Commonly known as legalization or apostille
Legal documents issued in one country are not automatically valid in another and this is with good reason. A judge in China cannot be expected to independently know or verify whether the signature of a notary in Argentina is real or not. To solve this problem a procedure known as legalization is used - it creates a hierarchical chain of "checks" effectively linking the Argentinian notary to the Chinese judge. The last step, authentication by a Chinese consulate or embassy, provides legal authorities in China with a certification they can recognize and validate, as it was applied to the document by an organ of their national government according to Chinese law.
EXAMPLES & HOW-TO
The initial steps to legalization will always vary depending on the state/province and country. The content and format of the authentication stamps and stickers attached to a document vary too. There is no universal standard, so it is not possible to provide a catalogue that would be valid for every jurisdiction worldwide.
The only sure way to know a document has been properly authenticated for use in China is to confirm it has a "China Authentication" counterfoil (sticker) attached to it.
If our firm is handling your case, we will most likely be arranging legalization of any relevant documents on your behalf. If you are looking to handle the procedure yourself, you would be advised to review the "Authentications" section on the website of the Chinese embassy or consulate responsible for your location. Alternatively, there are specialist agents who can assist you, usually for a relatively modest service fee.