Legal News

Notarizing Documents in China

Notaries in China

Every so often, one of our lawyers in China will get contacted by an expat asking what we charge to provide them with a U.S. notarization. If they call me in the United States, I sometimes jokingly tell them we will do it for free so long as they come to our United States office to have it done.

And therein lies the problem.

It makes no sense for someone in China needing a United States notarization to fly to the United States to get that. So what are they to do?

Go to the United States Embassy or to one of the U.S. Consulates, both of which will provide U.S. notarization on English language (only) documents that will be used in the United States. All you will need are the documents needing notarization, proof of your identity (your passport), and fifty dollars in cash, RMB equivalent cash, or credit card. If what you are doing also requires a witness, you will need to bring that too.

The Embassy and the Consulates are also the place to go to get Chinese documents authenticated for use in the United States. If you want a Chinese document authenticated by a United States Embassy or Consulate, you must first get those documents authenticated by the Notarization and Authentication Division of Consular Affairs Department of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

For more information on these things, check out the website of the applicable consulate or the embassy.

20 responses to “Notarizing Documents in China”

  1. China really needs to get on board with the Hague convention that applies to legalization of documents — that would make this stuff a lot easier.
    Here in Japan, any individual notary in the Tokyo area has sealed apostilles which they can staple onto a document to make their notarization valid in any other Hague signatory state, including the US. Japanese notaries charge significantly more than the US embassy notary (~$90), but the convenience factor can make them more attractive for businesspeople with a packed schedule.

  2. China really needs to get on board with the Hague convention that applies to legalization of documents — that would make this stuff a lot easier.
    Here in Japan, any individual notary in the Tokyo area has sealed apostilles which they can staple onto a document to make their notarization valid in any other Hague signatory state, including the US. Japanese notaries charge significantly more than the US embassy notary (~$90), but the convenience factor can make them more attractive for businesspeople with a packed schedule.

  3. Joe – I disagree that this is a China issue or about China getting on board as the issue is about getting documents notarized for use in the U.S. I have had documents affixed with an apostille in Hong Kong (which is a party to the apostille convention) and the insurance company to which I had to send the notarized document questioned its validity. Education on the part of the Hague signatory acceptance would do far more good than China getting on board.
    In addition to the consulates, in Shenzhen at least, there are several American lawyers who will notarize documents without charge for Americans which is so much more convenient then going to the consulate in Hong Kong or Guangzhou. There are also several expats who don’t advertise their services but through word of mouth and networking one can find who charge a nominal fee.

    • hi andy.  your info is invaluable.  do you work a lot in these areas?  i would like to get to know you.  

      • Hehehe Sorry for the pic! PLEASE HELP. I will be in Shenzhen and I must find one of these people to get papers notarized. can you please tell me at least one contact for me or how to find. and when I go I don’t have days to locate these people. Thank you so much

    • hi Andy c. i need my document notarized fast and then apostilled quickly are there any that you could suggest to me in the nanjing jiangsu area?

  4. Joe – I disagree that this is a China issue or about China getting on board as the issue is about getting documents notarized for use in the U.S. I have had documents affixed with an apostille in Hong Kong (which is a party to the apostille convention) and the insurance company to which I had to send the notarized document questioned its validity. Education on the part of the Hague signatory acceptance would do far more good than China getting on board.
    In addition to the consulates, in Shenzhen at least, there are several American lawyers who will notarize documents without charge for Americans which is so much more convenient then going to the consulate in Hong Kong or Guangzhou. There are also several expats who don’t advertise their services but through word of mouth and networking one can find who charge a nominal fee.

    • hi andy.  your info is invaluable.  do you work a lot in these areas?  i would like to get to know you.  

      • Hehehe Sorry for the pic! PLEASE HELP. I will be in Shenzhen and I must find one of these people to get papers notarized. can you please tell me at least one contact for me or how to find. and when I go I don’t have days to locate these people. Thank you so much

    • hi Andy c. i need my document notarized fast and then apostilled quickly are there any that you could suggest to me in the nanjing jiangsu area?

  5. I thought notary services and accreditation in the US are handled state-by-state. Which states allow a notary to operate outside their jurisdiction? How does the US Consulate overcome this barrier (it may be US jurisdiction but not any state’s) and how does any American lawyer provide this service in China? A Nevada notary cannot provide services in California. Even a super-powered Nevada dual attorney-notary.
    Is this a case of “it’s possible but not 100% legal”? I agree that this seems to be less of a China problem than a problem for Americans outside the country.

  6. Ryan,
    Those are great questions and I do not know the answers. One of the smartest things I ever did was to swear off ever becoming a notary. That means nobody can come bother me in the middle of the day to get me to notarize anything. This is also my excuse right now for not having the answers to your questions, but I think you are right. I suggested once to co-blogger Steve (who lives and works in China) that he become a notary so we could provide that service in China and he pointed out that he couldn’t do it for the reasons you mention and we haven’t discussed it since.
    I am guessing (but don’t know) that the Embassy/Consulates get around this because they are deemed to be American soil and maybe (though I have no idea if this is true or not) they are the soil of all 50 states????
    Can someone help me (and Ryan) out here?

  7. I thought notary services and accreditation in the US are handled state-by-state. Which states allow a notary to operate outside their jurisdiction? How does the US Consulate overcome this barrier (it may be US jurisdiction but not any state’s) and how does any American lawyer provide this service in China? A Nevada notary cannot provide services in California. Even a super-powered Nevada dual attorney-notary.
    Is this a case of “it’s possible but not 100% legal”? I agree that this seems to be less of a China problem than a problem for Americans outside the country.

  8. Ryan,
    Those are great questions and I do not know the answers. One of the smartest things I ever did was to swear off ever becoming a notary. That means nobody can come bother me in the middle of the day to get me to notarize anything. This is also my excuse right now for not having the answers to your questions, but I think you are right. I suggested once to co-blogger Steve (who lives and works in China) that he become a notary so we could provide that service in China and he pointed out that he couldn’t do it for the reasons you mention and we haven’t discussed it since.
    I am guessing (but don’t know) that the Embassy/Consulates get around this because they are deemed to be American soil and maybe (though I have no idea if this is true or not) they are the soil of all 50 states????
    Can someone help me (and Ryan) out here?

  9. @Andy C – I have a client that is a U.S. citizen married to a Chinese citizen. We need to have documents notarized. They live in Shenzhen. Can you let me know where she might be able to get this done? Thanks.

  10. @Andy C – I have a client that is a U.S. citizen married to a Chinese citizen. We need to have documents notarized. They live in Shenzhen. Can you let me know where she might be able to get this done? Thanks.

  11. My twins are born on 11/9/15 in San Diego, I am German and working in China, I have chinese Green Card. Now we have short term Visa Q1 for the Boy’s. What I have to apply in China that my Son’s get long term visa?

  12. My twins are born on 11/9/15 in San Diego, I am German and working in China, I have chinese Green Card. Now we have short term Visa Q1 for the Boy’s. What I have to apply in China that my Son’s get long term visa?

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