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. 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?
The apostille, is a widely recognised means to achieve international docementation legalization. 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 Hague Apostille Convention.
What is Legalisation?
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.
As China is not a part of the Hague Convention, documents that are apostilled will not be usable in China. So if you have been asked to provide legalization on a document, it requires the procedure of International Legalization, with the last stop at the Chinese Embassy/Consulate legalization in your home country.
Among the most frequently asked questions, we choose some representatives to see if you can get references from them.
Q1: I need to obtain legalization of 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.
Q2: 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 zero 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.
Q3: 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 certificate can be then sent to a family or friend who is in the U.K that 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 background check in the U.K. is around 4weeks.
Q4: 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?
F&P: 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. The processing time can be between a few days or a week, depending on the response time of your university.