Authentication of business documents for use in China

Revised: 2017-08-21

This document focuses on authentication of documents needed to open a business in China (e.g. articles of incoporation, certificate of status). There are other business related documents involving power of attorney, business law suits, quality reports that may also need authentication, the procedures for those documents are the same as described below. For business related power of attorney or affivit, most likely you will have a law professional draft them for you, but once they are executed, they follow the same authentication procedures.

I. What documents are need to do business in China

If you plan to do business in China, like opening a new business, usually you need to have 2-3 business documents authenticated:

  1. Articles of Incorporation (or certificate of formation)
  2. Good standing document, may also be called Certificate of Facts, Certificate of Status.
  3. Bank letter showing that you have a health account.

Please find out what exactly needed first by contacting the Chinese side. We frequently find people do one first then do others later.

II. How to obtain the documents

  1. Articles of Incorporation (certificate of formation): usually obtained in your state's Secretary of State, in the Corporate Division. Many states provide online service, where you may print a copy and then send to the Secretary of State's office for certification.
  2. Good standing or Account Status: differs in each state. In many state you may obtain it in the Corporate Division of the Secretary of State.
  3. Bank letter: This letter provides basic information about your back account, and is provided by your bank. The bank officer needs to sign the letter before a notary public, then it needs to be certified by your state's Secretary of State.

Secretary of State contacts (states under jurisdictions of Houston consulate and Chinese Embassy in Washington DC)

III. Basic procedures for authentications of business documents

authentication procedure: state issued documents
Fig 1, Authentication procedure for state issued business documents. Please read the text below for details.

1. Obtain the original documents.

  • For most states, we can help you obtain documents filed at Secretary of State (e.g. DE, FL, TX), like articles of incorporation and good standing documents.
  • For all other documents, you need to obtain them yourself.

1a. Certify by the county (most states do not need this step)

  • Only a handful states require this step (Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Tennessee), and
  • only bank letter, power of attorney, affidavit, or other notarized documents need this step -- documents issued by Secretary of State (e.g. articles of incorporation, certificate of status) do not need this step.

2. Certify by the Office of Secretary of State of the state where the document is executed.

  • We begin providing service for this part from September 2012, due to popular demand.
  • You may also do this step yourself.

3. (DC Chinese Embassy states only) Authenticated by US Department of State

  • This step is needed only if the document is to be authenticated by the Chinese Embassy in Washington DC.
  • Other consulates, including Houston, do not need this step.
  • We can help you with this step.

4. Certified by the Chinese consulate.

  • Your document must be authenticated by a Chinese consulate which holds consular jurisdiction over the state which issues your document.
  • We can help you with this step.
authentication procedure: notarized documents
Fig 2, Authentication procedure for notarized documents (e.g. bank letter, power of attorney, affidavit, confirmation letter). Please read the text above for details.

IV. Steps to apply for authentication of business documents through YWPW

We can help you obtain document authentication, including Secretary of State step, US Department of State step and consular step (Houston consulate and DC Chinese Embassy), for the following states

  • Chinese Consulate in Houston covers: AL, AR, FL, GA, LA, MS, OK, TX, PR
  • Chinese Embassy in DC covers: DC, DE, ID, KY, MD, MT, NC, ND, NE, SC, SD, TN, UT, VA, WV, WY

If your document is from a state not listed above but you would like to use our service, you may always choose to do an extra step, i.e. authentication by US Department of State, then the document can authenticated by the Chinese Embassy in DC.

  1. Please fill out the online order form of our agency.
  2. Print the confirmation page. You order ID, our mailing address, payment information (including credit card payment) and other instructions are shown on the confirmation page.
  3. Mail us the documents listed in the "Documents needed" section below.
  4. Tell us the time and method you mailed your documents, including tracking number, so that we can track the movement of your mail.
  5. Upon receiving your documents, we will check your application, and contact you if there is any issue. We then submit your application to the consulate, pick it up, and mail it back to you.
  6. We update your order status by email and online when we: a). receive your documents; b). submit your application to the consulate; c). pickup and mail back your documents. We usually send emails and update status in the evening hours, but if there is anything goes wrong, we may contact you during the day.

V. Processing time and fees

  1. The consular authentication step takes about 1 week, and the consular fee is $50 per document for business related documents. Expedited service available with extra fees for this step.
  2. The US Department of State authentication step also takes about 1 week, and the DOS fee is $8 per document.
  3. The time for the Secretary of State certification step varies, but normally 10-15 days. The SOS fee ranges from $2 to $25 per document.
  4. We charge a service fee of $56.96 per document for each step invloved (volume discount available if more than 2 documents).
  5. Expedited services are available with extra fees, see calculations below.
Business document Num of copies Consular fee Service fee Processing time
Consular authentication processing 25 44.96 4 business days
Secretary of State certification 2-25 44.96 10-15 days
US Department of State authentication 8 44.96 4 business days
Subtotal: (excluding shipping fees)
Please note:

    1. There may be delays at the consulate. If your schedule is tight, please be sure to check the latest updates on processing time on our Home page.

    2. The fee calculation does not include costs of shipping to/from the office of Secretary of State and shipping documents back to you ($8-32 each). The acutal charge will be according to our current fee schedule or your order confirmation page.

    3. In general, the Secretary of State and US Department of State do not offer expedited service.

For Articles of Incorporation, Goodstanding (Certificate of Facts or Certificate of Status) and other amendments, each state has its own unique requirements on authentication. To make sure the documents are acceptable for authentication purpose, we suggest that you let YWPW handle the request of original documensts for you. The Secretary of State fee for original document varies, normally $10-50 each. We charge a service fee of $20 per document, or a flat fee of $50 if 3 or more documents are requested, if you let us handle Secretary of State authentication in the same order. The service fee is $44.96 per document if you just want to request the original document but do not do Secretary of State authentication.

VI. Documents needed to apply for authentication of business documents

  1. One Authentication Application Form. The form must be completed and signed by the applicant.
    • Who serves as the "applicant" on the application form? Anybody from the company, or even a lawyer who is not an employee of the company can do. But it is best to ask the CEO, an VP or manager to serve as the applicant.
  2. Photocopy of the applicant's passport (page with name and photo).
  3. If you are not a US citizen, please also provide copy of your current immigration document (e.g. green card, I-20, H1B).
  4. A copy of Articles of Incorporation, even if the document to be authenticated is the Articles of Incorporation.
  5. The "original" documents to be authenticated.
  6. The "photocopy" of the documents to be authenticated.
    • If you have already done the Secretary of State authentication, the copy should include the state certification page.
    • Please do NOT remove the staples when making copies -- doing so will invalidate the document.
    • If you authenticate multiple sets of the same document, please make copies from each document, as the signatures on each document might be different.
    • If you do not provide copies, we will charge $1/page copying fee ($10 minimal).
  7. If applicant's name does not appear in either the Articles of Incorporation or the document to be authenticated, please provide a letter from company president, VP, or manager, stating that the applicant is authorized to apply for authentication´╝łe.g. To whom it may concern: xxx is the vice president of yyy company and is authorized to apply for authentication on behalf of the company). This letter must be signed but does not need to be notarized. A scanned copy is also fine.

V. Questions and Answers

Question: I have multiple documents, do I need to attach an application form for each document?

Answer: No. No matter how many documents, as long as they all belong to the same applicant, you only need to provide one authentication application form.

Created: 2012-12-15
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