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China: The Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents Came into Effect in Mainland China on 7 November 2023

Authors: Carol Zhu and Lynsey Liu

On 8 March 2023, the Chinese Ambassador to the Netherlands, acting on behalf of the Chinese Government, submitted the instrument of accession to the Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents (the “Apostille Convention”) of the Hague Conference on Private International Law to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands at the Peace Palace in Hague. This act signifies China’s formal accession to the Apostille Convention. Subsequently, on 7 November 2023, the Apostille Convention came into effect in China.

Under the Apostille Convention, an authentication certificate called an Apostille is issued by the designated authority in the country where the document was executed. The Apostille verifies the authenticity of the document’s origin, seals, and signatures, making it valid and legally recognised in all other signatory countries.

China’s accession to the Apostille Convention has brought significant changes and benefits. Prior to its implementation, foreign-produced documents destined for use in China had to go through time-consuming and expensive consular legalisation at Chinese embassies or consulates. However, with China’s adoption of the Apostille Convention, the requirement for consular legalisation has been eliminated and replaced by an Apostille by the designated authority in the state of origin.

Key Action Points

As the Apostille Convention has just come into effect, the coordination with local branches of the Administration of Market Regulation in China is not yet fully established. It is advisable for the relevant parties to verify the specific requirements with the relevant authorities in China before preparing the documents.