Commercial documents are a basic requirement of any business enterprise. There are various types of commercial documents that are issued for purposes like export and import documentation, shipping documentation process, trade finance documents, and others. With the growing number of entrepreneurs all across the world and the expansion of business globally, document attestation has become a necessity.
What is certificate attestation and why is it required?
There are instances that demand the legalization of documents. The process for the same is called certificate attestation. In India, the process is centrally done by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). The commercial or trade documents including the types of shipping documents and transport documents are attested for varying purposes.
Document attestation of commercial documents is necessitated at the time of performing business-related transactions overseas including some of the business visa processes. It could be required for the expansion of existing business or setting up a whole new start-up in another country, partner with a company or sell the organization, and several other reasons.
The procedure of certificate attestation
The processing of commercial documents requires authentication from levels of government. It involves getting a stamp and signature on the documents that are to be submitted at the time of your business transaction. The step-by-step procedure for certificate attestation of commercial documents is as follows:
- Chamber of Commerce Attestation: The Chamber of Commerce (CoC) is a local business association and the first step in the verification of your documents before the MEA attestation. Necessary stamps and signatures from the concerned officials are obtained.
- MEA Attestation: The MEA is the arm of the central government that manages foreign affairs which will provide the attestation stamp and signature as per the requirement.
- Embassy Attestation: The Embassy is the attestation and verification of the documents on behalf of the nation that you are obtaining the attestation for. The embassy attestation is the final part of document legalization, except for the Gulf countries. There is another additional process called the MOFA attestation for these countries.
The commercial documents are classified into four types based on their requirement in the trade overseas. They can be categorized as follows:
Type I Documents
In case you are planning to expand your business abroad or opening a branch, then the documents that need an attestation for this very purpose all come under this category. The company-related documents witness the legitimacy of the business and the details of the business like the type of business, the product or the service that it sells, owners and partners, and other related details. Some of the documents are mentioned below:
1. Memorandum Of Association
It is a certificate provided at the time of setting up brand new business capital. Memorandum of Association directs the relationship between the company and the customers or outsiders. Details like the name of the company, the functioning of the firm, and most importantly, it defines the scope of activities. It is generally called as a memorandum and is comprised of fundamental conditions of the basis on which a company operates.
2. Article of Association
The Article of Association is a certificate that specifies the aim and vision of the company as well as the responsibilities and duties of the employees and members. It describes the association between the staff, the directors, and partners of the organization. It is a very important document that needs to be filed with the Registrar of Companies. Attestation of the same is needed to authenticate the information provided in the document.
3. Company Profile
A Company Profile certificate is a document that contains detailed information about the company. The document must contain details including the business name, head office address, contact number, website URL, and information like the date of establishment, primary products, and services, etc. Details about the capacity of the company should also be mentioned which comprise the number of employees, organization of business, financial circumstances, and others. Company profile attestation will allow the further authorities to identify the business and render them the needed cause.
4. Incorporation Letter/Company Incorporation
A company incorporation certificate or letter is a legal document that concerns the foundation of the company or organization. The document is provided by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs once the company is registered. It is a license to form a corporation issued by a state government or, in some jurisdictions, by a non-governmental entity.
6. Board Resolution
A Board Resolution is a document that contains all the information about the decision made by the board of directors of the company in a written form. This is necessary as it ratifies that the particular decision was taken considering the views of the board members and in the good faith of the company. Board resolution attestation process must be carried out so that it can prove that the company is being expanded or a new branch is being opened as per the resolution made by the board members.
Type II Documents
When your business deals with manufacturing and production, and you are willing to export the merchandise or even import goods at international levels, these documents shall need attestation. It is done so that you have a sincere association with the company or enterprise you are making business deals with. Some of the documents that necessitate attestation are as follows:
1. Bill Invoices
A Bill invoice or commercial invoice is a type of commercial document that contains the details about the sale transaction like the type of product, the quantity, cost of the product or service, additional taxes to be paid, etc. An invoice is issued by the seller to the buyer, in other words, from the exporter to the foreign importer or vice versa, stating the payment terms as per the agreement. The document is legal and contains the name of the company on it with the hand signature or an automated signature. Attestation of bill invoices is mandatory at the time of foreign exchange of goods.
2. Insurance Certificate
Businesses need coverage. An insurance certificate is a document that witnesses the insurance coverage provided to the company by an insurance agency. The certificate contains details like the amount of coverage, what the coverage is for, the effective date of the policy, and the limits and deductibles of the insurance money. Attestation of the insurance certificate is another necessary document attestation that is needed for international commercial purposes.
3. Import License
The license issued by the central government to the business persons who are importing merchandise from the foreign companies is referred to as Import License. This document needs to be shown to the concerned administrative department at the time of importation of goods along with the other required documents. Attestation of an import license is carried out for the importation from certain countries or exporting to certain countries.
4. Letter of Credit
A letter of credit is a document or letter which is issued by the creditworthy bank to the exporter. The letter is used for international business so as to render the credibility of the transaction that is being carried out. It is also called a banker’s commercial credit, documentary credit, or letter of undertaking. Attestation of a letter of credit is mandatory at the time of carrying out international export and import business.
Type III Documents
These documents are issued by the respective authorities at the time of visa recommendations. They can be issued for inviting internationals for meetings and conferences, embassy-requested certification processes, visa applications for going abroad for business-related reasons, and others. These documents go through the Chamber of Commerce, an organization that is set up as per the region by the local entrepreneurs to advance the benefits of the businesses.
1. Invitation Letter
The invitation letter is a formal written invitation for international candidates who are invited to attend a business meeting or conference, or carrying out business transactions. The invitation is written by the invitee company that has arranged association. The invitation letter is also attested as per the requirement of the authorities.
2. Authority Letter
Authority letter is a document that grants the person to perform certain law-related activities which include contracts, taking the power of taking individual decisions, and delegation of duties. The letter is attested by the same process as others viz., from the MEA.
3. Chamber of Commerce Certificate
The certificate issued by the Chamber of Commerce is a document that is authorized by the chairman. The association issues these letters for the entrepreneurs who are willing to travel abroad in order to perform business-related activities like promotion, partnering with foreign investors, and other related reasons.
Type IV Documents
The documents that are required when another person is carrying out the trade on behalf of the concerned person, fall under this category. The documents need attestation as they must ratify the authenticity of the documents and the person as well. The person could be a relative, a shareholder, or any trusted acquaintance. Some of the documents that need attestation are listed below:
1. Power of Attorney
Power of Attorney is a document issued by a lawyer on behalf of the Donor, the person who is granting the rights to the receiver to perform business and take decisions on their behalf. The receiver has the power to conduct financial matters, property-related reasons, or any decisions related to the personal benefits of the Donor. Power of Attorney is a sensitive legal document. Hence, at the time of attestation, it must be handled with proper care.
2. Shareholder Agreement
The agreement that is concurred among the shareholders of the company in order to maintain the relationship between the persons is referred to as the Shareholder Agreement. The agreement also concerns the management of the organization, ownership of the shares, and the partnership of the shareholders. It is also called a Partnership Agreement. Attestation of the agreement is done at times when the partners send in a representative of the company on behalf of the board. It is one of the most important commercial documents.
3. Non-Disclosure Agreements
A Non-Disclosure Agreement is signed by the members of the board of the company. It is done in the faith that the essential information related to the company is kept confidential. It can be signed between two different companies or parties as well. Another term for a non-disclosure agreement is the Secrecy Agreement. It confines the knowledge and information shared between the concerned individuals and restricts sharing it with third parties. It is another document that is attested at the time of international business.
There are other minor documents that are also required with these principal documents like financial documents and regulatory documents when you are taking your entrepreneurship international. Attesting commercial documents is a sensitive job and requires the vendor to know about the process thoroughly. Given that the documents are legal, they cannot be compromised. The stamp and signature from the Chamber of Commerce officials and the MEA officers should be acquired before moving forward to embassy attestation. Attestation of documents is required for the countries that are not a part of the Hague Convention. There is a set of Hague Convention apostille countries that require apostille of documents. This process does not require embassy attestation.