Starting from November 7, Foreign Public Documents No Longer Need to Apply for Consular Legalization to be Used in China.

On March 8, 2023, China acceded to the “Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents” (hereinafter referred to as “Apostille Convention” or the “Convention”).

This Convention will enter into force in China on November 7, 2023. The Convention will continue to apply to the Hong Kong SAR of China and the Macao SAR of China.

It means from November 7 onwards, the use of foreign public documents of a contracting state in China (and vice versa) will be significantly simplified, as the previously required authentication and legalization procedure will be eliminated and, as of the date of entry into force, the affixing of an apostille to the document will be sufficient.

Currently, 120+ countries have acceded to this Convention. As a result, most economic and industrial centers in the world currently recognize apostilled documents without the need for any additional legalization through national procedures or institutions. The Apostille Convention facilitates the use of public documents abroad by replacing the often long and costly legalization process by issuing a simple Apostille certificate, which greatly reduces document preparation time for foreign companies or investors to do business in China.

How foreign companies can benefit in China?

In terms of optimizing the business environment, this change is most beneficial to foreign companies who want to start a business in China. Currently, in China, to use foreign documents for applying for business licenses or company registration, they first need to be notarized and authenticated by local parties, and then authenticated by Chinese embassies and consulates in the country where the document is located. This can be costly and time-consuming for applicants. Without needing a consular authentication will make it much faster for foreign companies to start a business in China.

For HR departments, this will mean more streamlined and faster procedures for applying for visas and work permits for foreign employees. As per current experiences, foreign applicants spend a long time waiting for the embassy and consulate authentication documents, mainly birth certificates, education, and no criminal record, making these documents legalized and can be used for
China work permit applications. The new process streamlines immigration processing for employers and foreigners in China by avoiding complicated legalization steps at consulates.

Procedures will be simplified; The following is Before/After:

Foreign documents for use in China, for example, Marriage certificates, Birth certificates, etc.:
Before: Notarization (by local Notaries Public/Solicitors) –> Legalization (by Ministry of Foreign Affairs) –> Chinese Consulate legalization

After: Notarization (by local Notaries Public/Solicitors) –> Apostille (by Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Until now, 120+ countries/regions have acceded to this Convention, Signatories are listed below:

Asia (22): China, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Brunei, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Tajikistan, Turkey, Uzbekistan.

Africa (16): Botswana, Burundi, Cape Verde, Eswatini, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritius, Morocco, Namibia, Rwanda, SAO Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, South Africa, Tunisia.

Europe (44): Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Moldova, Romania, Russia, SAN Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom.

North America (21): Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Costa Rica, Dominica, Dominica, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, United States.

South America (12): Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, Venezuela.

Oceania (10): Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Marshall Islands, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu