What Is an Address Check Service?
In short, prior to service, we can conduct an address check through research, and occasionally on-ground investigations, to:
- Establish if the address is complete.
- Identify if it is a scam address. (This happens a lot more that you would perhaps think!)
- Use maps or even call government offices to verify physical locations. (This is needed more for New Territories addresses than in business districts).
Often during this process, we discover an alternative address which can be useful if the subject cannot easily be served at the first address provided.
How Much Is an Address Check?
A standard address check will add little to the cost of a Hong Kong serve. However, if it is required that the serve is completed on first attempt, then pre-serve site visits may be conducted by an investigator. This is more common for due diligence work than process serves..
On the other hand, China address checks will be more expensive. Occasionally, for China, the research can take longer than the serve. However, it is well worth the planning as shown in the Hong Kong and China examples below.
Due Diligence Address Verification
When researching companies for background checks or full due diligence, we usually send an investigator to discreetly visit the premises. All identifiers – such as main entrance signs – are photographed.
Address Checks in the New Territories
Address checks in the New Territories (NT) can be complex. Including the islands, the NT constitutes nearly one half of Hong Kong land. On the whole, it expanded without much government control. As a result, lots of areas do not have street names or numbers. Instead, they use Lot numbers and DD Numbers (Demarcation District). Such an address might read Lot 224, DD36, Castle Peak Road.
Many of our NT serves have been on Castle Peak Road. It was constructed in the 1920s and is the longest road (51.5 km) in Hong Kong. It stretches from Shamshuipo in West Kowloon, skirts Kwai Chung, through Kwai Hing, Tsuen Wan and along the water front through to the Gold Coast area. At Tuen Mun it heads north through Yuen Long, and finally eastwards to Sheung Shui and Fanling.
So finding a premises, without some local knowledge, might take a while. Having a local area name really helps with address verification in the New Territories.
Address Check Service in China
Where do we start about address checks in China?
Language of address: Perhaps surprisingly, most clients requiring a serve in China send us the address in English! Translating English into Chinese is not an exact science. Even with experienced tri-lingual translators, translations may offer multiple options. If you have the Chinese characters for the address, please provide them. This always save time.
Clues in the company name: Chinese company names often contain clues as to their likely addresses – for instance, the ‘North Shanghai Gas Business’, or even better, the ‘Jinjian Inn North Shanghai Hutai Road’. These are both real examples of Chinese company names.
Highways: Highways and roads in China can be very long, so it is helpful to get a local area name when trying to identify the correct section of the highway.
Example Case: Hong Kong
A client once asked us to conduct a serve at a commercial building in Kwun Tong, Kowloon, but without an address check.
- The server was unable to find the company at the address.
- He noticed that the office to the left belonged to a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) firm.
- The server went into the CPA to enquire if they had heard of the target company.
- By chance, the CPA’s office was indeed the registered address of the target company.
- The client praised the server’s initiative and re-prepared the files with the correct address for a second attempt at serve.
Had it not been for the thoroughness and initiative of the server, the correct address may not have been found. In this case, the client would have saved the cost of a second serve and time in correcting documents if an address check had been carried out first.
Example Case: China
This address check, in NE China, relates not to a process serve but the location of an individual at the centre of a due diligence case. Nevertheless, it illustrates the role of research and the experience of our process servers.
- The client gave us two addresses to begin with.
- Textual and visual research quickly showed that one of these addresses was out-of-date.
- Research lead to a third address.
The client decided that site visits were necessary for both current addresses which were several hours apart. Our researcher and server spent half a day planning the trip.
- The first address visited belonged to the company in question. However, it was a large warehouse and the subject could not be located.
- The second address did not belong to the target company. However, the guard explained to the server that our target company was 0.5 km down the road.
- Thus a third address was visited. Luckily or not, it was the correct address and also the premises where the subject worked.
If a thorough address check had not been conducted first then the investigator’s journey would have been a waste of time and money.