A Long Complex Assignment
The initial request
“I need to send my NY law degree and NY marriage certificate to China. So far I have spoken to a dozen notaries in New York City and none of them are willing to work with me. Are you?” Yes, I know how to complete your project, but it will take some effort on your part. I will tell you what you need to do, and you must be willing to follow my instructions to the letter. Your one sentence specification sounds simple, but processing it is not, nor will it be inexpensive. Do you agree?
The Law Degree
NY is very strict about processing educational documents (this assignment would have an English Translation (from Latin) and a transcript of grades. The client must make an appointment for me to meet with the Registrar of the college. I request proper wording to be typed on school letterhead stationery, to be signed by the Registrar; and notarized by me. I also request that the raised seal of the school be embossed onto both the cover letter, and each page that follows. The cover letter in addition to specific NY wording, lists in detail the attachments. The cover letter, properly notarized by me (of course including my embossing) is put aside pending the common path it will follow with the marriage certificate.
The Marriage Certificate
For me to pick up a marriage certificate in NYC I need a very short notarized POA from one party to the marriage. Also, copies of my client ID and my ID must be submitted. An application form must be completed by the client and signed. As only the originals can be submitted, these documents must be sent to me; preferably via FedEx. At the marriage office I request that the hand written signature of the NY City Clerk be included on the Certified Copy.
The law degree has my notarization; the marriage certificate has the signature of the City Clerk. Both signatures are registered with the state of NY. Both documents now travel to the validation section which confirms the validity of each signature; adding their approval form. With the approval form on each, it’s off to the Apostille office. A cover letter is prepared by me, requesting the appropriate “Apostille”. They do not attach an Apostille. Rather, as the intended country of use is China they add (via a non removable grommet) a “Certified”. Most other countries receive an Apostille.
On to China Consulate
China requires a submission form and a copy of my ID. They also require a very complete copy of each document. Care must be taken to not miss any part of the document in the photocopy. When submitted they do a page by page compare for completeness. They offer various processing speeds, with related fees. Basic service is drop off and return in a few days for pickup.
While waiting for China
Now is when I request the shipping address to prepare a FedEx label to ship the completed documents. As they are going to Chile, for later use in China – I request the exact address including postal code and phone number at the ship to destination. I prepare the airbill and send a screen shot to my client for approval. I inform them that I cannot ship without their confirmation that the airbill is absolutely perfect.
Pickup from China and ship
Back to the China Consulate to pick up the documents, now containing a “sticker” atop the Apostille. That is there Legalization “stamp”. The completed documents go into the FedEx envelope with a copy of the airbill inside (in case the outside gets torn off) – and 3 copies (for international shipments) of the airbill in the outside pouch. When tendering to FedEx a drop off receipt is requested. A quick photo via cell camera sends the drop off image to my client. Done.
If you are not student or staff – you must be pre-approved to enter the grounds of an educational institution. I had requested the Registrar to inform lobby security of my appointment. Here in NYC governmental offices have metal detectors similar to airport screening. I walk in with nothing in my pockets, everything in a clear zip lock bag, including my keys and wallet. That bag is put thru the metal detector, as I walk thru with nary a beep.
Consider the Waits
It takes time for the Registrar to prepare a letter to be acceptable to the validation section. All of the municipal offices have long slow moving lines. Always. I play chess with my cell phone, many carry a book. Most of the time in the total project is waiting time; and travel time – there is no way around it.
Be Prepared to Pay
There is no commonality as to how the various entities accept payment. The most extreme is the Consulate of Brazil which only accepts US Postal money orders – nothing else! On this project I had to pay validation section with cash, the Apostille section with a check, and China with a credit card!
Be careful about time commitments. One time I went to China, but they were closed for two days due to a national holiday – surprise to me! At the Apostille section it’s possible to wait for hours, especially if those in line ahead of you submit stacks. Go early to China, stand outside in the rain till they open officially. Lots of travel, lots of waiting, many forms to have “just right”. It really hurts when the client submits (to me) inaccurate information such as the marriage date; ouch! When it’s all done, and perfect – sending the client a PDF of the scan of everything will earn you a very positive review – IF you remember to send them the link to submit your review!
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