Whether you are a newbie or a seasoned importer/exporter, you may sometimes face a need to apostille or legalize certain import/export documents because of either contractual requirements or instructions from your international clients. You may have heard about consular invoices that need to be "legalized" or federal certificates of free sale that need to be "apostilled".
Consular invoices are a special form of commercial invoices still required by some countries. They need to contain certain information that foreign customs will use to assess duties. The consular invoices must be "legalized" by the embassy/consulate/mission of the country to which you are shipping.
As for certificates of free sale, these documents are common with regard to food, beverages, pharmaceuticals and medical devices. By requiring such certificate of free sale, foreign clients seek confirmation that the products are in compliance with the U.S. Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act (i.e., can be sold in the States). The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has procedures for issuing a Certificate for Products for Export certifying that the product is registered with the FDA in the United States and is in compliance with U.S. law. Because FDA is federal agency, such certificates of free sale often need to be either apostilled or authenticated at the U.S. Department of State.
Canada has similar procedures for their medical and pharmaceutical documents such as Certificates of Pharmaceutical Product from Health Products and Food Branch Inspectorate (HPFBI).
Depending on every individual country, apostilled or legalized packing lists, commercial invoices, certificates of origin, etc. may also be required. You are advised to contact your local chamber of commerce, freight forwarder or customs broker to find out more information about requirements. You can also determine country-specific document requirements by going to www.export.gov.
We will be very happy to assist you with our U.S. Department of State apostille/authentication and consular legalization services in Washington, DC.
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