Notarization is the process where a Notary Public signs his signature and affixes his individual seal on a document after witnessing signatures or authenticating documents.
Some documents which have been notarized by a Notary Public are required by the countries or territories where the documents will be used (and these would normally be signatory countries or territories to the Hague Apostille Convention) to be further authenticated by apostille to verify the identity, signature and seal of the Notary Public. The High Court of the Hong Kong SAR is responsible for issuing apostilles. Getting an apostille is straightforward and it normally takes 2 days for the court to issue an apostille.
On the other hand, for non-Hague Apostille Convention countries or territories, documents which have been notarized by a Notary Public will need to be legalized by the embassy of the relevant country or territorory in Hong Kong before they can be used in that country or territory.
Whilst getting a document apostilled is straightforward, it is more complicated to get documents legalized properly by an embassy. The reason is because unlike apostille which is administered by the Hong Kong SAR High Court, the requirements for legalization for each embassy is different including whether a notarial certificate must be used, whether documents must be separately notarized beforehand or can be grouped under the same notarial certificate, whether a certified copy of a Hong Kong SAR government document must be obtained and used, the contents of authorization letters and how they should be signed, whether pre-approval of documents should be obtained to avoid rejection at a later stage, what specific and standard wordings should be added to documents to avoid rejection, what supporting document should be submitted and the list goes on.
We therefore prefer to handle the whole process from notarization to apostille (if necessary) to legalization to avoid the document from being rejected by the embassy because of the way it was notarized in the first place.
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* The above contents are for reference only and shall not constitute legal advice to anyone. We shall not be held liable to anyone for any loss and/or damage incurred as a result of that person’s reliance on the above contents.