On 8 March 2023, the Chinese Ambassador to the Netherlands, Tan Jian, submitted China’s instrument of accession to the Convention of 5 October 1961, Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents
Also known as the Apostille Convention, the convention simplifies the procedure for certifying documents between two countries, replacing the need for local certification or notarisation with a certification called an Apostille issued by a “competent authority” in the state of origin (i.e., the Legalisation Office in the UK), which is then recognised in the state of destination (i.e., China). The Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH) has a detailed run-down of how the convention is implemented.
The convention will come into force in China on 7 November 2023.
At a press conference, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said that China’s accession to the convention will have two main benefits.
The first is that it will significantly reduce the time and cost of documentation when dealing with China. This will be a boon for both businesses and individuals, making it easier to certify things such as driver’s licenses, health certificates and degrees. Mao Ning estimated that the time spent certifying a document will be reduced from over 20 days to just a few working days, saving more than RMB 300 million in processing fees for Chinese and foreign businesses.
The second benefit is that it will facilitate international trade and improve the business environment in China. British companies planning to invest in or export to China will no longer need to get commercial documents certified by the consulate. Mao Ning expects over 70% of China’s export-related commercial documents to benefit from the terms of the convention.