Pretty much every week, one of my law firm’s international lawyers gets an email or a phone call from someone (often a fellow lawyer) seeking assistance with making a document legal for some sort of use somewhere in the world. Maybe 40 percent of the time, the request relates to a need to authenticate an official Chinese document or government record so it can be used in a court or government filing or transaction. Maybe another 40 percent of the time, it is essentially the opposite: the person needs a domestic document authenticated so it will work for a Chinese court or a Chinese government filing or China transaction.
Much of the time, the party reaching out to us expects a quick answer that will allow them to do what they need to do, at little to no cost. Pretty much without exception, we have to burst that bubble by explaining how these things are quite complicated and time consuming and, hence, not cheap at all.
What is actually required varies in pretty much every instance, depending on the exact reason the authentication is needed and if we provide them with legal counsel we will need to do the following:
- Research exactly what will be required. This typically involves reviewing the law and talking with the appropriate government official.
- We usually also must secure a notary in a specific city to notarize a document and many times we also must deal with the appropriate Secretary of State (or comparable) for an apostille or comparable and with the appropriate consulate or embassy or court for the consularization or legalization. Accomplishing these things can be incredibly time consuming as they often involve multiple letters and phone calls, and even occasionally flights when things get delayed.
- Translations are also often required.
Just saying. . . .