Authentication of crimial record check for use in China

Revised: 2018-02-26

"Criminal record check", "criminal background check", "criminal history check", or sometimes called "certificate of lack of a criminal record", is often needed when you apply for work authorization in China. This document outlines the detailed process involved in obtaining the document and have it authenticated by the Chinese consulate.

I. What government agency issues Crimial Record Check?

There are two places that issues the criminal record check:

  • City police, county sheriff's office, or state police and law enforcement agency;
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

The former checks the database of the city, county, or state, and the latter checks the database of FBI (only federal records will show up).

Now the question comes: What kind of Crimial Record Check do I need? Do I need both? This is very difficult to answer, and you should check with your prospective employer in China.

II. How to obtain the Crimial Record Check and what are the procedures to get it authenticated?

Depending on where the document was originated, the authentication procedures differ.

Criminal record check from city, county or state

1. Get the criminal record check from the city, county or state.

  • This step must be done by you or your friend -- because private information is involved, we cannot help.
  • You may contact the city police, office of the county sheriff to get the document.
  • More and more states now issue criminal record check at the state level (e.g., Florida, Texas, Kentucky, and Virginia). In most cases, you have the option to get it locally or at the state, but in Kentucky and Virginia, you should get it from State Police.
  • If you get from state agency, please tell them that the document will be used in China, and thus the document must be acceptable by the Secretary of State's office for authentication. It may or may not need notarization as it is signed by a state official. Please ask!
  • If you get from local police, most likely you need to ask them to provide you with a notarized report. Some state police department also need to notarize in order to be acceptable by the Secretary of State for authentication. In contrast, report from a court may be signed by court clerk and does not need to be notarized.
  • If in doubt, please ask and explain your purpose, so that they can give you a report in the right format.
  • More state specific information is available towards the end of page.

1a. Some states (Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Maryland) require the notarized document to be sent to the notary public's county clerk for verification before presenting to the respective Office of Secretary of State.

  • We cannot help with the county step -- please do it yourself.

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, i.e. DC, DE, ID, KY, MD, MT, NC, ND, NE, SC, SD, TN, UT, VA, WV, WY, and federal agencies.
  • Documents from other states that normally go to other consulates, including Houston, do not need this step.
  • We can help you with this step if needed.

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 1, Authentication procedure for notarized documents. Please read the text above for details.

Criminal background check by FBI

1. Obtain original document from FBI

  • According to FBI requirements, you must supply finger prints.
  • The official FBI web site has detailed instructions on how to get this done.
  • We provide fast service through approved channel, and can get it for you in 1-2 weeks. Details in Chinese version.

2. Authentication at US Department of State -- we can help you with this step.

3. Authentication at the Chinese Embassy -- we can help you with this step.

authentication procedure: federal documents
Fig 2, Authentication procedure for federal documents. Please read the text below for details.

III. Steps to apply for authentication of Criminal Record Check 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). We only accept applications for documents from the following state:

  • 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, federal agencies

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.
    • For FBI criminal background check, please select "DC" for issuing state.
    • If you have an FBI criminal background check (to be processed at Chinese Embassy in DC) and a diploma or other documents to be processed at Houston consulate, please submit two separate orders to avoid delay.
  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.

IV. Processing time and fees

  1. The consular authentication step takes about 1 week, and the consular fee is $25 per document.
  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.

V. Documents needed to apply for authentication of crimial record check

  1. One Authentication Application Form. The form must be completed and signed by 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. The "original" documents to be authenticated.
  5. Photocopy of the "original" 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 take them apart when making copies -- doing so will invalidate the document.
    • When you have multiple documents with the same content, you may not just copy from one document, as the signatures will be different on each copy. We will not be responsible for any dealys if you do not follow this instruction!

VI. 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.

VII. Sample report

GA criminal record check
Fig 3, A sample criminal record check, properly executed for the purpose of authentication to be used in China, from a county in Georgia. This is a single page document.

VIII. State specific information


We recommend getting it from Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) directly:

Then follow "Certified Search" link.


Get it from State Police. Ask for notarized copy.


We recommend getting it from Texas DPS directly. You may start from the FAQ page

The document contains two pages, both are needed. You can request a certified and notarized copy (no extra charge), but notary is not needed if it is signed by the DPS official in charge.

Please note that you can use "name based" search, which does not require fingerprints. If you get it at local DPS office, you may do fingerprint based search.


Get it from State Police. Normally they will not provide a notarized copy, you need to request a notarized copy (e.g. select "Visa" for purpose -- please call state police to verify).

Created: 2013-01-18
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