To confirm the legal validity of an official document in a foreign country, the local authorities may require it to be certified by an apostille. What does this act of authentication consist of? Which documents are affected by the apostille? And what special requirements apply to China?
What is an Apostille procedure?
An apostille procedure confirms the authenticity of a signature, the identity of a signatory and the seal of a legal document. This authentication process is achieved by affixing a stamp (called an apostille).
When is an apostille required for China?
The apostille may be required by the local authorities in instances such as:
- applying for a visa for China
- in the event of marriage or divorce
- obtaining a job in a company in China
- enrolment at a Chinese university
- to set up a company or a subsidiary in China
- emigration to China.
An apostille may be required for official documents such as notarial deeds, divorce decrees, birth certificates, marriage certificates or other documents.
Depending on the type of document to be authenticated, the Chinese authorities may require an authentication procedure with apostille or legalisation. Apostille is a faster and simpler procedure than legalisation of a document. The latter involves authentication of the document by a notary public, authentication by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and legalisation by the embassy.
In addition, some countries have international agreements that allow exemption from legalisation or apostille. This applies in particular to the countries in the European Union.
On 8 March 2023, China also announced its accession to the Apostille Convention (the Hague Convention of 5 October 1961 abolishing the requirement of legalisation for foreign public documents), which is scheduled to take effect on 7 November 2023. This international treaty replaces the obligation to legalise the document by issuing an apostille, a simplified and less expensive procedure.
→ Good to know: The rules for apostille and legalisation may also vary depending on the province in question in China. You should therefore check directly with the local authorities which authentication procedures you need to carry out.
How do I obtain an apostille for China?
Each member state of the Hague Convention determines which public authorities are responsible for issuing the apostille. You can check which authorities are responsible for this in each country on the website of the Hague Conference. The costs for issuing the apostille also vary from country to country.
Often, the countries in which a document is to be recognised require a certified translation of the foreign-language document. In this case, the apostille must be issued on the translated document, not on the original document. It is best to check in advance whether a translation of the document is required. You may then have to use a sworn translator or a translation agency for this.
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FAQ on the Apostille Procedure for China
Anyone can apply for an apostille. You can check which authorities are responsible for this in each country on the Hague Conference website. If you live abroad, you can address your application for legalisation or apostille to the embassy or consulate of your home country.
Most legal and statutory documents can be apostilled, such as:
- Certificates of good conduct
- Birth certificates
- Identity cards
- Extracts from the commercial register
- Notarial deeds
- Judicial decisions
- Administrative files
However, depending on the country and the document, the authentication requirements may vary (apostille, legalisation or full exemption).
Depending on the country, the certified translation must be done by a sworn translator or translation agency responsible for official translations. The apostille is obtained from the competent authorities such as the court. Our translation agency can do both for you and provide a certified translation with apostille.
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