Legalisation is a process through which a document is recognised as having legal force. It is also sometimes called certification, attestation, notarisation, etc. However, the main point is that documents need legalisation when they will be shown to the organisations or institutions that do not recognise the power of the original issuer by default. Thus, the document has to be verified by the trusted officials and institutions.
In daily life, it means that sometimes you need to prove the power of the documents prepared in one county to the institutions of another country. For example, when you bring the documents from your country to Japan or Japanese documents to your home country (or any other country), those papers most probably will need to be legalised in the receiving country. Depending on the type of legalisation documents may be accepted internationally.
This guide will help you to familiarise yourself with the types of documents, procedures, and institutions, to better understand Japanese legal and judicial system when it comes to documentation.
Dealing with the legal matters can be difficult due to a specialised vocabulary. In the absence of an appropriate background, it is easy to get lost in terms, especially when specialised words are being mixed together or used incorrectly adding to the confusion.
To make this guide easy to follow, we made a small vocabulary.
Making a document of one country being legally recognised in another so that it has legal power in the institutions of the designation place.
Checking the document and coming to certain conclusions about its contents and quality. It is usually performed by the officials or public institutions. When the document passes the verification process and meets the requirements, as a result, it can be, for example, certified or authenticated. If it does not meet the requirements, it can be declined and will not be processed further.
A proof that the document or any of its part (e.g. notary seal) is true. It does not give the document legal power, it only shows that the person who verified the document has the right to perform such an action. In many cases, this is the pre-requisite for the following legalisation.
Sometimes it is also called attestation or notarisation.
A verification of the documents’ contents and signatures/seals: a proof that the document states truthful information and the identities of the people who made the document have also been checked and verified. Sometimes it gives documents legal powers in other countries, sometimes it does not. It depends on a person or institution that has verified a document. More information about the types of verification can be found from our this page.
Types of Documents
All the documents may be divided into two large groups: private and public (also called official):
- Private documents are prepared by individuals or non-governmental and non-public institutions
- Public/Official documents are prepared by the official authorities or public institutions
How Much Do These Procedures Cost?
Apostilles and consular authentications are done free of charge. However, if you are using a representative, they may charge you for the services.
Authentications and affidavits from the Notary Public are charged in accordance with their price list.
How to Find out What Type of Legalisation/Verification I need?
You will not have to figure it out on your own.
The legalisation is always needed for a certain purpose. Usually, it is a part of the document set you are preparing for a certain goal: marriage or divorce, real estate purchase, transfer of assets, etc. You will be instructed by the institution that processes the applications about the documents you need and their appropriate type of legislation for this specific purpose.
How Do I Know Where to Go?
When you are preparing your documents for a certain type of application, the institution that processes your application will tell you what kind of legalisation you need exactly and where to get it.
Legal procedures and documents might seem overwhelming sometimes. Their vocabulary is very different from the one we use in a daily life and without a specialist it is difficult to process bulky legal texts.
However, before going into details it is good to know that all the documents can be broadly divided into private and public (or official) categories. Depending on the type of your documents and the verification type sometimes you can get your papers processed for free. In other cases, in accordance with the price list of a Notary Public or institution that handles your documents. Also, when preparing your documents for a certain purpose you will be instructed by the institution in charge about what kind of legalisation or verification you need exactly.