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Understanding document authentication: a primer on the what and why of authentication

Feb 6, 2018

Moving documentation between countries can be confusing and at times, overwhelming. If you are dealing with documents between two countries it is crucial that you understand the process needed to authenticate them. Without understanding and deploying the appropriate authentication, your documents could be considered invalid. For Canadians, or people coming into Canada, documents must be authenticated and legalized by the appropriate authorities. Because Canada is not a signatory of the Hague Convention, documents must be authenticated both by the appropriate authorities in the country of origination AND the appropriate Canadian authorities or vice-versa. Read on to learn what authentication is and how to ensure you are properly handling your documents.

What is Authentication?

Authentication is the legal process of guaranteeing the genuine nature and validity of the signature and seal of an official document. Authentication does NOT guarantee the validity of the contents of any document. Authentication will be required for any document that needs to be guaranteed by a third party authority. This process will allow other jurisdictions to recognize and allow the document to be used. The authentication and legalization must be processed in order for the document to be considered valid.

Steps to take for smooth authentication and legalization

1.) Notarization: Some documents will need to be first notarized before they can be authenticated and legalized. Contact us to see if your document needs to be notarized by a notary public to proceed through the process. Some vital statistic documents like birth, marriage and death certificates do not need to be notarized.

2.) Authentication: Once notarized (if applicable) your document will move to the authentication phase. Authentication authorities compare the signature and seal of your document against information on file. Make sure all parts of the signature seal and/or stamp of the notary are displayed clearly on the document. Submission your documents to our office for authentication will guarantee a timely authentication process.

3.) Legalization: Once your document has been authenticated, it will need to be legalized through the embassy or consulate of the destination country. An official at the embassy or consulate will confirm that the document has been appropriately prepared and will confirm the certificate of authentication. If everything is properly prepared, the consulate or embassy will issue and affix a certificate of legalization to your document.

What kind of documents need to be authenticated?

Any document that requires a third party legal recognition will need to be appropriately authenticated. Some examples of common documents that require authentication include, but are not limited to: birth, adoption and marriage certificates, school admission papers and transcripts, contracts that deal with partnerships, incorporation and fiscal matter, approval certificates for customs, power of attorney and police documents. If you have any questions regarding the need to authenticate a document, your best course of action is to contact our office for the most up to date requirements.

Legalization Service Centre has been helping people through the process of legal and timely authentication and legalization of documents leaving and coming to Canada for years. If you have questions about a document or need help completing the process, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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