New York Lawyer's Legal Updates

Benefits, Results and Solutions to Authenticating Documents

Author: US Immigration Attorney Alena Shautsova

Benefits, Results and Solutions to authenticating documents for use in a foreign country.

If you have family, friends or business in foreign countries, at some point you may be required to authenticate documents for use in that country. The most common issue arises when the documents need to become translated to a foreign language other the one of the native document. Many of our clients have significant trouble going through the process or are confused about the authentication process of these documents.

The first question you have to ask yourself is "what needs to be authenticated?"

A seal (“confirmation”) from the state, or federal government has the authority to authenticate the official signature on a document; the capacity in which the person signing the document acted (i.e. The steps the person assessing the validity of the documents took to proof them); and the identity of any stamp or seal placed on the document.

These government seals are most commonly known as Apostilles or for certain countries Exemplified Certifications. The only difference between the two is that Apostille’s are used when the foreign country is a part of the Hague convention of 1961, and an Exemplified Certification is used when the country was not a part of the Hague convention of 1961 but will accept a seal from the countries that are.

An Apostille or Exemplified Certification most common uses:

  1. For Business purposes:
    • Articles of Incorporation
    • Certificates of Good Standing and Bylaws
  2. For Adoption Paperwork:
    • Home Studies
    • Letters of Reference
    • Birth Certificates
    • Marriage Certificates
  3. Foreign Study or Education Documents:
    • Diplomas
    • Transcripts
  4. Inheritance purposes:
    • Proof of Identity
    • Death Certificate
  5. Power of Attorney

The benefits of getting your Apostille done by an attorney are that you can cut out a lot of middlemen, saving you time and money. If the attorney is fluent in the native language of the documents you wish to have authenticated, you will not need to send the documents to a translating service and then have them notarized which can take up to a week, if you are in a rush! An attorney can also provide a letter explaining the capacity in which he/she authenticated your documents “On the Spot” because attorneys are ones of the few professionals who do not need to have their signature notarized within the United States by each County. In addition to all of these benefits, when trying to get an Apostille done by yourself after you have waited a week to get the documents back from the translation, in order to have an Apostille for your documents, the State requires that all notaraized signatures be authinticated by the County Clerk before the State Clerk can put its seal upon the documents to authenticate them. This can be frustrating, confusing and time consuming to anyone doing this for the first, second, or seventh time. An attorney’s office that handles obtaining of an Apostille for documents use in a foreign country will be able to give you same day service if requested before noon.

The best result a law firm can offer you when you need an Apostille, is a peace of mind that your documents are not only safe but will be returned to you promptly with the seal from the government that you requested. The solution is simple: find a law firm that is fluent in the native language your documents need to be translated to and explain what documents will be used for, the appointment should last no more then 15 minutes to authenticate your signature, and the attorney will let you know if it is required of you to provide the attorney’s reference letter explaining the steps they took to authenticate your documents. Our firm is capable of same day service for documents in Russian, Belarusian, and Spanish, provided you call before noon.

24 September 2013
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