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Important Note

The Home Affairs Department (HAD) has launched a 24-hour telephone hotline (1833 019) to provide support and assistance to persons undergoing home quarantine under the "StayHomeSafe" Scheme.

We remind you to stay vigilant to fraudulent phone calls and correspondence claiming to be from our office. We will not normally make calls to members of the public through the hotline. We will not make phone calls or write to members of the public to ask them to provide personal information or make any payment. As our hotline is operated by a central telephone system, the hotline number 2835 2500 will not be displayed. If you have any doubt, please contact our staff for verification or please call the Hong Kong Police Anti-Deception Coordination Centre 24-hour Anti-Scam Helpline 18222 for enquiry. For details, please browse the following press releases –

Press release dated 8 October 2019

Press release dated 26 July 2019

Press release dated 28 April 2017

Press release dated 5 April 2017

Public Services

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Inspection of Bank Deposit Box and Related Services

Introduction

The Director of Home Affairs, under the delegated authority by the Secretary for Home Affairs, may issue on application a "Certificate for Necessity of Inspection of Bank Deposit Box" (certificate for inspection) for inspection purposes and an "Authorization for Removal from Bank Deposit Box" (authorization for removal) for the purpose of removal of specific item. Sections 60C to 60I of the Probate and Administration Ordinance (Cap. 10) are relevant.

The safe deposit box in question may be rented -

  1. in the sole name of the deceased person;
  2. jointly with other person and where the lease agreement provides for "survivorship arrangement", i.e. access to the contents of the box of any of the renters of the box is not affected by the death of the other renter of the box, e.g. the agreement specifically states that the bank shall recognize the surviving renter as the only person as having any right or interest under the agreement in the event of the death of one of the joint renters; or
  3. jointly with other person and where the lease agreement does not provide for "survivorship arrangement".

A. Inspection of Bank Deposit Box

Eligibility Criteria for Application for Certificate for Inspection

An application for inspection of the safe deposit box of a deceased person can be made by the following person -

  1. an executor of the deceased person;
  2. a person who is entitled in priority to administer the estate; or
  3. the surviving renter if the safe deposit box is jointly rented by the deceased person with other person.

The applicant should have a key to the safe deposit box.

Application Procedures

Removal of will

If a will or similar instrument is found in the safe deposit box upon inspection, and the holder of the certificate is the executor or one of the executors named in it, the bank will allow the holder to remove the will or instrument after a copy of it has been placed in the box. In other cases, the bank will make a copy of the will or instrument, place the original back to the box and give the copy to the public officers present. The law requires the Secretary for Home Affairs to keep the copy of the will or similar instrument for 6 years.

Inspection of safe deposit box in special circumstances

If a will or similar instrument is found in the safe deposit box but that –

  1. the will or instrument is not valid;
  2. no executor is named in the will or instrument; or
  3. the executor or all executors named in the will or instrument –

    1. cannot be located;
    2. refuse to act as executor;
    3. have died; or
    4. are otherwise not capable of acting as the executor,

a person entitled in priority to administer the estate may apply for a certificate for inspection. He will have to support the application with sufficient evidence, and the relevant factors will be stated in the certificate for inspection.

B. Removal of Items from Bank Deposit Box

Requirements for Removal of Items from Bank Deposit Box

An authorization to remove specific document (including the will or similar instrument) or article from the safe deposit box of the deceased person will be issued only after an inventory of the contents of the box has been prepared. The law provides that a document may be removed from the safe deposit box if -

  1. the document is necessary for or relevant to an application for summary administration, a grant of representation or sealing of a foreign grant; or
    1. the document belongs prima facie to a person other than the deceased person;
    2. the document is urgently needed by the person; and
    3. the removal of the document will not prejudice the legitimate interest of any person in the estate of the deceased person

Removal of documents of monetary value and articles from the safe deposit box is not allowed, except in cases where the applicant is the surviving renter of a jointly rented safe deposit box with survivorship arrangement under specific circumstances.

Eligibility Criteria for Application for Authorization for Removal

An application for authorization for removal of items from safe deposit box may be made by -

  1. an executor of the deceased person;
  2. a person who is entitled in priority to administer the estate; or
  3. the surviving renter if the safe deposit box is jointly rented by the deceased person with other person.

Jointly rented safe deposit box with survivorship arrangement

Where the lease agreement of the jointly rented safe deposit box provides for survivorship arrangement, the surviving renter may apply for an authorization to remove from the safe deposit box document and article that belong to him. The application should be made on Form HAEU4A, and the surviving renter should secure the written consent of the executor/the person entitled in priority to administer the estate to the removal of the items, as well as the latter's presence at the removal process.

After 12 months following the death of the deceased person, the surviving renter may exercise his right of access to the safe deposit box provided that an inventory of the contents in the safe deposit box has already been prepared in accordance with the relevant legal provisions. There is no need to apply for an authorization for removal of items. However, the bank will likely ask for sufficient proof that the deceased person has died over 12 months.

Other applications for removal of document from the safe deposit box that meet the conditions set out under the heading Requirements for Removal of Items from Bank Deposit Box above should be made on Form HAEU4B.

In cases where the safe deposit box was jointly rented by the deceased person with other person, the application should be supported by written consent from the other party (e.g. the surviving renter in cases where the applicant is the executor/the person entitled in priority to administer the estate of the deceased person, or the executor/the person entitled in priority to administer the estate if the applicant is the surviving renter).

Application Procedures

C. Application for Copy / Certified True Copy of Document kept by the Director of Home Affairs

The documents kept by the Director of Home Affairs include: (1) the copy of the will or similar instrument in the safe deposit box and/or (2) the copy of the inventory in respect of the safe deposit box. Eligible persons may apply for a copy/certified true copy of the relevant document. A fee for the copy/certified true copy is payable.

  • In the case of the copy of the will or similar instrument, the applicant should be the person entitled in priority to administer the estate who intends to apply for a grant in respect of the estate of the deceased person, and the will or instrument is necessary for or relevant to the application in question.
  • In the case of the copy of the inventory, the applicant should be the one who has a legitimate interest in the estate of the deceased person or the surviving renter of the safe deposit box jointly rented with the deceased person.

Application for a copy/certified true copy of the copy of the will or similar instrument in the safe deposit box, and of the copy of the inventory in respect of the safe deposit box kept by the Director of Home Affairs should be made on Form HAEU6A and HAEU6B respectively.