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Oct 17th, 2023 by Christina

China visa application just got easier: document legalisation will soon no longer be needed

China signs the Hague Apostille Convention – here’s what that means for your teaching visa application.

China has finally joined the ‘international document recognition’ party by signing and agreeing to the Hague Apostille Convention. The signing will go into effect on November 7, 2023. That might sound like a bit of bureaucratic mumble-jumble that doesn’t concern you BUT, if you plan to apply for a Teaching in China visa (also known as a Z Visa) this year, this spells good news for you.

But first… 

What on earth is the Hague Apostille Convention?

In 1961, in The Hague (Netherlands), an international agreement was reached among many countries. Formally, it is known as the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents. It aimed to simplify authenticating public documents for use in foreign countries. China was, up until recently, NOT a signatory to the treaty. Any document submitted to the Chinese government – say, for a visa application (do we have your attention now?) – must be authenticated and legalised by a Chinese Embassy or Consulate before they could be used. 

The so-called ‘apostille’ stamps utilised and accepted in countries that were signatories to the agreement (like Ireland, the UK, Australia, Canada, South Africa, the USA and New Zealand) were not recognised in China. 

What did this mean for visa applicants?

Essentially, visa applicants wanting to teach in China had to present all their apostilled documents to their nearest Chinese embassy for legalisation before they could use them in their visa application. This was traditionally a time-consuming and expensive task – THIS is the step that will no longer be needed from November 7, 2023GREAT news all around!

What kind of documents do you need to apply for a China teaching visa?

To apply for a Z Visa in China – the only visa type that allows you to live and teach in China – you need to gather the following documents:

1. Passport: It must be a valid passport with at least six months of validity remaining and blank visa pages.

2. Visa Application Form: This form is often available for download on the official website of the Chinese Visa Application Centre closest to you.

3. Passport-Sized Photos: They must meet the specific requirements of the Chinese authorities. Typically, these photos should be recent and have a white background.

4. Invitation Letter: Your prospective employer in China should provide you with an official invitation letter. This letter should include details about your job, the duration of your employment, and other relevant information. It should be duly signed and stamped by the employer.

5. Employment Contract: You should have a copy of your employment contract with your Chinese employer. This contract should be signed by both you and your employer and should include terms such as your position, salary, working hours, and other conditions of employment.

6. **Criminal Background Check: Also known as a criminal background check or clearance certificate – it’s issued by your home country’s law enforcement agencies.

7. **Degree and Qualification Documents: Copies of your Bachelor Degree (s).

8. **Other qualifications: TEFL certificate and all other relevant qualifications. 

9. Health Examination Report: In some cases, you might be required to undergo a medical check-up at a designated medical centre. If this is the case, you will be given instructions – i.e., where to go and what to ask for. The results of this examination should be submitted as part of your visa application.

Now, up until China’s Apostille signatory goes into effect on November 7 this year, the documents marked with a double-asterisk (**) still need to be:

1. Authenticated by the country of issue and

2. Legalised by the Chinese embassy/consulate where you applied for your visa

From November 7 onwards, Step 2 will no longer be required – practically halving the steps, time and money you need to fork out. More detailed info on How to Get a Visa for China.

Should you wait until November to find your dream teaching job in China?

No, we don’t think so. Although doing away with legalising documents will be a welcomed step, it isn’t a life-changing update. The visa application process is time-consuming and a bit of a pain, sure. But do you know what can be life-changing? Finding that dream teaching job! You don’t want to miss out on the perfect job just because you’re waiting for one step to get easier. Great jobs pop up all the time, all over China.

If you are ready to apply for a teaching job in China NOW, go ahead. And who knows? By the time you scour jobs, prepare, interview prospective employers, study contracts, and eventually sign on the dotted line, it might be November anyway.  

Going from submitting your CV to us to applying for a China work visa because you’ve found the ideal teaching job can take a few weeks. Not sure if you are eligible to teach in China? Then, take a look at the Requirements to Teach in China.

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