Legalization Blog Series – Part 3

Posted by Gennine Cooper
February 14, 2018

DC,, legalization Flag map of Washington DC 239x300Part 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. 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:

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