A Beginner’s Guide to Teaching in China: How to get your documents legalised (USA)

Document Legalisation

The People’s Republic of China has not signed The Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents (1961) official documents are therefore required to be notarised by a notary public, Authenticated/ legalised by the FCO Legalisation Office and the Chinese Consulate or Embassy. Basically, to be able to use your documents in China you will need to legalise them before you apply for your Z Visa. 

Note: documents must be legalised in the country of issue.

To legalise a US public document, you have to follow the four steps outlined below:


Notarisation is a form of legal certification which certify that a document or a signature is authentic or a true copy. 

Non-government issued documents need to be notarised by a notary public.

Notarisation is not required for original certified copy/certification issued by a competent Federal/ State/local Office. Please make sure you obtain a certified copy.  

For Federally issued certifications, skip step 1.

Please note: special circumstances regarding documents from Colleges, Universities and Other Post-Secondary Institutions:

  • Obtain from the registrar of the University a true official copy of the credentials. The registrar should then execute an affidavit attesting to the validity of the document before a notary public. Frequently the business offices of colleges and universities have notaries public.
  • Take the document, with the notarial certificate to the state Notary Public Administrator for authentication. The state Notary Public Administrator will affix a state authentication certificate. You should then send the document to the Authentications Office of the Department of State, following the instruction on that office’s web page.
  • Obtain authentication of the U.S. Department of State seal at the foreign embassy in Washington, D.C.

Submit the documents to the Secretary of the State, in which the document is executed, for authentication/ legalisation.

Apostille is not recognised in China.

  • Some states require that the document should be certified by the County Clerk first.
  • When you submit your application, please state on your application that the documents will be used in China.

The documents then need to be authenticated by the Authentication Office of the Department of State.

If you reside in any of the areas mentioned below, you may skip step 3 and submit your document to that Consulate-General for final legalisation:

New York


San Francisco

Los Angeles


If one of the Chinese Consulate-Generals holds consular jurisdiction (click to check ) over you state, you may submit your document to that Consulate-General for final legalisation. 

After completing the initial steps, please submit your documents to the Embassy or Consulate of the People’s Republic of China for legalisation.

If you do not live near a Chinese consulate, it will likely be more cost-effective to use an agent to complete this process for you.

Pioneer & Beyond does not hold any legal right or responsibility to the information in this document/ on this page.

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