How To Authenticate Documents
What is an authenticated document? How do I Authenticate Documents?
One of the requirements to apply for a Chinese Z-visa is for you to authenticate documents such as your diploma and background check. A lot of people have been asking: What is an authenticated document? How do I authenticate documents to apply for a Chinese Z-visa? We will explore this subject in detail below.
An authenticated document is essentially a document that has been verified by an official as being issued from a credible source, such as a university or the FBI, to an individual and is deemed legal for use internationally. Any country that is not a member of the Hague Convention will most likely require you to authenticate documents (see below “What is an Apostille” for more info.) This requires several steps and some time to achieve. Ultimately the process requires a government official from the country you intend to use the documents in to do some background research which proves that the degree is valid and was rightfully issued by the university. For Chinese Z-visa seeking individuals the Chinese Consulate is the ultimate authority that will authenticate your documents.
How To Authenticate Documents: The Authentication Process
First Step: Notarizing Your Documents
To begin the authentication process you will need to have your original, or previously notarized copy of the document on hand. You need to get notarized copies of your original documents. NEVER GIVE AWAY YOUR ORIGINALS. For notarized copies of documents you must have a notary public notarize your document and have two copy verifying statements. The first statement signifies that the notary certifies the copy is of the original. The second states that you have also verified the authenticity of the copy and signed the statement in witness of the notary public. You can ask your notary public about these statements. You can find a local notary public here. Additionally many FedEx, UPS and USPS stores offer basic notary services. The next step will be getting your documents apostilled.
What is an Apostille?
In 1961 the Apostille Treaty was signed into effect that normalized the methods of certifying legal documents for use in all signatory member states. Signatory member states/ countries can all utilize apostilled documents in other member states as legal documents. The apostille itself is administered by a competent authority, such as a state’s Office of Secretary of State. A comprehensive list of states that have signed the Apostille Treaty can be found here. China is not on this list, which means a document that is only apostilled is not deemed a legal document for international use in China.
How to Apostille a Document
Apostilling a document is rather easy, but it may take some time. After you have notarized the documents you wish to have apostilled, you must send them to the Office of the Secretary of State from which the documents were issued. You can find the contact info for your Secretary of State here. You will normally have to include the following in your document packet: The original and notarized copies of the documents, a cover letter explaining which documents need to be apostilled, and the purpose of these documents, a prepaid return envelope and a check written out to the appropriate person. You should expect this step to take about two weeks including mailing time, and processing time. Once you receive your apostilled documents, you are ready to have them authenticated. If you want to have an outside party handle the apostille, you can elect to pay the fees, and they will handle it. You can check out on service here.
The Final Step to Authenticate Documents
Now that you have your apostilled documents, you are ready to apply for the document authentication from the Chinese Embassy/ Consulate. You can either get the authentication in person, or through a courier service. For your authentication application packet you will need the following documents: One completed application for document authentication (found here), your apostilled documents and a copy of the documents, a copy of your passport information page, if you are using a courier then a copy of the courier’s passport information page, any other documents requested by the office. Once you have your complete authentication application package, submit the packets to the nearest Chinese Embassy or Consulate found here. You can also elect to have a courier service do this for you. Once everything is submitted there will be an approximate processing time of 5 business days. Collect your documents, and prepare you visa application!
Applying for Your Z-visa
For more information on the actual application for the visa itself, please check out our blog post on the New Chinese Z-visa found here: http://lookforteachers.com/blog/2017/03/new-chinese-z-visa/