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Legalization Process in China Streamlined After Country Adopts Hague Apostille Certification

April 9, 2024 Comments Off on Legalization Process in China Streamlined After Country Adopts Hague Apostille Certification By The Incorp China Team
With China’s adoption of the Apostille Convention, the process of certifying legal documents from fellow Convention members has been made simplified, more affordable, and much faster File photo: Ascannio, ShutterStock.com, licensed.
With China’s adoption of the Apostille Convention, the process of certifying legal documents from fellow Convention members has been made simplified, more affordable, and much faster File photo: Ascannio, ShutterStock.com, licensed.

PALM BEACH, FL – On November 7, 2023, the People’s Republic of China effectively replaced their prior legalization process for cross-border documents by officially adopting the Apostille Convention of the Hague Conference on Private International Law; this event came to be after Beijing previously agreed to the Convention in March of that same year, joining 126 other contracting countries.

The Apostille Convention of the Hague Conference on Private International Law – also known as the Convention of 5 October 1961 Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents, or simply the Apostille Convention – is an international treaty drafted by the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH). It’s intended use is to greatly simplify and streamline the procedure in which a document that is issued by one of the countries contracted with the Convention can be certified for legal purposes when dealing with other contracted countries.

When a document is internationally certified within the confines of the convention, it is known as an “apostle” or a “Hague apostle.” The effect is comparable to taking a document to a Notary Public and having it notarized; if the document represents a legal agreement between two countries contracted within the Convention, an apostle issued by the origin country is enough to officially certify the document for both parties, with the receiving country not needing to certify it further.

China had used legalization – also known as consular authentication – to certify cross-border documents for decades. Foreign-produced documents previously needed to be notarized and legalized at the Chinese Embassy or Chinese Consulate in order to be utilized in China, and the process was typically complicated, time consuming, and expensive; this had the detrimental effect of making it difficult for non-Chinese investors and companies to conduct business in China.

With China’s adoption of the Apostille Convention, the process of certifying legal documents from fellow Convention members – 126 countries as of March 2024, notably including the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Russian Federation among its members – has been made simplified, more affordable, and much faster; the typical turnaround time for the legalization process was as long as three months or more, whereas an apostle takes as little as 4-14 days to be certified.

By having contracted with the Convention, China no longer needs to legalize foreign documentation via embassies or consulates; this process has now been replaced by an apostille issued by the designated authority in the origin country that will be immediately recognized in the destination country.

As a result of China adopting the Apostille Convention, it has greatly increased its opportunities for foreign investment and business dealings with multiple power-player countries on an international stage.

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