As announced in March, the Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents (hereinafter referred to as “the Convention”) has officially entered into force in China on 7 November 2023.
According to the Convention, documents within the scope of the Convention can be sent directly to China for use after apostille, without having to be sent to the Chinese Visa Application Service Center for consular legalization, as was previously the case.
Notice on the discontinuation of consular authentication services by the Chinese Embassy
The Chinese embassies in a number of countries covered by the Convention have issued notices that they will no longer provide consular authentication services as of 7 November. Documents within the scope of the Convention issued in the countries of origin and intended for use in China can be submitted to the competent authority in the countries of origin for an apostille.
In Germany, the Federal Office for Foreign Affairs (“BfAA”, das Bundesamt für Auswärtige Angelegenheiten) is responsible for issuing apostille for the public documents issued by the German authorities including Federal Ministries, the Federal Office of Justice and the Federal Court. The corresponding documents must be pre-certified by the relevant federal authority before being sent to the BfAA for the apostille process.
On 13 November 2023, BfAA has officially included China (Mainland) in the list of countries in which the Hague Apostille Convention shall apply in relation to Germany.
The Chinese Embassy pointed out that the completion of the apostille does not guarantee that the official documents will be accepted by the relevant party in China. The Embassy recommends checking with the relevant authority in China in advance to confirm the specific requirements in terms of format, content, time limit, translation etc. before going through the apostille process.
Practice in China
Following the entry into force of the Convention and the end of the consular authentication services, relevant authorities in China have been in discussion to clarify the implementation of the new legalization approach. At the time of writing, we obtained the following information from the relevant Chinese authorities.
- Chinese work visa for foreign employees
The Science and Technology Committee and the Talent Service Center, responsible for issuing work permits for foreign employees, confirmed that they can now accept degree certificates and no criminal record certificates with Hague apostille, instead of the consular authentication that was required in the past for certain categories of work permit in China.
- Registration of Chinese subsidiaries
The Administration for Market Regulation (AMR authority), responsible for company registration, released information that they still accept certificates of incorporation that have completed the consular authentication process before 7 November 2023. However, it is still under discussion how to regulate the new legalization requirements for the purpose of company registration in the context of the Convention. We are in regular contact with the authority and will keep you updated.
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