How To Serve legal Papers in China and Hong Kong

Serving legal papers in China, including Macao, and Hong Kong involves navigating the formalities of the Hague Service Convention. While China insists on formal service methods, Hong Kong offers a more flexible approach. Here’s a breakdown of the process in both regions. Click here for a video on International Process Service.

Serving Papers in China Macao Under the Hague Convention

China’s adherence to the Hague Service Convention specifies formal service procedures. The country does not recognize informal service methods, such as postal channels, due to its rejection of Article 10 of the Convention. Consequently, service must proceed through designated Central Authorities to the competent courts for execution. Direct service to the addressee or an appropriate individual is mandatory unless local civil procedure laws offer alternative provisions. Click Here for information on the Code of Civil Procedure in China Macau

Key Points for China Macao Process Service:

  • Formal Service Requirement: China mandates service through the Convention’s formal channels, rejecting informal methods.
  • Central Authority’s Role: The Central Authority in China forwards documents to the competent court for service.
  • Translation Necessity: All documents must be in simplified Chinese to ensure processing by the Central Authority.

Hong Kong adheres to the Hague Service Convention, allowing for a smoother process. The Chief Bailiff of the Court primarily conducts service, with personal service on individuals or document delivery to a company’s registered office being standard practices. Click here for How To Efficiently Serve Legal Papers Abroad.

Hong Kong Process Service Highlights:

  • No Service Fee: Unlike China, Hong Kong does not charge for executing service requests under the Convention.
  • Flexible Service Methods: While formal service is preferred, Hong Kong permits personal service or leaving documents at a company’s registered office.
  • Translation Requirements: Documents must be in English or Chinese, with no additional translation fees.

Mutual Service Arrangement Between Hong Kong and Macao

A notable development is the 2020 mutual service arrangement between Hong Kong and Macao. This agreement facilitates the service of judicial documents in civil and commercial cases, enhancing legal cooperation between the two regions. Click here for How International Process Service Works

Arrangement Features:

  • Service through Designated Authorities: Requests for service are transmitted between the Court of Final Appeal of Macao and Hong Kong’s High Court.
  • Document Types: The arrangement covers a wide range of judicial documents, requiring a letter of request for service.

Process Service in the People’s Republic of China

Special Administrative Regions (SAR) like Macao enjoy a degree of autonomy, yet service requirements can vary. The main forwarding authorities in Macao include the local judge and the Procuratorate of the Macao SAR.

Service in Macao:

  • Local Civil Procedure Code: Macao’s code allows for alternative service methods, such as registered letters or personal contact, following specific protocols.
  • No Service Charge: There’s no fee for service requests in Macao, with execution times ranging from three to four months.


Navigating the service of legal papers in China and Hong Kong requires understanding the distinct requirements set by the Hague Service Convention and local laws. Whether serving papers in China Macao or Hong Kong, adherence to formal procedures, translation requirements, and the utilization of designated authorities ensures compliance and effectiveness in legal proceedings.


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