|Frequently asked Q & A on Legalization|
1. Do all documents to be used in China need to be authenticated?
In order to facilitate document exchanges across countries in international diplomatic and consular affairs, consular authentication has gradually become an international practice. With increasing international interactions, a great number of documents of various types are exchanged between countries, but each country has different requirements and formats for notarization and business certification. The consular authentication system is based on a chain process ending with one country's diplomatic or consular mission abroad certifying the last seal and signature on the documents, so as to ensure the documents can be accepted by relevant departments and institutions in the country and the use of the documents will not be affected by doubts on the authenticity of the documents. In this way, foreign-related documents can be smoothly circulated and used in different countries.
To make documents to be used in China acceptable to relevant Chinese departments and institutions, it is suggested that the documents should be authenticated by a Chinese Embassy or Consulate General abroad. However, whether the document will be accepted by relevant Chinese departments or not depends on whether the documents' contents can meet their requirements. The producer of a document, rather than consular authentication, is responsible for the contents of the document.
2. Is it ok if I only get consular authentication from a Chinese diplomatic or consular mission in a country, and do not have authentication by the Foreign Ministry or other authentication institutions of the country?
Firstly, the Chinese diplomatic or consular missions abroad usually only authenticate the seal and signature of the host country's Foreign Ministry or authentication institutions. Secondly, the Chinese diplomatic or consular missions abroad do not keep samples of the seal or signature of the notaries public or issuers of business documentation of the host country and thus cannot verify the authenticity of the document. Therefore, relevant documents should be authenticated by the host country's Foreign Ministry or authentication institutions before applications are made to the Chinese diplomatic or consular mission for consular authentication.
3. How to apply for consular authentication of documents or business certificates issued in China?
Foreign-related notarial deeds or business documents issued in China for use in a foreign country should firstly be authenticated by the Department of Consular Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China, or authorized local foreign affairs offices of China. Then they should be authenticated by the foreign country's diplomatic or consular missions in China (Double Authentication). In some cases, the authentication by the foreign country's diplomatic or consular missions in China is not required (Single Authentication).
4. If notarial deeds or other documents issued in China have been taken to a foreign country without being authenticated in China, can they be authenticated by a Chinese diplomatic or consular mission abroad?
The Chinese diplomatic and consular missions abroad do not accept authentication applications for foreign-related notarial deeds or other documents issued in China, because the missions do not keep samples of signature or seal of Chinese notaries public or issuers of business documentation and thus cannot verify the authenticity of the documents. The applicant should send the document back to China, apply for authentication by the Department of Consular Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China, or authorized local foreign affairs offices of China, and apply for authentication by a diplomatic or consular mission in China of the country where the documents will be used. If the applicant find it inconvenient to go back to China for it, he or she may entrust someone else (e.g. a friend or relative in China or a lawyer) with the formalities.