Gift Real Estate in China
Nov 01, 2011

Gift Real Estate in China

I did a post, how does a foreigner inherit real properties in China, some while ago in which I suggest people thinking of making a gift of their properties to their beloved ones as an alternative of passing the properties to their children, spouses or other family members after death. Hence, there have been inquiry emails from foreigners regarding how they can make a gift of real property to their family members. Here is the summary how a property gift can be done in China between family members.

In essence, a gift of real estate is to transfer the title of the properties, either residential or commercial, from the donor/grantor to the donee/grantee. As always, this is a matter related to real estate, so the Chinese laws will be the applicable law governing the process.

To effectuate a gift of property, there shall be a contract or agreement intending a change of ownership between the donor/grantor and the done/grantee. Then the parties shall together apply to local real estate registry authority to affect the title transfer which will then result in the issue of a new property ownership certificate bearing the done/grantee as the owner the property.

In practice, there are two ways of demonstrating the contract between the parties. Firstly, the parties sign one written contract for gift of real estate. Alternatively, where the parties cannot come together to sign the contract, the donor/grantor can first issue a written statement of gift on his or her own in which he or she expresses a clear intent of conveying the property to the donee/grantee, and the donee/grantee will then sign a statement of acceptance of the gift referred to in the donor/grantor’s statement of gift.

For effecting title transfer at real estate registry authority, the written contract or statements shall be notarized/legalized. The notarization or legalization shall have to be conducted in China where the real estate is located according to China Notarization Law. In the case of the parties signing one written contract of gift, both donor/grantor and donee/grantee shall come to China to appear in person before notary officer. In the case of separate statement approach, however, the donor/grantor may notarize his statement of gift at their home country and then get the same authenticated by Chinese consulate there before presenting it for title transfer. On the other hand, the donee/grantee shall have to have his statement of acceptance notarized in the local notary office where the real estate is located. Notarization costs. The fee charged for such notarization of real estate gift transaction is 2% of the value of the property being gifted. In practice, such value will be determined through property appraisal. Our experience shows that some notary office in order to secure business is willing to accept value that is intentionally appraised at low level.

After notarization is duly completed, the parties shall go or shall get their agents to go to local real estate registry authority to apply for title transfer. Right before this, the parties shall need to pay the deed tax of 3% of the property value to the government. It shall be noted that if the gift is not made between family members, in addition to the deed tax, the donee/grantee shall also pay an income tax of 20% of the property value to government, which is intended to clamp down fake gifting which is actually a sale transaction. Upon issue of the new real estate ownership certificate bearing the donee/grantee as the property owner, the gift of real estate is fully done.

We understand that if the recipient of the gift is American citizen, and there is a potential tax pitfall when the recipient resells the same property later, namely, the capital gain tax may easily blow away much profit that could be otherwise avoided if the same property is left to the American citizen by way of inheritance.


  1. Corinne Smith says:

    Can a Chinese National buy a property for a Foreigner (currently overseas) in China? Who would hold the title deed and when the Foreigner finally gets to settle in China after living there for one year, could the title be signed over to that Foreigner?

    1. Jason Tian says:

      yes, Corinne, you can do that so long as your Chinese friend is trustworthy and you will be qualified later on to buy back the title deed. If your friend is married, then make sure before you take over the title deed, she or she won’t divorce or die which will render the property subject to claims from spouse or legal heirs. To make it safe, generally, contract or some sort of mortgage shall be created accordingly.

      1. Da Shan says:

        Hi Jason my question is my grandma gifted me a property in china and transferred the title deed to me over 13 years ago and I am planning to sell it now. Will there be inheritance tax of 50% if it sells under my name? If I give back to property to my grandma and she sells will there be no tax for her?

        1. Jason Tian says:

          hi Da Shan, I have answered you via email, and let me know if you have not received my reply.

  2. Mily says:

    Hello Very helpful article

    My auntie owns a house in Guangzhou but lives in USA. Her health is really poor so she wants to transfer the property ownership of the house to my mom ( who is not a blood relative ) because my dad’s ( aunties brother ) health is also really poor

    Is the best choice to write

    1. A will that transfers the ownership to my mom upon death ? Are there any fees that my mom would have to pay ?

    2. Can we also draft a power of attorney to give my mom the ability to sell the house on my aunt’s behalf ?

    No one lives in china and cannot travel right now

    1. Jason Tian says:

      hi Mily, I have answered your questions via email, and please let me know if you have not received my reply yet.

  3. It’s actually a great and useful piece of info. I’m happy that you just shared this useful info with us. Please stay informed like this. Thank you for sharing. Here’s another informative content. Edmonton Real Estate Law You may find more details here.

    1. Jason Tian says:

      thanks for visiting. Come back again later.

  4. CT says:

    Hi Jason:

    My friend, a US citizen, married a Chinese national and has lived in China for almost 20 years. His mother, a US citizen living in the US, purchased four properties in China and is looking to transfer ownership to my friend. Is is best to transfer the assets today while she is still alive or should she draft a will and trust to transfer assets upon her death? What are the risks and costs for both options? Thank you


    1. Jason Tian says:

      Depending on whether your friend is eligible for purchasing properties in China (i guess the answer is yes, as he has been living in China for many years and should have valid work permit), he may be able to purchase one property from his mom, but not four properties. Cost wise, it is better to leave the four properties to his son upon death, there will be no taxes on the part of your friend. But be careful that the will shall be made under Chinese laws, to make sure that the properties are left only to your friend, not to the spouse of your friend. We are happy to help with drafting a will for your friend.

  5. Aki yamada says:

    Hi my friend and his wife need to transfer the ownership of the house to his mom. Because her child wants to go to a different school that does not allow her to go to the school she wants because of the address of the house they lived in. So they were wondering if those documents can be signed solely by his wife since his in japan and because of corona. And how long will take for the process pf transferring the ownership name? And what they should do?

    1. Jason Tian says:

      If he cannot come back. then he should issue a Power of Attorney to his wife authorizing her to transfer the full ownership to his mom. This Power of Attorney shall be notarized at Chinese consulate if he is Chinese citizen. If he is not Chinese citizen, then this POA shall be firstly notarized in Japan and then legalized at Chinese consulate in Japan. If your friend needs us to draft the POA, we are happy to help with that.

  6. Andrew Chng says:

    Hi Jason,
    My brother inherited an apartment from my deceased father. But because he is an undischarged bankrupt, he cannot travel to china to sell the apartment to a relative. Is there any other way for him to do it without going to china?

    1. Jason Tian says:

      hi Andrew, yes, he can though it may not be easy. First of all, he can sell it without coming to China by issuing a power of attorney to our team to act on his behalf during the sale process. However, as an American citizen (assuming he was), then it is difficult to open a bank account for him. Without a bank account, it is difficult to sell the property. Also, has he completed the inheritance of the China property? I mean whether the title of the property is already in his name. For more information, we can further communicate through emails.

  7. cindy truong says:

    Hi Jason,
    My father have a property in China and he passed away a few years ago. I am his only child, how do I go about to transferring the house under my name? I don’t even know where to begin or where to look. He did not leave a will behind.

    1. Jason Tian says:

      hi Cindy, this can be a tricky situation if you are the only heir. is your mom alive? Pls send email to my email account for further communication. Also pls tell me where the property is situated.

  8. Eva says:

    Hi Jason,

    I have an apartment in China my father transferred to me before he passed away. If I now would like to transfer the property to a relative, how does one determine the property value? Does it have to be the market price or can it be the price it was bought or even a much lower price? After all it is a gift and I’m not technically selling it.

    Many thanks in advance!

    1. Jason Tian says:

      It doesn’t matter whether it is sale or gift. The tax base is the same. In practice, local tax authority may apply a tax base in light of the current market level. It is generally a discounted market value.

  9. Phil says:

    Hi Jason,

    Is there any restriction to gifts between family members? I am thinking about the case where a donor has 2 heirs (of the same rank)? Can he donate the house in full to one of them and exclude the other one altogether?



    1. Jason Tian says:

      Yes, Phil, the donor can gift his or her property to anyone he or she wishes. There is no restriction on this. This is why I recommend people to dispose of their properties before they pass away.

  10. Robert says:

    Hi Jason,

    Does the donee of the gift (assuming they are a foreigner) need to satisfy any employment / residency requirements before the title can be transferred? E.g. is the donee required to show proof of employment in China for at least one year?

    Many thanks!


    1. Jason Tian says:

      Hi Robert, assuming you are talking about gift between family members, there is no such requirement in order to carry out the gift. In the case of non-family members, such gift is burdened with heavy taxes as you have noticed in my post. Strictly speaking, a gift between non-family members shall not be subject to one-year residency requirement as such requirement is imposed on sale and purchase transactions. As always, for such practical questions, it is better to enquire local real estate transaction centre about your questions.