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.
How to Use Our Services
We will be very happy to assist you with our U.S. Department of State apostille/authentication and consular legalization services in Washington, DC.
It is super-easy to use our services if you follow the below suggested algorithm of actions:
- You contact us preferably by email explaining your document situation. If it is urgent, you can call us 24/7. Please provide as many details as possible about your documents but the key information we usually need is: 1) who issued them, 2) where you intend to use them, 3) how many you have, 4) are they originals or notarized copies, 5) how fast you need them back and 6) the destination they need to be sent to. If your shipment destination (after processing) is neither in the USA nor in Canada, then we would need the exact address including postal code so that we can give you exact courier quote.
- We will reply by email as well as fast as we can with our comments, suggestions, questions and/or confirmation with preliminary or final quote.
- You can then write us back with additional questions, comments or concerns. Or you may just be satisfied and ready to send your documents.
- At this stage we agree on the course of action and our services. You would make the payment, ship the documents and email us the tracking # so that we can start tracking your inbound shipment and provide you interim updates.
- We will complete your service request and ship the documents back to your agreed destination either in your attached prepaid envelope with filled out air waybill or in our envelope (but we would have to charge you extra for this service). If you prefer, we can scan the completed documents and email them to you prior outbound shipment so you would know that we did indeed do everything as previously discussed.
- After shipment is sent, we will email you the tracking # so that you can monitor the arrival.
We hope to hear from you soon!