Getting China Notarial Certificates for Your U.S. Immigration Case

Introduction

This article explains how to apply for China notarial certificates for your U.S. immigration case. We recommend you get all your certificates in duplicate, in case one is lost or damaged, or in case you may need to keep one for later use.

As background, the U.S. State Department publishes Reciprocity and Civil Documents: China, which describes the civil documents that are commonly required from China for U.S. immigration cases adjudicated by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad. Your notarial certificates should conform to those descriptions.

What is “Notarization” in China?

Notary Public Offices (公证处 gōngzhèngchù) are private entities operating under the supervision of the PRC Ministry of Justice.

By notarizing a document like a birth certificate or police certificate, a notary in China is certifying that its contents are true. The notary’s job is to investigate the statements in a document and to notarize it only if those statements are true (Notary Law, art. 31).

That’s different from the United States, where a notary just verifies (a) that a signature is genuine, not forged; or that (b) a photocopy is a true copy of the original document.

At Which Notary Office Should You Apply?

Call to ask which office can assist you. Typically, it should be an office where (Notary Law, art. 25):

  • you are domiciled (住所地 zhùsuǒdì): This is where your hukou (户口 hukou) is registered. See 2020 Interpretation of the Supreme People’s Court on the Application of the Civil Procedure Law, art. 3.
  • you habitually reside (经常居住地 jīngcháng jūzhùdì):This is a place you have lived for more than one year. (2020 Interpretation, art. 4). A temporary residence permit (暂住证 zànzhùzhèng) may be required. Notaries sometimes resist accepting applications on the basis of habitual residence, so call to confirm.
  • the relevant act took place (e.g., the marriage was registered, or the child was born.

One way to find contact information for notary offices is searching on https://www.egongzheng.com/.

Not all notary offices issue notarial certificates for immigration purposes, so confirm the office can do so.

What Evidence of Identity Do You Need?

  • For a Mainland China citizen:
    • China national ID card
    • If you live outside China, provide your passport
    • Household registration booklet
  • For a foreign national: Current passport
  • For a Hong Kong Permanent ID Card holder:
    • Hong Kong Permanent ID Card
    • Current Mainland Travel Permit for Hong Kong and Macao Residents (港澳居民来往内地通行证), also known as 回乡证, if any
    • Mainland Residence Permit for Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan Residents (港澳台居民居住证), if you have ever had one
  • For a Taiwan ID Card holder:
    • Taiwan ID card
    • Current Mainland Travel Permit for Taiwan Residents (台湾居民来往大陆通行证), also known as a 台胞证, if any
    • Mainland Residence Permit for Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan Residents (港澳台居民居住证), if you have ever had one
  • If you were previously a Mainland China citizen but now have a different nationality or now have a Hong Kong Permanent ID Card or Taiwan ID Card, also provide:
    • Old China national ID card
    • Old household registration booklet
    • Hukou cancellation certificate (户口注销证明), if any
    • ID page from your last Mainland China passport

What Are the Application Procedures?

Application procedures may vary at each notary office, so call ahead to confirm. Here is what is common:

  1. You may need to submit two 2-inch photos with a white background and with no head covering. See Photo Requirements.
  2. Tell the notary you plan to use the certificate for U.S. immigration so the notary will know to include an English translation and translator’s certificate in the notarial booklet.
  3. Processing times vary.
  4. Fees are approximately 240 RMB per document, plus 20 RMB for a duplicate. (In some cases, additional translation fees may be required.)

Can Someone Else Get the Certificates for You?

Yes. You can give another person a power of attorney (委托书 wěituōshū), except that a power of attorney can’t be used for documents that require your personal declaration (声明 shēngmíng), as described below. That person will need to present his or her national ID card.

委托人:__________(男/女)身份证建号________

受托人姓名: _______(男/女)身份证建号_______

我委托上述受托人办理____________事项,特此授权。

___________________

(委托人签字或盖章)

年 月 日

Sample Power of Attorney

What Are the Key Parts of the Notarial Certificate Booklet?

There are two common formats for China notarial certificates.

  • Type 1: Certified true copy of an original document, such as a medical certificate of birth or marriage booklet.
  • Type 2: A notarial certificate that does not include a copy of an original document but instead recites the notary’s factual conclusions, such as a certificate describing the circumstances of a birth or marriage.

For Type 1, look for these parts of the notarial certificate booklet in this order:

1. Cover page

* Note: In a national autonomous area, a notarial certificate may use the common minority language (Notary Law, art. 32). This sample from Inner Mongolia uses both Chinese and Mongolian.
2. A photocopy of the original document, such as the medical certificate of birth or marriage booklet.
3. The notarial certificate in Chinese:

–Here is an example of a notarial certificate certifying a true copy of a medical certificate of birth
–Detail of the notarial certificate:
* Notary’s signature or seal (blue)
* Notary office’s seal (red)
* Watermark (gray)

(See Notary Law, art. 32)
A close up of a person

Description automatically generated
4. English translation of the original document
5. English translation of the notarial certificate
6. Translator’s certificate in Chinese, stating that the translation is in conformity with the Chinese version
7. English translation of the translator’s certificate

For Type 2, look for these parts of the notarial certificate booklet in this order:

1. Cover page

* Note: In a national autonomous area, a notarial certificate may use the common minority language (Notary Law, art. 32). This sample from Inner Mongolia uses both Chinese and Mongolian.
2. Notarial certificate in Chinese:

–Here is an example of a notarial certificate reciting facts related to a birth:
–Detail of the notarial certificate:
* Notary’s signature or seal (blue)
* Notary office’s seal (red)
* Watermark (gray)

(See Notary Law, art. 32)
A close up of a person

Description automatically generated
3. English translation of the notarial certificate
4. Translator’s certificate in Chinese, stating that the translation is in conformity with the Chinese version
5. English translation of the translator’s certificate

The Various Certificates Needed for U.S. Immigration

If you are a client, our firm will advise you as to which certificates you need. Basic guidance can be found in Civil Documents (state.gov).

Birth Certificate

See China Notarial Birth Certificate: How to Apply or Prove to U.S. Immigration Authorities That It Is Unobtainable – Chodorow Law Offices (lawandborder.com).

Certificate of No Criminal Record

For a Chinese Citizen with a National ID Card

Step 1: Apply to the local police station for a police certificate, also known as a certificate of no criminal conviction (无犯罪记录证明 wú fànzuì jìlù zhèngmíng), with jurisdiction over the place of your household registration (户籍地 hùjídì) or residence (居住地 jūzhùdì), presenting your national ID card. For detailed rules, see 公安机关办理犯罪记录查询工作规定.

Sample police certificate issued by the Public Security Bureau for a Mainland Chinese citizen.

Step 2: Bring the police certificate and other documents to the notary to apply for the notarial certificate.

The Notarial Certificate of No Criminal Conviction reads something like this:


公证书

(2020)京龙诚外民字第159号

申请人:王立鹏,男,一九七七年十二月一日出生,公民身份证号 110333197712010327,现住北京市顺义区。


公证事项:无犯罪记录


兹证明王立鹏之二0二0年三月十二日止,在中国人民共和国据住期间无犯罪记录。


中国人民共和国北京市龙诚公证处
公证员侯鸿红宾

二0二0年三月十三日

NOTARIAL CERTIFICATE

(2020) J.L.C.W.M.Zi.No.159
Applicant: WANG Lipeng, male, born December 1, 1977, citizen ID card No.: 110333197712010327, presently residing in Shunyi District, Beijing.
Notarization Item: No Criminal Record
This is to certify that WANG Lipeng has no criminal record during his stay in the People’s Republic of China until March 12, 2020.
Notary: HOU Hongbing

Longcheng Notary Office, Beijing
The People’s Republic of China
March 13, 2020


For U.S. immigration purposes, the notarial certificate is valid for 2 years.

For a Foreign National, Former Chinese Citizen, or Resident of Hong Kong, Macau, or Taiwan

See China Police Certificates – Chodorow Law Offices (lawandborder.com).

Marriage Certificate

For a marriage certificate, bring to the notary:

  • national ID card and hukou for each Chinese spouse, or passport for each foreign spouse; and
  • Passport photos—at least 2.
  • red marriage booklet (结婚证 jiéhūnzhèng) issued by the marriage registration office (婚姻登记处 hūnyīn dēngjìchù).
Sample marriage booklet cover
Sample marriage certificate contents

Ask for either a Notarial Certificate for Marriage (结婚公证书 jiéhūn gōngzhèngshū) or Notarial Marriage Certificate (结婚证公证 jiéhūnzhèng gōngzhèng).

  • The Notarial Certificate of Marriage reads something like this:


〔1999〕渝证外字第 3858 号

兹证明李明(男, 1953 年 1 月 2 日出生)与谢芳(女,1955 年 3 月 5 日出生)于 1974 年 9 月 6 日在重庆市民政局登记结婚。

中华人民共和国重庆市公证处

公证员 刘勇

公证处印章

一九九九年九月二十五日

NOTARIAL CERTIFICATE FOR MARRIAGE

(TRANSLATION)

(1999)Y . Z . W . Zi No .3858

This is to certify that Li Ming (male, born on January 2, 1953) and Xie Fang (female, born on March 5, 1955) registered for marriage on September 6, 1974 at the Civil Affairs Bureau, Chongqing City .

Notary: Liu Yong

Chongqing Notary Public Office the People’s Republic of China

September 25 , 1999 SEAL

  • The Notarial Marriage Certificate includes a photocopy of the red marriage booklet with an English translation. The notarial certificate states:

〔2019〕皖合中外证字第【XX】号

申请人【姓名】,女,一九【日子】日出生,公民身份证号码:【XX】。

公证事项:译本与原本相符

兹证明前面的(2019)皖合中外证字第【XX】号《公证书》的英文译本内容与该公证书中文原本相符。

中华人民共和国安徽省合肥市中安公证处

公证员 刘勇

【公证处印章】

【日子】

NOTARIAL CERTIFICATE FOR MARRIAGE

(TRANSLATION)

(2019)Y HF, ZA, Zik, No. XX.

Applicant, [Name], female, born on [Date], Citizen’s ID Card No. XX.

Issue under notarization: Certificate of marriage.

This is to certify that the foregoing copy confirms to the original Certificate of Marriage of the People’s Republic of China, Certificate Serial No XX, issued by the Department of Civil Affairs of Anhui Province to [name] on [date], and that the original document is authentic. .

Notary: Liu Yong

Hefei Zhongnan Notary Public Office

Anhui Province, People’s Republic of China

[Date] SEAL

Divorce Certificate

Provide notarial divorce certificates for each prior divorce in China. Bring evidence of the divorce:

  • For uncontested divorces, a divorce certificate (离婚证 líhūnzhèng) issued by the Marriage Registration Office; or
  • For contested divorce or divorce involving a foreign spouse, either a civil mediation certificate (民事调解书 mínshì tiáojiěshū) or a formal divorce decree (判决书 pànjuéshū) issued by the court.

公证书

(2023) 闽石证外字第358 号

申请人:[name],女, [date]出生,公民身份号码 [ID #], 住址:[address]。

公证事项:离婚证

兹证明石狮市民政局于[Date]补发给[Applicant]的《中华人民共和国离婚证》的原件与前面的复印件相符,原件属实。

中华人民共和国福建省石狮市公证处

公证员: 洪晓晴

[Date] SEAL

NOTARIAL CERTIFICATE

(2023) M.S.Z.W.Zi, No. 357

Applicant: [Name], female, born on [Date], Citizen’s ID Card No. [XX], Domicile: [address]

Issue under notarization: Divorce certificate

This is to certify that the original Divorce Certificate of the People’s Republic of China issued by the Civil Affairs Bureau of Shishi City to [Applicant] on [date] is in conformity with the foregoing photocopy and the original is hereby certified authentic.

Notary: HONG Xiaoqing

Shishi Notary Public Office, Fujian Province

The People’s Republic of China

[Date] SEAL

Sample notarial certificate based on divorce certificate issued by civil affairs bureau

Death Certificate of Prior Spouse

Provide a death certificate for any prior spouse(s) who died in China. Apply at the notary office where deceased’s place of birth or hukou registration. Documents needed:

  • marriage certificate (to prove relationship to deceased); and
  • evidence of death, such as a certificate from hospital or health department or evidence of cancellation of the hukou.

Military Records

Military records are the record of a person’s service and conduct while in military service, including any convictions by military tribunals. According to the U.S. State Department, these are generally “not available” for China, so are not needed. Still, the Consulate may ask to review any enrollment book (入伍通知书 rùwǔ tōngzhīshū) or discharge certificate (复员证 fùyuánzhèng or 转业证 zhuǎnyèzhèng).

Custody Certificate

If you are divorced and want your child (under age 18) to immigrate to the U.S. with you, then you need one of the following:

  • a notarized custody agreement currently in effect that gives you legal custody. This may be part of your divorce agreement (离婚协议书 líhūn xiéyìshū); or
  • a notarized statement from your ex-spouse giving the child permission to immigrate to the U.S.

Alias Certificate

An applicant who has “ever used another name or alias on legal documentation or for other official purpose must provide a certified alias certificate” (别名证明文件 biémíng zhèngmíng wénjiàn).

Typically, a notary office will issue an alias certificate based on presentation of the following documents by the applicant:

  • National ID card
  • Household registration booklet
  • If the household registration booklet does not list the prior name, a letter from the household registration department of the public security bureau

The notarized alias certificate will state something like this: “This is to certify that WANG Xiaohong has a previous name called WANG Jianguo.”

Adoption Registration Certificate

A notarial adoption certificate certifies the authenticity of the original adoption certificate/adoption registration certificate; and that the photocopy of the certificate is in accordance with the original. 

Sample adoption registration certificate

Note on English Translations Submitted to USCIS

USCIS requires that translations foreign language documents be accompanied by a full English language translation which the translator has certified as complete and accurate, and by the translator’s certification that he or she is competent to translate from the foreign language into English. See 8 C.F.R. § 103.2(b)(3).

The translator’s certification included in a China notarial booklet does not meet USCIS requirements. Specifically, the translator doesn’t certify as to their competency, attest to his or her fluency in both languages, and the certification isn’t signed.

So, the best practice is to include an additional translator’s certification with your USCIS filing.

Note that U.S. Consulates and Embassies do not require this extra translator’s certification.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *