All you need to know about how to legalize your documentation

2022-06-09 16:50
For foreigners who live and work abroad, we often need to obtain international authentication/apostille so that the documents from our home country can be used in another country.

There are various terms used to refer to the process of legalising a document from one country in order to be recognised in another country. You may have been asked for your document to be notarised, authenticated, legalised, attested or issued with the apostille.
This can be confusing as different authorities use different terms that, more often than not, refer to the same process. We are frequently asked what the difference is between legalisation and the apostille.

What is an Apostille?
In order for a document from one country to be legally recognised in another country, the document will usually need to be legalised in some way. This will usually involve some form of certification from the country the document originates that is recognisable in the country the document will be used in.
The apostille. is a widely recognised means to achieve this. Quite simply, the apostille is a form of certification issued in one country that is recognised in any other country that is also part of the Apostille Convention.
In the UK, the apostille is issued by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office which is also known as the legalisation office. This is often one of the main causes of confusion. However, if you intend to present your UK document in a country that is part of the Apostille Convention the terms apostille and legalisation refer to the exact same process. The document will be legalised via the issuance of the apostille certificate.
We can legalise all UK documents with the apostille certificate.

What is Legalisation?
For the most part, the term legalisation refers to a document being issued with the correct stamps or certificates in order to be recognised in another country. As above, this will refer to a document being issued with an apostille when the document is being used in a country party to the apostille convention.
However, when documents are being used in countries that are not part of the apostille convention, further legalisation steps may be required. In this instance, documents would also require legalisation from the respective embassy. As an example, a UK birth certificate for use in the UAE would need to be legalised via the apostille and also by being stamped by the embassy. The stamps that embassies issue to documents are commonly referred to as attestation.
In many cases, we can also assist with the embassy attestation for UK documents where appropriate.

Among the most frequently asked questions, we choose some representative  to see if you can get reference from them.

Question 1: I need to obtain legalization my non-criminal background check from the U.S.A., but I have heard that it will take minimum 6 weeks or even longer. How can I get it faster?

F&P: there are a number of ways to get a non-criminal record legalized. Obtain a FBI record is one of the ways, and in Chengdu, there is a fingerprint processing center that will send your fingerprint card to FBI to run your background check. However, this is not advisable as it will add the days that are needed. A more convenient way is to hire an agent from the U.S. who also is a licensed notary in your home state. He/she can then submit your background check directly to the Secretary of State where you have the residency. This will shorten the processing time by minimum 4-5 days. In addition, most states have online background check option.

Question 2:   I am from Florida, USA and I once had a small violation when I was 22 years old. However, I heard that the work visa application process has zeero tolerance on any records. What should I do? 

F&P: In this situation, we recommend you to check on the state secretary’s website and see if your state has the option to only request background screening for employment purpose and if yes, see what your state law is regarding the time limitation. Certain states will only go as far as ten years back for employment checks and certain states do not show minor violations on work related background checks.

Question 3: I am from the U.K., but am currently living in China. What can I do to get my background check?

F&P: You can order it from the Disclosing and Barring Service (DBS) to obtain a full original certificate. This ccertificate can be then sent to a family or friend who is in the U.K can help you to get the document legalized from the Chinese embassy. However, while you are ordering it from the DBS, you will need to put down your address. Make sure that you can also show proof of address. If you put down an address in China, the best way is to put down the address that you used to open a chinese bank account as a statement letter from your bank is an acceptable form of proof of address for DBS. Currently processing time for obtaining this in the U.K. is around 4weeks.  

Question 4: I am from Russia and currently it is nearly impossible to get my degree legalized from the Chinese embassy in China. What can I do?

The local government in China accepts degree authentication done by a accedited authentication service company. You will need to have your degree (in your native language), proof of current vaid visa in China, and transcript of your study. All of which will be used for the service company to confirm your study and therefore, issue a certification of degree authentication. The processing time can be between a few days or a week, depending on the response time of your university.