Why Apostille Is Important For International Relations

This paperwork may pass muster in the USA, but in other countries, companies have to jump through some hoops to prove their legitimacy. Authentication is a lengthy process that requires visits to multiple government offices, both in the country of origin and at the embassy or consulate of the destination country.

Apostille Services refers to the apostille form of this certification. The United States is a signatory to the Hague Apostille Convention, and apostilles can be obtained in any state through a specific process and official in that state.

Researching whether or not the foreign country is a signatory to the Hague Convention is the first step in using a certified or notarized document legally in another country. 

There is a risk that the foreign court or government agency will reject the documents if they lack an apostille. A document notarized in the United States may be rejected as evidence in a foreign court proceeding.

What is apostilled?

Documents issued in a country that is a signatory to the 1961 Hague Convention Treaty on the Apostille of Public Documents seek to streamline the legalization and authentication of public documents for international recognition.

An apostille (essentially a certificate) can be obtained from the Secretary of State’s office or from other authorities like the clerks of federal courts in the United States or the Office of Authentications within the United States Department of State.

It is not common practice for the embassy or consulate of the country in which a business plans to conduct operations to provide further certification or legalization of documents that have already been apostilled.

There could be cases where this isn’t the case, in which case “authentication” (discussed below) would be required. If a company has any questions about setting up shop in a particular country, it should contact the relevant embassy or consulate there.

What is an authenticating document?

In order to establish legal standing in a country that is not a member of The Hague Convention, a company will need to go through the steps of authenticating its corporate documents.

Notarization (a sealed certificate attesting to the authority of a public official, usually a notary public) is the first step in the authentication process. Next, state or county authorities must review the documents and certify them as authentic before they can be submitted to the Department of State.

Certification in the foreign jurisdiction is required after authentication has been obtained. The “legalization” procedure is conducted at the foreign embassy or consulate.

Gold-seal accreditation means what exactly?

Countries that aren’t part of The Hague Convention might ask for a gold seal certification instead of an apostille on your articles of incorporation or articles of organization. While the Apostille will greatly increase the likelihood of your documents being accepted abroad, there may be other requirements that must be met.

Should one use an apostille when authentication will do?

The correct procedure must be followed when dealing with authentication and apostille. A document may be rejected by the foreign country if the wrong option is selected.

A major U.S. trading partner like Canada is excluded from the apostille process because it is not a signatory to The Hague Convention. An apostille that is submitted for authentication in error for use in Canada will be rejected. Before resubmitting to the Canadian embassy or consulate, businesses must obtain a revised version that has been thoroughly edited.

Authentication and apostille procedures for documents

Due to the lengthy processing times (in some cases several weeks) and in-person visits required for apostilles and authentication procedures, it is crucial to be familiar with the requirements of the country into which you are expanding.

That kind of research takes a lot of time and effort. All paperwork, for instance, must be authentic and submitted in its entirety without any photocopies. To facilitate review, please include any supplementary materials that are referenced. In addition, if a document must be translated, the foreign authority may call for a sworn translator or a legalized translation. There is a great deal of information that needs to be verified.

In addition, businesses should be ready to hand over records to an unnamed authority for an undetermined amount of time. In order to prevent disruption to other parts of the business, it is important to plan ahead for the possibility of losing access to these records.

A company also needs to do its homework before using documents from one non-American country in another. One Chinese embassy in India, for instance, insisted that a local businessman use special paper and even asked to see the signer’s passport in order to verify his identity. Some places may ask for a driver’s license as proof of identity.

Last but not least, every notary has their own distinct style. When dealing with apostilles and authentication, it is important to take into account the fact that the role of notaries varies from one country to the next.

These may appear to be minor, but different countries have different regulations. A global endeavor may be delayed if even a single requirement or step is forgotten.

What documents can be apostilled?

The following documents can be apostilled in Georgia:

  • Publically recorded documents (certified copies)
  • Birth certificates
  • Death certificates
  • Marriage certificates
  • Divorce decrees
  • Court documents
  • Documents filed with the Georgia County Clerk of Superior Court
  • Corporate documents on file with the Georgia Secretary of State Corporations Division
  • Notarized documents

Conclusion

To be successful on a global scale, you need to know your way around the apostilles and authentication maze. This can be a time-consuming and frustrating process, so it’s best to prepare ahead of time. For some businesses, this could be uncharted territory. If that’s the case, it might be wise to hire a legal services company.

An organization must know how to authenticate relevant documents in order to be in compliance with this document certification process. This can be done in two ways: with or without an apostille.

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