China to join the Apostille Convention by the end of the year

Starting on November 7th, China will be joining the Apostille Convention, which is great news for individuals and companies alike. This move is expected to save both time and costs in terms of document authentication. Previously, foreign documents for use in China required multiple rounds of authentication by different authorities, which could be a complicated and time-consuming process. With China’s adoption of the Apostille Convention, certain administrative procedures will be streamlined and simplified, making it easier for individuals and companies to produce documentation for use in China. This is a significant step towards greater international cooperation and efficiency in the field of document authentication.

What is the Apostille Convention?

The Apostille Convention is a treaty that facilitates the authentication of public documents for use in foreign countries. This international agreement, which is formally known as the Convention of 5 October 1961 Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents, aims to simplify the process of verifying the authenticity of legal documents across national borders.

By reducing the need for additional legalisation, the Apostille Convention streamlines the authentication process and promotes international cooperation. The treaty enables signatory nations to recognise the validity of public documents that have been certified with an Apostille seal, which serves as a universally recognised mark of authenticity. This simplifies legal and administrative processes that involve the exchange of public documents between countries.

The Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH) adopted the Convention in 1961, and currently, it has been ratified by over 120 countries and territories globally. The Convention allows for a public document that has been issued in one member country to be certified for legal use in any other member country by obtaining an “apostille” certificate from a designated competent authority in the issuing country.

How do you apply for an apostille?

For Romanian official documents, an apostille is only applied when the respective document is intended to be used in a state that is a party to the Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents, The Hague, 1961.

Documents issued in Romania

According to the Hague Convention of 1961, the competent Romanian authorities to apply the apostille are the courts and the prefectures. The courts apply the apostille to the following categories of Romanian official documents: 

  • Judicial decisions (in original/ legalized copy) issued by Romanian judicial authorities (the judicial decisions must be legalized by the court that pronounced them, with the name in the clear, by the clerk who legalizes the decision or by the president of the court); 
  • Notarial acts (for example notarial declarations, legalized copies of documents, legalized translations of documents); 
  • Original documents/ legalized copies emanating from a judicial executor; 
  • Original documents issued by the Trade Register signed clearly and issued with the letterhead of the Ministry of Justice.

Documents issued abroad

The documents taken by the diplomatic missions and consular offices of Romania from applicants outside the borders of the Romanian state are transmitted to the Institution of the Prefect of Bucharest, which, after issuing the apostille, sends them back to the diplomatic mission or consular office. The operations related to the transmission and return of the documents are carried out through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

How does China’s entry impact international trade and commercial activities?

This event will facilitate both Chinese nationals and foreigners to experience a simplified and expedited process for obtaining various documents necessary for administrative purposes. The change will provide the most advantages to companies that conduct cross-border transactions, such as domestic companies that employ foreign workers, import-export businesses, and multinational corporations with cross-border operations.

Benefits of China’s accession to the Hague Apostille Convention

We know that China’s accession to the Hague Apostille Convention will make the process of legalising documents much easier, but what are the main positive points? Here is what people applying will be able to enjoy:

  • Once your documents have the Apostille, they will be available in other member countries;
  • The process of legalising documents becomes more transparent;
  • Foreign companies will have it easier when it comes to doing business in and with China;
  • It will save time by cutting down on paperwork.

Even though the Apostille Convention might make many processes easier, we have to remember that it only applies to public documents, as determined by the laws of the issuing country.

To which documents does the Apostille Convention apply?

According to the HCCH, these include:

  • Documents of an administrative nature, including birth, marriage, and death certificates;  
  • Documents emanating from an authority or an official connected with a court, tribunal, or commission;  
  • Extracts from commercial registers and other registers;  
  • Patents;
  • Notarial acts and notarial attestations (acknowledgements) of signatures;
  • School, university, and other academic diplomas issued by public institutions. 

The Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH) notes that diplomatic or consular documents, as well as specific administrative documents concerning commercial or customs operations, are typically excluded from the application of the convention. Therefore, certain documents for China will still require additional authentication procedures. 

Countries that are members of the Apostille Convention

The Hague Convention has established a process through which member countries can issue and accept apostilles, making it easier to legalize and authenticate documents between different states.

As of today, there are a total of 124 member countries that have signed and joined the Apostille Hague Convention. Among the latest countries to have joined this convention are Pakistan and Senegal, which became members in March of this year. Additionally, Saudi Arabia joined the convention in December of the previous year.

As you can see, China’s decision to join the Hague Apostille Convention is a significant step towards greater international cooperation and efficiency in the document authentication department. This move is expected to simplify the process of legalizing documents for use in China, saving both time and costs for individuals and companies. Moreover, this event will benefit both Chinese nationals and foreigners and facilitate cross-border transactions.



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