The People’s Republic of China Joins the 1961 Hague Convention


Hague Convention

November 7, 2023, marks a significant milestone in the legal and administrative sphere of China’s international relations. On this date, China officially became a party to the 1961 Hague Convention, introducing the Apostille as the sole method for legalizing public documents for international use.

This change revolutionizes the previous dual legalization process, which required documents to be legalized both in the country of origin, by the Prefecture or the Prosecutor of the competent court, depending on the document to be legalized, and in the destination country through the consular authority of the receiving country. However, with the implementation of the Apostille by the country of origin, the involvement of the consular authority in the destination country is eliminated, granting validity and effectiveness to the document in the respective signatory state.

This procedural change carries significant implications, and it is crucial to monitor its implementation. It is worth noting that many Chinese embassies and consulates in various countries have already suspended their document legalization services due to this transition.

China’s accession to the 1961 Hague Convention reflects the country’s continued commitment to international integration in the legal and regulatory sphere, marking a significant step forward in its global relations.

The Path to the Hague Convention

The 1961 Hague Convention on Apostille, also known as the Apostille Convention, is an international treaty that simplifies the authentication of public documents used abroad. It was adopted in The Hague, Netherlands, and has been ratified by numerous states worldwide.

The Convention establishes a standardized procedure for the legalization of public documents, eliminating the need for multiple authentications and streamlining the process for use in other signatory countries. This is achieved through the issuance of a certificate called an “Apostille,” which authenticates the signature and seal of the official who issued the document.

Elimination of Dual Legalization

Before China’s accession to the 1961 Hague Convention, Chinese public documents intended for use in other countries had to undergo a dual legalization process. This process involved legalization in the country of origin, followed by a second legalization in the destination country through the consular authority of the receiving country. This procedure could be costly and time-consuming.

With China’s accession to the Convention, the need for a second legalization in the destination country is eliminated, significantly simplifying the process and reducing the costs and time required for document legalization. Now, apostilled Chinese public documents will be automatically recognized in the signatory countries of the Convention without the need for a second legalization.

Implications of China’s Accession to the Hague Convention

China’s accession to the 1961 Hague Convention has several significant implications, both for Chinese citizens and the international community. Some of the key implications include:

  1. Streamlined legalization process: Chinese citizens requiring the use of public documents abroad, such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, academic degrees, and more, will benefit from a more efficient and cost-effective legalization process.
  2. Greater international recognition: Apostilled Chinese public documents will be more widely recognized and accepted in the signatory countries of the Hague Convention. This will facilitate international transactions and procedures.
  3. Promotion of international trade and business: China’s accession to the Hague Convention will create a more favorable environment for international trade by eliminating bureaucratic obstacles and reducing the costs associated with document legalization.
  4. Simplified consular procedures: The elimination of second legalization at consulates in destination countries will ease the administrative burden for both Chinese citizens and consular authorities.
  5. Facilitation of international cooperation: China’s accession to the Hague Convention underscores its commitment to the international legal and regulatory system, potentially fostering greater cooperation and understanding with other countries on legal and administrative matters.
  6. Advancement of global integration: This step signifies China’s determination to continue its integration into the global legal and regulatory framework, strengthening its international relations and participation in international agreements and treaties.

If you are interested in obtaining more information or require assistance with matters related to the legalization of international documents, do not hesitate to contact Feliu N&I.

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