Document Attestation - The Definitive Guide (2021)

This guide contains all you need to know to attest your documents in Canada, including how to:

  • Determine if you need an attestation
  • Prepare your documents, and the steps to follow

 

Go directly to Chapter 4 if you want to quickly know the 3 easy steps to attest your Canadian documents.

Attestation Guide

Table of Contents

What is document attestation?

Why do I need to attest my document?

What is the attestation equivalent in Canada?

The 3 easy steps on how you can get an attestation in Canada

Is attestation different from apostille, legalization and authentication?

How do I know if I need an attestation?

Eligible Documents

How long is an attestation valid for?

How can I speed up the attestation process in Canada

Your Attestation Checklist

CHAPTER 1

What is document attestation?

An attestation is a stamp and signature that certifies that the document is real and recognized.

As a quick overview of the process – to attest your document, both the country that issued it and the foreign country where you will use your document, need to see it and stamp it.

Document attestation is frequently a requirement to follow when you want to use your documents abroad.

The term ‘attestation’ is not used by all countries though. It’s more commonly used in the UAE and other countries in the Middle East and South Asia.

The process of document attestation in Canada is officially known as document authentication and legalization.

Authentication and legalization also prepare your document for use abroad.

As we’ll see in the coming chapters, the whole process can be a bit cumbersome – it can involve a translator, a notary, government departments and embassies.

But read on: we’ll also share a faster and more efficient way to get your documents, including a degree attestation in Canada, ready for use abroad!

Attestation Guide
Attestation Guide

Looking for a Faster Attestation?

We offer fast, easy document authentication and legalization at a great price. Learn More

CHAPTER 2

Why do I need to attest my document?

When you move to another country – for work, education or some other reason – you need to prove to the government or institutions of that country that your documents are genuine and legal.

Document attestation means that you’re legalizing your document, which in turn confirms your credentials.

It’s a necessary step in situations such as applying for a job or university admission.

Attestation Guide

CHAPTER 3

How can I attest documents in Canada?

As we said earlier, the process of attestation in Canada is called document authentication and legalization.

We’ll explain this process so you’ll have a better understanding of what is required.

Authentication and legalization is not only used by Canada – other countries that are not parties to the Hague Apostille Convention (which we’ll go into later on), follow this process.

But – first things first:

What is Authentication?

Authentication is a stamp that confirms that the signature or seal in your documents is genuine, valid, and recognized.

Authentication of documents In Canada is done by Global Affairs Canada. They verify the signature on your document and issue a certificate of authentication.

This prepares your document for the next step in the process: legalization.

What does legalizing a document in Canada mean?

Just like an attestation, a legalization is a stamp that confirms the document’s validity, but this time it’s done by the country where you intend to use the document, rather than the country that issued the document.

The embassy or consulate of the foreign country where you intend to use your document legalizes your document, clearing it for use there.

With these two terms explained, next up is a walk-through of the entire Canadian attestation process – or more accurately – the Canadian authentication and legalization process.

Attestation Guide

CHAPTER 4

The 3 easy steps on how you can get an attestation in Canada

You must follow three steps to get your Canadian documents ready to use abroad:

Step 1: Prepare your documents. This may require two other steps – a notarization and a translation.

Step 2: Get your documents authenticated. This is done by Global Affairs Canada.

Step 3: Get your document legalized. This is done by the embassy or consulate of the country where you will use your document.

Let’s go into each step in more detail.

Attestation Guide

STEP 1: Preparing Your Document

In some instances, Global Affairs Canada requires that the document is translated and notarized before you submit it to them.

Let’s explain translation and notarization.

Translating your documents​

You must translate your document if all or part of it is written in a language other than English or French (in the case of Canada).

But – not just anyone can do a translation.

Global Affairs Canada only accepts certified and notarized translations for authentication purposes. So you cannot translate the document yourself or get a friend to do it (unless that friend is a certified translator, of course).

A certified translation is a translation completed by a translator who has been granted the title of “certified translator” by Canadian provincial regulatory bodies.

Certified translations include the translator’s declaration, signature, and seal. The translator accepts responsibility for the translation’s accuracy – but not the document’s original content.

If you’re looking for a certified translator, the Canadian Translators, Terminologists, and Interpreters Council provides a useful directory of provincial associations of translators. You can use this directory to find a certified translator close to you.

Once the translation is done, it has to be notarized. A notary public signs and places an official seal on the document. Unlike the translator, the notary does not check the accuracy of the translation. The notary simply confirms the identity of the translator.

So, by this stage, your document is in the language required by Global Affairs Canada for authentication. However, you may also need to translate your document before you can get it legalized by the embassy or consulate.

While for authentication purposes, your document must be in either English or French, some embassies require a translation to legalize a document that is not in that country’s official language.

There isn’t a set language for this – it depends on the country you’re using your documents in. It’s best to contact the embassy to learn more about their requirements.

Or, you can opt for a more straightforward way and outsource the entire process. We’ll get to this later.

How to notarize your documents in Canada​

The right language is not the only prerequisite for authentication. Even if your document is already in English or French, you must still prepare it for authentication.

This is called notarization and, depending on the nature of your document, you may need to notarize your document before Global Affairs Canada can accept it.

To notarize your document in Canada:

  1. A Notary Public witnesses the signing of the document and verifies the identity of the persons involved.
  2. The Notary Public then places their signature and stamp on the document.

We know that’s quite the task but, with this step completed, your document is now ready for authentication!

STEP 2: Authenticating your document

As we’ve already discussed, an authentication confirms that the signature or seal in your documents is genuine, valid, and recognized.

To authenticate your document, you must send it to Global Affairs Canada. Your document must be an original document with a recognized signature and, if applicable, a seal.

Once at their end, Global Affairs Canada studies the document to confirm that the signature or seal on your document is genuine. If all’s well, they issue a certificate of authenticity.

Next up is the final step – legalization.

STEP 3: Document legalization or attestation

You must be thinking – now what?
And you’re right – document authentication and legalization is quite a lengthy process.

But legalization is the final step and then you can successfully use your documents abroad.

Legalization is done by the embassy or consulate of the country where you will be using your documents. Some countries refer to this step as document attestation.

You can find the embassy or consulate you need in Global Affairs Canada’s list of foreign representations. You can check this list for contact information of the embassy or consulate of the country where you will be using your documents.

Once you’ve been in touch with the embassy or consulate and asked about language requirements for your document, you can submit it to them.

They will review it and issue a legalization (or attestation) stamp that confirms that the document is valid in their country.

Congratulations! You can now use your document abroad.

Additional Resource: View Your Attestation Checklist

CHAPTER 5

Is attestation different from apostille, legalization and authentication?

Yes!

It’s true that all of these terms refer to processes where documents issued in one country are prepared for use in another.

But, they’re not the same.

As we’ve seen, countries in the Middle East and South Asia refer to the process of preparing your documents for use abroad as attestation.

Just like the Canadian authentication and legalization process, an attestation is a step in a longer process. An attestation confirms that the document is genuine.

An apostille, on the other hand, is a certificate issued and recognized in countries that have signed The Hague Apostille Convention. It’s a simpler process compared to a legalization as it only requires a single Apostille stamp. However, not all states are party to this Convention: Canada isn’t.

This means that it is not possible to obtain an apostille in Canada (but you can obtain an equivalent). You can view a full list of countries that issue and recognize apostilles.

And then there’s authentication and legalization. As we’ve seen in an earlier chapter, authentication is a process which determines if the signature, stamp or seal on a document is authentic.

In other words, authentication validates the document’s authority. Once the document is authenticated, it’s then legalized by the country where it will be used.

So, to summarize:

While an apostille only requires a certificate issued by the state in which the document was created, legalizations and attestations involve a longer process where authentication in the document’s country of origin and a legalization or attestation by the country where it will be used are needed.

You must be thinking – why should I be aware of these differences?

You should, because:

  1. These processes are not interchangeable
  2. Making the wrong choice can result in the foreign country rejecting your document
  3. Following the wrong process is time-consuming and expensive

 

Now that we’ve cleared that up, here’s a quick overview of what each of these is:

Apostille Authentication & Legalization​ Attestation​
Issued in countries that have signed the Hague Apostille Convention
Applicable in countries that have not signed the Hague Apostille Convention.
Issued in countries that have signed the Hague Apostille Convention
Issued in countries that have signed the Hague Apostille Convention

Applicable in countries that have not signed the Hague Apostille Convention. Requires TWO stamps:

  1. Global Affair determines if a signature or seal is authentic
  2. The embassy or consulate of the country where the document will be used, confirms the document’s validity
Issued in countries that have signed the Hague Apostille Convention
Validates the document for use in another country signatory to the Hague Apostille Convention
Issued in countries that have signed the Hague Apostille Convention
Validates the document for use in countries that ask for attestations, including: UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia
Canada does not issue an apostille stamp
Global Affairs Canada authenticates documents and each embassy legalize them
Global Affairs Canada authenticates documents and each embassy attest them
Attestation Guide
Photo Credit: https://assets.hcch.net/docs/6dd54368-bebd-4b10-a078-0a92e5bca40a.pdf
Attestation Guide
Photo Credit: https://assets.hcch.net/docs/6dd54368-bebd-4b10-a078-0a92e5bca40a.pdf
Attestation Guide
Attestation Guide

Looking for a Faster Apostille?

We offer fast, easy document authentication and legalization at a great price. Learn More

CHAPTER 6

How do I know if I need an attestation?

If you intend to use your public document abroad, chances are you need an attestation.

Public documents include birth certificates, judgments, patents, and notarial attestations of signatures. That said, employers and foreign universities also ask for the degree attestation.

Properly certified documents are often a primary requirement to follow through on important processes abroad, such as applying for a job or when trying to pursue higher education.

You must also check if it is indeed an attestation you need – or perhaps an apostille or legalization. The criteria below will help you determine which process to follow for your documents:

Example 1 - When do I need an Apostille?

Attestation Guide

1. The country where you will use your document asks for an attestation, including:

  • UAE
  • Kuwait
  • Qatar
  • Oman
  • Saudi Arabia

2. Your document is a:

  • Birth, marriage, or death certificate
  • Divorce contract
  • Degree certificate
  • Commercial document, including company registration, memorandum and articles of association, board resolution, etc.
  • Police clearance report
  • Medical report
  • Power of Attorney

Example 2: When do I need an Authentication and Legalization stamp?

Attestation Guide
  1. Your document was issued – or you will be using your document – in a country that is not party to the Hague Convention
  2. The embassy or consulate of the country where you will be using your document confirmed that you need a legalization.
  3. Your document is an original document with a signature recognized by the issuing country.
  4. Your document is a:
    • Birth, marriage, or death certificate
    • Divorce certificate
    • Change of name certificate
    • Diploma, degree, or transcript
    • Non-impediment to marriage certificate or a statement in-lieu of a certificate of non-impediment to marriage abroad
    • Power of Attorney
    • Criminal record check certificate
    • Fingerprints
    • Citizenship and immigration documents
    • Corporate documents
    • Commercial invoices
    • Certificate of Origin
    • Certificate of Pharmaceutical Product Medical Report

When do I need an Apostille?

Attestation Guide

1. A state that is party to the Hague Convention issued your document (check this list here)

2. You will use this document in a country that is also party to the Hague Convention

3. Neither country has submitted objections to the others’ accession to the Convention. All territories of both countries recognize apostilles.

4. Your document is a public document for example:

  • Birth, marriage, or death certificate
  • A document issued by an authority or an official connected with a court, tribunal, or commission
  • Extracts from commercial registers and other registers
  • Patents
  • Notarial acts and notarial acknowledgments of signatures
  • School, university, and other academic diplomas issued by public institutions

 

A country can apostille your document if it meets these criteria. They cannot apostille it if:

  • Diplomatic or consular agents issued your document
  • It’s an administrative document related to commercial or customs operations

 

As we’ve noted earlier, making the wrong choice when it comes to apostille, authentication, legalization, and attestation can lead to your document being rejected, as well as unnecessary expenses and delays.

CHAPTER 7

Is my document eligible for a Canadian attestation

Attestation Guide

We’ve already clarified that Canada doesn’t issue attestations. But you can get your documents authenticated by Canada and then attested by the embassy or consulate of the country that is asking for the attestation.

You should be aware that Global Affairs Canada has stringent requirements for the documents it authenticates. They will not authenticate your document if:

  • It’s not an original document
  • It doesn’t contain an original signature or seal
  • Is a plain photocopy
  • All or part of your document is written in a language other than French or English
  • The seal is unknown to Global Affairs Canada or they don’t have the signature on file
  • It’s a religious document, such as a baptism certificate, religious marriage certificate, etc.
  • It has been issued by an unrecognized financial institution
  • Is glued, laminated, or covered with something that makes it difficult to put a stamp on.
  • The content of the document is misleading
  • The document is fraudulent or illegal

CHAPTER 8

How long is an attestation valid for?

Attestations do not expire. However, just like with legalizations, each state has the authority to ask for a new attestation at its own discretion. As a rule though, if your document doesn’t contain a set duration for its validity, then the attestation does not expire.

Similarly, apostilles don’t expire, either. However, this excludes time-sensitive documents, such as criminal record checks.

CHAPTER 9

How can I speed up the attestation process in Canada

Attestation Guide

Good question.

Following such a time-consuming process may not always be possible. Some documents may be required urgently or you may simply not have the time to find a certified translator, a notary, and to chase government departments and embassies.

The pandemic hasn’t made any of this easier either.

But there is an easier route to getting your Canadian document properly attested and ready for use abroad.

Document Authentication Canada (DAC) takes on this process on your behalf – we prepare your documents, submit them to Global Affairs Canada and the embassy or consulate, and make sure they’re all set for acceptance in the foreign country.

Our expert team is continuously up to date with the latest compliance requirements, ensuring that no mistakes are made. You can also track the progress made through our document tracker.

We basically help you cut out the endless Google searches, countless emails, and the reminder calls to government entities and embassies. We save you time, money, and effort so you can focus on the things that matter.

Our Canada attestation process is fast, accurate, and safe!

CHAPTER 10

Your Attestation Checklist

The attestation process in Canada can be overwhelming, so we’ve created a handy checklist to help you navigate it:
Attestation Guide
Attestation Guide

IN CONCLUSION

We’ve gone over all you need to know about getting your Canada apostille, and more.

We’ve determined that when it comes to preparing your documents for use abroad, there are different processes. And that if you mistake one process for another, countries will reject your documents – that’s an important takeaway.

You should also know that there are experts ready to help you prepare your documents. Getting a document apostilled or legalized shouldn’t be stressful – we’ll see to everything. Our apostille service is fast, easy, and secure.

Get in touch with our team on 1-855-700-5840 to request a quote and a free document review!

Attestation Guide

About The Author

Nidhal Abu, Director of Operations

Nidhal is an expert in the international community in Ottawa and is currently completing his paralegal license. He manages all client relationships and oversees DAC’s daily operations.