On November 7, 2023, China officially implemented the “1961 Apostille Convention,” also known as the Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents. The inaugural issuance of Apostilles in Guangdong took place under the auspices of the Foreign Affairs Office of the People’s Government of Guangdong Province.
The formal integration of China into the Convention is anticipated to have positive implications for the business environment. It is expected to streamline the utilization of public documents overseas and accelerate international trade processes.
As the Convention takes full effect, the procedures for utilizing public documents abroad will undergo simplification, significantly easing international trade and interpersonal exchanges. The Apostille Convention aims to enhance the utilization of public documents abroad by replacing the previous dual certification process, which involved approvals from both China’s foreign affairs department and consulates.
Under the updated framework, the cross-border utilization of public documents originating from China or other Contracting Parties only necessitates an Apostille issued by the Competent Authorities of the respective region. This eliminates the need for additional legalization by Chinese authorities and foreign embassies/consulates in China. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) serves as the Competent Authority in China.
Similarly, for public documents originating from other Contracting Parties and intended for use in China, only an Apostille issued by the Competent Authorities of those Contracting Parties is required. This eliminates the need for legalization by local authorities and Chinese embassies/consulates in other Contracting Parties.
Additionally, the Foreign Affairs Offices of provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities directly under China’s Central Government are authorized by the MFA to issue certificates for public documents originating within their respective administrative areas. This further facilitates the efficient processing and utilization of such documents.