How to Have my Documents Translated and Legalised in China

Created: Jan 29, 2024 | Updated: Jan 30, 2024

In our increasingly interconnected world, we find ourselves needing to communicate with people from other countries more often. This births the need to exchange important documentation. If you are constantly travelling or making international transactions and you need to use some documents outside of China, you have to understand the legalisation process. Our blog post today will provide you with an overview of the procedures involved in authenticating and certifying your documents in China. 

Understanding Document Legalisation in China

Before we dive into the specifics, let’s understand the meaning of document legalisation in China. Document legalisation in China is a process that makes sure documents from China are officially accepted and valid in another country. In China, there are two main ways to do this: Apostille and Consular Legalisation.

What is an Apostille in China? 

An apostille is a special certificate that authenticates the origin and validity of a public document when it needs to be used in a foreign country. It is a simplified form of legalisation that was established by the Hague Convention of 1961. The purpose of the apostille is to eliminate the need for further certification or legalisation of your documents when they leave China and cross international borders. 

When your document receives an apostille, it confirms the authenticity of the signature on the document and verifies the authority of the official who signed it. Essentially, the apostille certifies that your document is legitimate and can be accepted by authorities in countries that are part of the Hague Convention.

On March 8, 2023, China officially joined the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents, a.k.a, the Apostille Convention. The Chinese apostille comes in the form of a 9cm square stamp, written in Chinese and English. It has the heading "Apostille" above it and a reference to the 1961 Hague Convention in French (Convention de La Haye du 5 octobre 1961). Note that, even though an apostille confirms that your document is authentic, it does not guarantee its unconditional acceptance by any organisation. 

The bodies that can issue an apostille in China include:

Consular Legalisation in China

Consular legalisation is the process of authenticating or certifying a legal document so that it can be recognised and accepted by the legal system of a foreign country. This procedure is carried out by the embassy or consulate of the country where the document is intended to be used.

In China, an apostille is not enough if your document is to be used in countries that are not party to the Hague Convention. In this case, consular legalisation or “embassy attestation” applies to the public document.

Getting Consular legalisation adds a few more steps and is more expensive and time-consuming than getting an Apostille. An Apostille is usually issued within one step while consular legalisation needs a few more certifications for your document to be certified at the embassy or consulate of the destination country in China.

Types of Documents That Can be Legalised in China

  • Information extracted from Chinese trade registers: Documents related to business registrations and trade activities.
  • Land register extracts: official documents providing information about the ownership and legal status of real estate or land.
  • Documents issued or certified by a notary public: Notarised documents, including affidavits, powers of attorney, and other legally certified papers.
  • Documents from an Authority or an Official Connected with a Court: Documents related to legal proceedings and judgments.
  • Translations by court interpreters.
  • Patents: Documents related to patents and intellectual property.
  • Documents of an Administrative Nature: issued by state authorities Birth certificates, marriage certificates, and death certificates.
  • Academic Diplomas issued by Public Institutions: transcripts, overviews of subjects and grades, matriculation certificates, and additional certificates from schools or universities.
  • Powers of attorney, testaments, declarations.

Types of Documents That Cannot be Legalised in China

  • Documents Not Issued by Competent Authorities: Private contracts, private letters, or documents issued by non-official entities.
  • Commercial Documents: Documents such as invoices, trade contracts, and customs documents. 
  • Diplomatic and Consular Documents.
  • ID Cards.
  • Educational Documents from private institutions or entities that are not recognized as public institutions.
  • Documents from Certain Countries: Some countries like India, have objections or reservations regarding the application of the apostille process with China. 

How do I certify a document in China?


How to Legalise Your Documents in China

Getting your documents legalised in China involves several steps. Here is a guide to the process:

Step One: Get the Original Documents: Make sure you have the original document or an official copy issued by the relevant Chinese authorities. Be sure that the copy has the official seal and signature of the institution and is a true copy of the original. 

Step Two: Translate the Document: If the document is not already in the official language of the destination country, you'll need to get a notarised translation. This translation should be done by a certified translation service in China to ensure its accuracy and legality. 


Step Three: Have Them Notarised: Notarise your documents by a public notariat in China before proceeding to the next steps. Notarisation involves verifying the authenticity of the document and the signatures on it. 

Step Four: Get an Education Department Certification (for academic documents): For educational documents, you will need to submit your original document or official copy to the education department for certification. 

Step Five: Get a Ministry of Justice Notarisation (if required): Depending on the type of document or your situation, the Ministry of Justice in China may need to provide additional notarisation for your document.

Step Six: Get the Apostille from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the PRC: Visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where they will affix the apostille certificate, confirming your document's authenticity. You are expected to take the following documentation when going to the MFA:

  • The original documents to be legalised.
  • One photocopy of the documents to be legalised.
  • One completed Application Form.
  • A photocopy of your international passport or valid ID.
  • Introduction letter stating the purpose for legalisation.
  • In cases of a commercial document's legalisation, a copy of the Certificate of Incorporation and good standing of the company are required.

Note that if you want to legalise a police character certificate or a marriage certificate, you must apply yourself.

Step Seven: Receive the Apostilled Document: Once the apostille is affixed, you will receive the legalised document, which is now valid for use in countries that are party to the Hague Convention. 

Step Eight: Send the Document to the Embassy or Consulate (for Consular Legalisation): If the receiving country does not recognize the Hague Convention, you will need to visit their embassy or consulate in China and further legalise the document according to their requirements. After this step, you can use your document in the receiving country. 

How to Get A Notarised Translation in China Online

To get a notarised translation in China online, follow these steps: 

1. Visit the Translayte website. 

2. Click on “Order Certified Translation”.

3. Select “Certified Translation”, then choose the language, and your preferred turnover time. 

4. Upload the document you want to translate. Ensure the file has been named appropriately. 

5. Select either the Standard, Professional or Specialist document translation services, based on your needs and budget.

6. Specify that you want a “notarised translation” and any other specifications you would prefer for your document. 

7. Place your order and wait for your translation.  Your translation will be delivered to you either by email or by post on or before the stipulated time.

Getting an Apostille for Documents Going to China

What is an Apostille for China?

Getting an apostille for China is the process of legalizing documents that will be used in China. Authorities such as Notaries, or the Embassy do the attestation of documents, however, the final attestation is done by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of your country. 

How to Apostille Documents Going to China

Identify the Competent Authority:

The competent authority responsible for issuing apostilles in most countries is usually the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. If it is a different authority, make sure you identify them. 

Prepare Your Documents:

Ensure that your documents are in order and meet any requirements set by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in your country. This usually includes notarisation, translations or other authentication steps. The documents you will be expected to take along with you include:

  • The original documents that is to be legalised.
  • A national identification like an international passport or National ID card.
  • Photocopies of your documents.
  • Proof of payment of legalisation fees.
  • A filled application form, usually from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the country.

Submit the Documents:

Submit your documents to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs along with any required fees set by your country. This can often be done in person or through their designated channels.

Wait for Processing:

Wait for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to process your request. Processing times for every country are different, so it's advisable to check with them for an estimated time. 

Receive the Apostilled Documents: 

Once the apostille is issued, you can either pick up the documents in person or have them mailed to you, depending on the options provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in your country. Before traveling to China, ensure that the apostille has been properly affixed as per the requirements of the Hague Apostille Convention. Here are some of the things to check for: 

  • The Seal and Signature: Look for the official seal of the competent authority that issued the apostille. There should also be a signature of an authorized representative.
  • Verify the Document: Ensure that the apostille is attached to the correct document. Check that the details on the apostille, such as the names of the parties involved, match the information on the document.
  • Check for Watermark or Security Features: Every country’s apostille has watermarks and other security features to prevent forgery. Make sure these security elements are resent on your apostille.
  • Examine the Language: Make sure that the language on the apostille is consistent with the language used in the official documents of that country.
  • Use Online Verification Tools: Many countries have online verification tools where you can check the apostille to confirm its authenticity. China, for example, has an online verification system where you can input the details of the apostille on the website and confirm that your document is valid.

Having errors in your translations leads to misinterpretations of important information and even legal complications. This is why employing certified translation services for apostille-bound documents is super important. Translayte’s team of experienced Chinese translators and our state-of-the-art technology ensures that your documents are not merely translated, but resonate with Chinese standards. We understand the importance of precision and our commitment to quality guarantees your document’s message remains intact. 

Follow the easy steps above and order a certified translation on our website today. 


Does China Have an Apostille?

Yes, China joined the Apostille Convention on the 7th of November, 2023.

What is a Sworn Translation in China?

In China, a sworn translation refers to a translation that has been certified by a sworn translator, who is authorized by the Ministry of Justice in China. These translators are officially recognized by the Chinese authorities to provide translations that are considered accurate and reliable.

How do I get my Documents Notarised in China?

To have your documents notarised in China, you have to submit them to the Public Notary Office (Gong Zheng Chu “公证处”). They will examine the documents and issue a notarial certificate. 


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