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Authentication
2012/02/01

Authentication

In accordance with international practice and consular practice in China, the purpose of consular authentication is to ensure that notarial deeds issued in one country can be acknowledged by relevant authorities in another country, and the deeds can have its due legal effect, which shall not be affected by doubts on the authenticity of the seal or signature on the deeds.

The Chinese Consulate General in the United States can authenticate notarial deeds and other documents issued by relevant authorities of the United States for use in China. The deeds or documents should be certified by the Authentication Office of the Secretary of the State first.

Consular authentication by the Chinese Embassy or Consulate General in the U.S. is not required for relevant documents to be used in Hong Kong SAR or Macao SAR of China. As long as these documents are notarized by a local notary public of the U.S. and apostilled by the Secretary of the State or the Authentication office of the U.S. Department of State, they can be used in Hong Kong or Macao.

Authentication Guidelines

I. Application Requirements

A document to be authenticated should meet the following requirements:

1. The document should have been authenticated by the Secretary of the State.

2. The document is truthful, legal and without contents of obvious violation of the Chinese law or potential threats to China's national or public interests.

3. A document with more than two pages must be properly bound as a volume to avoid any substitution. Sealing wax, paging seal or steel seal should be applied to ensure the integrity of the documents.

II. Authentication Process

Step 1.

The document needs to be certified by a local notary public, or a certified copy should be issued by the competent authorities before consular authentication.

Step 2.

The document needs to be certified by the Secretary of the State of a U.S. state government in which the document is executed. (Some states require that the document should be certified by the County Clerk first.)

Step 3.

Applicants must apply for authentication at the Chinese Consulate General of the consular district where the document is certified. The consular district of the Chinese Consulate General in San Francisco covers: Northern California, Alaska, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. Only documents certified by the Secretaries of State Office of the above listed 5 states (click here for their contact Information) can be certified by the Chinese Consulate General in San Francisco.

III. Documents Required for Application

1. One fully completed Notarization and Authentication Application Form.

2. The original and a photocopy of the document to be authenticated.

3. The original of the applicant's passport and a photocopy of the photo/information page of the passport or other valid ID.

4. If an applicant has entrusted someone else to submit the application on his/her behalf, a photocopy of both the entrusted person's and the applicant's valid ID will be required.

5. If the document is a business license, a photocopy of the passport or driving license of the company's legal representative and the company document that can prove the person's legal representative status should be submitted.

IV. How to apply

1. You may either submit the application and get it back by yourself or entrust someone else to do it for you.

2. No appointment is needed.

3. If necessary, applicants should come in person for an interview as required by the Consulate General.

V. Processing Time

1. Regular service: 4 business days. It does not include the time for submitting supporting materials, consulting or verifying information with China, or delays caused by force majeure.

2. Express service: documents can be returned on the 2nd or 3rd business day.

3. Same-day rush service: documents can be returned on the same day. (Applications must be submitted before 12:00 p.m.)

VI. Fees and Payment

1. After an authentication certificate is issued, the applicant may come with the receipt to the Chinese Consulate General to pay the relevant fee and get the certificate on the pick-up day. If a certificate is not picked up 6 months after the pick-up day, the Chinese Consulate General will no longer keep it and the applicant is solely responsible for any consequences arising therefrom.

2. Regular service:

Civil documents: $25 per document;

Commercial documents: $50 per document.

3. Express service: an additional fee of $20 per document will be charged.

4. Same-day rush service: an additional fee of $30 per document will be charged.

5. Please pay by money order, cashier's check, or Master/Visa Card. Cash or personal/company checks are not accepted. Please make cashier's checks or money order payable to "Chinese Consulate General".

VII. Other Important Information

1. According to regulations of China, a single status affidavit used for marriage registration in China is valid for only 6 months from the date of issuance. If an applicant needs to use it after it has been issued for 6 months, he or she needs to obtain a new single status affidavit.

2. Documents for use in China for adoption affairs, such as statement of marriage, health status, proof of finance, income, no criminal record, can only be authenticated if the period between the notarized date and the adoption registration date (excluding the processing time taken by China Center for Adoption Affairs) does not exceed 6 months.

3. Consular officials of the Chinese Embassy or Consulate General will review the documents to be authenticated. If there is any problem, such as uncompleted process, wrong document format, illegal contents, or alteration or substitution of the document, the application will be rejected.

4. Consular officials reserve the right to request additional documents from the applicant.

5. A document that has been authenticated by the Chinese Consulates General shall not be willfully bound, unbound or altered. An applicant is solely responsible for all consequences and legal responsibilities arising from his or her unauthorized binding, unbinding or altering of the document.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do all documents to be used in China need to be authenticated?

Answer: 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?

Answer: 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?

Answer: 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).

Please click here for authentication requirements of the Chinese Foreign Ministry and relevant foreign diplomatic or consular missions in China.

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?

Answer: 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.

Contact Information of the Secretaries of State of CA, WA, OR, NV, AK (for reference only, subject to change)

1. California Secretary of State

1500 11th Street
Sacramento, California 95814
http://www.ss.ca.gov/
(916) 653-6814

2. Washington Secretary of State

801 Capitol Way S.
OLYMPIA, WA 98504
Telephone (360) 586-2268

3. Oregon Secretary of State

Public Service Building Suite 151
255 Capitol Street NE
Salem, OR 97310
Phone (503) 986-2200
TTY (503) 986-2328
http://www.sos.state.or.us/
oregon.notary@state.or.us

4. Nevada Secretary of State

101 North Carson Street, Suite 3
Carson City, Nevada 89701-3714
Information Number: 775/684-5708
nvnotary@govmail.state.nv.us

5. Office of the Lieutenant Governor

Notary Public Section
Office of the Lieutenant Governor
P.O. Box 110015
Juneau, AK 99811-0015
(907) 465-3509
(907) 465-5400 fax
notary@gov.state.ak.us

(Total hits since February 1, 2012)

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