Tips and Scenarios to Avoid Rejection and Expedite the Legalization and Authentication Process

Posted by Gennine Cooper
May 8, 2019

Legalization of documents that have originated outside the U.S. can be expensive, time consuming and tricky.  If this is for a frequent repeating process, you’ll want to document your experience with the process for planning purposes and for future reference, as the process can be incredibly idiosyncratic and unpredictable. It also never hurts to cultivate a good relationship with the folks at the embassy and/or consulate.

When it comes to legalization, it’s important to go with the understanding that the embassy has the final say and there is often little that can be done to “push” through the authentication. Be prepared to address substantive reviews, including items that may seem to be beyond their purview.

Content review

While the legalization process is technically only meant to only verify the authenticity of the seal and signature of the government authority, it is not unheard of for an embassy to review the contents of a particular document and refuse to issue their approval based on something within the document with which they do not agree. Submitters may want to be prepared to respond to substantive questions and address an embassy’s concerns.

Some things to consider

Depending on the countries involved, there may be additional quirks and complications.  A few things to consider as you embark on a legalization process:

  • Consulate specific requirements – Consulates each have their own requirements for supporting documentation, such as passports or officer’s certificates. For example in Lebanon, certain documents from individual companies must be accompanies with documents certifying a signatory’s authorization on company letter head, as well a state issued photo identification.
  • On the ground logistics – You may also need to consider how the documents will be delivered and picked up from the foreign embassy. Some embassies may not process mail inquiries as expeditiously as walk-in requests or may refuse to use a courier service to send out international documents because of the extra work involved. . It can be helpful to have a knowledgeable agent to assist you with the process of dealing with embassies in a foreign country. An agent familiar with the quirks and foibles of the various embassies and their own country’s government agencies can save you a great deal of time and frustration.
  • Translation process requirements – Some consulates will not legalize a public document unless that document has been translated. That translation will also have to go through the appropriate chain authentication subject to change. One recent case Incserv associates encountered was for a legalization with the consulate for Angola. In the past the English document was certified followed by the subsequent certification for a Portuguese document in a separate document. The process shifted for a “preference” to the legalization and certification contained in a single document. Incserv was able to rapidly pivot mid process and mitigate any delays this policy shift could have created.
  • Jurisdiction Shifts – Not that a consulate’s requirements in one jurisdiction (such as the U.S.) may vary from the same country’s consulate in another country. Never assume you know the process.
  • Notarization – In many civil law countries, a notary’s signature and seal will need to be court certified. Whereas, in the U.S., a document bearing the seal and signature of a registered notary public can be verified, authenticated and then legalized by the appropriate embassy or consulate.
  • Current Diplomatic Relations. Current diplomatic relationships (or lack thereof) between the two countries can impact the legalization process. Some originating countries may not have an embassy or consulate for the receiving country.

This is a just a short list of things you may need to consider when preparing your document for the Apostille, Authentication and Legalization process.  For more details or questions please contact us at

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