The People’s Republic of China (PRC) acceded to the Convention of 15 November 1965 on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters, also called the Hague Service Convention, on May 6, 1991, and its provisions entered into force on January 1, 1992.

US attorneys seeking service in China would be wise to familiarize themselves with the mandatory character of the Convention as set forth in Volkswagenwerk A.G. v. Schlunk, 486 U.S. 694 (1988).

Canadian attorneys should consult provincial precedent — Canadian courts take a more nuanced view of the Convention, but effectively reach the same conclusion: its limitations must be observed. Regardless of forum court requirements, the service rules of the receiving country must be observed, or enforcement of a judgment may become impossible.

Service of Process Issues Unique to China

Legal Language Services is recognized by the Chinese Central Authority as the model for foreign requesting agencies. LLS’ submissions have become the standard by which other requests are evaluated, and we have extensive experience navigating the myriad requirements China applies to Hague Requests.

China’s Central Authority covers a population four times that of the United States, and the fastest growing economy in the world. Accordingly, the bureaucracy is huge, and not speedy. Since 2017, the time to complete service of process in China under the Hague Service Convention has more than doubled. As of 2019, the total time to effect service is two years.

Accurate address information is absolutely crucial to successful service in China. Litigants must ensure that (1) the defendant can be found at the location indicated, and (2) the address is formatted properly.

Translation Requirements

The PRC requires a translation into Chinese of all documents to be formally served via the Central Authority.

Alternative channels under Article 10:

China objects to service via alternate channels — only Article 5 may be utilized.

Contact LLS for Assistance

LLS can assist you with service and can help you understand and meet the translation requirements for service of process in China. Please call 1-800-755-5775 for more information.

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