The impact of China joining the Apostille Convention

The Convention of Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents officially came into force in China

On March 8, 2023, China formally joined the Convention on the Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents (hereinafter referred to as the “Convention”). The Convention entered into force in China on 7 November 2023.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China released news on 23 October 2023, specifying that from 7 November 2023, official documents issued in China will only need to apply for additional certificate (Apostille) as per the Convention, and there is no need to go through consular legalization in the embassies and consulates of other States. For official documents of other State parties sent to Chinese mainland for use, only the Apostille of the issuing country is required, and consular legalization of the Chinese embassy is not required anymore.

  • What is the Convention

The Convention is an important international treaty with the widest scope of application and the largest number of States parties under the framework of the Hague Conference on Private International Law, with the aim to simplify the procedures for the cross-border recognition of public documents, replace the traditional consular legalization with a more convenient way of certification, and promote international trade and personnel exchanges.

The apostille procedure replaces the consular legalization procedure and provides convenience for the use of domestic documents abroad or the use of foreign documents in the China.

  • What will be the impact after the Convention came into force in China?

(1) Significantly reduces the time and cost of cross-border transfer of documents

Official documents that need to be apostilled will only be authenticated once by the competent authority of the country where they are issues and can be presented and used in another State of the Convention, while the traditional consular legalization procedure required the completion of complex procedures: notarization – legalization by the foreign affairs office – legalization by the foreign embassy or consulate in China – use in another country.

Regarding accelerated processing, consular legalization usually took 20 working days, while apostille usually takes only 2-4 working days.

(2) Optimizes the business environment for international trade

After acceding to the Convention, Chinese companies will no longer need to conduct consular legalization of commercial documents when carrying out import and export trade with enterprises in contracting countries.

  • Which countries does the Convention apply to?

Including China, there are currently 125 State Parties to the Apostille Convention (see link at the end of this article for a list of State Parties).

  • Which countries are covered by the RA that are also parties to the Convention?

Asia Pacific: Singapore, South Korea, Indonesia, Philippines, Pakistan
Middle East: Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia
North Africa: Morocco, Tunisia
Europe: Turkey, United Kingdom, Germany
Sub-Saharan Africa: South Africa

What documents can be apostilled?
The official documents to which the Convention applies, include court judgments, rulings, various administrative decisions (e.g. identity cards/passports, business licenses), power of attorneys, etc.

  • What is the procedure for applying for an apostille?

Step 1: Apply for notarization or other certification document that meets the requirements of the additional certificate (Apostille).

Step 2: Apply for an additional certificate (Apostille) from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the local foreign affairs office entrusted by it.

  • How to apply for apostille and precautions for sending Chinese mainland documents for use abroad?

If you need to apply for an apostille of a document in China, you should apply to the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the local foreign affairs office entrusted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Among them, if the document is a foreign-related notarial certificate or other certification document issued by a foreign-related notary public or CCPIT in a certain place, it should be apostilled at the foreign affairs office of that place.

Note: The foreign-related notarial certificate issued by the notary public in place A cannot be applied for an endorsement at the foreign affairs office in place B.

For more information, please check the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China and the Chinese Consular Service Website:


  1. List of States parties of The Convention of Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents

  1. list of institutions entrusted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to handle or issue additional certificates.

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