Does the legalisation process for China also apply to Macau?
If our clients send documents to China, they must have their documents notarised by a notary public, authenticated by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and then legalised by the Chinese Consulate. This legalisation process for documents intended for China sometimes causes some confusion for clients if they are sending their documents to Macau since Macau was returned to China in 1999. In this article, we clarify what is the legalisation process for documents intended for Macau.
The Chinese Consulate website advises that documents intended for Macau (and Hong Kong) do not need to be legalised by the Chinese Consulate. Instead, documents intended for Macau must be notarised by a notary public and then stamped with an apostille from DFAT. The Chinese Consulate is not involved.
Also, the Hague Conference on Private International Law, the authority responsible for drafting the Apostille Convention, confirms that:
“When Hong Kong and Macao were restored to the People’s Republic of China on 1 July 1997 and 20 December 1999, respectively, China declared that the Convention will continue to apply for Hong Kong and Macao.”
This is important information. Many people including lawyers in Australia and in Macau, Hong Kong and China assume that since Macau is now part of China, the formal process to authenticate and legalise notarised documents intended for China also applies to documents intended for Macau. But this is not correct.
Macau recognises an apostille and fortunately, this means that legalisation for documents intended for Macau is faster and cheaper.
If you need to send documents to Macau, check with your lawyer or the appropriate government office in Macau first. But if they advise you that you need to legalise your document through the Chinese Consulate in Australia, you can provide them with the links in this article and draw their attention to the correct procedure outlined by the Chinese Consulate and Hague Conference on Private International Law.
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Ern Phang is the solicitor director of Phang Legal and a public notary. Ern regularly writes about his experiences as a public notary and the kinds of issues faced by his clients in sending documents overseas.
All information contained in this article is for general purposes only and correct as at the time of publication. You should only rely on information and advice that is specific to your situation and current at the time you wish to rely on it.