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Conducting business internationally can be a challenge. Just as every state jurisdiction has its own rules and regulations, each country does as well. Keeping track of those requirements can be a nightmare. This is where we can help! Not only can our team obtain the documents you need from the states, but they can have those documents properly certified for the country you need to present them to. When it comes to Apostille, Authentication & Legalization Services, we know what countries require an apostille versus those countries which require authentication and legalization. And it doesn’t stop there. We know the ins and outs of embassy and consulate requirements as well.
An apostille is a document issued by a local Secretary of State for countries party to the “Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement for Legalization of Foreign Public Documents” (the “Hague Convention”) which attests to the signature on the underlying officially issued document. Federally issued documents go to the U.S. Department of State (“Department of State”) for an Apostille. A list of countries that are members of the Hague Convention may be found at www.hcch.net.
What is Authentication & Legalization?
Authentication is the process a county, state or federal government official provides to certify a document’s authenticity. The process of certifying documents can be a challenge depending on the jurisdictions involved. This step must be taken before proceeding to legalize the document.
Legalization is the affirmation to further validate a document after it has been authenticated by a local Secretary of State or the Department of State’s Authentication’s Office. Once the authentication has been made, the document is taken to the applicable consulate or embassy, which grants a stamp of approval – or legalization – on the document so it may be used in the legalizing country.
Document legalization is a tedious process. Some things to remember are: Documents must be original; official documents cannot be notarized, but instead need to be certified from the state agency’s office; grommets should never be removed or altered; adequate time must be allowed for processing (each embassy varies); and finally each embassy has its own procedures, requirements, fees and hours of operations.
Private documents, not issued by a state agency can still be authenticated and legalized. The process is just a little different. First the document is notarized. Then the notarization must be certified within the document by the local county clerk or Secretary of State, depending on the jurisdiction of origin. The document is then authenticated by the Department of State and finally presented to the applicable embassy or consulate for legalization.
We make daily trips to the Department of State to obtain apostilles and authentications for documents, saving you even more time. We’re also one of the few companies that charge a single fee to handle both the U.S. Department of State authentication and embassy legalization, saving you money. And have we mentioned, with an office perfectly poised in downtown Washington, DC, we are able to offer walk-in service. We make international business easy!