China-based Cross-border Family Matters Services, including Marriage and Succession.
Can A Foreigner Inherit Property in China?
Can A Foreigner Inherit Property in China?

Can A Foreigner Inherit Property in China?

Can A Foreigner Inherit Property in China?

The answer is YES.

Here’s what to do for foreigners to inherit property in China.

1. What documents are required for foreigners to inherit property in China?

Firstly, the death certificate.

The succession opens(begins) provided that the decedent is dead, so the certificates to prove the identity and death of the decedent are required.

The qualified death certificates include the death certificate issued by the hospital, the cremation certificate issued by the crematorium, relevant documents of the residence deregistration issued by the police station, etc.

If the decedent dies outside of China, the death certificate must be notarized and authenticated in the country where the decedent dies, and attached with Chinese translation, before it can be used in China.

Secondly, kinship certificates.

In the case of intestate succession, you need to prove that you are entitled to inherit the decedent’s estate by proving that you have a kinship with the decedent.

In general, the kinship certificates include birth certificates, marriage certificates, household registration materials, and other documents.

Thirdly, the inheritance certificate.

This certificate is to prove the scope, attributes, and value of the estate, such as bank deposit receipts, share certificates, real estate certificates, patent certificates, and so on. These documents will serve as the basis for the distribution of the estate.

2. What are the methods for inheriting an estate?

There are two major methods for foreigners to inherit the estate located in China, namely notarization and litigation.

In the event that there is no dispute between successors over the estate, you may bring relevant documents for succession notarization at a Chinese notary public. Then you may take the notarization certificate to go through relevant formalities for the estate distribution, such as the transfer of housing ownership, the distribution of bank deposits, etc.

In case that there is any dispute between successors over the estate, you may file a lawsuit over the inheritance with the court. After a court trial, you and other successors may go through relevant formalities for the estate distribution pursuant to the binding court judgment or settlement statement.

3. If there is any dispute between successors over the estate, which court shall the successors institute an action before?

The successors shall bring the case before the court in the place where the decedent was domiciled at the time of his/her death or where the principal part of the estate is located.

4. After inheriting the property within the territory of China, can a foreign successor transfer the property overseas?

The answer is YES.

China implements a foreign exchange control system to supervise cross-border capital flows. However, pursuant to China’s foreign exchange laws and regulations, after the realization of his/her legally inherited property, the foreign successor may exchange foreign currencies through a bank and remit the money in foreign currency abroad after fulfilling the formalities required by relevant foreign exchange administration departments.

5. Do foreigners need to come to China in person to inherit the estate in China?

The answer is NO.

You can entrust a Chinese lawyer to handle all matters related to your succession in China.

6. How to apply the law where a foreigner inherits an estate in China?

Intestate succession shall be governed by the law of the place where the deceased person resides at the time of his/her death, however, the intestate succession of immovable property shall be governed by the law of the place where such immovable property is located.

A testament, which is made in compliance with the law of the place where the deceased person resides, the country of the testator’s nationality, or the place where the act of testament is carried out in force at the time of making the testament or the time of the testator’s death, shall be valid.

The validity of a testament shall be governed by the law of the place where the testator resides, or the law of the country of testator’s nationality in force at the time of making the testament or the time of death of the testator. Matters concerning the estate administration shall be governed by the law of the place where the estate is located.

The ownership of an heirless estate shall be governed by the law of the place where the estate is located in force at the time of the death of the decedent.


Do you need support in Cross-Border Family Matters (Marriage and Succession)?
CJO Family's team can provide you with China-based consulting service, including case assessment and management, background check, and debt collection (‘Last Mile’ Service). If you encounter any problems in cross-border family matters, or if you wish to share your story, you can contact our Client Manager Julia Yuan (julia.yuan@chinajusticeobserver.com).
If you want to know more about CJO Family, please click here.
If you want to know more about CJO Family cross-border family matters service, please click here.
If you wish to read more CJO Family articles on cross-border family matters, please click here.

Latest Posts on China-Related Cross-Border Succession Matters

  • What Are My Inheritance Rights in China?
    You can inherit the property of your parents, children and spouse. If anyone lists you as the beneficiary in the will, you also have the inheritance rights stated in the will.
  • What Is the Law of Inheritance in China?
    China used to have Inheritance Law (Law on Succession). However, after the promulgation of the Civil Code in 2020, China has only the “Book VI Succession” in the Civil Code. In other words, the inheritance law became a part of the civil code.
  • How to Inherit Properties in China?
    How to Inherit Properties in China? First of all, you need to know whether the decedent has a will and whether you have inheritance rights in the will. If the decedent does not have a will, then you also need to know whether you are the heir in intestate inheritance. That is, whether you are …
  • Is Debt Inherited in China?
    The answer is yes.
  • How Much Does the Average Person Inherit from their Parents in China?
    We will use a fictional succession-related story to illustrate how inheritance works in China.
  • Does China Have Inheritance Tax?
    No, China has no inheritance tax. If you inherit the money, you do not need to pay tax at all. If you inherit the real estate, you need to pay tax for the transfer of the property.
  • How Does Inheritance Work in China?
    During the lifetime, one can specify in the will who inherits his/her house and other heritage. If the person has no will, the decedent’s children, spouse, parents, siblings, paternal grandparents, and maternal grandparents may inherit his/her estate.
  • How Do I Get Money From My Deceased Parent’s Bank Account in China?
    You should first determine whether you are the heir to the money in the bank account of your deceased parent. If you have an inheritance right to the money, you can ask the bank to pay the part inherited by you.
  • What Happens to Bank Account When Someone Dies in China?
    If the owner of a bank account dies, his/her heirs can get the money in the bank account.
  • How Much Tax Will I Pay on My Inheritance in China?
    Generally speaking, there is little inheritance tax payable by heirs in China. Because, in China, heirs do not need to pay inheritance tax, except for some other taxes and fees, which are comparatively small.
  • What Happens When You Inherit a House in China?
    What Happens When You Inherit a House in China? If you and other heirs need to inherit a house jointly at inheritance, there will be …
  • When A Parent Dies Who Gets the House in China?
    The parent can specify in the will who inherits his/her house and other heritage. If he/she has no will, his/her children, spouse, parents, siblings, paternal grandparents, and maternal grandparents may inherit this house and other heritage.
  • When Someone Dies Who Gets His/Her Property in China?
    Before his/her death, he/she can specify in the will who inherits his/her house and other heritage. If the person has no will, his/her children, spouse, parents, siblings, paternal grandparents, and maternal grandparents may inherit this house and other heritage.
  • Can A Foreigner Inherit Property in China?
    The answer is YES. Here’s what to do for foreigners to inherit property in China.

Photo by Steve Long on Unsplash

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.