Authentication of diploma, transcripts and teaching certificate for use in China

Revised: 2017-12-22

Authentication of diploma, transcripts or teaching certificate (Educator Certificate, see section VI) by the Chinese consulate is often needed when you apply for work authorization in China. This document outlines the detailed process involved.

I. Authentication of diploma and transcripts: basic procedures

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

1. Get notarized diploma or transcript from the university registrar.

  • This step must be done by yourself.
  • When you contact the Office of Registrar of your school, tell them that the diploma or transcript will be used in China, so that they notarize the signature of the registrar when issuing the document.
  • For schools with foreign students, they normally have well established procedures and you can get proper documents ordered online, without a phone call.
  • See Section V. for details.
  • Please note, the original diploma is normally printed on special paper and bulky, but the notarized diploma provided by your university may not be exactly the same size as the original diploma, as some universities sign and notarize a photo copy of the diploma.
  • This signed and notarized "copy" of diploma, whether the original or a copy of the orginal, is now called the "original" document for the purpose of authentication.
  • 2017/12/20: We recently encountered issues at the Chinese Embassy in Washington DC with handwritten certifications. We recommend the school certification be typed (instead of handwritten) on the back of original diploma, or on a separate page with official school letterhead attached to the original or a copy of diploma (e.g. Fig. 3).
diploma certification
Fig 2, Back side of a sample diploma properly executed for the purpose of authentication to be used in China, from a Texas university. The front side is a photocopy of the diploma. When the university registrar notarizes a copy of diploma, we now recommend attaching a separate certificate on official letterhead, as in Fig. 3.

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.

You must do county step yourself if needed.

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

  • 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. for documents from DC, DE, ID, KY, MD, MT, NC, ND, NE, SC, SD, TN, UT, VA, WV, WY.
  • If your document is from other states, it will normally go to other Chinese consulates in US, and thus do not need this step.
  • We recommend that you let us help you with this step.

4. Certified by the Chinese consulate or Embassy.

  • We can help you with this step.

Certify the original diploma or a photocopy?

There are pros and cons for both:

  1. The original diploma definitely looks more "authentic" than a photo copy, even though a photo copy of the diploma functions the same as the original diploma after it is being certified by the school registrar.
  2. The original diploma is often large, printed on rigid paper, difficult to handle. A photo copy may be reduced to the size of regular paper.
  3. The state authentication page, often attached to the diploma by a staple, may become separated from the original (rigid) diploma during handling/mailing.

Please note: any document larger than Letter size paper has to be folded in order to be submitted to the consulate for processing. Even if the document is Letter size or smaller, there is no guarantee that it will not be folded while being processed at the consulate. Thus, please do not expect your original diploma to be kept at perfect condition after authentication processes.

II. Steps to apply for authentication of diploma and transcripts 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 accept applications for documents from 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.
    • 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.

III. 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.

IV. Documents needed to apply for authentication of diploma and transcripts

  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. 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 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!

V. State government requirements on diploma and transcripts

Oregon example

Because the sensitive nature of diploma and transcripts, all state governments have strict rules on how to certify them, and most states do not allow a simple notarized "true copy". The procedures for certifying diploma and transcripts are normally in the notary handbook or training documents. Here is an example from the State of Oregon:

  1. The school records office (registrar) certifies to the record in the presence of the notary.
  2. The notary public notarizes that statement.
  3. The notarized transcript or diploma is sent to the Secretary of State for authentication/apostille.

The sample statement provided by Oregon Secretary of State:

I, _____________, the (school registrar/principal) of _____________ (name of school) hereby certify that this is the true and original (or correct photocopy of) (diploma/school transcript) for _____________________ (student's name).

Signature of School Official

State of Oregon
County of __________

This _____ day of ______________, ___________, before me personally appeared _______________ (school registrar/principal) and signed the above statement.


Notary Public for the State of Oregon

Please note that the school registrar can certify the original diploma, or a photocopy of diploma.

Alabama example

AL diploma
Fig 3, Certification page for diploma, properly executed for the purpose of authentication to be used in China, from the University of Alabama. A duplicate diploma is attached to this certification page by the registrar.

Georgia example

GA diploma
Fig 4, Certification page for diploma, properly executed for the purpose of authentication to be used in China, from a university in Georgia. This is printed on back of the original diploma.

VI. Teaching certificate and TEFL certificate

Teaching certificate, or sometimes called Educator Certificate, is usually issued by a state agency. For example, in Texas, it is issued by Texas Education Agency. You should request a notarized certificate directly from your state agency, and then it follows a similar route as diploma for authentication (see Fig. 1 or section I, for notarized document).

TEFL certificate is usually issued by a your school registrar. Ask it to be notarized, then it follows the same procedure as diploma for authentication.

If the certificate is issued by an independent organization, you should ask for a notarized certificate (similar to the notarization of diploma by school registrar).

VII. 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.

Question: I got my diploma when I graduated. Can I simply notarize it or notarize a photo copy and then use it to do authentication?

Answer: Officially, most states do not allow this. In practice, many people do it this way, which we do not recommend. Please check with the requirement of your state to see if your state allows.

Question: My university provides electronic copy of diploma and transcript in PDF format. Can I use that for authentication?

Answer: No. As we know, the Secretary of State of your state normally requires diploma or transcript with "pen in hand" signatures of the registrar and notary public.

Question: I graduated from a university in Georgia and moved to Florida. Can I notarize my diploma or transcript in Florida?

Answer: The rule requires that diploma/transcript to be signed by school registrar and the notary, which means it can only be done at the original university and state you studied. We do encounter cases where a diploma is notarized in another state and authenticated by the consulate. However, this is not the recommended way, and the result is not guaranteed.

Question: I received the diploma (transcript) in an envelope sealed with signature (and notary stamp). Can I use it for authentication?

Answer: No. Normally notarized documents (including diploma and transcripts) do not need to be put in a sealed envelope. If the envelope is sealed with signature and stamp, most likely the content (diploma or transcript) is not notarized properly, and thus cannot be used for authentication purpose. The Secretary of State will never authenticate a sealed envelope.

Question: Can I mail back the sealed envelope back to the university to have the contents notarized?

Answer: Normally not, as theoretically the registrar must sign before the notary. But in practice anything can happen. Contact the university.

Question: My university does not provide notarized diploma (transcript). What can I do?

Answer: It is unlikely that the Secretary of State will make an exception, but you may contact the university and the Secretary of State to find out an acceptable solution.

Created: 2013-02-08
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