Home > China Business Followup > Notarization, Apostille, and Legalization in China

Notarization, Apostille, and Legalization in China

Updated:2018-9-26 16:28:50    Source:www.tannet-group.comViews:639

Notarization, apostille, and legalization are methods of authenticating documents. For company formation, you may be required to authenticate corporate documents and agreements for use outside of the country of incorporation. In China, you may need to conduct notarization, apostille or legalization when opening a bank account overseas, establishing a wholly owned foreign enterprise, or entering into an agreement with a company incorporated and whose operations take place in another country. Below is an introduction to these three methods of authenticating documents.

I. Notarization
Only a notary public can notarize a document, either certifying a legal document as genuine or an original, authenticating a signature or certifying or witnessing a person’s identity. Depending on what the notarization is being used for and what is required the notary public may:

(1)Issue a notarial certificate;
(2)Make a certified copy of an original document;
(3)Witness the signing of a document.

In most cases, a Hong Kong Notary Public is sufficient, but there are some exceptions. For example, when setting up a WOFE, a Chinese Notary is usually required.

II. Apostille
An apostille is used specifically for authentication of public documents with the purpose of making them fully legally recognizable in a foreign country. If the document will be used in a country party to The Hague Convention, apostille will usually be sufficient; otherwise, legalization may be required.  In Hong Kong, only the High Court can issue an apostille.

However, not all documents are eligible to be apostilled. Particularly, Apostille can be obtained on: (1) Public documents that bear the true signature of an official party; (2) Documents signed by a notary public or a Commissioner of Oaths in Hong Kong.

III. Legalization
A document will usually first have to be notarized and/or apostilled before it can be legalized. Whereas legalization is normally only required if the document will be used in a country that is not a party to The Hague Convention.

Only the embassy or consulate of the foreign country in which the document will be used can legalize a document.

Notarization, apostille and legalization are different and they are obtained in different ways. Before doing anything, you should first ask the authority or entity to whom the authenticated documents will be presented to and understand what they require exactly. Depending on the authority or entity you are obtaining the authentication for, you may be required to obtain just one or even all of them.

Contact Us
If you have further queries, don’t hesitate to contact Tannet anytime, anywhere by simply visiting Tannet’s website, or calling Hong Kong hotline at 852-27826888 or China hotline at 86-755-82143422, or emailing to You are also welcome to visit our office situated in 16/F, Taiyangdao Bldg 2020, Dongmen Rd South, Luohu, Shenzhen, China.

Previous:Closing Down a Foreign Invested Company in China     Next:China Company Taxation (RO)