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April 2nd Deadline – DC Biennial Reports and Trade Name Renewals!

ReportsEvery two years, entities doing business in the District of Columbia (DC) are required to file biennial reports to maintain its authority to do business.   During the report filing period, you may update your principal office address, make changes to the governors of the entity (officers, directors, managers and/or members), and change your registered agent.

Additionally, if you have a trade name that will expire this year, you must renew your trade name by April 2nd to avoid cancellation.

ReportsIf the Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) does not receive your report or renewal by April 2nd, a $100 penalty will be assessed, in addition to filing fees.  After August 31st, the trade name will be cancelled and the entity will be revoked.

Don’t risk your good standing with DCRA!  Let Incserv assist with filing your report and renewing your trade name!   You can click on the link to our website to place your order https://incserv.com/franchise-taxannual-report-order-form/?v=317b9cf9fc4d.

If you have any questions or would like additional information about our compliance services, simply e-mail us at DCorders@incserv.com or call us at 202.386.7575 or 877.531.1131.  We will be happy to assist!

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Legalization Blog Series – Part 4

legalization, flagsWe’ve reached the final post of the legalization blog series!  In part 1, we introduced the legalization process and provided detail on what types of documents require legalization.  In part 2, we defined and discussed apostilles, authentications and embassy legalization in depth and in part 3, we discussed the differences between embassies and consulates and how to navigate through each to have your documents ready for use outside the U.S.   Finally, in part 4, we will go over a few tips on avoiding rejection and getting your documents completed within your deadlines.

Avoiding Rejection

We can’t stress enough that each country has its own chain of requirements!  Some embassies will take a few days to process, while others may take weeks.  Some have special forms that must accompany documents and others may have additional steps in the authentication process before the document can be submitted to the embassy.  Export shipments leaving the US and going to Arab countries may require shipping documents such as Certificates of Origin and Commercial Invoices to be submitted to the National US Arab Chamber of Commerce (NUSACC) for review and certification.  Every country is different!  To find out more on the functions of the NUSACC, visit http://www.nusacc.org/services.html  or reach out to us.

Meeting Deadlines

When an order is placed, make sure important deadlines are communicated to your service provider!  The Court or other official or government agency overseas may accept copies of completed documents by the deadline, while others will need the originals in hand by a specific date.  Either way, give yourself enough time to complete all steps required for processing, while also allowing time for shipping internationally, if required.

The Do’s and Don’ts!legalization, document

Remember, documents must be original.  Documents certified by a federal official may not be authenticated by the State but must be authenticated by the U.S. Department of State.  Once certified by a government official, do not remove grommets, staples, or any pages in the document!  Lastly, content of the document must not be contrary to the laws of the country in which the document will be used.  For example, the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China has been known to reject documents which refer to “Taiwan” as its own independent country.

It has been a pleasure presenting the topic to you!  If you’ve missed any part of the series or for access to other blog posts, feel free to click on the following link: https://incserv.com/blog/?v=317b9cf9fc4d.  Should you need assistance, an Incserv representative is available to help!

Thanks for reading!

Deirdre Davis-Washington, Assistant Vice President

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Legalization Blog Series – Part 3

DC,, legalizationPart 3 of our Legalization Blog Series discusses embassies and consulates, the differences between the two, its functions and how to navigate through its processes to have your documents legalized for use outside of the United States.

Embassy vs. Consulate

Embassies are typically located within the capital city of a country.   Foreign Embassies within the United States are located in Washington, DC.  For most U.S. documents to be used in other countries, as long as the documents have been authenticated by the U.S. Department of State, the Embassy in Washington DC will legalize it for use in the destination country.   There are some exceptions:  Egypt, Iraq, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are examples of countries that will require use of a consulate office within the jurisdiction of the document’s origin for legalization, after receiving the U.S. Department of State’s authentication.

Consulate offices are smaller versions of Embassies and are designed to assist with local matters involving its citizens and business abroad.  Consulates are generally located in major cities like Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Houston and Miami.  These offices have officials that are able to review documents which have originated within their local jurisdictions, providing the necessary stamps, seals, and signatures for legalization.  If a country has a local consulate office, in some cases, the document can go direct from the Secretary of State to the Consulate office, avoiding federal authentication.  https://www.embassypages.com/ is a great resource for determining which countries have local consulates and where.

Getting Your Documents Processed!

It is important to remember, each Embassy will have its own chain of requirements for legalization processing.   Some will require full copies of documents, special forms and applications to accompany the documents, various acceptable payment methods, etc.  The People’s Republic of China’s (China) Authentication Form is one most people are familiar with in doing business with China.   Also known as the “G1” form, the form must be completed in all caps, bold print, and must be signed by the applicant, as well as the agent that will be presenting the document to the Embassy for legalization on the applicant’s behalf.  Additionally, the Embassy will require a copy of the applicant’s and agent’s passport and/or driver’s license.  This form has been changed a few times over the years.  For the most recent form, visit the Embassy’s website at: http://www.china-embassy.org/eng/visas/fd/.

Keeping up with these steps may seem a little overwhelming, but we are certainly here to assist where you need us!  With our daily experiences in working with the embassies, an Incserv representative can make sure your documents in need of legalization are processed accurately and quickly!  In the final part of the series, we’ll provide tips on avoiding rejection and getting your documents processed to ensure your deadlines are met!

Thanks for reading!

Deirdre Davis-Washington, Assistant Vice President

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Legalization Blog Series – Part 2

Part two of our legalization blog series provides detail on apostilles, authentications and legalizations including what each step entails.  The process by which the documents are legalized is unique to the country in which the documents will be used.  Knowing the destination country can determine if the process will be same day or if it will take weeks to receive the completed document.

What is an Apostille?

An apostille certificate is a document consisting of 10 elements issued for documents to be used in countries that are party to the Hague convention that abolishes the need for full legalization by the embassy.  A list of these countries may be found at www.hcch.net.  For state certified documents or notarized documents, the apostille certificate is issued by the Secretary of State.  For federally certified documents, the apostille is retrieved from the U.S. Department of State, as only the federal government can attest to the authenticity of a federal document or a federal official’s signature.  When the Apostille has been issued, the document is ready for use and does not require additional steps (with the exception of California, Oregon, and Montana certifications).

Authentication and Legalization

For non-Hague countries such as the People’s Republic of China, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Saudi Arabia, documents will have to go through a multi-step process consisting of authenticating the document before submitting the document to the embassy for legalization.   The process of authenticating is similar to the attestation of the person signing that is provided with apostille certification with the exception, the seal, certificate, and/or ribbon affixed to the document by state officials requires authentication of the state official’s signature by the U.S. Department of State.

The U.S. Department of State will affix its authentication page to the state authenticated document or if a federal document, to the document issued by the federal agency.  After this is done, the document can be sent to the embassy of the destination country which will then provide signatures, stamps, and/or seals deeming the document duly legalized.  For more information on embassy hours, contact information, etc., www.embassy.org, is a great resource with links to all foreign embassies in the District of Columbia – or just reach out to us!  Some embassies have additional steps or special requirements that must be met before submitting the document to the embassy. We will touch on these in part three of the series.

Until next time, should you require assistance or have questions, please feel free to reach out to an Incserv Representative.  Thanks for reading!

Deirdre Davis-Washington, Assistant Vice President

 

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The Federal Government Is Open For Business! But What If It Hadn’t?

DC Flag, federal Government How the Government Shutdown Affects the Legal Services Industry.

Hours before the deadline Friday, January 19th, it appeared Congress would not reach an agreement to avoid a shutdown of the Federal government.  Clients had begun to inquire whether or not their requests for Federal services would be processed, such as legalizations, authentications, USPTO …. And even embassies!  Fortunately, Congress came to an agreement quickly after only one business day, but this situation could emerge again – so what would happen in the case of a Federal Government shutdown?

U.S. Department of State

Generally, most government agencies with which we work most frequently generate their own revenues, which allows these agencies to operate (some, temporarily), in the event of a shutdown.  For example, business can be conducted with the U.S. Department of State because, as with the shutdown of 2013, the authentications office would be able to process visa applications and other consular services using revenues generated from fees it charges for these services.  Embassies would typically be unaffected, as they are governed by the laws of their own country.

Other Federal Agencies

Like the Department of State, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) remains open, funding its operations using the fees it collects; however, in the past this has only been for a few weeks. The Office of Comptroller of Currency (OCC), as per its website, is “funded through assessments on supervised institutions and not Congressional appropriations, OCC operations are not affected by a government shutdown from a lapse in budget authority.”  This means we are able to request certificates of corporate existence and other certified documents for national banks and savings banks.  The Surface Transportation Board, an independent agency, where railcar liens are recorded and searched, was one of the agencies affected and could not operate.

District of Columbia

If you didn’t know, DC does not have autonomy over its own budget!  In the past, the District of Columbia would have been affected by the shutdown.  However, thanks to legislation sponsored by Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton passed in 2017, DC was not affected by the shutdown.    With the new legislation, DC government agencies including the Department of Consumer of Regulatory Affairs (DCRA), Recorder of Deeds, and the Department of Notary and Authentications, will now be business as usual during a Federal shutdown!

For more information on our federal agency services, you may click on the following link: https://incserv.com/federal-agency-embassy-services/federal-services/?v=7516fd43adaa . If you have any questions or need additional information, please feel free to reach out to one our experienced staff members.  We are happy to assist!

Deirdre Davis-Washington, Assistant Vice President

 

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Legalization Blog Series – Part 1

Today we begin a series of posts related to the process of legalizing documents for use in foreign jurisdictions.  The legalization process is designed to provide foreign governments, including civil and judicial officials, assurance the documents which have been issued abroad are authentic and ready for use.

Apostille, Authentication and Legalization

There are multiple layers to document authentication which may begin on the county and/or state government level and end with federal government approval and finally, embassy legalization.  This multiple step process is often referred to the “Apostille, Authentication, and Legalization” process.  A document requiring an Apostille only is based on the country in which the document will be used.  A list of countries requiring Apostille only, as per Convention 12 of the Hague Agreement, may be found at www.hcch.net.   Authentication and legalization is typically a two-step process (referred to as “full legalization”) requiring review by local, state and/or federal government to determine its authenticity before submission to an embassy or consulate office for placing of its stamps, seals, and signatures signifying its approval to proceed with foreign use.

Types of Documents Requiring Apostille/Legalization

Some documents requiring authentication/legalization for foreign use are personal business documents (e.g., Powers of Attorney, Secretary Certificates, etc.), documents issued by state government (e.g., certificates of good standing and certified copies), and documents issued by the federal government.  Most common are certified copies of patent and trademark documents issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.   For more information on intellectual property, you may click on the following link: https://incserv.com/federal-agency-embassy-services/intellectual-property/?v=7516fd43adaa

What is required for your specific documents will depend on its intended purposes for use, the country, and the types of documents.  In part two of the series, we will provide additional information on obtaining Apostilles and having your documents “fully legalized.” In the meantime, if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to an Incserv Representative.  We will be happy to assist!

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Embassy of the People’s Republic of China Legalization Request Form Updated

The Embassy of the People’s Republic of China legalization request form has recently been updated. Per the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China:

Please be advised that ALL authentication applicants are required to use the new Form from November 15, 2017. Please fill out the form truthfully, completely and clearly in Capitalized English on the computer and use either an inkjet or laser printer to print the completed form. Previous version form will no longer be accepted after November 15, 2017.Embassy of the People’s Republic of China

Please note, the new form requires the “destination…”.  As per Embassy representatives, this information would require indicating the exact city in China for which the documents will be used.   There is a chance that if your document will be specifically used in Taiwan, Hong Kong or Macau, your document may be rejected, as the embassy will require you to follow the legalization procedures for those particular destinations.

Embassy of People's Republic of China legalization

Click here to download a copy of the new legalization form for the Chinese Embassy.

If you have any questions about the change or need assistance with legalization work, please feel free to reach out to us! We’re always happy to help you.

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Vietnam – The Next Outsourcing Powerhouse

We’ve recently seen an uptick in document legalization requests for Vietnam, which piqued our curiosity and led to some research. vietnam legalizationDid you know Vietnam is emerging as the next outsourcing powerhouse? According to Nikkei Asian Review, “The IT Outsourcing Conference 2017 in Ho Chi Minh City attracted some 500 representatives from international and local companies. On the agenda for the second such event: turning what is already one of Southeast Asia’s hottest outsourcing destinations into a true go-to hub.” To read the full story, click here, and as always, feel free to reach out to us should you need assistance with document legalization.

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Closed Columbus Day – October 9th

Reminder…

All District of Columbia and Federal Government Offices will be closed on Monday, October 9th in observance of Columbus Day.  Our Washington, DC office will be open during regular business hours and will be able to provide nationwide assistance and limited services in the District.

The following District services will be available: UCC searches with copy retrieval, lien and court searches, corporate status searches and name availability.

The following District services will not be available: corporate filings, document retrievals, business license services, UCC filings, apostilles and notary certifications.

Most Foreign Embassies will be closed. However, for those Embassies that are open we will be able to provide service.

District offices will resume normal business hours on Tuesday, October 10th.

If you have questions or concerns, please contact our Washington, DC office at 202.386.7575, 877.531.1131 or dcorders@incserv.com.
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Four Changes & Processing Delays to Know About Before Traveling

If you’re getting ready to travel abroad and need to apply for or renew a U.S. Passport here are a few things you might need to know:

  1. Passport Processing is Slowing

Getting a U.S. Passport or renewing your U.S. Passport is usually pretty easy.  However, the U.S. State Department has recently made some changes to the passports themselves.  The changes combined with an increase of application requests are creating a massive backlog.  So be sure to plan far enough in advance of your trip!

  1. Passports are Changing

Starting in 2016, changes started taking place.  A major change for many people is eye glasses are no longer allowed to be worn in passport photos. Passports also got a makeover with fewer pages and a special coating to better protect the passport book. A new security chip has also been installed inside the passport to better protect against fraud. The U.S. State Department says you can expect to see even more changes in the future as technology continues to advance.

  1. Passport Six Month Validity Rule

A major passport change many people are unaware of is the Six Month Validity Rule.  Many countries, including the majority of European countries, have adopted the rule.  Under the Six Month Validity Rule, you may be denied entry if your U.S. Passport is set to expire within six months.

  1. REAL ID Act Affects Domestic Travel

The REAL ID Act passed in 2005 and comes into effect January 22, 2018. Per the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, “passengers with a driver’s license issued by a state that is still not compliant with the REAL ID Act (and has not been granted an extension) will need to show an alternative form of acceptable identification for domestic air travel to board their flight.” Beginning October 1, 2020, EVERY air traveler will need a REAL ID-compliant license or another acceptable form of ID to board domestic flights.

For more information about U.S. Passports, click here.

For more information about REAL IDs, click here.

Already have your U.S. Passport, but need help processing your Visa? Email  or call us at 202.386.7575 to find out how we can help.