In the previous article, we introduced the applicable scope of the Apostille Convention, and briefly explained the advantages of Apostille certification over the previous consular authentication. Recently, there has been new progress on the implementation of the Apostille Convention.
On October 23, 2023, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China (“MFA”) released news on its website, announcing the timing of the implementation of the Apostille Convention and the competent authority for the Apostille. Meanwhile, the MFA also provides the link for searching the specific procedures and requirements for applying for the Apostille, which gives more detailed guidelines for the implementation of the Apostille Convention in China.
Starting from November 7, public documents within the scope of the Convention issued by the Contracting States only need to apply for apostille before they can be sent to the Chinese mainland for use. There is no need to apply for consular authentication by the local States and the Chinese Embassies and Consulates-General in the local States.
What are the specific steps that could be simplified by the implementation of the Apostille Convention? Let's take the example of a Power of Attorney issued by a U.S. company for litigation in China. If the legalization is done through the consular authentication process, after the company’s representative signs the PoA in the U.S., the document usually needs to go through the notarization, state authentication, U.S. Department of State authentication, and Chinese Embassy authentication steps. Although the specific regulations and authentication steps vary slightly from state to state, the entire legalization process usually takes several months, with the U.S. Department of State authentication alone taking 11-12 weeks. As for foreign-related litigation, many foreign companies may lose the opportunity of judicial remedies because they are unable to provide qualified legalized documents on time. The implementation of the Apostille Convention will precisely simplify the U.S. Department of State authentication process and subsequent consular authentication process, which is extremely good news for most foreign-related subjects to carry out litigations in China.
Accordingly, when Chinese enterprises conduct business overseas, the legalization procedures for public documents to be used in other Contracting States of the Apostille Convention will also become more convenient. Taking the example of a Power of Attorney issued by a Chinese company for litigation in other Contracting States. If the legalization of such public documents are legalized through consular authentication process, the documents will need to go through the notarization, consular authentication by the MFA and the destination countries’ Embassies and Consulates-General in China. After the implementation of the Apostille Convention, the above-mentioned documents will only need to be notarized and certified with Apostille.
According to the press release of the MFA and the information on the China Consular Service website, the MFA of China is the competent authority for the issuance of Apostille under the Apostille Convention. It issues Apostille for public documents issued within the territory of China. The reception locations, office hours and contact information of the relevant services can be found in the "Apostille" section on the China Consular Services Website. In addition, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has entrusted the issuance of Apostille to as many as 31 local foreign affairs offices, including 25 provincial-level foreign affairs offices and 6 municipal-level foreign affairs offices. Information of the above organizations can also be accessed through the China Consular Service website.
The website also shows samples of the Apostille issued by China. The picture below shows the Apostille with seal/stamp.
In addition, the website also gives detailed instructions on the specific procedure, the materials to be submitted, the fees, the processing time and other details for applying for Apostille.
At present, Chinese Embassies in Contracting States to the Apostille Convention have begun to publish notices of the imminent implementation of the Apostille Convention in China and to inform that the consular authentication services will be ceased and replaced by Apostille. To date, the Embassies that have published such notice include but are not limited to the Chinese Embassies in the U.S., Australia, France, Spain, Japan, Germany, etc.
To confirm the Chinese courts’ attitude towards the implementation of the Apostille Convention, we preliminarily consulted with the Beijing Intellectual Property Court and learned that they will accept public documents with Apostille after November 7, 2023. For a certain transitional period after the implementation of the Apostille Convention, both public documents with consular authentication and public documents with Apostille can be accepted. We will also keep a close eye on the latest developments and provide you with regular updates. Should you have any inquiries, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.