Client onboarding and AML requirements

Collection of client onboarding information

Lawyers in New Zealand must comply with the requirements of the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 (AML Act) to help combat money laundering and terrorist financing, and to assist in bringing the people involved to justice.

This means that, before we undertake certain types of work for our clients, we are required to complete a client due diligence process which involves collecting and verifying information to:

  • Understand the nature and purpose of our engagement with our client;
  • Identify and verify the identity of our client and, if a trust, company or other entity, various individuals associated with our client; and
  • If relevant, verify source of wealth or source of funds.

How does this affect our clients?

Client due diligence means that, depending on the type of work you are asking us to complete, you may have to provide us with the requested information, including identification and proof of address documents. We may also need to request proof of wealth or funds in certain circumstances.

How to provide this information

Duncan Cotterill can provide you with access to an electronic verification system which enables you to self-verify by using a mobile phone. Electronic verification is only available for New Zealand and Australian passports and driver’s licences.

Alternatively, you can bring your identification and proof of address documents with you when you come to meet us at our offices. Acceptable forms of identity and proof of address documents are listed in the section “Acceptable forms of identity and address verification”. If you bring the required documents into our offices we will also take a copy for our records.

If you are unable to visit the office, we can accept a certified copy of the original document. Read our section on “Document Certification” for further information on the requirements for correct certification of your documents.

When to provide this information

Our onboarding team will contact you by email or phone in order to provide you with information on the required client due diligence information. The requested information must be provided before we can start work on your behalf. If we are not able to obtain the required information from you, it is unlikely we can commence your instructions and will not be able to act for you.

Identity verification

There are three ways to complete your identity verification. The options are:

  • Documentary identity verification – verified face-to-face by one of our employees. If you select this option, please set up a time to bring your identity documentation into our offices.
  • Documentary identity certification – certified face-to-face by a Trusteed Referee.
  • Electronic identity verification – we can arrange for you to self-verify your identity by electronic means using your mobile phone. You will need to supply us with your mobile number if you wish to use this option. Electronic verification is only available for New Zealand and Australian passports and driver’s licences.

Identity documents presented for verification or certification must:

  • Be originals
  • Not be defaced or damaged
  • Be current or expired within 12 months of being presented, and clearly identify the expiry date;
  • If an overseas passport, must contain a photograph plus name, date of birth and the signature of the person or biometric measure, and must be issued by a foreign Government, the UN or an agency of the UN
  • Where not in English, be accompanied by an English translation provided to you by an official translation service

The below information sets out the acceptable forms of documentation for identity verification and also the accepted forms of proof of address. Read our section on “Document Certification” for further information on the requirements for correct certification of your documents.

Option 1 – One form of ID

  • New Zealand or overseas passport, containing your name, date of birth, photograph and signature
  • New Zealand firearms licence
  • New Zealand certificate of identity
  • New Zealand refugee travel document
  • Overseas national identity card, containing your name, date of birth, photograph and signature

Option 2 – Two forms of ID

  • New Zealand full birth certificate
  • Certificate of New Zealand citizenship
  • Overseas citizenship certificate
  • Overseas birth certificate

AND One form of secondary photo ID

  • New Zealand driver licence
  • 18+ card
  • International driving permit

Option 3 – A New Zealand driver Licence

AND one of:

  • Credit card, debit card or EFTPOS card issued by a registered bank
  • Bank statement issued by a registered bank (within 12 months)
  • SuperGold Card
  • NZ defence Photo ID
  • Police photo ID
  • Community Services Card
  • Statement issued by a government agency e.g. Inland Revenue

Address verification

Copies are sufficient for proof of address documentation, with no certification required.

Proof of address documents must:

  • Include your name;
  • Be issued in the preceding 12 months prior to presentation to us;
  • Include your current residential address (not a PO Box number, unless the document also includes reference to your current residential address)

Examples of appropriate proof of address documents include:

  • Utility bill
  • Rates bill
  • Bank account statement
  • Government or Government department document
  • New Zealand driver licence (if address included)

If you require assistance please email

Document certification

Certified copies of identity documents presented to us must have been certified within a three-month period prior to the presentation of the documents.

To be certified correctly, the following requirements must be met:

  • The documents must be certified by a Trusted Referee who is over 16 years old from the list of approved certifiers below
  • The Trusted Referee must sight the original documents in your presence
  • A copy must be taken and signed with a statement that the document is a true copy and represents the identity of the named individual
  • The copy must be in colour and of high quality in order for us to clearly see the photo ID
  • The certification must clearly include the printed name, signature, date of certification and the Trusted Referee’s capacity to act as a certifier (e.g. Justice of the Peace, Solicitor)

The Trusted Referee must not be:

  • related to the individual being identified as a parent, child, brother, sister, aunt, uncle or cousin
  • a spouse or partner of the individual
  • a person living at the same address as the individual
  • a person involved in the transaction of business requiring the certification

Persons who are authorised to certify documents (Trusted Referees) are:

New Zealand

  • Lawyer
  • Chartered Accountant
  • Police officer
  • Notary public
  • Justice of the peace
  • Member of Parliament
  • Registered Medical Doctor
  • Registered Teacher
  • Commonwealth representative, consulate of New Zealand, honorary Consulate of New Zealand
  • Kaumatua
  • Minister of Religion
  • A person who has legal authority to take statutory declarations in New Zealand


The certification must be carried out by a person authorised by law in that country to take statutory declarations or the equivalent in the country in question. This will usually include lawyers and notary’s public.

If the certification is not in English, we may require that you provide us with a translation undertaken by an official translation service.

If you require assistance please email

Entities and trusts

Companies and other legal entities

When we are acting for an entity, such as a company or partnership, we are required to collect and verify certain information in relation to that entity, and to obtain identity and address information in relation to the people who own and control the entity.

This means that certain individuals representing the entity will be required to provide identification including:

  • The individuals managing and controlling the entity;
  • Those individuals with more than 25% ownership; and
  • Any individuals otherwise acting on behalf of the entity.

Accepted identity and address documents can be found in our section “Acceptable forms of Identification and Address verification”.

There may be circumstances where we also are required to collect source of wealth and source of funds information in relation to the entity, and these requirements will be discussed with you if they apply.

For most legal entities we will also need the following:

  • Full legal name
  • Trading name (if relevant)
  • Registered office address
  • Country of incorporation or registration
  • Registration number


When acting for a trust, we will need a copy of the trust deed, and any amendments to the trust to ensure we can identity the most current trustees. We will need to collect and verify identity and address documents for the settlors, trustees, and any other controllers of the trust.

Accepted identity and address documents can be found in our section “Acceptable forms of Identification and Address verification”.

We are also required when acting for a trust to collect source of wealth and source of funds information for the trust. Please refer to our section “Source of Wealth and Source of Funds” for further information on these requirements.

Source of wealth and source of funds

There may be times when we will ask you for source of wealth (SOW) or source of funds (SOF) information.

Source of wealth refers to the origin of your entire body of assets. Source of funds refers to the origin of the funds used for the transaction you have engaged our services for.

We may ask you for this to meet our obligations under the Act when undertaking certain work for certain types of clients such as trusts, or when instructed on certain types of matters.

We are required to verify this information using data or documents issued by a credible and reliable source. The types of data required will depend on the circumstances. Some examples of the types of information that may be acceptable are set out below.

Property Ownership

  • Sale and purchase agreement.
  • Property ownership database.

Salary, Wages, Bonus, Commission

  • Bank statements.
  • Payslips.
  • Contract of employment or confirmation of employment.
  • IRD statement
  • Tax returns.
  • Letter from accountant.


  • Investment or bank statement.
  • Letter from accountant/financial advisor.

Business Income, Corporate Investments, Company Profits

  • Financial statements
  • Business plan.
  • External sources (e.g., websites).
  • Companies Office website to confirm shareholding directorships.

Insurance Claim or Pay-Out

  • Letter from payer.
  • Bank statement evidencing payment.


  • Letter of payer.
  • Bank statement evidencing payment.
  • Tax return.

Compensation Payment

  • Letter from payment.
  • Bank statement evidencing payment.

Sale of Assets

  • Sale agreement.
  • External listing from website.
  • Property Ownership database.


  • Letter from executor of estate.
  • Proof of payment from lawyer’s trust account.
  • Copy of probate/will.


  • Loan statement or agreement.
  • Letter from loan provider.


  • Gifting letter.
  • Confirmation from person providing gift.

Winnings (e.g., Casino, Lottery)

  • Prize confirmation (e.g., letter from Lotteries Commission).
  • Evidence that payment has come from winning (e.g., payment into account from TAB, Lotteries Commission).

Government Income

  • Letter from Government agency (e.g., benefit letter).
  • Evidence from bank account showing receipt of such a payment.

Rental Income 

  • Rental agreement.
  • Property ownership documents.
  • Financial statements.
  • Tax return.
  • Letter from accountant.