The Current Situation of the Work of the German Embassy and Consulates in China – a Status Report and Solutions

The work of German missions abroad in China has been severely affected by the Corona epidemic. This has a major impact on the business and private activities of Chinese in Germany.

Why do Chinese need the support of the German Embassy and Consulates?

The cooperation of the German missions abroad is required for the issuance of visas for short-term stays (e.g. business trip or visit) or long-term stays (e.g. study, family, work) in Germany. It is also important for the legalization of Chinese documents for use in Germany (e.g. birth certificate, business license) or for the certification of signatures (e.g. commercial register application of a GmbH).

What are the processing times like?

Since the beginning of 2020, processing times have increased very significantly. There are several reasons for this:

In the area of visa procedures, the German Foreign Office has introduced additional stringent requirements. We have already reported on this here. These circumstances lead to very significant procedural delays.

German missions abroad are increasingly suffering from staff shortages. German employees change their place of work to another country approximately every two to three years at the latest. Departing employees cannot be replaced by new employees in a timely manner due to Chinese quarantine rules, lack of flight connections, etc. As a result of the lockdowns, especially in Shanghai, the interest of succeeding employees has decreased, and employees and their families have suddenly left the country with no intention of coming back.

In particular, the Consulate General Shanghai has particularly long waiting times after its reopening following the lockdown. Today, in July 2022 there are no dates to apply for work visas because families and students are processed first. In addition to acute staff shortages, there is also a significant backlog of work as all processing has stopped during the lockdown.

Can I choose which consulate or embassy I contact to make it faster?

The jurisdiction of the consulates and embassies depends on the province where the document in question originates or where the person who wishes to make an application or have a signature notarized resides. This responsibility has special meaning if the processing is not only slow, but is set until a lockdown is completed at some point.

When the Lochkown stopped in Shanghai, we made a request to the German Consulate General Shanghai to see if there were any exceptions. We received a response that they are sticking to these jurisdictional rules even in times of lockdown. For example, if you live in Zhejiang and urgently need to sign a commercial register application, you cannot go to the embassy in Beijing or the consulate in Guangzhou as an exception. Those who want to legalize their birth certificate from Jiangsu also cannot go anywhere else, but had to wait until the German Consulate in Shanghai is open again.

Should the German missions abroad in China be affected by a lockdown again in the future, we hope for exceptions to the strict rule of jurisdiction.

What legal avoidances are available to the individual in the short term?

Whether and how you can move forward with your request despite the closure or slow processing depends on what the issue is:

Visa procedure:

Schengen visas for short stays continue to be issued more generously by other EU countries. With the Schengen visa of another country is also allowed a trip to Germany, if at the time of application just this travel plan was also declared. Under very limited conditions, it is also possible to obtain a long-term residence permit in Germany even though you only entered with a (foreign) Schengen visa. These are usually situations in which a return trip to catch up on the visa procedure for residence permit is not reasonable and the reason for stay arises unforeseeably. Of course, this situation must not be abusively planned in advance. Because the principle is: for a long-term stay you have to apply for a visa for this purpose of stay.

If you would now like to apply for a visa in China and have good chances of success, but cannot do so because, according to the jurisdiction (see above), the consulate is closed or does not offer timely appointments, you can apply at the German diplomatic mission in another country if you have a residence permit for the other country. He can also apply at another German diplomatic mission in China if he has transferred his residence there.

Signature certifications:

It is necessary to check in advance whether a signature authentication is really necessary. Matters can be solved, for example, by signing an original power of attorney without certification in China and having the authorized representative in Germany certify the legal transaction with a notary.

If signature authentication is mandatory, the signer may consider relocating to the jurisdiction of a consulate/embassy where timely appointments are available. Or the signer travels to Hong Kong or abroad to sign with a notary public there. This does not necessarily have to be with a Schengen visa (see above) to Germany. Many notarial deeds from abroad or Hong Kong are recognized directly with “Apostille” in Germany without the need for further legalization.

Legalization of Chinese documents:

Unfortunately, there is no way out here. The only remaining option is to consider whether legalization can be waived by way of exception.

This is because legalization takes place in several steps. The Chinese document in question was issued in a specific place. A notary public responsible for the province shall certify the document, and the Chinese Foreign Affairs Office of the province shall certify the document in between. The jurisdiction of the German diplomatic mission abroad is then determined by this province. If this is closed, it is not possible to change to another foreign representation.


This information is provided without guarantee. They are not suitable to replace an individual consultation.