China has acceded to the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation of Public Documents on 8 March 2023.
The practical implications of this accession are set to transform the way foreign documents are authenticated for use in China, with the new rules taking effect on 7 November 2023. This development is a major milestone in simplifying and expediting the process of foreign document legalisation for use within China.
The Hague Convention, also known as the Apostille Convention, is a global treaty that simplifies the process of legalising documents for international use. It allows for a standardised certificate, known as an “Apostille”, to be affixed to documents, confirming their authenticity and making them valid in other member countries.
From 7 November 2023, public documents properly executed in Australia only require the Apostille to be affixed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). This means consular legalisation, a more time-consuming and complex procedure, is no longer required.
If legalisation of a document is expected to be completed before 7 November 2023, there is no need to apply for an Apostille, as the courts will continue to accept legalised documents. However, the Chinese Embassy in Australia will cease to offer consular legalisation services from 7 November.
For those in the process of consular legalisation, consideration may be given to applying for an Apostille instead.