjunction with this explanatory note.

The 2013 Identity Verification Code has been issued under the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering of Financing Terrorism Act 2009[1].

An earlier version of the Identity Verification Code was issued in 2011. The 2013 Identity Verification Code includes changes to make the code consistent with electronic identity verification in accordance with the Electronic Identity Verification Act 2012. The 2013 Identity Verification Code came into effect on 10 October 2013.

The 2013 Identity Verification Code allows for identity verification using both documentary and electronic verification. Where documentary verification is used, the reporting entity may rely on copies of the relevant identity documents, as opposed to sighting the originals, provided that they are certified in the prescribed way[2].

The biggest change from the older practice that many lawyers will be used to is that instead of only certifying a document as a “true copy”, lawyers must now also include a specific statement that the documents represent the identity of the person. The lawyer must sight the original documentary identification, and make a statement to the effect that the documents “are a true copy and represent the identity of the named individual”.[3] Certification must also include the name and signature of the lawyer and must specify the date of certification and that the certifier is a lawyer.[4]

There are also restrictions about the lawyer’s relationship with the person whose identity is being verified (you can not provide a valid certification if you are related or living at the same address as the person or involved in a business or transaction requiring the certification) and about the timing of the certification versus the presentation of the documents [5].

At the end of this blog is a checklist which is intended to provide a quick summary of the key restrictions and requirements for certifying copies under the 2013 Identity Verification Code but please do review the full Code here: 2013 Identity Verification Code.

New Zealand Law Society guidance on certifying identity documents is here: Law Society Guidance, although note that the guidance was written for the Identity Verification Code of Practice 2011 and not the current 2013 version.[6]

Checklist

1.             Do you satisfy the requirement to be a “trusted referee” by being a lawyer as defined in the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006?

 2.             Are you not excluded from certifying the documents by being related or living at the same address as the person or involved in a business or transaction requiring the certification (see the full list at section 10 of the Code)?

 3.            Have you sighted the original identifying documents?

 4.             Have you made a statement on the copy document(s) to the effect that the documents are a true copy and represent the identity of the person?

 5.            Have you included your name and occupation with the certifying statement?

 6.            Have you signed and dated the certification?

For more information about electronic verification in New Zealand see Real Me.

 


[1] See subpart 5 of the Act – Codes of Practice

[2] See section 7 of the Code.

[3] See section 11 of the Code.

[4] See section 12 of the Code.

[5] See sections 8 and 10 – 13 of the Code in particular.

[6] Although that statement was made in relation to the 2011 Code.

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