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Tips and Common Mistakes of Notarization, Authentication, and Legalization

Updated: Mar 24, 2022


1. Before getting the notarization and authentication, be sure to check the document requirements with the users and receiving authorities in the country where the document is used and confirm how many copies of the documents are needed and whether the content of the documents meets the requirements.

2. If you need multiple copies of a document, then a corresponding number of copies shall be prepared or obtained at the very first step (ie, notarization by a notary, or obtaining the original document from a competent authority). It is difficult (almost impossible) to make more copies in the subsequent process.

3. The document content and procedures must be true, accurate, complete and legal. A document containing two or more pages must be bound properly and securely, with sealing wax or paging seal/embossed seal to ensure the integrity of the document. The Embassy will NOT authenticate a document if it is found illegitimate, or in any way forged, counterfeited, fraudulent, or altered.

4. A document that has been certified by the notary public, the Secretary of State, the U.S. Department of State, or the Embassy shall not be willfully bound, unbound or altered. An applicant is solely responsible for all consequences and legal responsibilities arising from his or her unauthorized binding, unbinding or altering of the document.

5. A single status affidavit used for marriage registration in China is valid for only 6 months from the date of issuance. Documents for use in China for adoption affairs, such as statement of marriage, health status, proof of finance, income, no criminal record, can only be authenticated if the period between the notarized date and the adoption registration date (excluding the processing time taken by China Center for Adoption Affairs) does not exceed 6 months. If it has been issued for 6 months, the embassy will not authenticate the document, the applicant needs to obtain a new one.

Common Mistakes:

Consular certification strictly complies with legal requirements. If the applicant is careless when preparing the documents, it is easy to make unqualified documents, resulting in the documents being rejected. The common reasons for the rejection of certification are listed below, hoping to help applicants effectively avoid mistakes and improve efficiency.

1. Incomplete contents cause rejection

"Power of Attorney" and "Affidaivait" generally have a fixed format. Taking the "Power of Attorney" as an example, the "Power of Attorney" should contain the following basic elements: the information of the principal and the attorney-in-fact, the reason for the entrustment, the matter, the specific power, the duration of the entrustment and signatures. It must be particularly pointed out that the duration should not be too long, generally not exceeding 5 years. Beginning in 2018, the Chinese embassy requires a clear deadline for entrustment, and will no longer accept the description of "entrustment period: until the above-mentioned entrustment matters are completed".

Lack of the above elements may cause rejection.

2. Documents are obviously typoed, scribbled, or altered without permission cause rejection

In order to ensure the authenticity of the documents, documents that have obvious typos, scribbles, or unauthorized alterations will be rejected. It is recommended that you print the document on your computer, do not write by hand, and check it several times after writing. The signature must be written by yourself.

3. No notarial certificate and improper notarial certificates cause rejection

We found the notarized documents provided by some of our clients only signed and stamped by a notary, and there is no notarial certificate. Improper notarial certificates of some notarized documents cause the documents to have no legal effect and cannot be used normally, or cause the return\rejection of the application of apostille, authentication, and legalization. It is recommended that you tell the notary the purpose of the document and the destination country before the notarization so that the notary can put a proper notarial certificate.

4. Failure to reflect the integrity of the instrument cause rejection

If the documents with sealing wax or paging seal/embossed seal are unbound or altered, they may be rejected.

Please note: Do not open the staples and rebind the document when you'd like to make a copy of it.

5. Complicated documents cause rejection

In general, the embassy does not like long and complicated documents, documents with many attachments, especially attachments that are not really necessary. One such example is attaching passport copies in a power of attorney document. When preparing your document, it is better to keep it simple.


American Notary Service Center Inc. provides fair, fast, confidential, and professional document notarization and certification services for our clients. We also provide various assistance services to small businesses led by socially and economically disadvantaged groups. Our service helps small businesses obtain federal government contracts, gain a foothold in the market, and boost their sales. For more information, please visit our website at, and contact us by calling 202-599-0777 or by email at


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