Authenticating documents is the last step before applying for a Chinese work visa (known as a China Z Visa). In the UK the process is relatively simple.
As long as you’re in the UK when applying for your visa, you can take care of the bureaucratic steps on your own. If you happen to be abroad or just want to save yourself the hassle, however, you may want to employ the services of a third-party. We’ll tell you more about this option, below.
This blog aims to help you through the process of authenticating documents in the UK and we’ll also provide you with some insider tips to make the whole process run smoother.
First up, however, here is everything you need for your visa application.
- Your passport – at least 6 months before the expiry date
- A copy of our passport
- Your Bachelor Degree (not sure what degree you need to teach in China? This guide will help)
- Your TEFL certificate (one of the prerequisites to Teach in China)
- Your Criminal Record Check (this is to ensure you don’t have a criminal record back home – see this guide for more details)
- Filled-in Z Visa application Form
- Job Invitation Letter
- Work Permit Notice
- Your negative COVID Nucleic Acid Test certificate
There are three documents that you will need to be legalized, authenticated and/or notarised for the visa process.
- Bachelors Degree – If you have a higher education award like masters, this will suffice.
- Your TEFL Certificate
- Criminal Background Check
- Your negative COVID Nucleic Acid Test certificate**
*The one exception here is it you have a PGCE (Post Graduate Certificate in Education). This supersedes the need to have a TEFL qualification.
**More details on the latest COVID -19 pre-travel requirements, at the end of the page.
Authenticating documents for the China Visa is a two-step process: first, you’ll need to have them authenticated by the UK Government and then you’ll need to have them legalized by a China Visa Application Centre, also in the UK. Essentially, the first step guarantees that your documents are legitimate and the second guarantee acceptance by China.
Insider tip: Every step incurs a cost (no big surprises there!) so if you’ve negotiated reimbursement for your visa costs with your employer, keep all the receipts! Visa fee reimbursement is one of the most important interview questions
Document Authentication in the UK for the China Work Visa
On the UK Government side of things, here’s what you need to do:
- Get your documents notarized –, PUBLIC NOTARY
The first step is to find a Public Notary who’ll notarize the documents: this involves taking the original along. The Public Notary (must be UK-registered – find your nearest here) will make a copy and certify that copy as being authentic. Ie. your original copy will not be tampered or stamped at all.
In the UK, Public Notaries usually charge about £30 per document, although they offer a discount for multiple docs so it’s always cheaper to have them all done at once.
Insider Tip: The requirement for authentication of documents varies by city and by a school, in China. Before doing anything, ask your employer what he/she needs – it may just save you some much-needed time and money if they only want a Notary Public stamp!
2. Get your documents authenticated – FCO (Foreign Office of the British Commonwealth
The next step is to have that notarized copy authenticated by the FCO. Many people think the authentication is of the document itself but, technically, they are authenticating the Public Notary’s signature and stamp. You can courier the documents to the Legalization Office of the FCO (here is the official website) and have them courier the package back to you.
The FCO charges £30 and, unfortunately, they do not offer discounts for multiple documents.
Courier costs range between £5.50 and £25, depending on where you are (the UK, EU or Rest of the World). If you are in the UK, you can opt for snail-mail although risking your precious documents going AWOL, for just a few pounds’ saving, may not be worth your while.
Once the FCO has your documents, the process takes about 10 working days.
You can contact the FCO directly for info:
Telephone: 03700 00 22 44
Monday to Friday, from 10 am to 4 pm
Or start your document authentication application, right here