On November 7, 2023, China officially enacted the "Convention of Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents" (the Convention), commonly known as the "Apostille Convention." By replacing the traditional consular legalization with a more convenient method of proof, this initiative aims to streamline the transnational circulation of official documents, as well as foster international trade and economic activities.
Previously, documents from foreign countries intended for use in the Chinese mainland shall undergo notarization and legalization by local authorities, followed by legalization by the Chinese Embassy or Consulate in that country. However, starting November 7 this year, documents from member countries of the Convention only necessitate an Apostille Certificate from local authorities, eliminating further certification by Chinese diplomatic missions there. Notably, the Apostille Certificate serves as an authentication certificate solely verifying the authenticity of the seal, signature, etc. on the document, without being responsible for the content's authenticity and legality. Documents with an obtained Apostille Certificate can be transferred between member states.
As of October 23, 2023, the Convention boasts a membership of 125 countries, as listed below. For documents from non-member countries intended for use in the Chinese mainland, the prior dual-legalization process still applies.
List of Member Countries to the Convention (as of 23 October 2023)
China, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Brunei, Georgia, India1, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Tajikistan, Turkey, Uzbekistan
Botswana, Burundi, Cape Verde, Swaziland, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritius, Morocco, Namibia, Rwanda2, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Seychelles, South Africa, Tunisia
Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Moldova, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom
North America (21)
Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada3, Costa Rica, Dominica, Dominica, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Louis Western Asia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, United States
South America (12)
Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, Venezuela
Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Marshall Islands, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu
Impact on Cosmetic Imports
In the cosmetics sector, the registration and notification of imported cosmetics and new cosmetic ingredients, as well as the notification of toothpaste involve submitting notarized documents to the National Medical Products Administration (NMPA)'s New Cosmetic Registration and Notification System. These documents encompass: (1) the original notarial certificate of the domestic responsible person's authorization letter, (2) and where the original GMP is unavailable, notarized copies of qualification certificates and documents demonstrating compliance with quality management systems or production quality management practices.
Since November 7, these documents no longer need embassy certification; instead, an Apostille Certificate alone suffices. This significant change will expedite the registration and notification process for imported cosmetic products.