Legalization of Documents
This section describes what it means to legalize documents according to international law.
What does it mean to legalize a document?
Legalization is the process of authenticating or certifying a legal document so a foreign country's legal system will recognize it as with full legal effect.
Is legalization the same as apostille?
No. Any country that is a member of the 1961 Hague Convention will accept an apostille of a document as a legal document. Non-Hague Convention countries cannot accept an apostilled document and will only accept a "legalization" of a document by that countries' foreign consulate. However, the end result is that a document has been deemed "authenticated" and "legal".
What documents can be legalized?
- Documents issued by federal agencies:
- Food & Drug Administration
- U.S. Patent & Trademark Office
- Environmental Protection Agency
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security
- U.S. Department of Agriculture
- FBI background checks
- Stated-issued business documents include:
- Powers of Attorney
- Corporate Formation Documents
- Distributorship Agreements
- Company bylaws
- Good standing certificates
- Minutes of board meetings
- Other general documents:
- Accreditation letters
- Authorization letters to obtain academic records
- Bar certificates
- Official transcripts
- Practice licenses for nurses and physicians
- Statements of study major
- Teaching certification
- Verification letters from the registrar's office
- Commercial Invoices (CI)
- Certificate of Origin (CO)
- Bill of Lading
- Packing lists
- Personal documents such as:
- Birth certificates
- Marriage certificates
- Divorce certificates
- Death certificates
What is the rational and procedure for legalizing a document?
Authentication by legalization is widely used in civil law matters and international commerce in those countries where the easier apostille system has not been adopted (e.g.: Canada, China).
The goal of any international document authentication procedure is to solve a simple problem: how can judicial and civil officials reliably verify the authenticity of a document that was issued abroad?
Legalization attempts to solve this problem by creating a chain of authentications, each by a progressively higher government authority so as to ultimately narrow the point of contact between countries to a single designated "foreign affairs" official. Therefore, by authenticating the seal and signature of this final official a foreign country can authenticate the entire chain of verifications back to the entity responsible for issuing the original document without scrutinizing each "link" individually.
What are some of the most popular countries that we get request for "legalization of documents"?
- UAE (United Arab Emirates)
- Saudi Arabia
How are corporate documents "legalized"?
The legalization of documents of a company formed in any state for presentation to a foreign country that does not participate in the Hague Convention* is usually a four (4) step process.
- Order the document from the Secretary of State if it has been filed with the Division of Corporations, otherwise, obtain a Notarized copy.
- Obtain the Authentication of the Secretary of State.
- Obtain the Authentication of the US Department of State.
- Forward the documents to the foreign embassy of the desired country for legalization.
How much does legalization cost?
Costs vary depending upon the country and desired turnaround time, number of documents and copies. Other costs include drop off and pick up fees to the foreign consulate and any expedited fees.
DBI charges a one-time processing fee of $250 plus embassy fees.
Thank you for your interest in Legalization of Documents. We hope you have found this information valuable. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call us at 1-800-423-2993 or 302-996-5819.
*The terms of the 1961 Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents provide for legalization of a document for international legal use in all the nations that have signed the Hague Convention. See the Apostille Service section of our website for more details.
Included in all incorporating services:
- Company Name Check Verification & Availability
- Preparation & Filing of Articles of Formation
- Same Business Day Processing
- Registered Agent (1st Year FREE)
- Email Reminders & Alerts
- Lifetime Customer Support
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