What does it mean to attest a document?

Published on Tuesday, April 21, 2020

What does it mean to attest a document? In Canada, the term “document attestation” often refers to the process used to certify the authenticity of a Canadian document so that this document will be officially recognized in a foreign country. This article explains the Canadian document attestation process and points you to more information and assistance.

What does it mean to have a document attested?

The document attestation process, which in Canada is more commonly called the document authentication and legalization process, is used to verify the authenticity of Canadian documents so they will be officially recognized in another country.

Having a document attested in Canada is a three-step process. Let’s look at each of these three steps:

  1. Document Preparation – The first step is to make sure your documents meet the requirements set by Global Affairs Canada (Step 2) and the relevant embassy or consulate (Step 3). Document preparation may require notarization, translation, and preparing additional supporting documents.
  2. Document Authentication – The second step is to have your documents authenticated by Global Affairs Canada. If everything is in order with your documents, they will place a large red stamp directly on your documents, verifying the authenticity of the signatures on the documents.
  3. Document Legalization – The final step is have your documents legalized by the embassy or consulate of the destination country. The diplomatic mission will place either a stamp or sticker directly on your documents, confirming that the documents have been legalized (attested).

What is the difference between attestation and notarization?

Document attestation and document notarization are different processes. Notarization is a term used to describe the act of having a Canadian Notary Public apply their signature and seal to a document. The notarization process confirms the authenticity of the signature on the document being notarized. However, notarization by a Canadian notary will only be recognized within Canada.

If you need your Canadian documents officially recognized in a foreign country, the document notarization process is not sufficient. You will also need to get your documents attested. While the document notarization process is used to confirm the authenticity of a signature on a document within Canada, it is the document attestation process that confirms the authenticity of a signature on a Canadian document when used outside of Canada.

How do I get my documents attested?

You have the option of navigating your documents through the Canadian attestation process yourself by mail. However, it is very important that you research the procedure in advance. Not all embassies accept documents for attestation by mail. Each embassy and consulate sets its own specific requirements for how documents should be prepared and submitted. If processing your documents yourself by mail, you should expect a total processing time of four to six weeks. This is because Global Affairs Canada takes a minimum of 15 business days to process mail-in authentication requests. Then they will forward to the Embassy or Consulate in question, who will have their own processing standards.

What are Attestation Services?

In Canada, expert document attestation (authentication and legalization) services are available if you are unable to handle the process yourself, if you need your documents processed quickly, or if you simply want an expert to handle the process on your behalf. We are the leading document attestation service in Canada, processing many thousands of documents for our clients each year.

Using our document attestation services will save you several weeks of processing time. We manage all aspects of the process for you, often returning your attested documents in as little as a few days. Contact us to discuss your documents and have your questions answered. Call us toll-free at 1-888-433-1011, or send us an online request.