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U.S. Consulate Authentication & Legalization – What You Need to Know 

Canada and the United States have the longest shared border in the world. With both countries attached at the hip, there is ample exchange between them when it comes to both personal and corporate affairs. This is especially true when it comes to personal affairs such as timeshares, rental properties, vacation properties, land ownership, and inheritance in the United States. Addressing these cross-border affairs almost always involves some sort of supporting documentation that needs to be sent from Canada to the United States. Since there are very few instances where authorities in the United States can know that a document drafted in Canada is legitimate or not, these documents will need to go through a special process that verifies their authenticity. If you have documents from the United States that need to be used in Canada, they will need to be apostilled in the United States.

U.S. Apostille but in Canada it’s Authentication Legalization – What’s The Difference?

You may have heard of this term before and might have even been instructed to get an apostille of your Canadian documents for use in the United States. However, Canada did not sign the Hague Apostille convention and uses an older version of the same process that involves two steps: the stamp from Global Affairs Canada which authenticates the document and the stamp from the embassy which makes it legal in the foreign country, hence the name authentication and legalization. The apostille and the authentication and legalization processes both exist to verify the authenticity of foreign-issued documents, and both processes are legally equivalent.  

If you have been told to get an apostille of your Canadian documents for use in the United States, what you really need is authentication and legalization. Although we cannot assist with any American documents you need to use in Canada, we are experts in Canadian documents for use in the USA and can provide an efficient service that will meet your deadline within your budget. We pioneered this industry 30 years ago and have remained the leaders since then. 

Canada U.S. Property Deed apostille authentication legalization

Grant Deed, Probate, Timeshare Documents for the United States 

If you own or co-own a property such a timeshare, vacation home, or other rental property, when you make any changes to your contract with the property owner you will likely be instructed to provide supportive documentation. In almost every case, the owner of the property, whether they are a company or individual, should be providing you with detailed instructions on which documents you will need to have processed for use in the United States. For many of these documents, you will need to sign them in front of a Canadian lawyer or notary public and have them notarized. Once they have been notarized, they can be stamped by Global Affairs Canada and then stamped by the United States Embassy in Ottawa. Once stamped by both parties, the documents will be legally valid for use in the United States.  

In all matters relating to the transfer or sale of property, it is critical to check with the requesting party that you are processing all of the necessary documentation. Instructions for cancelling timeshares can occasionally be confusing, and it can be very unclear as to which documents need to be notarized, authenticated, and legalized. Perhaps even more importantly, if you have a document with multiple pages of signatures and notarizations in the same document, you must clarify with the requesting party as to which page should be stamped by Global Affairs Canada and by the embassy, or if there are multiple pages which will need to be stamped by both parties. Some of our clients come back to us after realizing they were missing a document, or processed the incorrect document, so make sure you know which documents you need before beginning the process. You can learn more here about selling or buying property in the U.S, and what is required.

Death Certificate, Will, Affidavit for use in the United States  

Other Canadian documents that are commonly required for use in the United States are related to inheritance. These include documents such as Canadian Death Certificates, Canadian Will, and Canadian Affidavit for use in the United States. Death certificates must be obtained from the provincial vital statistics office of the province wherein the death occurred. Death certificates issued by any other party, such as the funeral home, cannot be processed. Thankfully, these certificates are quite easy to have issued and they can be ordered online. Also, they can be processed as originals and do not require notarization or any additional preparation before being stamped by Global Affairs Canada and the United States Embassy in Ottawa. Better yet, you can have the death certificate sent directly to our office to save processing time. This can be especially useful if you are outside of Canada.  

Documents such as a Canadian Will or a Canadian Affidavit that needs to be used in the United States for inheritance purposes require notarization by a Canadian lawyer or notary public. Typically this has already been done when the will was drafted, and in cases where notarization did not occur at the instance of signing, you will have to process a notarized copy of the will instead. Make sure to check with the requesting party whether a notarized copy of the will would be accepted, since there are some instances where the original must have been notarized. If your requesting party has advised they will accept a notarized copy of the will, it is a good idea to process a notarized copy in case the document is lost or damaged during the process. It is extremely rare for this to happen but it is a good precaution to take with any type of sensitive document that cannot be reissued, or is extremely difficult to have reissued.  

Trust the Experts with Validating Your Canadian Document for use in the U.S.A. 

The authentication and legalization process is not one many are familiar with, and it makes it more complicated when your requesting party tells you to get your documents apostilled, which happens a lot of you are processing documents for use in the United States. In these cases, you can simply explain to your requesting party that Canada uses an older version of the apostille, a two step process involving a stamp from Global Affairs Canada (authentication) and a stamp from the US Embassy in Ottawa (legalization). Although this process is straightforward on paper, it can be incredibly difficult in practice, especially without assistance. This is because it can take up to 45-55 business days to process your documents for use in the United States and requirements change over time. With our services, we can get you started today to save valuable time and ensure your Canadian documents meet the requirements to be ready for use in the United States.

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U.S.A. Canada Apostille Authentication Legalization Information