Guidance

Notarial and documentary services guide for China

Documents, certificates, letters and notes available at the British Embassy and Consulates in China.

Overview

The British Embassy in Beijing and the British Consulates General in Guangzhou and Shanghai provide a limited range of notarial and documentary services for British nationals in China.

If there is no specific formal requirement for a notarial service or certificate to be provided by the British Embassy/Consulate General, you should use a local notary or lawyer. They can sometimes provide these services more cheaply, quickly and conveniently.

It is essential that you check with the authority who is requesting the notarial document that a document from us will be accepted by them. Where you need a document for a country other than the United Kingdom or China, you must give us satisfactory evidence that the notarial document will be recognised by the jurisdiction of that country. Only the relevant authority can tell you which service you will require. This information cannot be verified by the British Embassy/Consulate General. We will not give you a refund if your certificates or notarial services are not accepted by the requesting authority.

We are unable to authenticate, notarise, verify or legalise any document. This includes UK birth, marriage and death certificates (these can be obtained from the relevant General Register Office in the UK) and UK education certificates. You can find information here on how to get a UK document authenticated for the purposes of obtaining a Chinese visa and Foreign Expert Certificate.

British Embassies and Consulates cannot issue letters confirming the validity of a foreign marriage in the United Kingdom. You can download a free copy of an Information Note below which may serve in place of such a letter.

If you cannot find what you are looking for in the list below please see our services section at the British Embassy/Consulate General or see the list of services provided elsewhere.

Services we provide in China

The information contained in this guide does not apply to affirmations and affidavits for marriage in China. Please see Getting Married Abroad for information on how to apply for these documents.

Making a certified copy of a British passport

This service is for British nationals who need a certified photocopy of their valid British passport.

Please note the certified copy of a British passport we provide does not verify your identity or nationality. If you require such a document, you should contact a lawyer or notary public in the UK.

The letter we provide can only be provided in English. Please note that we do not verify the authenticity of documents. We only provide a photocopy of the original document and state that this is a copy of an original document which was presented to us.

The original passport will need to be produced to the British Embassy/Consulate General. We cannot accept copies or scanned versions. For further information see how to apply for a notarial service or certificate.

Legalisation of UK documents

British Embassies and Consulates in China are unable to legalise UK public documents. The Legalisation Office in the UK can legalise some UK public documents and you can find information on how to do this here. Once your document is legalised by the Legislation Office you may need to get it authenticated by the Chinese Embassy in London. Information on how to do this can be found here.

Legalisation of foreign documents

British Embassies and Consulates in China are unable to legalise foreign documents because the UK does not require foreign documents to be legalised for use in the UK. If the document is to be used in another country (including China), you should contact the legalisation authorities of the country where the document will be used for advice.

Passport Numbers change upon renewal or name change

British Embassies and Consulates cannot issue letters confirming the change of passport numbers upon renewal or name change. This is because we are not the passport issuing authority. You can download a free copy of an Information Note below which may serve in place of such a letter.

If you need a letter providing details of multiple passports belonging to you, you can request information under the Freedom of Information Act by submitting a Subject Access Request to HM Passport Office, asking for confirmation that you were the holder of your previous passport(s). Please visit HM Passport Office for further information and contact details. The British Embassy and Consulates in China cannot answer any queries on this subject or the application process.

Issuing letters for adoption in China

Please refer to the Adoption in China guide for information on this.

Life certificates to claim State Pension abroad

British Embassies and Consulates cannot witness signatures on your life certificate if you are claiming a British pension abroad, including those required by the Department of Work and Pensions. Please refer to the list of people working in a recognised profession who can witness your life certificate.

Certificates of good conduct/criminal record checks

The British Embassy and Consulates General in China have no authority to conduct criminal record checks and so we are unable to provide British nationals with proof of no criminal record. Please refer to our Living in China guide for information on how to obtain a criminal record check in the UK and in China.

How to apply for a notarial service or certificate

Please complete a service request form and email it together with your supporting documents to china.notarial@fco.gov.uk.

Supporting documents:

  • a letter or written statement from the requesting authority, or a link to the relevant page on their official website, explaining in full why they need this document, the purpose for which it will be used and confirmation that the document can only be issued by the British Embassy/Consulate. The requesting authority does not include your agent or employer.
  • the bio-data page of your valid British passport
  • proof of residency or immigration status in China
  • proof of physical residential address, such as a utility bill or a tenancy contract (if these are in your company’s name, please bring a letter from your company to say where you reside)

Your application will be assessed by consular staff who will contact you within 3 working days of receipt of your application to advise if we are able to provide this service. If we are able to provide this service, you will need to make an appointment with the appropriate British Embassy/Consulate General in Beijing, Guangzhou or Shanghai and you will need to attend in person for the notarial service to be administered. Notarial services delivered by post or courier are not available. We will send you details on how to make an appointment once your application has been approved. You will need to produce the original supporting documents listed above when you come to see us.

Fees

For the cost of all our services, please visit our fees page.

You can pay for your notarial document(s) at the Embassy/Consulate General on the day of collection. Some Posts only accept cash and we will let you know when your application has been approved whether your chosen Post also accepts credit and debit cards. Refunds will not be given for certificates or notarial services that are not accepted by the requesting authority.

Data Protection

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office holds and uses data for purposes notified to the Information Commissioner under the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018 (which may be viewed at www.ico.org.uk). Such personal data may be disclosed to other UK government departments and public authorities.

Disclaimer

This information is provided as a general guide and is based upon information provided to the embassy/consulate by the relevant local authorities and may be subject to change at any time with little or no notice. Accordingly the FCO and the British embassy/consulate general will not be liable for any inaccuracies in this information. For all notarial services, it is the responsibility of the customer to ascertain the precise requirements of the person requesting the notarial service and to satisfy themselves that the service provided by the embassy/consulate will be accepted.

Published 5 April 2013
Last updated 29 June 2018 + show all updates
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  14. removed Preparing a certificate in English or Chinese section as no longer applicable.
  15. Added additional services: Legalising a signature or seal The public documents issued by Chinese authorities and to be used in the UK only need an “apostille” issued by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). This Embassy does not legalise the apostilles issued by the Chinese MFA, as it is not necessary for its use in the UK. Likewise, all public documents issued in the UK and to be used in China should bear an “apostille” from the Legalisation Office at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. This is the only competent authority to issue apostilles in the UK. Preparing a certificate in English or Chinese We may be able to issue Standard and Non-standard certificates which local authorities might request from you. These can only be issued through submission of appropriate supporting documentation and after agreement by London. They can be issued in English or in Chinese. Please email the British Embassy /Consulate-General to find out whether we can issue the certificate you (require) and to find out about waiting times. Signing a declaration of existence We are able to prepare or sign a declaration of existence for you. This applies for pensioners who need to have their signature certified by a consular officer as a proof of life for pension services. If this service is required by the UK Pension Service, the fee will be waived. Administering oaths, declarations or affirmations We are able to administer oaths, declarations or affirmations as long as you bring your document already prepared. We are only able to accept documents which have been prepared using certain templates. We are unable to draft documents for you. Documents which are longer than one page must be printed on both sides of the paper leaving no blank sheets in between. We will be unable to provide the service if all the above hasn’t been complied with. Please be sure not to sign the document before coming to see us, as you will be requested to sign in front of a consular officer. Witnessing a signature We are able to witness your signature on a document in some circumstances. We can witness your signature on official documents. Please contact us in advance so we can verify if we can witness your signature or not, as we cannot for legal reasons witness your signature on (for example) a personal document, company document or will/power of attorney document. Please be sure not to sign the document before coming to see us, as you will be requested to sign in front of a consular officer. Making or Verifying copies of documents We are able to certify photocopies of the following documents: • British Passports • British (ie issued in the UK) educational documents • Home Office Registration certificates • British driving licences • British divorce decrees We cannot certify photocopies of: • foreign IDs and passports • marriage, birth and death certificates: these should be applied for through the General Register Office • bank statements • foreign driving licences • foreign documents including educational, notarial etc
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