How to Apply for an Apostille in China

Individuals and businesses that are engaged in cross-border activities (e.g. immigration, work/study abroad, international trade) often need to show public documents issued in one country to officials in another country. An Apostille is a certificate issued by the country of origin to authenticate the stamp, seal, or signature on a public document to be used abroad.

On Nov. 7, 2023, the Convention of 5 October 1961 Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents, also known as Apostille Convention or Hague Convention, came into force for China. Since then, China has begun issuing and accepting Apostilles. This article explains the basics of getting an Apostille in China. For more background information about Apostilles, please read our article Understanding Apostille.

Where to Apply for an Apostille in China

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFO) of China is the competent authority for issuing Apostilles for public documents issued in China’s mainland. Although the Consular Department of MFA operates a service window for receiving Apostille applications, most applications are submitted to the designated foreign affairs offices (FAOs) or the entrusted organizations in Beijing. The contact information of the MFA service window, designated FAOs and the entrusted organizations is available in the Apostille Section on the China Consular Service Website (in Chinese).

The entrusted organizations in Beijing who act on behalf of MFA can process Apostilles for documents regardless of where the documents are issued, but each local FAO has a specific administrative jurisdiction meaning it can only deal with the documents issued within its jurisdiction. Suppose you live in a city other than Beijing. To find out where to submit your Apostille application, you can check the list of the designated FAOs in the Apostille Section on the China Consular Service Website and see if there’s a designated FAO in your city. If yes, this FAO is likely to be the most convenient office for filing your Apostille application. If not, then look for the FAOs in the other cities of the same province. The FAOs in the other provinces are irrelevant because they do not have jurisdiction over the documents issued in your province. If you know someone in Beijing who can help, you can always send your document to Beijing for filing the Apostille application. Note that the service window operated by MFA’s consular department currently does not allow third parties to submit applications.

What Documents Can be Apostilled in China

In China, three categories of documents can be apostilled: (1) civil documents notarized by a Chinese notary office, (2) commercial documents certified by the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT), and (3) certain certificates issued by local exit-entry inspection and quarantine bureaus for purposes of exportation. In other words, the documents for which an Apostille can be issued by an FAO in China must bear the stamp of a notary office, CCPIT, or an exit-entry inspection and quarantine bureau. Each of the three categories includes a variety of documents. If you are not sure about whether a particular document can be apostilled in China, you should contact the relevant authorities in the chain of the Apostille process. Below are listed some common documents that can be apostilled in China.

(1) Notarial Civil Documents (Note that all civil documents need to be notarized before they can be apostilled.)

  • Certificate of No Criminal Record
  • Birth certificate
  • Marriage certificate
  • Power of attorney
  • Educational diploma and transcripts
  • Contract

(2) Commercial Documents Certified by CCPIT (Note that all commercial documents need to be certified by CCPIT before they can be apostilled.)

  • Certificate of Origin
  • Certificate of Free Sale
  • Commercial invoice
  • Business license
  • Customs Declaration Form
  • Power of attorney

(3) Exportation-Relevant Certificates issued by Exit-Entry Inspection and Quarantine Bureau

  • Certificate of Origin
  • Phytosanitary Certificate
  • Animal Health Certificate

What Documents Are Required for Applying for an Apostille in China

Typically, when you apply for an Apostille in China, only two documents are required: your original valid identity document and the document that needs to be apostilled. The acceptable identity documents include a China ID card, passport, Mainland Travel Permit for Hong Kong and Macao and Residents, and Mainland Travel Permit for Taiwan Residents. A power of attorney is commonly not required if a third party files the Apostille application.

Additional document(s) are required If the applicant is not a regular individual but rather one of the following: national government-sponsored personnel or student going abroad, enterprise, and diplomatic organization. Also, the Consular Department of MFA has the power to request any documents it deems necessary. More details about the additional documents are available in the Apostille Section on the China Consular Service Website.

How Long Does the Apostille Application Take in China

2-4 working days. In some cases, the local FAO to which the application is submitted does not have the authority to issue an Apostille. Such an FAO needs to use a courier service to send the document to another FAO and later receive it when returned. The 2-4 working days do not cover the courier time in such a case.

How to Verify an Apostille Issued in China

An Apostille issued in China can be verified by using a cellphone browser or desktop browser. Using a cellphone browser is recommended as it takes scanning a QR code rather than entering some verification numbers manually. Below are illustrations of the two verification methods.

Method One (Recommended)

  1. Open a browser app on your cellphone and go to the Verification Section on the China Consular Service Website at
  2. Click “Scan the QR code” and scan the QR code that appears in the top left corner of the Apostille.
  3. View the verification result.

Method Two

  1. Open a web browser on your desktop computer or laptop and go to the Verification Section on the China Consular Service Website at
  2. Enter the Apostille Number and the Sticker Number found in the Apostille. Then, click “Verify”. (See the Sample Apostille showing where to find these numbers).
  3. View the verification result.

Sample Apostille Issued in China

Sample Apostille Issued in China

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