Establishing the identity of your client is a key part of helping us maintain the integrity of the land titles system. Here’s what you need to do, and help for the ‘what ifs?’ of identity verification.

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The Authority and Identity Requirements for E-Dealing Standard 2018 - LINZS20018 (the Standard) sets out the ‘Safe Harbour’ requirements for identity verification. The Authority and Identity Requirements for E-Dealing Guideline 2018 - LINZG20775 (the Guideline) provides further detail to help you meet the requirements of the Standard.

The following briefly explains the verification of identity requirements.  They must be read in conjunction with the Standard and Guideline.

Basic requirements for verifying identity

To meet the safe harbour requirements, you will need to take reasonable steps and where necessary, seek further evidence and make further enquiries to verify the identity of your client.

The Standard sets out what those reasonable steps are and what further evidence (e.g. documents connecting the person to the property) may be required or enquiries made for both routine and high risk transactions.  The Guideline provides further details about how to satisfy the ‘Safe Harbour’ requirements referred to above, as well as alternative options for identity verification using ‘Equally Effective Means’.  If you adopt an Equally Effective Means, you must record a file note of your decision to opt out of Safe Harbour along with an explanation and supporting evidence about how the chosen means are effective.

Re-use of earlier identity verification in limited circumstances – section of the Guideline

If for some reason your client is unable to produce their photo ID at the time you witness the signing of the A&I form and verify identity, you may be able to rely on an earlier identity verification procedure and related evidence.  The circumstances in which you can do this are limited, and the guidance in section of the Guideline should be followed.

Verification in the absence of any acceptable photo ID – section 4.1.2 of the Guideline

If your client does not have any form of acceptable photo ID, their identity may be verified by an independent witness aged 18 years or over in the form of a statutory declaration by the witness. 

For more detail see section 4.1.2 and the form of Declaration of Identity in Schedule 1 of the Guideline.

High-risk transactions

Some transactions are considered high risk and require you to take additional actions to verify your client’s identity and authority to complete the transaction.

If a transaction is considered high risk, whether or not an acceptable form of photo ID has been produced, you must:

  • Take additional steps, and record a file note of those actions taken, to independently verify the identity of your client (see section 4.2.2 of the Guideline), and
  • Obtain a document connecting the client to the physical address of the property (see section 4.3 of the Guideline), and
  • Retain them both with the A&I form as evidence in support of your certifications under section 30(1) Land Transfer Act 2017.

More detail about assessing what makes a transaction high risk is found in section 4.2 of the Guideline.

General witnessing criteria – section 4.5 of the Guideline

A witness to the execution of the A&I form must be aged 18 years or over, and be independent of the client and transaction. 

For further explanation regarding the independence of the witness, refer to section 4.5 of the Guideline.

Delegating identity verification – section 4.6 of the Guideline

Where it’s not practicable to meet personally with your client to verify their identity, for example if they live in another part of NZ or overseas or are travelling overseas, you may rely on a delegate to verify the client’s identity on your behalf.  Table 1 in section 5 of the Guideline sets out both the Safe Harbour and Equally Effective Means for suitable delegates within and outside of New Zealand.

When relying on a delegate to verify identity on your behalf, you must:

  • Record a file note explaining how the delegate is an independent trusted person whom you can reasonably rely on, and
  • Retain it with the A&I form as evidence in support of your certifications under section 30(1) of the Land Transfer Act 2017.

For further guidance see section 4.6 and Table 1 of the Guideline.

Using videoconferencing technology in limited circumstances – section 4.7 of the Guideline

While witnessing in person is generally the preferred approach, audio-visual technology such as Skype may be acceptable in some circumstances.

Witnessing an A&I form involves not only verification of client identity but also of their legal capacity and bona fides. The use of audio-visual technology is discussed in section 4.7 of the Guideline.   

What if?

My client has no acceptable photo ID

If your client has expired photo identification or no photo identification at all, you will need to take additional steps to verify their identity. Sections 4.1.2 and 6 of the Guideline deal with the verification of clients in the absence of acceptable photo ID. A declaration of identity form may be required.

My client is bankrupt

Read about A&Is for bankrupt clients

My client lives elsewhere

If your client is traveling or residing overseas, or living in another part of New Zealand, you may need to delegate identity verification (section 4.6 of the Guideline) and witnessing the A&I or use audio-visual technology (section 4.7 of the Guideline).

My client’s name on their photo ID doesn’t match the name on their title

If the name on a photo ID does not match the name recorded on the record of title, then you will need to take steps to verify that the client and the person named on the register are the same person.

Reconciling name discrepancies is discussed in section 4.4 of the Guideline. Additional documentation is required.

If a client’s name on a title is wrong and needs to be corrected, the Applications to Correct or Change Names in the Register Guideline 2018 - LINZG20780 should be followed.

An application to correct or change a name is a high risk transaction and the requirements set out in section 4.2 of the Guideline must be followed.

See Changing or correcting names in the Registrar-General of Land's records


Last Updated: 28 April 2020