Any document issued in the USA must be apostilled or legalized when it is going to be used in a foreign country.
It is important to know where the document will be ultimately used.
There are two different authentications that are issued by the Secretary of State the document could be certified or apostilled.
The United States of America is a member country of the Hague Convention “Abolishing the Requirement of Consular Legalization for Foreign Public Documents of 1961” Under this Convention, member countries agree to facilitate the exchange and verification of documents, an apostille certification will be required for all member countries of the Hague convention.
If country where the document will be used IS also be a member of the Hague Convention in order for this process to be used, then the document will be certified by apostille by the Secretary of State of the issuing State.
If the destination country in which the document will be used IS NOT a member of the Hague Convention, then the document will be certified the issuing Secretary of State
In order for the foreign country to accept the document as a valid USA document, proof must be made that the signatures and the document are legitimate. This is the purpose of the authentication process.
So one of the most important things is to know if the country where the document will be used is a member of the Hague convention or not this determines the type of certificate required.
Since a foreign country does not know all the types of signatures and documents used in the USA, procedures have been established to prove the authenticity of the document, which is the purpose of the apostille process.
The document can be a Power of Attorney giving someone the “power” to represent an individual or company. It can be documents required work overseas, such as police background checks transcripts diplomas.
Steps of the legalization process:
At each step of the process, a new signature added to the “chain of signatures” presiding. Each of the officials is verifying that the previous signature from A to B to C
For example, an affidavit signed by a person in New York in front of a Notary Public after the person proves to the Notary Public who he is.
The Notary Public’s signature is then authenticated by the New York County Clerk and finally by the New York Secretary of State isses the apostille
In the case of an embassy legalization:
The New York Secretary of State’s signature is verified by the US Department of State, who recognizes the New York Secretary of State’s signature. The US Department of State’s signature is then verified by the Embassy of the destination county in Washington DC. That Embassy recognizes the US Secretary of State’s signature.
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