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.

Access to Embassy or Consulates General are by appointment only. Use the booking links in each service to make an appointment. Before booking or applying for a document, you must make sure you have selected the correct service and that the document will be accepted by the relevant receiving authority.

You should use a local notary or lawyer, if there is no specific requirement for a notarial service or certificate to be provided by British Embassy or Consulates General.

Services we provide in China

Consular staff can provide the following services only:

  • Making a certified copy of a British passport
  • Issuing letter for adoption in China
  • Administering affirmation or affidavit for the purpose of marriage under Chinese law
  • Performing a consular marriage or a civil partnership for same sex couples

You need to attend in person for the notarial service. The Consular Section reserves the right to cancel any appointment if it is a service we cannot offer.

How to apply for a notarial service or certificate

Making a certified copy of a British passport

This service is for British nationals who need a certified photocopy of the ID page of their valid British passport. The letter we provide can only be in English. Please note we do not verify your identity, nationality, or the authenticity of documents.

To make an appointment at one of our consular offices, please click the location where you’d like the service performed: Embassy in Beijing, Consulate in Guangzhou or Consulate in Shanghai. Please note the links are only to be used for booking a service to make certified copy of a British passport.

What you need to bring:

  • your original valid British passport
  • proof of residency or immigration status in China
  • 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
  • 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)
  • the Consular Fee

Issuing letter for adoption in China

For adoption in China, the British Embassy and Consulates General are able to issue you a Letter of No Objection and a Letter of Introduction. We can also witness your signature on our template, which is for adoption purposes only.

What you need to bring:

  • your and your partner’s current and old passports that contain your current and previous Chinese residence permits
  • your sworn statement witnessed by your lawyer that states: “I confirm that I have received independent legal advice and with reference to all circumstances of my particular case and in light of existing UK law, I can confirm that I am not habitually resident in the British Islands”.

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

To make an appointment at one of our consular offices, please click the location where you’d like the service performed: Embassy in Beijing, Consulate in Guangzhou or Consulate in Shanghai. Please note the links are only to be used for booking a service to obtain letters for adoption in China.

Opposite-Sex Marriage in China: Administer an affirmation or affidavit of marital status

We can witness affirmations and affidavits for the purpose of getting married under Chinese Law. Please read Getting Married Abroad for information on how to apply for these documents.

Same-Sex Marriage: Consular Marriage or Civil Partnership

This service is for same-sex couples who wish to get married or enter into a civil partnership. Please read Same-sex marriage in China for information on how to apply for the service.

Fees

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

You can pay using any of the following credit cards: Visa, MasterCard and Maestro. Please note for Credit cards issued outside of the UK you may incur a fee from your card provider for a transaction made in GBP. If you do not have access to one of the cards mentioned please let us know when you make the online appointment.

Services we do not provide in China

British Embassy and Consulates in China are unable to authenticate, notarise, verify or legalise any document, issue letters confirming multiple passports belong to you, witness life certificates to claim State Pension abroad, or issue certificates of good conduct/criminal records.

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

If you cannot find information you need on this page, you can use our Online Contact Form to submit your enquiry.

Legalisation of UK documents

How to get UK public documents legalised and authenticated for the purpose of obtaining a Chinese Visa or Foreign Expert Certificate

Order a copy of UK Birth/Death/Marriage Certificates

You need to register on the General Register Office (GRO) website to get a copy of a birth, adoption, death, marriage or civil partnership certificate in England and Wales. Please read How to order a copy of Birth/Death/Marriage certificate.

Legalisation of foreign documents

Please note, 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 are not the passport issuing authority and we are unable to issue letters confirming the change of passport numbers upon renewal or name change. 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.

Life certificates to claim State Pension abroad

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. Please refer to our Living in China guide for information on how to obtain a criminal record check in the UK and in China.

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 30 August 2019 + show all updates
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  15. removed Preparing a certificate in English or Chinese section as no longer applicable.

  16. 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

  17. added to notarial services document series

  18. First published.